China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

(82) An Archeology of the Popular: Renegotiating Language, Point of View, and Authority in Yuan/Ming Chinese Songs and Theater

3/23/2018
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Johnson, Mezzanine Level

Profound shifts in the popularity and status of drama as well as the literary uses of vernacular language, fictional portrayal, and humor have garnered much attention in recent studies of late imperial Chinese theater (1550-1911).  Less well understood are the roots of these transformations in works from earlier periods.  Centering on readings of discourses associated with theater and song during middle period China (1115-1550), this panel explores the expanding use of colloquial language and the embrace of a broader social range of figures such as actors, peasants, and diasporic authors in writings from the Yuan and Ming.
The papers seek to engage with the following questions: Do these works reflect a spoken language of any sort, or are they inventing a new literary standard that makes use of colloquial elements? Do they introduce new points of view only to dismiss them as comic fodder for a literary elite or do they empower outsiders? Do the new forms of humor reinforce the existing literary socio-hierarchies, or do they challenge cultural authority? Is the meaning of acting on stage a form of didactic suasion, an incantatory and illusionistic invocation of historical paragons, and/or a platform for the virtuoso display of vocal, verbal, and comic skills?
Taken together, the papers in this panel reveal how shifting language registers, points of view, and a new found authority of humor challenged conventional standards of literary expression, thus paving the way for new literati norms and attitudes vis-a-vis performance-related forms in the late Ming.

Presentations:

Karin Myhre

University of Georgia, Georgia

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Regina Llamas

Stanford University, California

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Send Email for Patricia Sieber

Send Email for Patricia Sieber

Karin Myhre

University of Georgia, Georgia

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Regina Llamas

Stanford University, California

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Paul Smith

Haverford College, Pennsylvania

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Hongchu Fu

Washington and Lee University, Virginia

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