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Grant number like: FEL-262740-19

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Judith Tamar Zeitlin
University of Chicago (Chicago, IL 60637-5418)

Research Programs

[Grant products]

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2019 – 6/30/2020

The Culture of Musical Entertainment in Early Modern China: Voice, Text, Instrument

Preparation for publication of a book about musical entertainment in China in the 16th and 17th centuries.

I am applying for an NEH fellowship to complete the manuscript of a book-length study on the culture of musical entertainment in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century China. By "musical entertainment," I mean music that was performed by professionals or amateurs for an audience to provide pleasure as an integral part of social and cultural life. In Classical Chinese, the same character (though pronounced differently) was used to denote music (yue) and enjoyment (le). Conceptually, this linked term was always understood to have a strong social significance. As early as the Mencius, "music/enjoyment in the company of others" was deemed more important than "music/enjoyment by oneself." In the late Ming and early Qing (roughly 1560-1700), "enjoyment/music in the company of others" primarily depended on two fashions of entertainment where elite and popular culture met: courtesans and opera (qu). Accordingly, these two furnish the twin pillars of my book.