China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: The four papers in this panel examine how women characters are portrayed in Chinese drama and film from different time periods. Janne Risum’s paper on Mei Lanfang’s Soviet tour in1935 introduces several heroines from Chinese Jingju together with a close reading of two plays. Her discussion of eyewitness testimonies of leading Russian and German directors and playwrights supplies valuable information on Western reception of Mei’s art of female impersonation.
Shiao-ling Yu’s paper focuses on the plight of women left behind by the Chinese women’s liberation movement in the early twentieth century. Her analysis of an opera based on the life story of Lu Xun’s wife reveals the hopes and despairs of these “left-behind” women and their struggles to maintain self-worth at a time of rapid social change. Yuwen Zhu’s paper discusses the screen images of three women to demonstrate that middle-class intellectual women are the vanguards of women’s liberation. Donghui He’s paper raises the issue of staging extramarital relationships in youth-centered urban theatre and discusses the controversies generated by these plays.
The plays in our study represent a wide range of genres from classical theatre to modern drama and film. The portrayals of a diversity of women characters in these works not only testify to the artistic achievements of Chinese theatre but also provide insight into the conditions of women in Chinese society from ancient times to the present. By combining textual and performance analysis with discussion of social issues, our panel presents literature and art on a broad platform.
Paper Presenter: Shiao-ling Yu – Oregon State University
Paper Presenter: Yuwen Zhu – Nanjing Normal University
Paper Presenter: Donghui He – Whitman College