Uncrossing the Borders: Performing Chinese in Gendered (Trans)Nationalism

Talk by Daphne Lei, UCI

Photo for Uncrossing the Borders: Performing Chinese
Thursday, April 9, 2020
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Bunche Hall 10383

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Why did women on the Chinese stage commit suicide in beautiful and pathetic ways just before crossing the border for an interracial marriage? Why is such theatrical trope of gender and nationalism so powerful and attractive? Uncrossing the Borders is a comprehensive study that examines the practice of peace alliance marriage (heqin 和親) between the Han China and its “barbaric” neighbors for two millennia; it further interrogates why and how borders (national, cultural, ethnic) are inevitably gendered and incite violence against women in the name of the nation. From classical drama (zaju and chuanqi), regional theatre, to modern political propaganda and folk beliefs, the gendered nationalism and border crossing is a perennial theme and universal topic across regions, cultures, and beliefs throughout history. Historical and dramatic characters in this study include Wang Zhaojun (王昭君), Cai Yan (蔡琰), Su Wu (蘇武) and Li Ling (李陵). In conversation with current border crossing theories, Daphne Lei will also discuss her unique concepts of gendered nationalism, embodied landscape, affective border crossing, three-dimensional border crossing, and uncrossing. 



Daphne Lei is Professor of Drama, at the University of California, Irvine. She is internationally known for her scholarship on Chinese opera, Asian American theatre, intercultural, and transnational performance. She is the author of three books and an edited volume: Operatic China: Staging Chinese Identity across the Pacific (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), Alternative Chinese Opera in the Age of Globalization: Performing Zero (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), Uncrossing the Borders: Performing Chinese in Gendered (Trans)Nationalism (University of Michigan Press, 2019), and The Methuen Drama Handbook of Interculturalism and Performance (Bloomsbury, 2020), co-edited with Charlotte McIvor. Daphne Lei is the former president of American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR, 2015-2018).