My research explores conceptualizations of female power in late seventh and early eighth century China. The period spanning the second half of the seventh century through 713 represents a unique political-cultural space in Chinese history. During this time, the government was dominated by powerful female figures. I analyze the self-presentations of these women in contemporary court literature and the ways in which they were interpreted and portrayed in historical, semi-historical, and fictional accounts in the decades and centuries after their deaths. I analyze the nature and constitutive elements of their (re)construction as literary-historical figures, focusing on the development of archetypes of their power as women and the gradual consolidation of their images in the overarching narrative of history.
My first chapter traces the development of narrative prototypes of female power through detailed analysis of the ways in which earlier female rulers have been portrayed. My second chapter explores the self-image of these women through analysis of the surviving corpus of prose and poetry attributed to them and their courtiers, who were intent on pleasing them through their literary output of praise pieces. The next three chapters treat retrospective constructions of Tang female power-holders in the decades and centuries after their deaths by historians, compilers, and writers. These chapters are organized by theme and deal, respectively, with accounts of their manipulation and/or misinterpretation of cosmic signs, conspicuous consumption and relationships with male consorts.
My study moves beyond the issue of historiographical sexist bias to probe the cultural lenses through which gender roles and expectations become rhetorically codified. I attempt a systematic analysis of the way in which these figures have been negotiated in the literary-historical tradition: what they represent in the moral-cosmic schemas forming various historical and literary narratives; how their legitimacy or de-legitimacy as women rulers is interpreted and appropriated by historians and compilers; and how archetypes of gender and power develop over time and influence their portrayals.
|Advisor:||Owen, Stephen, Tian, Xiaofei|
|School Location:||United States -- Massachusetts|
|Source:||DAI-A 72/09, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Asian literature, History, Asian Studies|
|Keywords:||China, Chinese women, Cultural history, Gender construction, Medieval China, Tang dynasty, Transgressive authority|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be