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Products for grant FEL-262740-19

FEL-262740-19
The Culture of Musical Entertainment in Early Modern China: Voice, Text, Instrument
Judith Zeitlin, University of Chicago

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FEL-262740-19

‘Instrument of Flesh’: The Operatic Voice in Late Ming Musical Culture (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: ‘Instrument of Flesh’: The Operatic Voice in Late Ming Musical Culture
Author: JUDITH ZEITLIN
Abstract: In a previous article on theories of the sounding voice in China, I argued that it is only at specific historical moments, in certain kinds of discourse, and for certain kinds of purposes that the human voice is disentangled from a matrix of undifferentiated sound, often by likening the voice to other musical instruments and valorizing it above them. In this talk, I will discuss how the rise of Kun opera (kunqu) in the sixteenth century is another such moment, when the singing voice is explicitly theorized and championed as part of a new art form emphasizing vocal virtuosity and connoisseurship within the entertainment world. To analyze the aesthetic categories and performative context of this musical discourse, I will concentrate on the writings of two key figures: Precepts of the Aria (Qulü), attributed to Wei Liangfu, the shadowy “forefather” of the Kun operatic style, and the personal essays of Pan Zhiheng (1556-1622), who earned the moniker “Venerable Chronicler of Courtesans.” Pan is the most outspoken late Ming proponent for the preeminence of the human voice, for exalting an ideal of the voice (both in the most abstract and concrete ways), as something exceeding the words, something even exceeding the music, something even beyond the fusion of text and music. In the final part I will consider the larger implications of conceptualizing the voice as “flesh,” both in terms of late Ming claims for the power of qing (love, desire) and anthropologist Tim Ingold’s suggestion that we think of “the body ensounded” rather than “sound as embodied.”
Date: 11/05/20
Primary URL: http://https://www.colorado.edu/cas/2021/03/04/successful-sound-and-noise-asia-symposium
Conference Name: Sound and Noise in Asia Symposium, University of Colorado, Boulder

‘Instrument of Flesh’: The operatic voice in late Ming and early Qing musical culture (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: ‘Instrument of Flesh’: The operatic voice in late Ming and early Qing musical culture
Author: judith Zeitlin
Abstract: In a previous article on theories of the sounding voice in China, I argued that it is only at specific historical moments, in certain kinds of discourse, and for certain kinds of purposes that the human voice is disentangled from a matrix of undifferentiated sound, often by likening the voice to other musical instruments and valorizing it above them. In this talk, I will discuss how the rise of Kun opera (kunqu) in the sixteenth century is another such moment, when the singing voice is explicitly theorized and championed as part of a new art form emphasizing vocal virtuosity and connoisseurship within the entertainment world. To analyze the aesthetic categories and performative context of this musical discourse, I will concentrate on the writings of two key figures: Precepts of the Aria (Qulü), attributed to Wei Liangfu, the shadowy “forefather” of the Kun operatic style, and the personal essays of Pan Zhiheng (1556-1622), who earned the moniker “Venerable Chronicler of Courtesans.” Pan is the most outspoken late Ming proponent for the preeminence of the human voice, for exalting an ideal of the voice (both in the most abstract and concrete ways), as something exceeding the words, something even exceeding the music, something even beyond the fusion of text and music. In the final part I will consider the larger implications of conceptualizing the voice as “flesh,” both in terms of late Ming claims for the power of qing (love, desire) and anthropologist Tim Ingold’s suggestion that we think of “the body ensounded” rather than “sound as embodied.”
Date Range: 11/30/20
Location: Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

Peach Blossom Fan: Theater, History, and Politics (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Peach Blossom Fan: Theater, History, and Politics
Author: Judith Zeitlin
Abstract: This seminar probes the interplay of history, politics, and theatricality in Kong Shangren's Peach Blossom Fan, his dramatic masterpiece of 1699, which brilliantly depicts the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644-1645 on multiple social, cultural, and ritual fronts, from the pleasure quarters and the imperial court to the Confucian Temple and the battlefield. Issues to be addressed include: the representation and reassessment of late Ming entertainment culture--courtesans, actors, storytellers, musicians, booksellers, painters; metatheatricality; memory and commemoration; props and material culture; the dissemination of news and (mis)information; the reenactment of the past on the stage, as we contextualize Peach Blossom Fan within the early Qing literary and theatrical world in which it was created and performed. We'll also examine the interplay of history, politics, and theatricality in the modern reception of the play by analyzing its modern and contemporary incarnations in spoken drama, feature film, and different operatic genres.
Year: 2020
Audience: Graduate

Music and Sound in Chinese Literature (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Music and Sound in Chinese Literature
Author: Judith Zeitlin
Abstract: This course examines key texts from antiquity through the 18th century related to music and sound. “Literature” is construed broadly to include the many genres in which music or sound play a principle part: philosophical and scientific essays; anecdotes, biographies, and tales; poems and informal essays; songbooks, formularies, and scores; encyclopedias and manuals. The course will be organized historically and thematically. Some of the issues we hope to investigate: the role of music in ritual and governance; theories of the voice and sound production; the translation of sound into words, and what is lost and gained; the pictorial representation of sound and listening; the relation between music and emotion; the social roles of musicians and entertainers; and the cultural significance of musical instruments. No PRQ but some familiarity with Music or Chinese literature and history would be helpful. All materials will be available in English but students with classical Chinese will be encouraged to read materials in the original when feasible.
Year: 2022
Audience: Graduate


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