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Bachelor of Arts
East Asian Languages and Cultures
Women, Virtue, Talent, Lat Imperial China, Chen Yun, Xi Peilan, Liu Shi (Liu Rushi), Poetry, Six records of a floating life, Yuan Mei, Gentry women, Courtesans, Women writers, Travel
According to a saying used by scholars in Late Imperial China, “a woman is virtuous only if she is untalented.” This idea caused scholars of the time to debate whether a woman belonged to the kitchen or to the writer's study. Scholars’ opinions were split between those who believed that talent and virtue were incompatible in women, and those who defended the compatibility of both, and who believed they were, in fact, mutually reinforcing. This study investigates and critically analyzes three female writers of Late Imperial China – Chen Yun, Xi Peilan, and Liu Shi – and explores the strategies by which they successfully claimed both virtue and talent. Moreover, these women are examples of how by having one trait (virtue or talent), they managed to acquire the other one. At the same time, they remained worthy in the eyes of the society and were recognized as talented years later. Each chapter is a close study of the life and interpretation of each woman's embodiment of talent and virtue in comparison to her society's definitions.
©2021 Bella Tseeva. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.
Tseeva, Bella, "Virtue and talent : can women in late Imperial China have both?" (2021). Honors Project, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
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