This introductory chapter briefly reflects on the scarcity of sources of women's literature in imperial China, remarking on the double standards that have limited the production of women's writing. Although many would produce literature that is still well-known today, much of this neglected body of writing remains to be engaged in modern scholarship and literary history. Thus this chapter embarks on a few preliminary questions to guide this volume's study in its entirety—most particularly, the question of finding “ways of talking about them.” It raises issues of gendered agency and subjectivity, among others, in order to move the discussion toward a “cultural turn” in literary studies.
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