Journal paper
篇名Textual Worlds of Court Theater in Late Imperial China
作者姓名Tian Yuan Tan
Abstract Theater had been a core part of Chinese court culture for centuries and ample studies had been conducted on the imperial theatrical institutions and stage practices in the Ming and Qing dynasties. In contrast, court drama texts have received less scholarly attention due to several reasons: their low status in Chinese literary history as “authorless” performer's scripts; the vast corpora, and the difficulty of accessing these texts that are kept in various archives and libraries. In recent years, several major reprint projects of the relevant primary sources now allow wider access to the corpora; yet the lack of an existing analytic framework to study anonymous Chinese performance texts on such a large scale continues to present a huge challenge to researchers. As a result, Chinese court drama, though rich in potential and information, remains a complex series of isolated, fragmented, and closed textual worlds, neglected in literary history and disjointed from other areas of studies. How do we read these court plays and how can they be integrated with mainstream Chinese drama studies and literary history? The lacuna is especially glaring given the quantity and richness of the extant texts: intertextual relations between Ming and Qing dynasty scripts, and between these plays and other literary and historical texts; external links to individuals, occasions, and artefacts, and wider aspects of material and visual culture are preserved alongside dramatic content. Furthermore, contrary to the misconception that Chinese court plays represent a closed performance space restricted to the palace compounds and the imperial family, they were often also performed in the presence of foreign ambassadors and delegations and hence the site of potential cross-cultural flows. Many visitors recorded what was often their first or even only impression of Chinese theater culture in their travel diaries. This article proposes a new textual approach towards studying late imperial Chinese court drama. By combining the application of traditional bibliographical scholarship and digital humanities tools, and the use of both Chinese court dramatic texts and related foreign records, this study demonstrates the interconnectedness among the various textual worlds of Chinese court drama.
KeywordCourt, Drama, Literary History, Text, Digital Humanities
Attached File File download Adobe PDF
cron web_use_log