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Disruptive Voices

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Three Cases of Outspoken “Exemplary Women” from Nineteenth-Century China

image of NAN NÜ

While historical records in China abound in accounts of “exemplary women,” little is known of what was lying beneath the unflinching moral stance with which these women tackled all the vicissitudes of life to bring glories to their families and lineages. This study is an attempt to approach the lives of these women from the angle of their own life-writings—in particular, their bieji (personal collections). The three cases examined in this study expose a stunning “outspokenness” of the women. It was this degree of their outspokenness, I argue, that often called into question the Confucian patriarchal values that were integral to their very existence as moral exemplars.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Hong


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