Organized Panel Session
Informed by a patriarchal Confucian ideology, Vietnam’s dynastic historiography tends to subsume its female figures under male-dominated narratives. This pattern extends to modern times when varieties of nationalism often reinscribe the stories of these women into patriotic narratives of the fatherland. As their silenced voices are recovered by new generations they are also re-covered in novel figurations to speak to latterday concerns and values. This panel proposes to retrace the layers of discursive transformation of four prominent royal women of Vietnam’s premodern past by way of an interdisciplinary historiographical approach. Trần Trọng Dương examines the bi-dynastic tenth-century Queen Dương Vân Nga and her evolution from the target of scorn by Confucian moralists to subsequent veneration as a paragon of patriotism by Marxist historians. Trần Thị An looks at the eleventh-century Queen Ỷ Lan and the transformation of this Cinderella-like figure in texts, folklore and on stage from medieval to modern times. Trần Hải Yến explores the racial and moral controversies surrounding Princess Huyền Trân’s fourteenth-century geopolitical marriage to a Champa king and her subsequent elopement with her paramour upon widowhood in official histories and latterday romanticization. Nguyễn Quốc Vinh looks at the contested symbolism in Princess Ngọc Hân’s marriage to the Tây Sơn emperor Nguyễn Huệ in 1786 and its emergence as a site of counter-memories in postwar Vietnam.