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Art Essay History Humanities Nonfiction Theater/Play Theory

Cross-Dressing in Chinese Opera

By Siu Leung Li, 2003

The enchantment of the figure of the “male dan” ― female impersonator ― remains a residual element in the cultural imagination of many contemporary Chinese societies. The various kinds of interpretive possibilities in the commanding tradition of cross-dressing Chinese opera have yet to be examined in-depth. In order to discuss “mistaken identity” and gender issues as they relate to cross-dressing on the Chinese operatic stage, this book examines a wide range of materials, including traditional dramatic texts, modern literary writings, critical writings (for example, quhua), opera paintings, and contemporary movies. The book explores gendering and gender differences that are constructed, reproduced, dismantled, and contested in this particularly rich site of Chinese culture.

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