Staging Personhood

Costuming in Early Qing Drama

Guojun Wang

Columbia University Press

Staging Personhood

Pub Date: March 2020

ISBN: 9780231191906

312 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£54.00

Pub Date: March 2020

ISBN: 9780231549578

312 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£54.00

Staging Personhood

Costuming in Early Qing Drama

Guojun Wang

Columbia University Press

After toppling the Ming dynasty, the Qing conquerors forced Han Chinese males to adopt Manchu hairstyle and clothing. Yet China’s new rulers tolerated the use of traditional Chinese attire in performances, making theater one of the only areas of life where Han garments could still be seen and where Manchu rule could be contested.

Staging Personhood uncovers a hidden history of the Ming–Qing transition by exploring what it meant for the clothing of a deposed dynasty to survive onstage. Reading dramatic works against Qing sartorial regulations, Guojun Wang offers an interdisciplinary lens on the entanglements between Chinese drama and nascent Manchu rule in seventeenth-century China. He reveals not just how political and ethnic conflicts shaped theatrical costuming but also the ways costuming enabled different modes of identity negotiation during the dynastic transition. In case studies of theatrical texts and performances, Wang considers clothing and costumes as indices of changing ethnic and gender identities. He contends that theatrical costuming provided a productive way to reconnect bodies, clothes, and identities disrupted by political turmoil. Through careful attention to a variety of canonical and lesser-known plays, visual and performance records, and historical documents, Staging Personhood provides a pathbreaking perspective on the cultural dynamics of early Qing China.
A marvelous piece of scholarship, Staging Personhood presents an exhaustive study of the function of clothing on stage and off. While speaking to issues of sexuality, gender, masculinity, and status in real society, the book goes beyond the existing literature to introduce the body as a symbolic marker and site of detailed and sustained discourse. Stephen H. West, coeditor of The Orphan of Zhao and Other Yuan Plays: The Earliest Known Versions
In this thoughtful and richly informative study of theatrical costume in the early Qing, Guojun Wang explores the dramatic transformation in the clothing and hairstyles of Han Chinese men through actual drama. Plunged into the imagined worlds created for audiences of long ago, the reader emerges from Staging Personhood with a sense of the play between costume and clothing, the theatrical and the everyday, that produced the sartorial landscape of early Qing China. Antonia Finnane, author of Changing Clothes in China: Fashion, History, Nation
A refreshing book that will encourage readers and researchers to pay closer attention to the modes and codes of theatrical costuming in association with issues of ethnicity, gender, and individual identities, embedded in the specific context of early Qing China. Tian Yuan Tan, author of Passion, Romance, and Qing: The World of Emotions and States of Mind in “Peony Pavilion”
Solidly felted, seamlessly knitted, and shrewdly illuminative, Guojun Wang’s scholarship is a brocade of erudition—or should I say, a magician’s cloak, waving for overdue attention to the disappearing act of Qing stage costumes and their ghostly presence. Sharply revealed in Wang’s needle eye, class, gender, ethnicity, and, above all, time-space are no longer set fault lines of history, but are themselves warped and woven to the effect of costumed personhood. Ling Hon Lam, author of The Spatiality of Emotion in Early Modern China: From Dreamscapes to Theatricality
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Costuming as Method
1. Ways to Dress and Ways to See
2. Across Genders and Ethnicities
3. Between Family and State
4. The Chaste Lady Immortal of Seamless Stitching
5. From State Attire to Stage Prop
Epilogue: Dressing Other and Self
Appendix 1: Extant Editions of A Ten-Thousand-Li Reunion
Appendix 2: Scene Synopsis of A Ten-Thousand-Li Reunion
Notes
Works Cited
Index

About the Author

Guojun Wang is assistant professor of Asian studies at Vanderbilt University.