Friday, June 3, 3-5 p.m. in CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St)
Anne Rebull, “Locating Theatricality on Screen: Performance Practice and Xiqu Film in the Changing Tides of Reform”
Anne Rebull will present a work-in-progress version of one of her dissertation chapters. If short on time, she asks that readers concentrate on the second half of the file, starting from page 24. Anne summarizes the chapter as follows:
In this chapter, I ask what role, if any, opera film played in influencing the outcomes of the Opera Reform Movement. In the mid-50s, the theater world was forced to take a serious look at its objectives and progress when it became apparent that the restrictions on the repertoire–meaning both the canon of plays and the embodied knowledge of how to perform them–were causing audiences to abandon traditional theater. The contours of this reassessment can be traced through the re-evaluation of traditional performance practice, or theatrical gesture, in high level governmental critiques between 1954 and 1956. In those same years, opera film directors were engaging in debates that asked should there be a genre of opera film? And how should such a genre render an expressionistic art in a realist medium? How should theatricality and especially theatrical gesture be used in film? These questions and the crisis in the theater world all came to a head in 1956, unfolding right along with the smash hit kunqu production Fifteen Strings of Copper. Using this play and its film adaptation as a springboard, I explore the connection between opera film and the fate of theatrical gesture in opera reform.
A draft of Anne’s chapter is available at this link. If you have not received the password for the post, or if you have concerns about accessibility, please feel free to contact David Krolikoski at davidkroli at uchicago.edu or Brian White at bmwhite at uchicago.edu.
Han Zhang, “Philological Jiangnan: The Practice of Wu Dialect in the Works of Drama in Late Imperial China”
Han Zhang will present a work-in-progress version of one of her dissertation chapters. She summarizes the chapter as follows.
In 1684, after winning a complete victory over the revolt of the three Han feudatories and consolidating Manchu rule over mainland China, Emperor Kangxi soon launched his first southern inspection tour. In Suzhou, the emperor grabbed the earliest opportunity he had to indulge in a Kunqun opera performance. The emperor’s infatuation with Kunqu, captured in a contemporary Shanghai native and Ming sympathizer’s diary, obviously contains extravagant historical and political implications worthy of decoding. This paper focuses on the dual indexicality of Kunqu as a unique art and cultural genre in the Qing dynasty. Kunqu, in the historical trajectory, is a highly refined, artistic representation of the classic and entertaining cultural inheritance passed down from the late Ming, while in the geopolitical dimension, it bears an inseverable philological connection to Jiangnan, the thorny area that once held the most persistent resistance to the Manchu conquest. By examining the practice of the Wu dialect, the alleged linguistic foundation of Kunqu composition and vocalization, in the works of drama in late imperial China, this paper intends to gain a further understanding of the actual use of the Chinese language(s) in a multi-lingual and multi-media context. Moreover, this study aims to complicate and challenge the prevailing time-dominant narrative of the vernacularizing history of the Chinese language(s) and literary writing, bringing the discussion of language into intrinsically connected spatiotemporal formations.
A draft of Han’s chapter is available at this link. If you have not received the password for the post, or if you have concerns about accessibility, please feel free to contact David Krolikoski at davidkroli at uchicago.edu or Brian White at bmwhite at uchicago.edu.
Friday, February 5, 3:00-5:00 PM in CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St.)
Nic Wong, “Whither Ng Kim Chew’s Nanyang People’s Republic?: History, Ethics, and Literary Writing”
Please join us this Friday, February 5, as we welcome Nic Wong (Comparative Literature, University of Chicago), who will be presenting a chapter draft from his dissertation. As Nic summarizes, “In reading Ng Kim Chew (Huang Jinshu)’s recent fiction and essays, this chapter considers the genre of ‘Malayan communist writings’ (magong shuxie) as the site of the historical entanglement of literary movements of social(ist) realism and modernism in the wake of decolonization and nation-building movements during the Cold War. Ng’s imaginative anti-genealogy of ‘Malayan communist writings’ explores and critiques post-loyalist attachments to the bygone concepts of Nanyang and Malaya, and shrewdly introduces literariness as a form of ethics—a key term left out of discussions of materiality in Sinophone studies and studies of the genre.”
A draft of the chapter is available via this link. Please do not circulate or cite the chapter without permission of the author. If you have not received the password for the post, or if you have concerns about accessibility for this meeting, please do not hesitate to email David Krolikoski at davidkroli at uchicago.edu or Brian White at bmwhite at uchicago.edu.
Friday, January 15, 3:00-5:00 PM in CEAS 319 (1155 E 60th St.)
