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A pioneering study of the life and work of a Chinese woman scholar of the Eastern Han period


First published in 1932, Pan Chao is perhaps the earliest work by an American scholar on a Chinese woman intellectual. Alongside the story of Pan’s life, Nancy Lee Swann sketches the Eastern Han period when Pan lived and wrote, her family background, and the literary milieu of which she was a part. In addition, Swann provides translations of writings definitively identified with Pan that survive from the years when she was active (ca. 89–105 a.d.).While Pan is well known for her contribution to the great Han-shu, of special interest is her treatise on the moral training of women, in which she makes a plea for girls to be given the same education as boys and points to principles that led young women to success in ancient China. Swann also includes memorials, short poems, and an essay, all of which demonstrate Pan's rhetorical skills and her concerns at the Han court.A considerable work of scholarship, Pan Chao is grounded in Swann’s detailed knowledge of the history and literature of the late Han. Swann includes the Chinese text for shorter works and a comprehensive list of primary sources on this important early scholar.

Nancy Lee SWANN was Curator of the Gest Memorial Chinese Library at Princeton University.