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Disgraceful MattersThe Politics of Chastity in Eighteenth-Century China$
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Janet Theiss

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520240339

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520240339.001.0001

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Defining Gender Orthodoxy for a Multiethnic Empire

Defining Gender Orthodoxy for a Multiethnic Empire

(p.24) (p.25) Chapter 1 Defining Gender Orthodoxy for a Multiethnic Empire
Disgraceful Matters

Janet M. Theiss

University of California Press

Chinese dynasties had for centuries issued awards for extraordinary virtue to the chaste and filial to provide exemplars for the moral cultivation of their subjects and to enhance their own image of virtue and benevolence. The expansion of categories of state-sanctioned chastity suicides served as a politically benign and pragmatic gesture of support for the values of Han literati, whose movement for revival of ritual and moral orthodoxy was gaining momentum over the first half of the eighteenth century. If the first two reigns of the dynasty saw the creation of a new state discourse on female virtue, it was the Yongzheng Emperor who constructed the institutional edifice to promote and enforce the evolving state orthodoxy.

Keywords:   Chinese dynasties, female virtue, moral cultivation, chastity suicides, Han literati, Yongzheng Emperor

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