The quest for gentility has shaped Chinese civilization and the formation of culture in China until the present day. This book analyzes social aspirations and cultural practices in China from 1550 to 1999, showing how the notion of gentility has evolved and retained its relevance in China from late imperial times until the modern day. Gentility denotes the way of the gentleman and gentlewoman. The concept of gentility transcends the categories of gender and class and provides important new insights into the ways Chinese men and women lived their lives, perceived their world and constructed their cultural environment. In contrast to analyses of the elite, perceptions of gentility relate to ideals, ambitions, desires, social capital, cultural sophistication, literary refinement, aesthetic appreciation, moral behaviour, femininity and gentlemanly elegance, rather than to actual status or power. Twelve international leading scholars present multi-disciplinary approaches to explore the images, artefacts and transmission of gentility across the centuries in historical and literary situations, popular and high culture, private and official documents, poetry clubs, garden culture and aesthetic guidebooks. This volume changes the ways we look at Chinese cultural history, literature, women and gender issues and offers new perspectives on Chinese sources.
The Quest for Gentility in China: An Introduction Part 1: Event 1. Gentility in Transition: Travels, Novels, and the New Guixiu Ellen Widmer 2. Washing the Wutong Tree: Garden Culture as an Expression of Women’s Gentility in the Late Ming Alison Hardie 3. Gentility in a Shanghai Literary Salon of the 1930s Michel Hockx 4. Negotiating Gentility: The Banana Garden Poetry Club in Seventeenth-Century China Daria Berg Part 2: Reflection 5. Female Gentility in Transition and Transmission: Mother-Daughter Ties in Ming/Qing China Ping-chen Hsiung 6. Virtuous Surrogates: Moral Action and Substitution in the Case of Yang Jisheng Kenneth Hammond 7. Sartorial Modesty and Genteel Ideals in the Late Ming Sarah Dauncey 8. The Aspirant Genteel: The Courtesan and Her Image Problem Chloë Starr Part 3: Transmission 9. Textbooks on an Aesthetic Life in Late Ming China Oki Yasushi 10. Searching for Gentility: The Nineteenth-Century Fashion for the Late Ming Anne Gerritsen 11. In Spite of Gentility: Women and Men in Linglong, a 1930s Women’s Magazine Barbara Mittler 12. The Chinese Gentlewoman in the Public Gaze: Ling Shuhua in Twentieth-Century China and Britain Jeesoon Hong