Traditional Chinese Folk Culture as Seen through Plays
Online via Zoom
Chinese theater was not a domestic art form until it was brought to the empire by conquerors from what today is Manchuria. It flourished in the 13th and 14th centuries under the Mongols. At a time when literacy was widespread and the demand for entertainment was high, when the circulation of inexpensive printed texts was soaring, and the empire was under alien (i.e., Mongol) rule, which limited opportunities for the educated, Chinese playwrights found theater to be an outlet for exploring social tropes on gender and family, official corruption, the gods, etc. Their works, therefore, are an excellent window into folk culture as it was perceived by the “folk.” This course will read and discuss plays written during the Mongol era or very shortly after (1250 – 1450). Participants will be encouraged to read the plays in advance.
About the instructor
Hugh Clark was Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Ursinus College for 35 years. He has offered several Senior College classes on traditional Chinese culture, including “A Close Reading of the Daode jing”, “A Close Reading of the Analects of Confucius,” “Chinese Social History through Novels,” and “A History of Chinese Buddhism.” He looks forward to offering a new topic with a new perspective on traditional Chinese culture.