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Remembering Female Relatives: Mourning and Gender in Late Imperial China

image of NAN NÜ

In late imperial China, the honor of being immortalized in a written text, traditionally reserved for only a few people, was becoming increasingly available to a larger section of the society, including women. This trend shaped how a woman came to be remembered and represented, as her image gradually became more “secular” as well as less saint-like, despite the Confucian biographical emphasis on exemplariness. Her private life tended to receive more exposure in a memorial text, especially when it was authored by her relatives. An outline of this shisuhua or secularization process provides a useful context within which one can better appreciate in this issue of Nan Nü the four contributors’ more detailed explorations of the questions how an educated man in late imperial China mourned those women who were once very close to him in his life, what he remembered particularly well about these women, and the possible reasons behind such gendered remembrances.

Affiliations: 1: University of California, Irvine


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