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Reinventing LicentiousnessPornography and Modern China$
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Y. Yvon Wang

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781501752971

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501752971.001.0001

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Challenging Yin Hierarchy

Challenging Yin Hierarchy

Late Imperial Antecedents of the Global Modern Pornographic Turn

(p.23) Chapter 1 Challenging Yin Hierarchy
Reinventing Licentiousness

Y. Yvon Wang

Cornell University Press

This chapter demonstrates that, under the regime of licentiousness, hierarchies of pleasure largely matched the distribution of worldly power: elites backed up both articulation and denial with physical and material domination. The chapter then introduces the early modern challenge to yin ideology. Despite the crisis in control over sexual depictions that began in the sixteenth century, hierarchical values around the regulation of these representations largely persisted. By exemplifying the crucial developments in Chinese markets for, and regulations of, sexual representations from the earliest periods of Chinese history up to about the year 1880, the chapter traces these developments as they form a culturally specific backdrop essential to understanding the pornographic transition after 1880. Ultimately, the remainder of the chapter turns to the late imperial breakdown of elite dominance over the circulation and consumption of sexual representations and how the legal and cultural authorities tried to impose new controls over licentious print goods.

Keywords:   licentiousness, elites, desire, yin ideology, Chinese markets, sexual representations, pornographic

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