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China and Inner Asia
In Session: Genres and Modes of Performance in Premodern China
Different Dualisms: body and soul in Yuan and Ming performance
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
University of Georgia, United States
Recent advances by scholars of early China locate familiar dualisms in language, text and practice, thus effectively unseating longstanding presumptions of holism in traditional thought and culture. But this leaves unanswered the questions of what we are to make of the famously physical ghosts and spirits in the Chinese narrative tradition, where hun souls may exert force in the material world and a living frame may split into separate parts with different aspects of consciousness inhering in each.
Centering on chantefable and zaju dramas this paper argues that scripts provide a site of negotiation for interactions between bodies and souls. Performance literature thus works to explore the bounds of what might be conceivable in the relation between mind and matter, and between other worlds and our ordinary one.