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Back To The Future: Nostalgia And Prostitution

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Chapter Summary

By retracing the flow of the literature of the blue pavilions through the 'journey' that fictional courtesans have been made to travel, starting with the Tang dynasty, all the way across late imperial stories up to the turn of the twentieth century, we have mapped the changes that take place during the late Qing period in the representations of the courtesan and her patrons and, thus, gained insights into the ways in which the depictions of prostitution found in these texts circulated and challenged perceptions regarding gender, sexuality and love. Nostalgia appears to be the culprit, in the sense that it figures as the main link between pre-modern and contemporary discourses. It is in this sense that nostalgia, as a utopian and often dystopian reading of the past, proves very useful to study the sexual politics of contemporary representations of prostitution in China.

Keywords: China; nostalgia; prostitution; Qing period



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