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"borrowing Foreign Mirrors and Candles To Illuminate Chinese Civilization": Xue Shaohui's Moral Vision in The Biographies of Foreign Women

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Waiguo lienü zhuan (Biographies of foreign women), the first systematic introduction of foreign women to the Chinese audience, was compiled by the late Qing writer Xue Shaohui (1866-1911) and her husband Chen Shoupeng (1857-?). This project represented an effort to advance the goals of the abortive 1898 reforms, a serious quest to incorporate Western experiences into the education of Chinese women. Through a close comparison with Western language sources, this article examines Xue Shaohui's reconceptualization of women's virtues through rewriting and sometimes twisting the original stories. The analysis focuses on sensitive moral issues—sex and power, the relationship between husband and wife, and the redefinition of wickedness when the conventional definition of a bad woman was no longer pertinent.


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