Nationalization through Iconification

Joshua Goldstein

in Drama Kings

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780520247529
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932791 | DOI:
Nationalization through Iconification

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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

Chapter.  10040 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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