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