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Qu Bingyun (1767-1810) : one member of Yuan Mei’s female disciple group Meng, Liuxi

Abstract

Qu Bingyun (1767-1810) took the leading role in a famous group of female poet in eighteenth-century China known as "The Female Disciples of Yuan Mei." This study explores the development and accomplishments of Qu as a poet and examines her unique poetry with special attention to her dynamic interrelation and interaction with her contemporaries. This dissertation begins with an introduction to the primary source for this research, the socio-cultural background of eighteenth-century China in which women's literature developed. Chapter II describes the connection between Qu's poetic engagement and her family's background, and Chapter III gives an account of her family's poetry circles and her relationships with them. The interaction between Qu and other members of Yuan Mei's female disciple group in her region re/shaped her poetic concepts, allowed her to advance to the level of an expert poet, and gained her recognition. Chapter IV deals with the interaction between Qu and other members of her group, and Chapter V examines the reading of and comments on Qu's poetry by her group. Qu's poetry is primarily family-oriented, revealing her domestic life and her social networks. Chapter VI views her poetic worlds in the framework of interrelations and interactions within the family and society, and the last chapter sums up the implications of her accomplishments as a poet and evaluates her creations in the contexts of Chinese literature and women's literature. Qu honoured women's experience as the source of autonomous art and her poetry opens up the world of a gentry woman's private life and feelings to an extent had not seen much before in classical Chinese poetry. Qu, together with her female contemporaries, broadened the scope of Chinese literature by bringing new themes to it and introducing a genial style of poetry. Qu also constantly sought connections with other people, and it was during the course of interaction with them that her poetic career developed. This experience of hers sheds light on the large increase in the number of women writers in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century China: women joining together with women to write poetry.

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