Chinese Feelings: Notes on a Ritual Theory of Emotion

UCSB Confucius Institute China Studies Forum Series


Chinese Feelings:  Notes on a Ritual Theory of Emotion

Prof. Haiyan Lee

East Asian Languages & Cultures, Comparative Literature

 Stanford University

Tuesday February 21, 2017 @ 5:00-6:30 pm

2212 HSSB

“Be true to yourself!”  So urges the ancient maxim.  In contemporary Western societies, this usually translates into the imperative of being in touch with your true feelings.  However, sincerity and emotional authenticity have not always been first principles, and East Asian societies have traditionally subordinated emotion to ritual propriety.  In this article, I propose a ritual theory of emotion that acknowledges the importance of codified rules of conduct, stylized modes of expression, and a shared subjunctive world as constitutive of a ritual social order that nonetheless admits of emotional plenitude.  To be discussed:  a recent film about the Peking Opera performer Mei Lanfang, and Six Records of a Floating Life by Shen Fu.

The China Studies Forum Series welcomes faculty and graduate students to read a paper by a guest lecturer in advance, and participate in a discussion of the paper with the author. 

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