When Mark Selden approached me about putting together a collection of my articles for this series, I had some trepidation. Which of my articles did I want people to read today? Which ones would work best together? I was forced to take a hard look at the various directions my research has taken over the past quarter century, to look for links among articles written for disparate purposes and decide which ones held up the best. Mark and I went back and forth by email numerous times discussing various possibilities, given Routledge's page limits. Mark naturally wanted a book that would have a wide appeal and tended to favor the broadest essays; I usually found the ones based on the most thorough research the most suitable for republishing. At least three possible foci suggested themselves: Chinese social history, which would have allowed me to include a couple of my articles on the Han to Tang period; the social and cultural history of the Song period, which would have allowed me to include some of my more recent work on Chinese visual culture; and family-gender-kinship in Chinese history, which had been the major thrust of at least half my work. In the end we settled on this last alternative, as it allowed a balance between short and long articles, ones that cover a long time span and ones focused on the Song period, ones that dealt with women and gender as well as ones that ranged further into questions of kinship organization, rituals central to family life, and even the connection between kinship and ethnic identity. It also represents a more-or-less complete body of research, as my research interests have turned in other directions over the last few years.
From my perspective, there were a couple of other incentives to putting together this volume. I was happy to get the chance to convert the romanization style of older articles from Wade-Giles to pinyin, as fewer and fewer undergraduates today are comfortable with Wade-Giles. I also appreciated the possibility of adding illustrations. The only article that had any illustrations in its original publication is the last one on “Gender and Sinology, ” and even in that case several additional illustrations have been added. Six of the other illustrations come from a single source, an illustrated elaboration of the Kangxi emperor's Sacred Edict, first published in 1681 and reprinted in 1903. This work had illustrations not only of general