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Staging, Mimicry, And Acts Of Appropriation

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Chapter Summary

Staging as acts of appropriation is constituted of two elements: a typically authoritative space or figure and the mimicry of the same. This chapter begins with three staging scenarios from Ming-Qing narratives taking place in supposedly authoritative locales including courtrooms, ritual spaces, and official ceremonial arenas, but that are disrupted by staging as acts of appropriation. It discusses how the early modern theatrical imagination affected the writing and reading of Xiyou ji casting doubt upon the validity of any single religiously-informed interpretation of the novel. The novel creates and valorizes staging characters that understand the conventionality and artificiality of theater and utilize it for their own benefit to put forth acts of appropriation. As a result, Xiyou ji deliberately contests both single religiously-informed interpretive viewpoints-Confucian, Buddhist, or Daoist-and religious and philosophical orthodoxies in general to defy the social hierarchy of the demonic and the deity by presenting both as interchangeable.

Keywords: mimicry; Ming-Qing narratives; Xiyou ji



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