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A Study of the Literary Works for Educating Offspring by Female Poets in Ch'ing China
Literature for Educating Offspring
The aims of this thesis are to explore the ideas of educating offspring in the literary works by female poets in Ch'ing China, and to analyze the differences between the different phases and regions. The primary historical sources, such as poetry anthologies, including Jiefang Ji, Guixiu Zhengshi Ji (and supplements), the Guo Chao Gui Xiu Zheng Shi Ji, are used. 285 poems written by 213 female poets are analyzed, and the average piece of each poet writes 1.34. It is found that chronologically 169 poems are written in the 1644-1795 phase, the rest of 116 poems are in the 1796-1874 one. Geographically, most of poems written by poets in Jiangsu Province, followed by ones in Zhejiang Province, especially who located in the Jiangnan region; there are 47% of all poets and 44% of total sum o f poems. As to the content of those poems, there is no difference between the works of Jiangnan region and others. According to the objects, the lessons were intended to instruct, over 50% poems in both phases are concerned with the boys' education, followed by the girls' education, between 12% and 14%. Others include the education of daughters-in-law, and the expression of author’s feelings. The contents of poems for educating offspring include the elements of knowledge and moral character. For son, mothers always emphasize the importance of study, the sages and great men as role model to improve their behavior and morality, and the preparation of imperial examination, which will bring good reputation and glory for their family and its ancestors. When they study, industry is emphasized, and they work and get along with others, prudence is important. However, they should have good moral character and live with others. For daughters, mothers’ expectations are similar but with modifications. On morality, obeisance and filial piety are preached. On studying, most of parents did not think that women's virtues and their talents are mutually exclusive, and the books assigned are not confined to textbooks for women. However, there is the tendency to recommend the treatise Neize in the Liji, while some do read Four Books and Five Classics. After study, most mothers expected their daughters to be a good wife and mother in the future. Lastly, there shows the impact of social gender in keze poetry. Concepts such as the heaven over earth and man over woman always exist in those works, but those mothers do not intentionally degrade their daughter's social status. And the ways female poets educated their sons and daughters cohered to social expectations of gender roles and labor division.
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