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date: 29 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Cross-dressing in kunqu, a classical genre of Chinese opera, as artistic and/or queer performance, may be understood through the Chinese aesthetic dyad of se (erotic charm) and yi (performance skill); these concepts complement or challenge international queer theories. The chapter surveys current debates about kunqu cross-dressing, illustrating with analysis of representative works/performances such as Jade Hairpin (Yuzanji), Peony Pavilion (Mudanting), and Yearning for the Secular World (Sifan) by leading impersonators like Banto Tamasaburo, Mei Lanfang, and Yue Meiti. Kunqu cross-dressing simultaneously confirms and challenges hegemonic Chinese notions of gender and sex, underscoring the need to investigate music as personal and/or social performance of gender and sex.

Keywords: kunqu, Chinese opera, cross-dressing, female impersonation, gender, sex, queer, Mei Lanfang, Banto Tamasaburo, Yue Meiti

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