Location: Brower Commons A
Wang Duanshu (1621-1680?) was an unusually successful and prominent woman writer of the late Ming and early Qing. Her best known works are Yinhong ji, a collection of her own poetry and prose that was completed by the mid-1650s (but perhaps not published until the early 1660s), and Mingyuan shiwei, an anthology of women’s poems of the Ming and early Qing that came out in 1667. It is normal to credit Wang’s husband Ding Shengzhao for much of this output. He raised funds for publication and helped collect writings. Her paper aims to bring out a little more of the background, beginning with the fact that both of these collections were put together during a stay of as much as twenty years, in Shaoxing, her home town. There she benefited from the support and attention of several local anthologists, all male, who sought to promote her work, even as she promoted the work of other Shaoxing women. Wang Duanshu also enjoyed the patronage of a local couple. The financial details are not knowable but the fact that something resembling patronage took place is clear. Lastly, Wang took part in gatherings of both men’s and women’s poetry societies in the area. When the society was made up of men, she wrote on behalf of her husband. When it was made up of women, she wrote on her own behalf. Since it was a men’s poetry society that sponsored publication of her personal collection Yinhong ji, we can see that poetical socialization, as well as promotion and patronage, were important to her publishing career. At each step in the process of exploring Wang’s circumstances, Professor Widmer will develop a contrast to the poetical career of Shang Jinglan, an older Shaoxing poet of roughly the same era. Whereas Wang Duanshu was at home with male poets and their patterns of socialization, Shang’s poetical activities took place in a woman-centered world.