Hsiao-wen Cheng

Hsiao-wen Cheng

Visiting Lecturer on Women’s Studies and Chinese Religion 2013–14
WSRP Research Associate 2013–14

Home institution

Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Research project

Traveling Stories and Untold Desires: Female Sexuality in Medieval China

This project examines the historicity of female sexuality in middle period China (from the Six Dynasties to the Song); traces the changing and conflicting conceptualizations of female sexuality in both elite and popular discourses; and presents evidence of women's efforts to create new space and to look for new resources in order to negotiate autonomy over their sexual bodies and explore their desires.

Watch Hsiao-wen Cheng discuss her research project, 'Traveling Stories and Untold Desires: Female Sexuality in Medieval China':

WSRP lecture

Medicine, Exorcism, and Female Sexualities in Medieval China


HDS 3009: Religious Women in Pre-Modern China (Fall 2013)


Hsiao-wen Cheng is a postdoctoral fellow in the Institute of History and Philology at Academia Sinica. She received her BA and MA degrees in Chinese literature from National Taiwan University, and PhD in history from the University of Washington in 2012. In Taiwan she was trained extensively in Chinese classics, paleography, historical phonetics, philosophy, and literature. Now she is most interested in gender and sexuality and their relation to the development of popular religion in middle period China, especially the Song dynasty (960-1279), a time period when print technology, urbanization, and popular culture began to sprout. She is enthusiastic about exploring the usefulness (and necessity) of queer methodology to studying Chinese history, and vice versa.

This year in the Women's Studies in Religion Program, she will be working on a book project based on her dissertation, 'Traveling Stories and Untold Desires: Female Sexuality in Medieval China,' examining the historical formation of norms concerning female sexuality during this critical period in Chinese history, the nuances of queerness and transgressiveness in the source materials, and the ways in which Song dynasty culture (especially popular religious culture) and women's behaviors and practices mutually defined each other.

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