Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Robertson, Maureen

First Committee Member

Kopelson, Kevin R

Second Committee Member

Kuenzli, Rudolf E

Third Committee Member

Snider, Alvin

Fourth Committee Member

Wittenberg, David H


This dissertation examines the innovative subjectivity of feminine voices constructed in poetry by three women writers from seventeenth- and early nineteenth-century China: Li Yin, Wang Duanshu, and Wang Duan. Drawing primarily on their individual collections, I argue that the writers fashion poetic selves that deviate from literati representations of feminine subjectivity through the writers' intertextual dialogues with mainstream literary and cultural traditions and also their poetic exchanges with contemporary women writers. I explore specific methods employed by the three writers to create distinctive voices of their own and specify modes that distinguish the alternative feminine voices in their writings, contextualizing my reading of poems from their collected works and of mise-en-scenes in the case of exchange poetry. My close reading of the three late imperial Chinese writers' poetry reveals that subject positions in their collected works, different from those of feminine voices constructed in literati poetry, are the result of the gendered writing self seeking voices to express lived experiences, deeply felt emotions, desires, anxieties, and pleasures. These positions in turn allow the writing self to have serious intellectual exchanges with their contemporary writers, create self-definitions beyond the normative roles as prescribed by the Confucian gender system and the literati poetic tradition, and realize personal transformation in poetry.


late imperial China, subjectivity, women's literature


vii, 262 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 255-262).


Copyright 2010 Haihong Yang