Matthew Sommer

Bowman Family Professor of History and, by courtesy, of East Asian Languages and Cultures
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, History (1994)
M.A., University of Washington, International Studies: China (1987)
B.A., Swarthmore College, Political Science (1983)

I am a social and legal historian of China in the Qing dynasty (1644-1912).  My research focuses on gender, sexuality, and family, and the main source for my work is original legal case records from local and central archives in China.  My first two books were: SEX, LAW, AND SOCIETY IN LATE IMPERIAL CHINA (Stanford UP, 2000) and POLYANDRY AND WIFE-SELLING IN QING DYNASTY CHINA: SURVIVAL STRATEGIES AND JUDICIAL INTERVENTIONS (U of California P, 2015).  My third book, entitled THE FOX SPIRIT, THE STONE MAIDEN, AND OTHER TRANSGENDER HISTORIES FROM LATE IMPERIAL CHINA, was recently published by Columbia University Press.  Future plans include a fourth book entitled MALE SAME-SEX RELATIONS AND MASCULINITY IN QING CHINA, for which the research is already completed, and a fifth entitled CRIMINAL PROCEDURE IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY CHINA: THE QING JUDICIARY IN ACTION.


Gender and Sexuality
Legal History
Social History
Women's History

Read a review by Fudan University historian Zhao Liuyang of the recently-published Chinese translation of Matthew Sommer’s 2000 book Sex, Law, and Society in Late Imperial China.

Read an interview with Matthew Sommer in 《南方周末》:

Listen to Carla Nappi's interview with Matthew Sommer about his new book:…

Read an interview with Matthew Sommer in 《澎湃新闻》: