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Female assassins, civilization, and technology in Late Qing literature and culture

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Chapter Summary

This chapter analyzes the transposed knowledge of Western science, technology, and political nihilism, and their cultural relays through discussions of radicalism, female assassins, and heroism in early twentieth-century Chinese fiction. By looking at the different cultural and cross-cultural preoccupations that converged on sensationalizing the image of the female assassin, the chapter shows how the different conceptions of radical political heroism, women as agents of violence and diplomacy, the possibilities of science, and the technologization of civilization gave new intelligibility to late Qing modernity. The complex production of late Qing culture, further- more, mobilized a variety of sources. The abundance of biographies, journal articles, translated and untranslated Western fiction, Japanese science fiction, and political treatises on reform testified to the efforts of a diverse community of cultural agents working for profit, novelty, and ideology.

Keywords: assassins; Chinese fiction; civilization; Late Qing culture; Late Qing literature; technology



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