Writing on Star Actresses: Politics, Morality and Literati Fandom in Early Republican Beijing

Writing on Star Actresses: Politics, Morality and Literati Fandom in Early Republican Beijing
Talk by Jiacheng Liu, PhD Candidate in the History Department, Carnegie Mellon University

With the booming print media in the early twentieth century Beijing, a variety of theatrical writings appeared in newspapers, journals and zhuanji (專集special collections). Despite borrowing discourses and literary styles from the genre of huapu that prevailed in the Qing dynasty, these writings were produced in a rapidly changing context and thus differed from their literary predecessors. Focusing on writings on the newly emerged actresses in the 1910s Beijing, the talk explores the intertwined relationship among politics, morality, theater and the print media. Literati fans and critics created a gendered discursive space characterized by political disillusionment, factional competition and the rush to be sensational. Their debates contributed to the making of the early-Republican public sphere.

Jiacheng Liu is a PhD candidate at Department of History at Carnegie Mellon University, and currently a Visiting Graduate Research in the Department of History at UCLA. Her dissertation “The Theatrical Public and the New Actresses in Early Republican Beijing” explores how women, previously banned by the Qing dynasty, entered into the male-dominated theater profession and helped to reshape the repertoire and performance, redefine femininity, and facilitate a range of new social and cultural arrangements in the early Republican Beijing.

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Published: Thursday, June 04, 2015