Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Mary Hanneman


Although continuing the patriarchal, Confucian standards of previous empires, the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) established a fluid, cosmopolitan culture that allowed women greater access to education and the arts. During the High Qing era, women writers found empowerment and social advancement through the cultivation of their literary talents. In this thesis, the author provides historical context, explores the role of women in traditional Chinese society, and describes how women used poetry and letters to forge their own identity. The paper also includes detailed analyses of several poems from four Qing-era writers: Shang Jinglan, Wang Duanshu, Lui Rushi, and Wang Wei.


This paper received an Honorable Mention in the UW Libraries 2012 Research Awards for Undergraduates.