Department of Asian Studies
Department of Asian Studies

Performing (with) Goddesses: The Revolutionary Music-drama The White-Haired Girl and its Post-human Moment

Fri, November 16, 2018 | Meyerson Conference Room (WCH 4.118), UT Austin Campus

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Performing (with) Goddesses:   The Revolutionary Music-drama The White-Haired Girl and its Post-human Moment

This talk revisits the legendary Chinese socialist music-drama, The White-haired Girl, and particularly concerns the captivating theme of ghost-human transformation highlighted in this music-drama. This talk first introduces two different interpretations of this ghost-human transformation, then turns to examine the epistemological and ontological assumptions underpinning the two different interpretations, both of which fall into what Karen Barad named as the regime of representationalism. As opposed to these two interpretations, this talk takes an ontological approach to the ghost-human transformation, arguing that the goddess looming in The White-haired Girl is not subject to the metaphysical assumption of "either nature or culture" and the mode of existence arising from that assumption. Instead, humans, non-humans, and even divinities must be regarded as relationally emergent and ontologically entangled in practice. This talk is part of Xuefeng Feng's dissertation project, Animating Revolution: An Inquiry on Non-human Agency in Wartime China, which explores ways in which material objects and more-than-human forces were assembled and at the same time actively participated in the Chinese Socialist Revolution.

Xuefeng Feng, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Asian Studies. His research focuses on "cultural" phenomena in socialist and post-socialist China in general but approaches those issues from a "more-than-culture" perspective that foregrounds material, technological, and non-human elements. In addition to that, he also has a broad interest in media theory and philosophical anthropology.

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