Grad. Students Feature Stories

Delving into the Significance of the “Insignificant” - Women’s Poetry about Their Everyday Activities in Late Imperial China



In 2015, I was fortunate enough to be an awardee of the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS) to start my 3-year journey as a PhD student under the supervision of Professor Clara Ho, a distinguished and respectable professional. My thesis focuses on women’s narrative of their everyday activities in late imperial China. The minutiae of everyday life in the boudoir formed a field in which material reality, Chinese conventional values and women’s subjectivity intersected and integrated. Therefore, everyday activities were not merely understood as actual doings, but they should also be examined as a constructive field of women’s selfhood and an expressive occasion of their emotions.


Women’s everyday practices in late imperial China covered a wide range of activities, such as garment-making, food provisioning and doing make-up, all of which bore cultural significance and served to demonstrate female virtues. Female talents aptly turned the activities into a channel to their emotional memories of private history and pondering over life. In analyzing women’s own voice, my research delves deeply into the seemingly “insignificant” doings and explores how women’s subjectivity was embedded in and expressed through the concreteness of daily activities in their domains.


Now I am teaching a subject titled “Women’s Everyday Life in Imperial China” at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and continue bringing new understandings to academia and to students.



Dr. LIN Zhihui

Graduate of the PhD programme of the Department of History. Currently an instructor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.