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Women and Confucian Cultures in Premodern China, Korea, and Japan

Editor: Dorothy Ko, JaHyun Kim Haboush and Joan Piggott
Author: , , ,
Publisher: , 2003
Link to online store *

Representing an unprecedented collaboration among international scholars from Asia, Europe, and the United States, this volume rewrites the history of East Asia by rethinking the contentious relationship between Confucianism and women. The authors discuss the absence of women in the Confucian canonical tradition and examine the presence of women in politics, family, education, and art in premodern China, Korea, and Japan.

What emerges is a concept of Confucianism that is dynamic instead of monolithic in shaping the cultures of East Asian societies. As teachers, mothers, writers, and rulers, women were active agents in this process. Neither rebels nor victims, these women embraced aspects of official norms while resisting others. The essays present a powerful image of what it meant to be female and to live a woman’s life in a variety of social settings and historical circumstances. Challenging the conventional notion of Confucianism as an oppressive tradition that victimized women, this provocative book reveals it as a modern construct that does not reflect the social and cultural histories of East Asia before the nineteenth century.

Dorothy Ko is Professor of History at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the author of Every Step a Lotus: Shoes for Bound Feet (California, 2001). JaHyun Kim Haboush is King Sejong Professor of Korean Studies at Columbia University and the editor and translator of The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong: The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth-Century Korea (California, 1996). Joan R. Piggott is Associate Professor of History at Cornell University and the author of The Emergence of Japanese Kingship (1997).

Source: publisher’s website



Part I. Scripts of Male Dominance

  1. The Patriarchal Family Paradigm in Eighth-Century Japan | Hiroko Sekiguchi
  2. The Last Classical Female Sovereign: KQken-ShQtoku TennQ | Joan R. Piggott
  3. Representation of Females in Twelfth-Century Korean Historiography | Hai-soon Lee
  4. The Presence and Absence of Female Musicians and Music in China | Joseph S.C. Lam

Part II. Propagating Confucian Virtues

  1. Women and the Transmission of Confucian Culture in Song China | Jian Zang
  2. Propagating Female Virtues in ChosPn Korea | Martina Deuchler
  3. State Indoctrination of Filial Piety in Tokugawa Japan: Sons and Daughters in the Official Records of Filial Piety | Noriko Sugano

Part III. Female Education in Practice

  1. Norms and Texts for Women’s Education in Tokugawa Japan | Martha C. Tocco
  2. Competing Claims on Womanly Virtue in Late Imperial China | Fangqin Du and Susan Mann

Part IV. Corporeal and Textual Expressions of Female Subjectivity

  1. Discipline and Transformation: Body and Practice in the Lives of Daoist Holy Women of Tang China | Suzanne E. Cahill
  2. Versions and Subversions: Patriarchy and Polygamy in Korean Narratives | JaHyun Kim Haboush

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