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Next Event: Monday July 13 10 a.m. - noon

Dissertation: Angry Men, Angry Women: Patience, Righteousness and the Body in Late Imperial Chinese Literature

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So far, love and desire have preoccupied scholarly inquiries into the emotional landscape in late imperial China. However, the disproportional focus diminishes the complexity and interdisciplinarity of the emotional experiences during this period. Alternatively, this dissertation seeks to contextualize the understudied emotion of anger and uses it as a different entry point into the emotional vista of late imperial China. It explores the stimuli that give rise to anger in late imperial Chinese fiction and drama, as well as the ways in which these literary works configure the regulation of that emotion. This dissertation examines a wide range of primary materials, such as deliverance plays, historical romance, domestic novels and so forth. It situates these literary texts in reference to Quanzhen Daoist teachings, orthodox Confucian thought and medical discourse, which prescribe the rootedness of anger in religious trials, ritual improprieties, moral dubiousness and corporeal responses. Simultaneously, this dissertation reveals how fiction and drama contest the presumed righteousness of anger and complicate the parameters construed by the above-mentioned texts through editorial intervention, paratextual negotiation and cross-genre adaptation. It further teases out the gendering of anger, particularly within the discourse on the four obsessions of drunkenness, lust, avarice and qi. The emotion’s gendered dimension bears upon the approaches that literary imagination adopts to regulate anger, including patience, violence and silence. The body of either the angry person or the target of his or her fury stands out as the paramount site upon which the varied ways of coping with the emotion impinge. Ultimately, this dissertation enriches the current understanding of the emotional experiences in late imperial China and demonstrates anger as a prominent nodal point upon which various strands of discourse converge.


For More Information Contact:

Monica Hopkins
School of International Letters and Cultures