Herself an Author: Gender, Agency, and Writing in Late Imperial China, by Grace S. Fong, addresses the critical question of how to approach the study of women’s writing. It explores various methods of engaging in a meaningful way with a rich corpus of poetry and prose written by women of the late Ming and Qing periods, much of it rediscovered by the author in rare book collections in China and the United States. The volume treats different genres of writing and includes translations of texts that are made available for the first time in English. Among the works considered are the life-long poetic record of Gan Lirou, the lyrical travel journal kept by Wang Fengxian, and the erotic poetry of the concubine Shen Cai.
“Grace Fong has written a wonderful history of female writers’ participation in the elite conventions of Chinese poetics. Fong’s recovery of many of these poets, her able exegesis and elegant, analytical grasp of what the poets were doing is a great read, and her bilingual presentation of their poetry gives the book additional power. This is a persuasive and elegant study.” —Tani Barlow, author of The Question of Women in Chinese Feminism
May 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3186-8 / $32.00 (PAPER)