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Fashioning Voices of Their Own: Three Ming-Qing Women Writers’ Uses of Qu Yuan’s Persona and Poetry

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This article explores how, during the Ming-Qing era, women writers used the persona and poetry of the great Chinese poet Qu Yuan (340?-278 bce). In order to establish the authority of their own voices, marginalized female writers often identified themselves with the mainstream male tradition. The legacy of Qu Yuan became one of their favorite examples to follow. Qu Yuan’s sao-style poems, especially the long poem “Encountering Sorrow,” are classics in the Chinese literary canon. Qu Yuan’s high moral standard and his eventual suicide for a just cause earned him a reputation as a patriotic poet-statesman much respected by later generations. Ming-Qing women writers made use of Qu Yuan’s literary and moral authority to create their own personal, political, and intellectual voices. By doing so, they demonstrated their efforts to upgrade their status in literary and social arenas.

Affiliations: 1: Florida State University


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