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China on Stage symposium: From the Traditional to the Extreme: Chinese Opera and Performance Art

April 22, 2008 - 7:00pm
Campbell Recital Hall
This panel session will be moderated by Ban Wang, Professor of Modern Chinese Literature, Stanford University "Current Developments in Chinese Opera" presented by Catherine Swatek, Associate Professor of Chinese Literature, University of British Columbia In 2001, UNESCO designated Kunqu (Kun Opera) as a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity." This declaration halted the erosion of Kunqu's audience and coincided with the government's use of "soft power" to project China's influence globally. This talk will address recent developments in Chinese opera (xiqu) domestically and internationally, using the case of Kunqu, the oldest form still performed. It will discuss efforts to preserve Kunqu's repertoire, the unique culture of amateur fans (piaoyou), and recent new plays and international collaborations. Other topics may include uses of Chinese opera in film and xiqu's return to the countryside. "Performance and Video Art in Contemporary China" presented by Sheldon Lu, Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California Davis This talk focuses on performance art associated with the unofficial avant-garde in contemporary China. We will take a look at the body art of Zhang Huan and Ma Liuming, two leading body/performance artists from the People's Republic of China since the early 1990s, as well as the video art of woman artist Cui Xiuwen. Their performances and works challenge the boundaries and standards of acceptable art in socialist China in regard to gender, sexuality, nudity, and the body. These Chinese artists also operate in a transnational network of exhibitions and art galleries throughout the world, calling attention to the problems of identity-formation, national culture, multiculturalism, and globalization. ---------- Catherine Swatek is the author of Peony Pavilion Onstage: Four Hundred Years in the Career of a Chinese Drama (2002), frequently lectures on Kunqu at international conferences, and is currently involved in efforts to bring Kun opera performers to North America. Her interest in Kun Opera began in the early 1980s and centered on performance aesthetics. Current work is more historically grounded and examines how opera scripts circulated in hand-copied versions, made by both amateur fans and professional actors. These manuscripts provide information not available in printed scripts, particularly about how the plays were performed. She received her Ph.D from Columbia University. Sheldon Lu taught at the University of Pittsburgh for ten years before joining the University of California at Davis in 2002 as Professor of Comparative Literature. He was founding co-director of the Film Studies Program at UC Davis (2002-2004), and a Fulbright scholar in Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine (2004-2005). He is the author of From Historicity to Fictionality: The Chinese Poetics of Narrative (Stanford, 1994; Korean edition 2001), China, Transnational Visuality, Global Postmodernity (Stanford, 2001), Culture, Mirror-Image, Poetics (in Chinese, 2002), Chinese Modernity and Global Biopolitics: Studies in Literature and Visual Culture (University of Hawaii Press, 2007), editor of Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender (Hawaii, 1997) University of Hawaii Press bestseller, and co-editor of Chinese-Language Film: Historiography, Poetics, Politics (Hawaii, 2005). Winner of Choice's award of "Outstanding Academic Title of 2005."
Free and open to the public.
Event Sponsor: 
Center for East Asian Studies
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