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In recent decades, historians of European history have produced many studies on the history of emotions. Based on the hypothesis that emotions are neither a biological essence nor a universal fixed attribute, they have sought to trace constructions of human emotionality as reflected in literary and other works in a particular society over time. This new sub-discipline, the study of what is often termed “sentimental culture”, has illuminated the interaction between the articulation of an emotional sensibility and significant social trends of the age, including the rise of humanitarian discourse, radical Protestantism, and a destabilizing of sexual norms. From the new perspective of the cultural history of emotion, the modern idea that emotions express individual inwardness and autonomy now appears to be contingent and culture bound. In the case of China, while there has been an abundance of studies of the cult of qing 情 (‘passion, desire’) in the late Ming, there are few works dealing specifically with the historical construction of emotion in pre-modern China, particularly from a linguistic point of view.