Chinese women’s literary culture shows considerable evolution between the sixteenth and early twentieth centuries. Communications grow easier, the sense of political revisionism yields to thoughts of revolution, and women take on new roles. Adding to the mix is the novel Dream of the Red Chamber, published in 1792. It draws on what has already developed but also points to fiction as a new genre with which women might become engaged. The talk sets this novel in the context of these other currents and details what it adds to the literary scene.
Ellen B. Widmer is Mayling Soong Professor of Chinese Studies and Professor of East Asian Studies at Wellesley College. She studies traditional Chinese fiction, the history of Chinese women’s writing, the history of the book in China, and missionaries to East Asia.