Dorothy Y. Ko

Professor of History

Dorothy Y. Ko, professor of history, joined the faculty of Barnard in 2001. In addition to her teaching duties for the department of history, she is affiliated with the Barnard Women's. Gender and Sexuality Studies department. Prior to coming to Barnard, she taught at the University of California at San Diego and at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Her teaching at Barnard includes such courses as "Gender and Power in China," "Body Histories: The Case of Footbinding," "Chinese Cultural History," "Fashion,"and "Feminisms in China."

Professor Ko is a cultural historian who specializes in gender and body in early modern China. Her current research focuses on women's artistry and skills in textiles, which constitute an alternative knowledge system to male-centered textual scholarship. Her teaching interests also include the history of women and gender in East Asia; feminist theories; and visual and material cultures.

Professor Ko's research and scholarship have been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and the American Council for Learned Socieities. Her book Cinderella's Sisters was awarded the 2006 Joan Kelly Memorial Prize of the American Historical Association for the best work in women's history and/or feminist theory.

Selected Publications

The Social Life of Inkstones: Artisans and Scholars in Early Qing China (Washington, 2017)

The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory, edited with Lydia H. Liu & Rebecca E. Karl (Columbia, 2013)

Translating Feminisms in China, edited with Z. Wang (Blackwell, 2007)

Cinderella's Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding (University of California Press, 2005)

Every Step a Lotus: Shoes for Bound Feet (University of California Press, 2001)

Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-century China (Stanford University Press, 1994)

Academic Focus: 

History of China


History of science, technology and medicine


803 Milstein Center



B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Stanford University

In the News

This winter recess, members of our community participated in snowy sled races, family dances, a parade, and more. 

Professor of History Dorothy Ko has been elected as Academician of Academia Sinica by the 33rd Convocation of Academicians that was held from July 2-5, 2018, in Taipei, Taiwan.

Celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month with a peek into ancient and modern-day Eastern culture and politics.

History professor quoted in the Los Angeles Times.