Xiaorong Li

East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies


Xiaorong Li’s areas of research are concerned with gender and literary production, women’s writings, literati culture, and literary trends in late imperial and early Republican China (ca. 1500–1920).  Her first monograph, Women’s Poetry of Late Imperial China: Transforming the Inner Chambers (U of WA P, 2013), uses the physical, social and symbolic location of women in the gendered division of space— the inner chambers [gui or guige] — as a theoretical focus of an examination of Ming-Qing women’s approach to the writing of poetry.  Her second book is titled The Poetics and Politics of Sensuality in China: The “Fragrant and Bedazzling” Movement (1600-1930) (Penn P, 2019). “Fragrant and bedazzling” (xiangyan) is a Chinese phrase synonymous with sensual and bewitching feminine beauty and, in literature, eroticism. Drawing on extensive archival research, this book argues that sensual lyricism is more political than its sensuous surfaces—and China’s lyrical tradition is sexier and more “modern”—than existing histories have led us to believe.