Adjudicating Masculinity: Male Suicide and Weakening Patriarchy in Qing Dynasty Law


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Predissertation-Summer Travel Grants




This dissertation examines the untapped issue of male suicide in Qing dynasty law. Criminal cases (xingke tiben) involving men’s suicide shed new light on the intersection of state, society, and gender, placing judicial anxiety about disruption of gender boundaries and patriarchal authority at the forefront of the adjudication process. I hypothesize that the Qing state considered self-sacrifice a feminine performance of agency, and thereby a form of agency improper for the strong patriarch. The Qing state consequently faced a broader than understood failure of male authority. This dissertation places male suicide in the broader context of discussions of unorthodox masculinities weakening patriarchy that challenged the elite paradigm of male investment in the established order.