Woman Rules Within

Domestic Space and Genre in Qing Vernacular Literature


In Woman Rules Within: Domestic Space and Genre in Qing Vernacular Literature, Jessica Dvorak Moyer compares depictions of household space and women’s networks in texts across a range of genres from about 1600 to 1800 C.E. Analyzing vernacular transformations of classical source texts as well as vernacular stories and novels, Moyer shows that vernacular genres use expansive detail about architectural space and the everyday domestic world to navigate a variety of ideological tensions, particularly that between qing (emotion) and li (ritual propriety), and to flesh out characters whose actions challenge the norms of gendered spatial practice even as they ultimately uphold the gender order. Woman Rules Within contributes a new understanding of the role of colloquial language in late imperial literature.

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Jessica Dvorak Moyer, Ph.D. (Yale, 2015) is Assistant Professor of Chinese at Smith College. Her published research, most recently “Savvy Women and Boundary Negotiations in Qing Fiction” (Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews, 2019), focuses on Ming and Qing Chinese literature.
"In illuminating the roles of affection and ritual in constituting and ameliorating represented household behavior, Professor Moyer has given us a new approach to the study of qing.Furthermore, her choice of texts and her thorough examination of their contexts– the Honglou meng sequels, the rewritings of Lienü zhuan>/i> and Liaozhai zhiyi, illuminate the dynamic interplay of reader and marketplace demands, the tension between entertainment literature and traditional mores, and an increasing appetite to read about other peoples’ home lives. Ultimately, Woman Rules Within, is a masterful, sustained, close reading of woefully understudied texts from which we can learn a great deal, about genre and vernacular literature, about gender and sex, and also about domesticity, daily life, book markets and readers.' - Andrew Schonebaum University of Maryland, Nan Nü 23 (2021).
Those interested in Ming and Qing literature and gender history, or in the reception of the Collected Biographies of Women (Lienü zhuan) and Dream of the Red Chamber (Honglou meng).
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