Carol Schmid


During the interwar period, urban modernism was connected to opposing ideals of womanhood. On the one hand, women’s participation in a culture of leisure, consumption and body consciousness created images of the New Women in Berlin and Shanghai during the 1920s and early 1930s. On the other hand, women in Weimar Berlin and Republican Shanghai were both desired and feared for their role in the significant changes in these two metropoles. This article analyzes the emergence of the neue Frau and modeng xiaojie. The growth of the cities, industrialization and changes in the work force provided new opportunities for many women’s lives. However, in the interwar period, anxiety-ridden discourses about sexual disorder and moral decay became significant forces and shaped attitudes toward women’s roles in urban society. The article examines the critics and conflicts generated by the modern women in the two societies and the conditions leading to the demise of the modern women era in China and Germany.

Author Biography

Carol Schmid, Department of Sociology, Guilford Technical Community College, Jamestown, N.C.