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Courtesan Editor

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Sexual Politics in Early Modern China

image of T'oung Pao

This article focuses on female editorship and sexual politics in late Ming and early Qing China, using Hua suo shi, an anthology edited by the courtesan poet Xue Susu, as a case study. It traces textual production and transmission, and reconstructs the literary and cultural contexts of this work to explore the courtesan’s editorial gaze and representation of gender through a close reading of it. The analysis of its two main themes—women as commodities, and women as agents—shows how the courtesan editor re-imagined China’s cultural landscape from her point of view. New examples of female agency are discovered in analyzing the cultural process of editing as a “web of discourses,” providing a window on the emergence of a new female editorial voice in early modern China’s cultural discourse.
 Cet article se concentre sur le rôle éditorial des femmes et sur les politiques sexuelles en Chine à la fin des Ming et au début des Qing. Une anthologie éditée par la courtisane et poétesse Xue Susu, le Hua suo shi, sert d’étude de cas. Le processus de production et de transmission textuelle est examiné et le contexte littéraire et culturel de l’ouvrage restitué, permettant d’explorer le regard éditorial et le jeu de genre de la courtisane à travers une lecture serrée du texte. L’analyse des deux thèmes dominants — la femme comme marchandise, la femme comme agent — démontre la façon dont la courtisane éditrice ré-imagine le paysage culturel chinois de son propre point de vue. D’autres exemples d’intervention féminine se révèlent lorsqu’on analyse le processus culturel d’édition en tant que “réseau de discours”. Ainsi s’ouvre une fenêtre sur l’émergence d’une nouvelle voix éditoriale féminine au sein du discours culturel chinois au début des temps modernes.

Affiliations: 1: University of St. Gallen


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