China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Inspired by the increasing scholarly focus on space in Chinese studies, this panel calls for innovative hermeneutics of such varied cultural spaces as book pages, theatrical stages, and religious sites that burgeoned in late imperial China. We undertake to redress these spaces’ conventional images as predefined and well-contained categories. Texts, temples, and theaters in our consideration, function as dynamic and intersecting “processes” that at once produced and were produced by contesting cultural discussions, social relations, and ideological values. All together, our papers shed light on the creation of unorthodox arenas where a nuanced spatial order surfaced to reshape books, bodies, and buildings, complicating the ideological landscape from the Ming through late Qing.
Analyzing two Qing imperially-commissioned publications, Moyer complicates the textual space underpinning their state-sanctioned content. She argues that the books’ architecture enables a polyphony of competing ideological messages. Ma extends the exploration to a re-imagination of heterodox religious spaces via women’s corporeality. She demonstrates an extraordinary homogenization of the female body with Buddhist sacred realms in both literary narratives and burial practices. Wu examines musical treatises vis-a-vis performance practices to argue that qu-singing was a spatially defined and contested activity where competing cultural tastes and power dynamics were played out. Xin focuses on the theatrical imagination in Wu Youru’s lithographic prints from late Qing. He reveals the inversion and mutual intrusion of the erstwhile separated spheres for spectacles and spectators. All four papers reread cultural spaces on diverse frontiers, where varied interests and claims intersected and interacted.