Bettine Birge

Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures and History

Contact Information
E-mail: birge@usc.edu
Phone: (213) 740-6660
Office: THH 356R



  • Ph.D. Chinese History, Columbia University
  • B.A. East Asian Studies, Princeton University

  • Description of Research

    Summary Statement of Research Interests
    Professor Birge researches law and gender in China and Inner Asia, focusing on the Song and Yuan periods (10th to 14th centuries). Her interests include women and Confucianism, property rights, comparative systems of marriage, and issues of gender, ethnicity, and status in traditional law. Professor Birge is currently working on a book that examines instabilities and contention over issues of gender, status, and identity in multi-ethnic Yuan society.
    Research Keywords
    premodern Chinese history, gender, law, ethnicity, Inner Asia
    Research Specialties
    premodern Chinese history, gender, law, ethnicity, Inner Asia

    Funded Research

    Contracts and Grants Awarded
    • Fellowship for University Teachers (National Endowment for the Humanities), Bettine Birge, $50,400, 2013-2014   
    • Scholar Grant (Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation), Bettine Birge, $30,000, 08/2011-07/2012  
    • MELLON NEW DIRECTIONS FELLOWSHIP (Mellon Foundation), Bettine Birge, $208,000, 05/01/2006-10/31/2011  

    Conferences and Other Presentations

    Conference Presentations
    • "The influence of gender on the adjudication of Yuan marriage disputes", Symposium on the Effects of Gender, Religion, Race, and Status on Adjudication in Trad, Talk/Oral Presentation, Paper, Taipei, Taiwan, Institute for History and Philology, Academia Sini, Invited, 11/01/2011-11/04/2011  
    • "Mongol Khans and Legal Innovation in Yuan China (1260-1368): The Use of Precedents as a Source of Law", 10th International Congress of Mongolists, Talk/Oral Presentation, Paper, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, International Association for Mongol Studies (IAMS, Invited, 08/09/2011-08/12/2011  
    • "Inner Asian Influences on Yuan Law", Eurasian Influences on Yuan China: Cross-Cultural Transmissions in the 13th and 14th Centuries, Talk/Oral Presentation, Paper, Binghamton, New York, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, Invited, 11/20/2009-11/22/2009  
    • "Family Law and the State under the Mongol-Yuan Dynasty in China: Competing Visions and Moral Dilemmas", Family and the State in Chinggisid and Post-Chinggisid Central Eurasia: Symposium in Honor of Denis , Talk/Oral Presentation, Paper, Bloomington, Indiana, Denis Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Stu, Invited, 09/04/2008-09/07/2008  
    • "Instabilities in Chinese Family and Marriage Law and the Significance of the Jijeongjogyeok (Zhizheng tiaoge).", Law and Society in 13th-14th Century East Asia: Symposium in Celebration of Publication of Zhizhengt, Talk/Oral Presentation, Refereed Paper, Seoul, Korea, Academy of Korean Studies, Invited, 08/14/2007-08/17/2007  
    • "Law of the Liao, Chin, and Yuan and its Impact on the Chinese Legal Tradition (in Chinese)", Symposium on Traditional Chinese Legal Culture, Talk/Oral Presentation, Refereed Paper, Taipei, Taiwan, Academia Sinica, Institute of History and Philolog, Invited, 12/13/2006-12/16/2006  
    • "Sexual Misconduct in Mongol-Yuan Law, with some Observations on Chinggis Khan’s Jasagh", The 9th International Congress of Mongolists, Talk/Oral Presentation, Refereed Paper, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, International Association for Mongol Studies (IAMS, Invited, 08/2006  
    • "Legalities and Illegalities: Feminist Historiography and Contested Constructions of the Chinese Family, 10th – 14th Centuries", World History Association (WHA), Annual Meeting, Talk/Oral Presentation, Refereed Paper, Long Beach, CA, World History Association (WHA), 06/22/2006-06/25/2006  

    Other Presentations
    • "Philosophy, Politics, and Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan: Competing Visions and Moral Dilemmas in the Application of Marriage Law in Mongol-Yuan China (1260-1368)", Invited Lecture, Oxford University, Oxford, England, 05/25/2011  
    • "Marriage and the Law in China during the Age of Khubilai Khan", Invited Lecture, California State University, Bakersfield, Dept of History, Bakersfield, California, 01/29/2010  
    • "Culture Wars, Conflicting Values, and Changes in Chinese Marriage Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan (1260-1368)", Invited Lecture, Skidmore College, Dept. of History, Saratoga Springs, New York, 11/23/2009  
    • ""Confucianism and Society in the Song and Yuan Dynasties"", Invited Lecture (in Japanese), Tokyo University, Dept. of History, Tokyo, Japan, 11/30/2006  
    • ""Gender and the Law in Transnational Perspective: Khubilai Khan, Widow Chastity, and Changes in Chinese Marriage Law"", Invited Lecture, Southern California Review of Law and Women’s Studies, USC, Los Angeles, CA, 02/01/2005  
    • ""The Influence of the Mongol-Yuan Dynasty on Women’s Marriage and Inheritance Rights in China," [Meng Yuan chaodai dui Zhongguo funü gaijia he jichengquan de yingxiang]", Invited Lecture (in Chinese), Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China, 03/15/2004  
    • ""Some New Research on Women and Gender in the Song and Yuan" [Song-Yuan funüshi yanjiu]", Invited Lecture (in Chinese), Hebei University, Dept. of History, Baoding, China, 11/07/2003  

