The introduction presents the themes and ideas to be developed in the book. It first reviews the strengths and weaknesses of the previous studies on the late Qing reforms, against which it briefs the significance and the approaches of the book (as stated in the book abstract). It then introduces Xue’s intellectual networks, which comprised of the members from her local Min (Fujian) writing-women circles and their supportive male associates, such as Xue’s husband Chen Shoupeng (1857–c. 1928) and Shoupeng’s brother Chen Jitong (1852–1907), as well as other Min male scholars who were related to the Fuzhou Navy Yard culture. Sustaining these women’s subjectivity was the xianyuan spirit, a legacy from the Wei-Jin era. Literature, as the core constituent of the xianyuan and the Min writing-women traditions, naturally became the major means for women to advance their reform goals.
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