• This paper examines the voluminous “poetry talks” (shihua) written by Southern Society (Nanshe) members and focuses on two tendencies in these discourses: The general cult of sentimentality and the narrative strategy on women’s poetry. These poetic discourses succeeded the language of traditional literary criticism, but also exhibited ideals of the new epoch. As a rebellion to the Qing imperial standard on measured and learned poetry, Southern Society poets took instead as their role models eccentric and iconoclastic poets who “venerated feelings.” The cult of sentimentality continued the trend of individual liberation from the late Ming and further showed a collective discourse that promoted a new kind of revolutionary subjectivity. These authors were also fond of collecting sentimental stories about female poets. More than being traditional “talented women,” these poets exhibited a diversity of female roles in an era of liberation.