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Abstract

In her article "Han's (韓邦慶) Novel海上花列傳 (The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai) and Urbanity in Late Qing Shanghai" Xiaojue Wang discusses the relationship between the urban milieu in the foreign concessions of Shanghai and the late Qing courtesan culture through a critical reading of Bangqing Han's (韓邦慶1856-1894) novel The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai. Wang argues that Han's novel is a significant departure from traditional vernacular fiction in three aspects: 1) its illustration of the connection between courtesan culture and the rising modern city, 2) its portrayal of emergent female subjectivity and female space in the late Qing, and 3) the significance of its narrative discrepancy. The novel is composed of two parts: one situated in Shanghai's concessions and the other in Yili Yuan, an imaginary classical Chinese garden. Wang discusses how in the novel narrative disparity is a consequence of the Han's efforts to reshuffle ambivalent cultural and ethical values in a transitional age in China.