Shen Fu Study Guide F'09

Shen Fu Study Guide F'09 - EALC 350g Dr. Birge Chinese...

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Unformatted text preview: EALC 350g Dr. Birge Chinese Civilization Shen Fu Study Guide Shen Fu (1763­ ?) Six Records of a Floating Life (first published 1877) Main characters: (be sure to know these) Shen Fu Chen Yün (his wife) Ching­chün (their daughter) Feng­sen (their son) Han­yüan (courtesan) Hsi­erh (sing­song girl on flower boat) Questions for discussion 1. Shen Fu's narrative tells about his life in a traditional patriarchal extended family. How does this family constrain his life and dictate his choices, and how does it support and help him in life? How important were family ties in helping him through life compared to other types of affiliations, with friends, colleagues, patrons, etc.? How did he make money? 2. What kinds of roles for women and what kinds of relationships between women are seen in Shen Fu's Records of a Floating Life? What assumptions and philosophies affect these roles and relations? To what extent do you think Yün is oppressed or victimized by her situation; and what about the other women around her? 3. What kinds of male-female relations are seen in the text? Polygamy was a fact of life in Shen Fu's world, but what problems did it generate (for all those involved) and how was it regarded within the family? How were these various relationships affected by traditional Chinese culture and values, and in what ways might they be similar to relationships in our own society? Consider issues like different types of marriage, courtesans and their clients, etc. 4. What were the causes of the "misfortune" in Shen Fu's life? To what extent was it caused by traditional attitudes and practices in Chinese society and in what ways was it caused by individual circumstances? Does your view of Shen Fu's reversals and misfortune differ from how Shen Fu himself explains them? To what extent were Shen Fu and Yün rebels against "the system"? Be sure to think about what they did and did not protest against. ...
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