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Polygamy and Sublime PassionSexuality in China on the Verge of Modernity$
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Keith McMahon

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833763

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833763.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HAWAII SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hawaii.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hawaii University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HSO for personal use.date: 18 October 2019

Introduction

Introduction

The Male Consort of the Remarkable Woman

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
Polygamy and Sublime Passion
Author(s):

Keith McMahon

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824833763.003.0001

This introductory chapter lays out the fundamental themes of this study: female agency and Chinese polygamy. It positions polygamy as the dominant sexual regime for the males of the late Qing dynasty, examining the linkages between this regime and China's transition into global modernity during this period. Yet the true focus of this chapter (and the book as a whole) is not on the masterful male polygamist and his fantasies, but the persistent theme of female agency underlying the literature of these masculine fantasies, examined in terms of a figure henceforth referred to as the “remarkable woman.” She defines female agency both within and outside the context of polygamy and prostitution. Moreover, female agency is especially clear in an age-old motif that emerges in the late Ming and again in the late Qing: female heroism in times of male failure, weakness, and despair.

Keywords:   female agency, polygamy, Chinese polygamy, Qing dynasty, modernity, globalization, remarkable woman, prostitution

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