The Prescriptive Dialectics of Li 禮 and Yi 義 in the Lienü zhuan 列女傳
Abstract

Abstract:

This essay examines the relationship between li 禮 and yi 義 in Liu Xiang’s 劉向 Categorized Biographies of Women or Lienü zhuan 列女傳, the first Chinese monograph devoted to women, focusing on the contents of books 4 and 5, where Liu Xiang introduces radical ideas like self-mutilation, suicide, and compulsory separation of the sexes. Although these moral devices are employed as an instrument of remonstrance, giving women a voice that had long been neglected, they are also the result of the deontic prescriptions of li-binding obligations, which keep the self in silence and subjection.