Staging Personhood

Costuming in Early Qing Drama

Guojun Wang

Columbia University Press

Staging Personhood

Pub Date: March 2020

ISBN: 9780231191906

304 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£54.00

Pub Date: March 2020

ISBN: 9780231549578

304 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 permitted 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 texts and performances 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 in which costuming enabled different modes of identity negotiation during the dynastic transition. In case studies of theatrical texts, performances, and practices, 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 Through careful attention to a variety of canonical and lesser-known plays, visual and performance records, and historical documents, Staging Personhood provides a pathbreaking perspective on the cultural dynamics of early Qing China.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, Arizona State University
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.