This is a critical inquiry into the connections between emergent feminist ideologies in China and the production of 'modern' women's writing from the demise of the last imperial dynasty to the founding of the PRC. It accentuates both well-known and under-represented literary voices who intervened in the gender debates of their generation as well as contextualises the strategies used in imagining alternative stories of female experience and potential. It asks two questions: first, how did the advent of enlightened views of gender relations and sexuality influence literary practices of 'new women' in terms of narrative forms and strategies, readership, and publication venues? Second, how do these representations attest to the way these female intellectuals engaged and expanded social and political concerns from the personal to the national?
"This admirable endeavor to restore the importance of women's agency in twentieth-century Chinese literary history is characterized throughout by an intelligent probing of historiographic conventions, interpretative tendencies, fictional strategies, and party narrative logics. Composed at the intersection of a number of subfields - modern Chinese literature, modern Chinese women's history, and contemporary feminist criticism - and judiciously engaged with all of them, Amy Dooling's book offers a forceful statement on an important topic." - Rey Chow, author of Woman and Chinese Modernity and editor of Modern Chinese Literary and Cultural Studies in the Age of Theory
"This is a marvelous book. Amy Dooling tells a powerful story about Chinese women's search for their own voices, from the late Qing era to the eve of the Communist Revolution. In five chapters she presents the complex of cultural, political, affective, and rhetorical factors that gave rise to a gendered discourse, thereby explaining why Chinese women and their literary endeavor serve as a key to the making of Chinese modernity. Women's Literary Feminism is a landmark in Chinese and Comparative gender and cultural studies. "
- David Der-wei Wang-Columbia University
"Like the Chinese women pioneers she studies, Amy Dooling has proven that the pen - when saturated with passionate ideas - can still change the world. Thank goodness that they are right."
- Dorothy Ko, Barnard College