Skip to main content
Shopping cart: items Cart

Distributed for Hong Kong University Press

Mastery of Words and Swords

Negotiating Intellectual Masculinities in Modern China, 1890s–1930s

A telling analysis of the formation and evolution of modern Chinese intellectual masculinities.

After its doors were forced open by the Opium Wars in the late Qing dynasty, China faced a crisis of masculinity that converged with its national crisis. The power of physical aggression increasingly overshadowed literary attainments and became a new imperative of male honor in early Republican China. Afflicted with anxiety about their increasingly effeminate image as perceived by Western colonial powers, Chinese intellectuals strategically distanced themselves from the old literati and reassessed their positions vis-à-vis violence. In Mastery of Words and Swords, Jun Lei explores the formation and evolution of modern Chinese intellectual masculinities as constituted in racial, gender, and class discourses mediated by the West and Japan. To fully reveal the evolving masculine models of a “scholar-warrior,” this book employs an innovative methodology that combines theoretical rigor, archival research, and analysis of literary texts and visual objects. Situating the changing gender relations in modern Chinese history and culture, the book engages critically with male subjectivity concerning other pivotal issues such as semi-coloniality, psychoanalysis, modern love, feminism, and urbanization.


240 pages | 19 halftones | 6 x 9

Transnational Asian Masculinities

Asian Studies: East Asia

Gender and Sexuality


Hong Kong University Press image

View all books from Hong Kong University Press

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations viii
Acknowledgments ix
Part I: Texts and Contexts
1. Performing Chinese Masculinities on the World Stage: An Introduction 3
2. Violence and Its Antidotes: Theorizing Modern Chinese Masculinities 27
Part II: Intra-gender and Inter-gender Relations: Differentiations,
Negotiations, and Regulations
3. The Sick, the Weak, and the Perilous: Colonial Stereotypes and Martialized
Intellectual Masculinity in Late Qing and Early Republican China 59
4. New Men of Feelings: “Freedom of Love,” Modern Ethics, and
Neo-romantic Masculinity of the May Fourth Generation 88
5. Consuming the Modern Girl: Middlebrow Literary Masculinity and
Surrogate Violence in Shanghai New Sensationalism 117
6. Optical Scientism: Editorial Authority, Male Subjectivity, and Policing
“Female Monstrosity” in Shanghai Print Media 146
Conclusion 182
Bibliography 195
Index 214

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press