Political Reform as National Pastime: Staging Peking Opera’s New Tragic Heroines


Friday, February 12, 2016, 4:00pm


Room S153 | CGIS South | 1730 Cambridge Street | Cambridge, MA

Catherine Yeh, Associate Professor of Chinese & Comparative Literature, Boston University

Catherine Yeh’s teaching and research interests include 19th and 20th century Chinese literary, media, and visual culture. Her work has focused on the social and political implications of Chinese entertainment culture and literature, and its impact on social change in late imperial and Republican era China. In particular, she has worked and published on the lifestyle of late Qing urban literati and Shanghai courtesans in an effort to explore the role of “marginal” figures in driving modernity; the role of city guides and city maps in the formation of the overall image of a metropolis linking China with the world; the Chinese political novel and its transnational literary context; the new Chinese entertainment press and its impact on the formation of metropolitan culture and the modern star culture in particular; the relationship between fiction and the city; the formation of modern urban sensibilities in fiction and illustration; and illustration and the evolving technologies of image taking and reproducing as factors in shaping urban perception and behavior as well as reshaping stage performance. Select publications include The Chinese Political Novel: Migration of a World Genre (2014), Performing the ‘Nation’: Gender Politics in Literature, Theatre and the Visual Arts of China and Japan, 1880-1940 (2008), Shanghai Love: Courtesans, Intellectuals and Entertainment Culture, 1850-1910 (2006). She is currently completing the project: The Rise of the Chinese Actor to National Stardom: The Female Impersonator and the Cultural Transformation of Modern China (1910s-1930s).

Organizer: Wai-yee Li, Professor of Chinese Literature, Harvard University

Wai-yee Li’s research spans topics ranging from early Chinese thought and narrative to late imperial Chinese literature and culture. Her recent publications include The Readability of the Past in Early Chinese Historiography (2007), which investigates the ordering impulse of Chinese culture in understanding the past, as evinced by how different conceptions of rhetoric and exegesis determine interpretation; and Women and National Trauma in Late Imperial Chinese Literature (2014), which explores how history and literature intersect, how the multivalent presence of women in different genres mediates the experience and expression of political disorder during the seventeenth century Ming-Qing dynastic transition and beyond. Professor Li’s co-edited volume of translations of ten seminal plays from the 13th and 14th centuries, The Columbia Anthology of Yuan Drama, was also published in 2014. Her annotated translation of Zuozhuan, in collaboration with Stephen Durrant and David Schaberg, will be published in 2015. Her co-authored book, Sima Qian and the Letter to Ren An, is being reviewed for publication. She is co-editing The Oxford Handbook of Classical Chinese Literature with Wiebke Denecke and Tian Xiaofei. Li has received fellowships or grants from the Harvard Society of Fellows, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, ACLS, Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, and the American Academy in Berlin. She has taught courses on Ming-Qing culture, early Chinese thought and historiography, gender and sexuality, and premodern fiction and drama. In July of 2014, Li was elected by Academia Sinica to its List of Academicians.