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Shifting Boundaries: Gender in Pinhua Baojian

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image of NAN NÜ

Gender transformations in Pinhua baojian reveal a much broader examination of gender and sexuality than allowed for by discussions of the work as a homosexual novel. This paper examines some of the complexities of the gendered representations of boy actors in the novel, seen in their marriage unions, in cross-dressing episodes, and particularly in parallels with female prostitutes of other nineteenth-century courtesan fiction. The coerced adoption of a feminine gender identity and homosexual sexual role by the boy actors, together with their gradual remasculination during the course of the novel, expose masculinity and femininity as highly socialized constructions and act as comment on the wider nineteenth-century marriage economy.

Affiliations: 1: Magdalen College, Oxford


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