Taking the Warp for the Weft: Gendered Anger in the Lienüzhuan

Journal of Chinese Philosophy 49 (3):214-226 (2022)
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Abstract

The emotion of anger has received overall negative treatment in recent moral philosophy. This article explores the gendered representations of anger in the Lienüzhuan 《列女傳》 of Liu Xiang 劉向 (77–6 BCE). It begins with a brief account of the semantic field of anger and its representation in the Lienüzhuan, focusing on three important patterns. Perhaps most important is the didactic role of anger; and how female teachers use it (or avoid it) in instructing male sons, husbands and rulers. Second is the treatment of women’s distinct strategies for addressing the effects of being the object of the anger of others. The third is the representation of female anger in accounts of female vice. The representations of anger in the LNZ provides an important alternative to views of anger as motivated by the desire for payback and status. The LNZ, like other pre-Qin texts, understands anger very differently, and focuses on other-regarding anger, based on perceptions of wrongdoing and injustice.

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