This major intervention into feminist literary theory calls for a more sociologically informed use of the concept of discourse. Ravni Thakur demonstrates how the work of Foucault and Bourdieu can deepen our understanding of gender and literary discourse. The first part of the book explores orthodox gender roles and relations in China, and looks at how such an orthodoxy is constructed. The author uses Bourdieu's notion of the literary field to shed light on institutionalized literary criticism. Going on to explore women's responses to dominant gender discourses, the author looks at how these discourses are both translated into and transformed within the literary field. Analysing a wide variety of literary texts, she shows how the literature of women in post-Mao China illustrates the role of discourse itself in the construction of gender identity paradigms. A major contribution to the theorisation of women's relationship with identity politics and cultural representation, the book demonstrates throughout the necessity of reading women within the wider social context.