    Other Research

    • Preparing mss. Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan: A Study and Translation of Marriage Cases from the Yuan dianzhang (Statutes and Precedents of the Yuan Dynasty) Gender, Ethnicity, and Social Order in Mongol-Yuan China (1260-1368): Trans-local Influences and Social Change, 2010-  


    • Birge, B. (2009). Song-Yuan shidai de funü, caichan, he rujia fanying (960-1368) [Chinese translation of Women, Property, and Confucian Reaction in Sung and Yüan China]. Beijing: China Social Sciences Press.
    • Birge, B. (2002). Women, Property, and Confucian Reaction in Sung and Yüan China, 960-1368. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book Chapter
    • Birge, B. (2010). Sources of Law in Mongol-Yuan China (1260-1368): Adjudication in the absence of a legal code, In Festschrift in Honour of Francoise Aubin. Miscellanea Asiatica pp. 387-406. Sankt Augustin: Monumenta Serica.
    • Birge, B. (2010). Meiguo de Yuandai yanjiu: lishi gaikuang, zhuyao gongxian, yiji dangqian de qushi (Yuan Studies in North America: Historical Overview, Contributions, and Current Trends). Chinese Studies in North America pp. 145-170. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.
    • Birge, B. (2008). Law of the Liao, Chin, and Yuan and its Impact on the Chinese Legal Tradition, in New Perspectives on Chinese History, Legal History: The Formation and Transformation of Traditional Chinese Legal Culture. pp. 443-503. Taipei, Taiwan: Academia Sinica.
    • Birge, B. (2008). "Liao-Jin-Yuan falü ji qi dui zhongguo falü chuantong de yingxiang." In Zhongguoshi Xinlun: Falüshi. pp. 141-191. Taipei, Taiwan: Zhong Yanyuan, Jinglian.
    • Birge, B. (2003). Women and Confucianism from Song to Ming: The Institutionalization of Patrilineality, in The Song-Yuan-Ming Transition in Chinese History. pp. 212-240. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
    • Birge, B. (2003). Inheritance and Property Law from Tang to Song: The Move away from Patrilineality. pp. 849-866. Shanghai: Peking Univ. Tang Studies Series, Cishu chubanshe.
    • Birge, B. (1989). Chu Hsi and Women's Education, in Neo-Confucian Education: The Formative Stage. pp. 325-367. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

    Book Review
    • Birge, B. (2010). Review of Peter K. Bol, Neo-Confucianism in History (Harvard East Asian Monographs, number 307.). American Historical Review. pp. 822-823.
    • Birge, B. (2007). Review of "Marco Polo's China: A Venetian in the Realm of Khubilai Khan. Journal of Asian Studies/Cambridge University Press. pp. 240-242.

    Conference Proceeding
    • Birge, B. (2007). Instabilities in Chinese Family and Marriage Law and the Significance of the Zhizhengtiaoge. In Academy of Korean Studies (Ed.), pp. 219-231. Seoul. Law and Society in the 13th-14th century East Asia-In Celebration of the Publication of the Zhizheng tiaoge.

    Encyclopedia Article
    • Birge, B. (2009). Chinese Law, History of: Yuan Dynasty (AD 1279 – 1368), in Encyclopedia of Legal History. (Stanley N. Katz, Geoffrey MacCormack, et al., Ed.). Vol. NA. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

    Journal Article
    • Birge, B. (2011). Mongol Khans and Legal Innovation in the Yuan Dynasty (1260-1368): The Use of Precedents as a Source of Law. Mongolica: AnInternational Annual of Mongol Studies. Vol. 25
    • Birge, B. (2009). Sexual Misconduct in Mongol-Yuan Law, with some Observations on Chinggis Khan’s Jasagh. Mongolica: An International Annual of Mongol Studies. Vol. 22 (43), pp. 287-297.
    • Birge, B. (2009). Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Nature of Local Sources and Understanding Regional History in Imperial China. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. Vol. 52 (1), pp. 4-13. full text, pdf version
    • Birge, B. (2007). Law and its Limits: Judicial Philosophy and Conflicting Verdicts in Song Dynasty Legal Cases. Chung-Hsing Journal of History. (18), pp. 185-192.
    • Birge, B. (1995). Levirate Marriage and the Revival of Widow Chastity in Yuan China. Asia Major. Vol. 8 (2), pp. 107-146.

    Honors and Awards

    • Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Scholar Grant, 7/2011-6/2012  
    • Mellon New Directions Fellowship, 5/2006-10/2011  
    • USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund Award, Grant funds to aid Research, 2006-2008  
    • USC Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award, Elected to membership , 5/14/2008  
    • Presidential Medal from President of Mongolia for contribution to the understanding of Mongolian history, 8/2006  
    • USC Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award, Prize for creativity in research, 2005  
    • Fulbright Award, Research Fellowship to Beijing, China, 8/10/2003-6/30/2004  
    • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship Recipient, Fellowship for University Teachers, salary and travel funds for one year of research, 1996-1997  

    Service to the Profession

    Editorships and Editorial Boards
    • Western-language Editor, Bibliography of Chinese Legal History, 2006-  
    • English-language Editor, Journal of Chinese History (Chugoku shigaku), 2005-  
    • Member of Editorial Board, Journal of Sung-Yuan Studies, 2005-  

    Media, Alumni, and Community Relations
    • Faculty lecturer for Educational tour of Mongolia: Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Vassar Alumni, -08/2008  

  • Department of History
  • 3502 Trousdale Parkway
  • Social Sciences Building (SOS) 153
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 90089-0034