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Costume In The Yangbanxi: Gendering The Revolutionary Body

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author presents a discussion of costume in the yangbanxi, borrow tools from modern fashion theory. The chapter considers the complex ways in which traditional social and gender discourses interacted with discourses of modernity and revolution to affect the meanings coded into yangbanxi costumes, thereby shaping conscious and unconscious audience understandings of the gender and sexuality of the characters portrayed. In Chinese traditional opera costume plays a key part in the performer's articulation of a role, and knowledgeable audiences can read much about a character simply by 'reading' the costume. The author considers three aspects of costume in the yangbanxi: colour, style, and fabric texture. The complexities of the manifestation of gender and sexuality in yangbanxi costumes are perhaps best encapsulated in the contradictory figure of Wu Qinghua, the female soldier from The Red Detachment of Women.

Keywords: yangbanxi costumes; Chinese traditional opera; fabric texture; modern fashion theory; revolution; The Red Detachment of Women



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