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Judith Zeitlin (University of Chicago): I Married a Photograph: The Still Image Transfigured in Dazhaimen (The Grand Mansion Gate)
Thursday, 18 April 2019,  4:30pm -  6:00pm

Location: Brower Commons A


Abstract: A megahit of the 2001TV season in China, Dazhaimen 大宅门is a multigenerational historical drama series, written and directed by Guo Baochang 郭宝昌. The series depicts the vicissitudes of the Bai 白family, a fictionalized version of the famous Beijing pharmaceutical firm Tong Ren Tang 同仁堂, from 1880 to 1937. Professor Zeitlin will discuss one of the most interesting later story arcs—the unrequited love of Bai Yuting 白玉婷, a daughter of the family, for the Peking opera star Wan Xiaoju 万筱菊 (who is based on Mei Lanfang梅兰芳).  Eventually she decides to marry him unilaterally by wedding his photograph in a grand bridal ceremony. Professor Zeitlin argue that this ritual action and its consequences exhibits a logic reminiscent of a long-standing Chinese practice of posthumous spirit marriage (冥婚).  Her talk focuses on two key elements that cinematically animate the illusion of a phantom bridegroom created to satisfy the desires of a living woman: the treatment of the photograph itself (which partly draws on its usage in funerary ritual) and the recurrent use of a scene performed from the Peking opera Rainbow Pass 虹霓關.



Click here to see the lecture series flyer and information