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This provocative study explores issues of gender in Tang-dynasty literature and culture, and their meaning for society as a whole. Drawing on a comprehensive range of historical, literary, and social texts, Jowen R. Tung unravels the complex mechanisms of one of the world's oldest patriarchal systems. With remarkable depth and originality of analysis, the author persuasively applies contemporary feminist theory to Tang dynasty poetry, narrative, and anecdotal literature. Interpreting both well-known and obscure works in fresh ways, Tung sheds light on areas long left shadowed or ignored. In the process, she paints a far darker picture of a period traditionally known as the 'golden age.'