Herself an Author
Gender, Agency, and Writing in Late Imperial China
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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Armed with my copy of the indispensable Catalogue of Women’s Writings through the Ages (Lidai funü zhuzuo kao) by Hu Wenkai (1956, reprint 1985), I left for Beijing in the summer of 1992 in search of the poetry and prose collections of individual women published in Ming and Qing China...
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In imperial China, women’s writing had an anomalous status; it received no official sanction, and women were categorically barred from all access to a public career. In contrast, men were authorized to participate in the functioning and governing of the imperium through the institutions...
1. A Life in Poetry: The Auto/biography of Gan Lirou (1743–1819)
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In no other comparable literary tradition was the autobiographical potential so strongly embedded in the orthodox conception of poetry as it was in China. The function of poetry to articulate what was in one’s heart and on one’s mind...
2. From the Margin to the Center: The Literary Vocation of Concubines
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A deeply entrenched social institution in the history of China, the practice of concubinage reaches back to at least the Zhou period (eleventh-third century B.C.E.), for which a system of ranked consorts to kings and princes was recorded in the...
3. Authoring Journeys: Women on the Road
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In imperial China, the ideological, symbolic, and physical gendering of space located men’s proper place and function in the wai (outer sphere), while that of women was situated in the nei (inner sphere). An important consequence of this gendered division of space was that...
4. Gender and Reading: Form, Rhetoric, and Community in Women’s Poetic Criticism
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The publication and circulation of texts reached a new height with the flourishing of print culture in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Women’s literacy and pursuit of writing became more visible: the greater number of women’s published poetry...
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The late imperial timeframe encompassed by the texts and collections examined in this study ranges from the early seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century. That there was continuity in literary practice and self-representation by women in this period before the...
Appendix 1 Gan Lirou’s “Narrating My Thoughts on My Sixtieth Birthday”
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Appendix 2 Xing Cijing’s Summary of the Journey from Qian
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Appendix 3 Wang Fengxian’s The Homeward Journey East
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Publication Year: 2008