Alternative Modernities, or a Classical Woman of Modern China: The Challenging Trajectory of Lü Bicheng's (1883-1943) Life And Song Lyrics



Lü Bicheng is remembered today mostly for her accomplishment as a poet in the classical ci genre (song lyrics). Drawing on her writings and those of her contemporaries, this study attempts to reconstruct Lü Bicheng's multifaceted, cosmopolitan life trajectory that has become obscured by the nationalist turn in twentieth-century China. By excavating Lü Bicheng's many self-inventions and metamorphoses, I aim to show how the ci genre as her mode of self-inscription was transformed into a protean medium for the expression of progressive rhetoric, cultural identity, and the assimilation of new experiences. The complex cultural and linguistic dialogues exemplified by Lü's life and writings open up alternative readings of modernity.

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