Yinghui Wu is a scholar of late imperial Chinese literature and culture. She specializes in fiction and drama of the Ming and Qing periods. Her other areas of research include book illustration and visual culture, history of Chinese theater, playful publications as popular entertainment, and the interaction of text, sound, and visual media. In her current research, she is particularly interested in the relationships between print publishing, cross-media practices, and reading. Her first book, tentatively titled Virtuoso Performance on the Page: Reading Drama in Seventeenth-Century China, explores the rise of a multifaceted culture of reading drama that inspired new modes of social performance in seventeenth-century China.
Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis, Chinese & Comparative literature (2014)
M.A., English Language and Literature, Peking University (2008)
B.A., English, Renmin University of China (2005)
Existing scholarship has studied late imperial Chinese drama from various perspectives, such as literary creation and commentarial practices, illustration and visual qualities of imprints, the art of singing, and theatrical entertainment. In her first book, Wu argues that these dimensions of late imperial drama, though often examined separately, should be understood as interconnected and as constituents of a whole culture of reading drama that inspired new modes of social performance and reshaped the early modern cultural imagination. Focusing on a group of jointly and serially printed plays, and moving from book catalogues, commentaries, to illustrations, musical treatises, and playful eight-legged essays, this book aims to reconstruct forgotten experience of understanding drama that blurred generic and disciplinary boundaries and cut across elite and popular cultures. Instead of focusing on artistic performance on stage, Wu explores the reading of printed drama as virtuoso performances on the page, in which diverse social players utilized textual, visual, musical, and playful means to inscribe their voices and images on the late Ming cultural scene. The book synthesizes materials from discrete domains to offer a contextualized representation of reading as an all-around experience of interacting with drama, which actively participated in the constant reinvention of social roles and tastes in a fast-changing world. The phenomenon of reading drama, it argues, gave rise to a shared culture that was greater than the sum of its parts.
Besides her book project, Wu is co-editing a volume of essays entitled Emotions in Non-Fictional Representations of the Individual (1600-1850): Between East and West. She is also currently completing an article that explores generic figures in drama illustration in relation to the cultural imagination of self and the other in seventeenth-century China. She has been working on a second book project that examines the links between personal suffering, family trauma, and empire-wide crisis. It highlights the arduous journeys undertaken during times of war and chaos to search for a missing parent or relative and the representations of such journeys in historical, literary, and visual materials.
- “Constructing a Playful Space: Eight-Legged Essays on Xixiang ji and Pipa ji,” T’oung Pao: International Journal of Chinese Studies 102: 4-5 (2016), 503-545.
- Home and the World: Editing the “Glorious Ming” in Woodblock-Printed Books of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, by Yuming He (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2013), Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 37 (2015), 208-211.
- The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection, by Zhang Yingyu; translated by Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017), Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (MCLC) Resource Center (August 2018): http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/yinghui-wu/