SOAS University of London

Kunqu and Yuanlin

Xufeng Yao

Date: 9 March 2018Time: 11:00 AM

Finishes: 9 March 2018Time: 1:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4426

Type of Event: Seminar


In the history of Chinese musical drama, there is a vital part hiding in yuanlin, classical gardens. This part of the history started in Ming Dynasty, and the peak of it was from mid-Ming Dynasty to mid-Qing Dynasty, and the popular form of the musical drama during this time was kunqu. This is the same period from Jinpingmei, The Plum in the Golden Vase, to Hongloumeng, Dream of the Red Chamber, in the history of Chinese literature; or the reign of Elizabeth I in English Drama.

Why does kunqu have any connection with classical gardens? How did artists perform in classical gardens? How did the form of performing impact the types and spirits of musical drama? How did classical gardens scenes in Mudanting, The Peony Pavilion and Taohuashan, Peach Blossom Fan, reflect the play writers’ spiritual journey in the era of Ming-Qing Dynasties? This talk will cover the combination of classical gardens and kunqu in Ming-Qing Dynasties, discuss the intricate connections between these two forms of art and their reflections on eastern and social structures. This talk will also present the history and modernisation of the performance.


Xufeng Yao, Associate Professor at School of Humanities, Shanghai Jiaotong University. Her research focuses on Chinese classical literature and musical drama. She has published numerous books and papers on musical dramas and classic literature. She was invited to Hongkong and U.S.A for short research visits, and now is a visiting scholar at SOAS, University of London. 

* The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

 Contact email: Mr Donghai HOU,

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