Shows on the Road: Professional Networks and Opera Performance in Qing China


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Predissertation-Summer Travel Grants




Opera played an essential part in the social and ritual life of China, a staple at celebrations and religious festivals and a favored entertainment of rich and poor alike. At the same time, as an art reliant on groups of trained, living actors to bring it to life with each performance, opera in the late imperial period was shaped by the growing possibilities for spatial mobility in an increasingly economically and administratively integrated empire. This project will study the movements of performers and performance styles across space and boundaries of regional and social affiliation during the Qing Dynasty, placing opera in conjunction with scholarship on mercantile and administrative networks to explore how, why, and where actors and other members of itinerant trades took to the road.