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Drama KingsPlayers and Publics in the Re-creation of Peking Opera, 1870-1937$
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Joshua Goldstein

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520247529

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520247529.001.0001

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Nationalization through Iconification

Nationalization through Iconification

(p.264) Chapter 8 Nationalization through Iconification
Drama Kings

Joshua Goldstein

University of California Press

This chapter describes the rivalry between the two most famous male dan actors, Mei Lanfang and Cheng Yanqiu. Both men undertook tours of Western countries as a way of raising Peking opera's status as a globally significant cultural form. Peking opera's journey to the United States and Europe reveals remarkable parallels between the discourses of cultural nationalism that recast Peking opera as national drama and the discursive categories of Orientalism. Mei Lanfang's eventual victory in this rivalry also tells something of the weakness of Republican-era state institutions (with which Cheng Yanqiu was more cozily aligned) when compared with the diffuse power exerted by the commercial media (Mei Lanfang's most actively cultivated and supportive source of patronage).

Keywords:   male dan actors, rivalry, Mei Lanfang, Cheng Yanqiu, Peking opera, cultural nationalism, Orientalism, commercial media

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