The Land of the Wu 巫

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Reading didactic literature that no longer seems edifying

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Far From Formosa

Lienü zhuan, is a collective biography of exemplary Chinese women compiled at the end of the 1st century BCE. It was, according to Ban Gu, a 1st century CE historian, intended to counteract the influence of lower-class, immoral women who destabilized the dynasty and to provide the emperor with positive examples of female virtue so he could better judge and instruct the women of his court. For 2000 years after its publication, it stood as the epitome of Confucian educational texts for women.

Today, different perspectives on the text, as exemplified by how its most recent translator, Anne Behnke Kinney, and the reviewer from Chinet, Oliver Weingarten, (the Czech site that functions as a forum for Europe-based Sinologists) approach its non-contemporary moral framework, demonstrate that the issues that faced Chinese gender studies and women’s history in the 1970s and 80s, as described by Emma Teng in her 1996…

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