Cover of A Tender Voyage by Ping-chen Hsiung
A Tender Voyage
Children and Childhood in Late Imperial China
Ping-chen Hsiung

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2005
378 pages.
from $31.95

Cloth ISBN: 9780804741644
Paper ISBN: 9780804757546

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A Tender Voyage is the first full-length study of the history of childhood and children's lives in late imperial China. The author draws on an extraordinary range of sources to analyze both the normative concept of childhood—literary and philosophical—and the treatment and experience of children in China.

The study begins with the history of pediatrics and newborn care and their evolution over time. The author moves on to the social environment of the child, including models of upbringing and expected behavior and the treatment of different kinds of children, including the rebellious and the "gentle" child. She examines the role of the mother, notably her close and complex relations with her sons, and the broader emotional world of children, their relationships with the adults around them, and the destructive power of death. The last section discusses concepts of childhood in China and the West.

Throughout, the study keeps in view the issue of representation versus practice, the role of memory, and the importance of listening for what is not said.

About the author

Ping-chen Hsiung is Dean of College of Liberal Arts at National Central University and a Research Fellow at the Institute of Modern History at Academia Sinica, Taiwan.

"This book contains a feast for the reader... The Chinese past is seen by [Hsiung] as an alternative world that questions and complicates our sense of children and childhoods. The value of this subfield is that it opens up new windows on our humanity, nothing less."

H-Net Reviews

"The author's encyclopedic reading has yielded a densely woven fabric of anecdote and story that iams to connect emotional worlds of the past with today's readers. The resulting book, which was extraordinarily popular in its Chinese version, also has something to teach English readers about the complexity of contemporary Chinese perspectives on Confucian traditions."

Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"The appearance of Ping-chen Hsiung's excellent book, the result of more than twenty years of research, is indeed an occasion for celebration."

China Review International

"This is a fascinating and well-researched book..."

Asian Affairs

"A definitive work."--CHOICE

"The greatest strengths of Hsiungs study are the great breadth of material she is able to draw on, and the sophistication with which she applies Western theoretical approaches in interpreting those sources."

American Historical Review

"This volume is a tour de force that provides many insightful glimpses into the late imperial childs world....This superb book should be of interest to anyone interested in Chinese cultural history."

Journal of Asian Studies

"In this collection of eight essays, Professor Hsiung explores fresh material to address topics related to children and early childhood in late imperial China. Overall, the book makes a remarkable contribution to the study of children and childhood in Chinese history. It enables readers to view the subject from various perspectives and to recognize its multifaceted nature and complexity."

Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History