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China Research Centre - Events


Subjectivities and Cultural Fluidity in Chinese Societies: a Symposium on Arts and Cultures in East Asia

Oct 30 2015, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham

This symposium focuses on the concept of ‘Subjectivites’ in the practice of arts and culture in Chinese societies in East Asia in modern and contemporary times. The organisers seek to explore this many-faceted concept in its respective social and historical context in each of the case studies in this symposium, and uncover how the term and concepts arising from it operate across literature, arts and cultures. This symposium will be co-hosted by the China Research Center of Royal Holloway, University of London and the Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature at National Taiwan University. Participants will explore the theme through the phenomena of cultural recognition, identification, rejection and melancholia in arts and cultures in Chinese-spoken societies in East Asia. 


Contact: Dr Wei-pin Tsai

With support from HARC


A Symposium to mark 120 years since the birth of one of China's most celebrated Jingju (Peking Opera) actors - Mei Lanfang

Royal Holloway China Humanities Research Centre
Music Department, SOAS, University of London
SOAS China Institute

UK Research and Development Centre for Chinese Traditional Culture (UKCTC)
UoL Xiqu Network | RHUL Chinese Opera Society | SOAS Jing-Kun Opera Society

Date: Saturday 18th October 2014
Venue: School of Oriental & African Studies, Room G52/DLT, Main Building
Time: 10.30am-6.30pm
Admission Free
To reserve a place, please e-mail Ashley Thorpe.

Programme (English)          |          Programme (Chinese)

Mei Lanfang was born on 22 October 1894, and his outstanding abilities as a performer, and his many innovations to the technique and repertoire of Jingju practice, made him a superstar in China. International tours to Japan, USA, Russia and Europe established him as one of the most significant Chinese cultural ambassadors in the twentieth century. But what is his impact 120 years later?

Through a combination of performances, academic papers and discussions, we seek to interrogate:

  • The Meipai (‘Mei style’) and its influence, including on vocal technique, interpretation, his pupils and other actors: what is it about the Mei style that is appealing?
  • His approach to play adaptation and newly written plays
  • His national and international relevance
  • His significance to contemporary practice

Confirmed speakers:

Dr. David Jiang (Theatre Director)
Prof. Li Ruru (Leeds University)
Dr. Li Xiaolin (Zhejiang University)
Dr. Ashley Thorpe (Royal Holloway, University of London)


Papers and discussions will be interspersed with Mei style singing and demonstration performances co-ordinated by Kathy Hall, Mei style practitioner and founder of the former London Jing Kun Opera Association. Kathy will be joined by her students, other Mei style singers in the UK, and Mei style jinghu musician, Joanna Zenghui Qiu.

Lao she

Mar 6, 2014 SEMINAR: Dr Anne Witchard (University of Westminster)

Windsor Building 1-02, 5 - 6.30 pm

Lao She and Chinese London Between the Wars

Lao She is widely recognized as one of China’s great modern writers yet the years he spent in London as a young aspiring writer have received little attention. Lao She’s encounter with British high modernism and literature from Dickens to Joseph Conrad and James Joyce resulted in the novel Er Ma (Mr Ma and Son, 1928). Here we see a panorama of London life in the 1920s, from literary soireés in Bloomsbury in the West End, to Chinatown cafés down in the much sensationalized Limehouse district in the East End. Most of all, Er Ma gives readers a picture of what it was like to be Chinese at a time when mainstream culture in the West was dominated by notions of a Yellow Peril. Anne Witchard lectures in English Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster, London. She is the author of Thomas Burke’s Dark Chinoiserie: Limehouse Nights and the Queer Spell of Chinatown (Ashgate 2009), co-editor of London Gothic: Place, Space and the Gothic Imagination (Continuum 2010), author of Lao She in London (HKUP 2012) and editor of Modernism and Chinoiserie (forthcoming EUP (2014)

Jan 16, 2014 SEMINAR: Mu Qian (China Daily/ Independent Festival Manager)

Harmonising with the world: Cultural Industries, Censorship and Global Discourses in China

Windsor Building 0-02, 5 - 6.30 pm

According to the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, the government will “transfer its role from being the provider of cultural products to manager”; “encourage the development of non-public-owned cultural enterprises” and “further open up cultural markets by enlarging the scope of cultural exchanges.” From the Mao era, when arts served the sole end of propaganda to the current day of governmental vision for culture as an industry, there have been considerable changes in the way culture is perceived in the People’s Republic. Within China’s cultural industries, music – especially  live music – has come to play a more and more important role. Music festivals only began to appear in the late 1990s, yet now there are more than 100 of these in different parts of China. In the not-for-profit arts sector, the Ministry of Culture has announced that it will establish a National Arts Fund, open to non-state-owned organizations and individuals. Through building Confucius Institutes and Chinese Culture Centers around the world, the Chinese government hopes to promote the Chinese language and Chinese values globally. In recent years, the Ministry of Culture has also begun to fund independent artists, including rock bands, to perform overseas so as to establish a positive image of China. However, the development of Chinese culture faces many barriers, most notably censorship. From film, press, to music, there is always an invisible line that is not to be crossed. China has already become the world’s second largest economy, but will it also be a big cultural power?

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