Legal, Moral, and Manly: Circumscribing Womanly Violence in Ming China, 1368–1644


Luce/ACLS Early Career Fellowships in China Studies – Long-Term



Named Award

Long-term - NEH named award


This project examines womanly violence—moral disciplinary violence—that, in China from the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries, was legally sanctioned for women in the authoritative family positions of wife, mother, or master. “Legal, Moral, and Manly” argues that womanly violence was integral to the structure of Chinese families and was normalized through legal, social, and cultural patriarchal institutions. By identifying this legitimization process, this book delves into a wide range of primary sources, including legal codes and cases, imperial court records, biographical writings, family instructions, medical recipes, anecdotes, fictional tales, and dramas. Drawing on this trove of knowledge, the project identifies the mechanisms that simultaneously legitimized womanly violence and constrained aggressive women.