Ling Zhang, “When the Left Eye Meets the Right Ear: Cinematic Fantasia and Comic Soundscape in City Scenes (1935)“
Please join us this Friday, January 15, as we welcome Ling Zhang (Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago). Ling will be presenting a mock job talk, so no paper will be pre-circulated for this meeting. She summarizes her talk as follows:
Uchiyama Kanzo (內山完造, 1885-1959), a renowned Japanese bookstore owner in Republican Shanghai, published an essay, Shanghai Soundscape (上海的聲音), in 1939. In this article, Uchiyama vividly depicts a motley mix of mundane sounds in Shanghai, including ambient sounds (birds calling and cicadas chirping) and human voices (peddlers and vendors shouting). This literary rendition of Shanghai sounds corresponds to the 1930s Shanghai sound culture and cinematic soundscape. This paper examines Chinese filmmaker Yuan Muzhi袁牧之 (1909-1978)’s musical-comedy City Scenes (都市風光, 1935)’s incorporation and reinvention of Hollywood and Soviet influence in terms of film sound technique and musical concepts. The film was hailed as “the first Chinese musical comedy” and praised for its audiovisual experimentations, as it was the first Chinese film to commission composers to create musical scores according to the cinematic style and thematic concerns. The film score created by three composers is a mixture of Western classical, Chinese folk, and popular musical genres that reflects the hodgepodge soundscape in semi-colonial Shanghai. These included Fantasia of City Scenes (都市風光幻想曲) by Huang Zi 黃自 (1904-1938), who studied composition at Yale University and was a respected composer in the European classical music tradition, and Song of the Peep-Show (西洋鏡歌) by Zhao Yuanren 趙元任 (1892-1982), who was a famed linguist and musician, versed in local dialects and folk tunes. The remaining music was arranged by He Luting賀綠汀, who composed numerous theme songs for 1930s and 1940s Chinese films, and whose music falls between classical and popular music conventions, with a Soviet-Russian tinge.
The comic and tumultuous soundscape in City Scenes corresponds to the popular sound culture in modern cityscape of Shanghai, which was permeated by popular songs, oral story-telling conventions, street performance and urban noises. I explore how the ingeniously experimental deployment of sound elements in City Scenes obscures and defies the conventionally conceived boundaries between the human voice, sound effects, and music, articulating a sort of “auditory grotesque”, comprised of unruly ironic reverberations and a dynamic soundscape. Moreover, these convoluted sound elements connect different narrative layers within the structure, and are associated with and comment on different characters, frequently through the form of Wagnerian leitmotif and a widely practiced sound technique in 1930s Hollywood animations and films with live actors, Mickey Mousing. Finally, I explore how the interactions between the acoustic and the visual enhance the textual and material heterogeneity in the film and create a sort of cinematic fantasia, which corresponds to the spontaneous film score and the implications of the musical form, fantasia. Consequently, the film’s playful yet rather bleak audiovisual rendition of city life in 1930s Shanghai foregrounds its pungent register as satirical social critique of hegemonic capitalism and consumerism.
If you have concerns about accessibility for this meeting, please do not hesitate to contact David Krolikoski at davidkroli at uchicago.edu or Brian White at bmwhite at uchicago.edu.
Friday, November 20, 12 – 2 PM in JRL 122
Paul Vierthaler, “Quantitative Historical Imagination: Late Ming and Early Qing Chinese Unofficial Histories, Novels, and Dramas”
Please join us for a joint session with the Digital Humanities Forum on Friday, November 20 at 12 PM in JRL 122. We will be welcoming. Paul Vierthaler Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow at Boston College.
In this talk, Paul Vierthaler will discuss his research in using digital techniques to analyze the differences among texts that transmitted unofficial historical narratives in the late Ming and early Qing periods in China. This talk centers on novels on current events, dramas on current events, and yeshi (unofficial, or wild, histories). These texts, which Paul calls “quasi-histories”, purport to move information about recent events, but their historical validity and generic nature have been debated by contemporary and modern scholars. In the past, their sheer numbers made systematic analysis difficult. Paul will begin with a meta-analysis of extensive secondary bibliographic information to analyze the claim that late Ming and early Qing quasi-histories were unprecedentedly focused on the recent past. He will finish with a discussion on using stylometric analysis to explore the complex stylistic relationships among texts of these genres, and their relationship with official dynastic histories.
Friday, November 6, 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM in Cobb 311
Ramona Curry, “Pioneering Figures in Chinese Film in Los Angeles, 1918-1934”
Please join us for a joint session with the Mass Culture Workshop on Friday, November 6 at 10:30 AM in Cobb 311. We will be welcoming Ramona Curry, Associate Professor of English, Media and Cinema Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She will discuss a section of “Pioneering Figures in Chinese Film in Los Angeles, 1918-1934,” a chapter from her book in progress, Trading in Cultural Spaces: How Chinese Film Came to America.
This workshop is being held in conjunction with a Film Studies Center event. A Trip Through China will be screened in Logan 201 on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 7:00 PM. This screening has been curated by Pao-Chen Tang, Ph.D. student in Cinema and Media Studies; Yuqian Yan, Ph.D. candidate in Cinema and Media Studies; and Zhang Ling, Ph.D. candidate in Cinema and Media Studies as part of the Film Studies Center’s Graduate Student Curatorial Program. This event is co-sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies. This screening will include live piano accompaniment by Anthony Cheung and Lu Wang, and will conclude with a round table discussion featuring Prof. Curry. Please find full details for this event on the Film Studies Center’s website.
Refreshments will be provided at the workshop.
Prof. Curry’s paper is available for download at this link, along with supplementary readings from her book in progress. If you have not received the password for the post, or if you have concerns about accessibility, please feel free to contact David Krolikoski at davidkroli at uchicago.edu or Brian White at bmwhite at uchicago.edu.