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Matthew Sommer

Matthew Sommer

Chair, Department of History
Professor of Chinese History
Field: 
East Asia
Ph.D., UCLA
M.A., University of Washington
B.A., Swarthmore College

My research focuses on sexuality, gender relations, chosen kinship, and law during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) and the main sources for my work are legal cases from central and local archives in China.  The main local archives I have used happen to be located in Sichuan, which is my favorite part of China (the photo shows me eating Yibin-style “flaming noodles” at a restaurant in Chengdu).  I also like to use popular fiction and other non-legal sources for historical research. 



My first book, SEX, LAW, AND SOCIETY IN LATE IMPERIAL CHINA, is primarily a legal history, but more recent projects use legal cases to explore social historical topics as well.  My second book, POLYANDRY AND WIFE-SELLING IN QING DYNASTY CHINA: SURVIVAL STRATEGIES AND JUDICIAL INTERVENTIONS, was published in September 2015.  I am now completing my third book, which analyzes male same-sex relations and masculinity in eighteenth-century China on the basis of some 1700 relevant cases.  Long-term plans include a fourth book, about criminal procedure in the Qing dynasty.

Selected Publications & Projects

Matthew Sommer
This book is a study of polyandry, wife-selling, and a variety of related practices in China during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). By analyzing over...

Selected Journals & Book Chapters

Matthew Sommer
“The Gendered Body in the Qing Courtroom,” Journal of the History of Sexuality, 22: 2 (2013) [Special Issue: Sexuality in Imperial China], pp. 281-...
Matthew Sommer
“Scandal in the Garden: The Story of the Stone as a ‘Licentious Novel’,” in Andrew Schonebaum and Tina Lu, eds., Approaches to Teaching The Story of...
Matthew Sommer
“The Field of Qing Legal History,” in Zhang Haihui et al., eds., A Scholarly Review of Chinese Studies in North America, Association for Asian...
Matthew Sommer
“堕胎在明清时期的中国:日常避孕抑或应急性措施?” (Abortion in Late Imperial China: Routine Birth Control or Crisis Intervention?  trans. by Zhang Yu 张宇), 《中国乡村研究》 (...
Matthew Sommer
“Abortion in Late Imperial China: Routine Birth Control or Crisis Intervention?” Late Imperial China, 2010 (31: 2), pp. 97-165 (69 pages);...
Matthew Sommer
“清代縣衙的賣妻案件審判:以272件巴縣、南部與寶坻縣案子為例證” (The Adjudication of Wife-Selling in Qing County Courts: 272 Cases from Ba, Nanbu, and Baodi Counties, trans. by...
Matthew Sommer
“Was China Part of a Global Eighteenth-Century Homosexuality?” Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques [special issue: Eighteenth-...
Matthew Sommer
“清代法におけるジェンダーの構築” (The Construction of Gender in Qing Dynasty Law, trans. by Karasawa Yasuhiko 唐澤靖彦), in Mitsunari Miho 三成美保, ed., 2006: 《ジェンダーの比較法史学...
Matthew Sommer
Yasuhiko Karasawa, Bradly W. Reed
“Qing County Archives in Sichuan: An Update from the Field,” with Karasawa Yasuhiko and Bradly Reed, Late Imperial China, December 2005 (26...
Matthew Sommer
“性工作:作为生存策略的清代一妻多夫现象” (Sex Work: Polyandry as a Survival Strategy in the Qing Dynasty, trans. by Li Xia 李霞), 《新社会史》 (New Social History),...

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