Abstract

Both China and England experienced a secularized cultural transformation in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century. This essay examines how these transformations relate to conceptions of female authority and emotion in the two contexts. It starts with Thomas Percy's interpretation of the female protagonist of Haoquizhuan, showing that Percy's mis(reading) illuminates the differences between fictional representations of exemplary women from early modern England and China. It then proceeds to a comparative study of narrative imaginings of women's cultural functions in early modern England and China, arguing that, in both contexts, female agency and authority ascended in circumscribed ways, creating significant impact on the subsequent histories of narrative fiction.

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