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Imagining Sisterhood in Modern Chinese Texts, 1890–1937

Yun Zhu

This book investigates sisterhood as a converging thread that wove female subjectivities and intersubjectivities into a larger narrative of Chinese modernity embedded in a newly conceived global context. It focuses on the period between the late Qing reform era around the turn of the twentieth century and the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, which saw the emergence of new ways of depicting Chinese womanhood in various kinds of media. In a critical hermeneutic approach, Zhu combines an examination of an outside perspective (how narratives and images about sisterhood were mobilized to shape new identities and imaginations) with that of an inside perspective (how subjects saw themselves as embedded in or affected by the discourse and how they negotiated such experiences within texts or through writing). With its working definition of sisterhood covering biological as well as all kinds of symbolic and metaphysical connotations, this book exams the literary and cultural representations of this elastic notion with attention to, on the one hand, a supposedly collective identity shared by all modern Chinese female subjects and, on the other hand, the contesting modes of womanhood that were introduced through the juxtaposition of divergent “sisters.” Through an interdisciplinary approach that brings together historical materials, literary and cultural analysis, and theoretical questions, Zhu conducts a careful examination of how new identities, subjectivities and sentiments were negotiated and mediated through the hermeneutic circuits around “sisterhood.” « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 236Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4985-3629-5 • Hardback • March 2017 • $100.00 • (£70.00)
978-1-4985-3630-1 • eBook • March 2017 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
Yun Zhu is assistant professor of Chinese and Asian studies at Temple University.
Introduction: Gender, Nation, Subjectivities, and the Discourse on Sisterhood in Modern China

Chapter 1 The Emergence of the “Women’s Sphere” and the Promotion of Sisterhood in the Late Qing

Chapter 2 From Dual Slaves to Liberty Flowers: The Feminist-Nationalist Spectrum of Sisterhood in Stones of the Jingwei Bird and Chivalric Beauties

Chapter 3 Is Blood Always Thicker than Water? Rival Sisters and the Tensions of Modernity

Chapter 4 Cosmopolitan Bourgeois Sisterhood and the Ambiguities of Female-Centeredness in Lin Loon Magazine (1931–1937)

Chapter 5 Sisterly Lovers in Women’s Fiction and the Potential of “Nondevelopment” as a Feminist Intervention

This well-researched and tightly argued book demonstrates the centrality of an imagined female community, rallying around the notion of 'sisterhood,' in the construction of modern Chinese nationalism and Chinese modernity.
Ping Zhu, University of Oklahoma

Yun Zhu’s cutting-edge and eye-opening book offers an important and inspiring study of sisterhood imaginations from late Qing to mid-Republican China. Built upon substantial archival studies, the chapters are thematically woven together and offer a nuanced, rigorous and interdisciplinary analysis of a broad array of sisterhood narratives in diverse genres, including traditional chantefable fiction, modern novellas, short stories, film and periodicals. Refreshing, timely, and well-researched, this compelling study urges readers to confront and critically assess the complexities, paradoxes and hybridizations of female subjectivities in China’s long process of transition toward modernity in a shifting global context.
Li Guo, Utah State University