Traditional Chinese theater or xiqu (music-theater) was the mass media of China prior to the introduction of modern electronic media and remained important enough in the 20th century to be used as the main medium in political campaigns. Originally looked down upon, unsanctioned, and considered trivial, examples of Chinese dramatic writing have now been canonized and taken their place among the most honored works of Chinese literature.
In this course, we will pay attention not only to how these plays work on the page and how they were read, but also to how they were staged (and in many cases, continue to be staged). We will also investigate the fate of this traditional art form in contemporary China, as well as attempts to fuse it and other dramatic traditions. We will do our best to take advantage of visiting performers and performances.
Active participation in in-class exercises, daily small assignments, two short papers, and a final exam.
Undergraduates with an interest in Chinese culture, especially in Chinese literature or performance traditions, as well as those interested in theater or dramatic literature in general. Knowledge of Chinese is not required.
Three hours per week, lecture format.