Despite their significant contributions to the late Qing reforms, Xue and her cohorts were all but forgotten by the end of the dynasty, largely because they opted for a richly nuanced culturalism rather than a strategically oriented nationalism and were therefore written out by the “modernizing” Chinese patriarchy. Yet the power of nationalism and the growth of radical politics in twentieth-century China had not been able to efface late Qing women reformers. Recent studies have come to appreciate the multifaceted historical role of Chinese writing women. This case study of Xue and other writing women in the reform era is intended to provoke further explorations into the dynamism and variety of late Qing intellectual and social life. It also serves as a reminder of the value of the Chinese tradition, which is and has always been multidimensional, resilient, tolerant, and capable of incorporating other traditions into its vast repertoire.
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