Organized Panel Session
In the past few decades, an increasing number of scholarly publications on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean women have substantially extended our knowledge and perspectives of the female population in East Asia. This panel contributes to this expanding field by crucially exploring how the focus on the subject of women illuminates specific gender and cultural dynamics in premodern East Asia. The four papers discuss the negotiation and mutual transformation between women and the patriarchal traditions in China, Korea, and Japan from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Overall, they demonstrate how writings of and about marginalized groups were integrated into the evolution of mainstream cultural trends.
Jiani Chen examines the images of knight-errant courtesans in Ming-dynasty China, whose existence blurred the boundaries between masculinity and femininity. Sijing Zhang shifts the focus from the public domain to private households and studies biographies of Qing-dynasty concubines composed by male literati. Her paper forms an interesting comparison with Hyum Suk Park’s, which analyzes historical and literary writings on courtesans by male literati-officials on their journeys to Hamgyŏng Province in Chosŏn Korea. Their studies both explore the mediation between women and literati culture. Patricia Fister investigates the artistic and literary productions of imperial Buddhist nuns in Edo Japan, who actively fraternized with male religious masters.
With the diverse backgrounds of the participants in terms of areas and specialties, this panel aims to trigger an interdisciplinary and cross-national conversation that will shed new light on women and cultural history in premodern East Asia.