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Courtesans and Scholars in the Writings of Feng Menglong: Transcending Status and Gender

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The last century of the Ming dynasty saw an upsurge in romances between talented scholars and devoted courtesans. This paper discusses the social, cultural, economic, and political factors which might have contributed to the popularity of that genre. Focusing on Feng Menglong's writings of idealized courtesans who transcended their lowly existence at the bottom of gender and status hierarchies, the study also explores the interplay of ethics and culture in the courtesan-scholar romances and what the romances revealed about the literati perceptions of Self and Other.

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