The Culture of Musical Entertainment in Early Modern China: Voice, Instrument, Text


ACLS Fellowship Program


East Asian Languages and Civilizations


This project examines the culture of musical entertainment in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties (roughly 1560-1700). During this period, musical entertainment mainly depended on two fashions where elite and popular culture met: courtesans and opera (qu). The study is structured around three key thematic components: the singing voice, the musical text, and the musical instrument. Each category offers fruitful ground for thinking through the material and social aspects of music-making, and for exploring how musical entertainment itself became an important topos to be reflected on in plays, songs, poems, woodblock illustrations, and other works of the time.