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Guojun Wang: The Gender of Knowledge: Virtues and Crimes in the Forensic Drama of Early Modern China

Abstract: In premodern China, practitioners of forensic investigations were predominantly male. However, crime literature, especially court-case drama, frequently portrays female characters not only as objects of forensic inquests, but also as subjects of forensic knowledge. This study explores the gendered subjects of forensic knowledge as represented in a number of theatrical works of early modern China. It argues that court-case dramas from that period increasingly valorized men's forensic knowledge as part of the state legal system, while presenting women's forensic knowledge following two literary traditions, namely, the commendation of exemplary women and the condemnation of "wanton women."

Bio: Guojun Wang is associate professor of Asian Studies at Vanderbilt University. He specializes in early modern Chinese literature and culture, especially the intersections between writing, performance, materiality, and gender. He is the author of Staging Personhood: Costuming in Early Qing Drama (Columbia University Press, 2020) and co-editor of the special issue Rethinking Authorship and Agency: Women and Gender in Late Imperial China (Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture, forthcoming 2023). His papers have appeared in Late Imperial China, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, CLEAR, T'oung Pao, and NAN NÜ, among others.

Contact: Stacy Weiss