SOAS University of London

China & Inner Asia Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures

Ms Lucrezia Botti

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China & Inner Asia Section, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Senior Teaching Fellow

Ms Lucrezia Botti
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Thesis title:
The Allure of the Dressing Case: A Study of Yang Weizhen’s (1296-1370) and Wang Cihui’s (1593-1642) Xianglianti (Fragrant-Dressing-Case Style) Poetry
Year of Study:
Final Year
Internal Supervisors


After having spent the first nineteen years of my life in Lecco, Northern Italy, I decided to set off for London in order to pursue a BA degree in Chinese at SOAS. Throughout my undergraduate studies I became increasingly interested in pre-modern Chinese literature. Last year I chose to take my interest a step further by pursuing an MA in Sinology. In the last two years my research has mainly focused on traditional Chinese poetry, with particular attention to the following thematic aspects: the aestheticization of reality, the appreciation of female beauty, and the exploration of private emotions related to the sphere of love and desire.

PhD Research

Both criticized for the “demonic” quality of their poetry, the famous late Yuan literatus Yang Weizhen (1296-1370) and the less known late Ming poet Wang Cihui (1593-1642) are two influential authors of xianglianti (fragrant-dressing-case style) poetry, a traditional category of Chinese verse centred on the sensual, aesthetic, and erotic aspects of love and women and whose name derives from Han Wo’s (844-923) Xianglian ji (Fragrant Dressing Case Collection). My dissertation is a study of late imperial xianglianti poetry, with a narrowed focus on two of its major practitioners. It explores how Yang Weizhen and Wang Cihui inserted themselves within the literary path opened by the Xianglian ji, further developing and vitalizing the xianglianti tradition. In my analysis of xianglianti poetry and related prefatory and commentarial materials, I contend that qing (love and related emotions), se (sensual beauty) , and fengliu (unconventionality and amorousness), the three concepts forming the thematic framework of the entire thesis, are crucial for understanding the two poets’ xianglianti production. Chapter One closely examines the literary label xianglianti, using its earliest definitions as a starting point to discuss its relationship to similar poetic categories, its connection with Han Wo’s Xianglian ji, and its morally problematic nature. Chapter Two applies the concept of fengliu to Yang Weizhen and Wang Cihui and lays the basis to argue that xianglianti poetry contributed to the construction and reinforcement of their fengliu identity. Chapter Three applies the label “Yuan miniature Xianglian ji” to Yang Weizhen’s two xianglianti sets, exploring their Yuan elements, their strong intertextual nature, and the poet’s role in the promotion of the genre among his literary circle. Chapter Four examines Wang Cihui’s Yiyu ji (Doubtful Rain Collection), showing how the poet personalized the genre by ostensibly using it as an autobiographical medium to record his amorous experiences.


  • "The Aesthetic Allure and Moral Ambivalence of the Dressing Case: A Preliminary Study on the Early Reception of Wang Cihui’s (1593-1642) Xianglianti (Fragrant-Dressing-Case Style) Poetry. Paper presented at the 7th Coffee Break Conference: Comparisons Across Time and Space, Leiden University, 8th-10th September 2015.
  • “The Allure of Frowned Eyebrows and Dishevelled Hair: Images of Female Sorrow, Anger, and Unadorned Beauty in Wang Cihui’s (1593-1642) Xianglianti (Fragrant-Dressing-Case Style) Poetry”. Paper presented at Texts and Beyond: International PhD Student Conference on the Study of Pre-Modern Chinese Texts, Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, SOAS, 28th-29th June 2015.
  • "The Defence of Xianglianti Poetry: An Analysis of Yang Weizhen's Self-Preface to the Set of Poems 'Xulian ji' ". Paper presented at Reflecting on the Nature(s) and Use(s) of Pre-Modern Chinese Texts (Cambridge Graduate Conference in Chinese Studies), University of Cambridge, 6th March 2014.