Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-Century

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China argues that the increase in female literacy during the late Ming and early Qing dynasties allowed elite women to create a rich culture and space of their own even under the constraints of Confucian code. During this time, socioeconomic and intellectual changes in the gentry community enabled women to become more visible in a male dominated world, and to also expand their accepted gender roles often bending what was considered appropriate for the prestigious woman. The most important of changes, specified by Ko, included a flourishing of commercial printing, the rise of a reading public especially among girls and women, a new emphasis on emotions, the newfound importance of women’s education, and, the emergence of new definitions of womanhood..

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One of the first major advents of female literacy was that they now had a social world of other readers that they could interact with. Instead of staying at home and only taking care of their house and family, many women were now reading poetry and stories, and had other women to discuss the literature with. This helped build up interpersonal relationships and social circles that most likely would not have existed before literacy. On top of the social aspects of literacy, it also gave many women a chance to find a mental escape from their daily lives. Now, women could immerse themselves in the worlds of stories or in the flowing verses of a poem. While in the past, many women that were either talented or educated would find their husbands in arranged marriages an unfit partner, at least intellectually. These women could now seek out other likeminded women to cope with the situation they were in,

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