Cross-Gender China : Across Yin-Yang, Across Cultures, and Beyond Jingju book cover
1st Edition

Cross-Gender China
Across Yin-Yang, Across Cultures, and Beyond Jingju

ISBN 9780367735937
Published December 18, 2020 by Routledge
182 Pages

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Book Description

Cross-Gender China, the outcome of more than twenty years of theatrical and sociological research, deconstructs the cultural implications of cross-gender performance in today's China.

The recent revival in male-to-female cross-gender nandan performance in Chinese theatre raises a multitude of questions: it may suggest new gender dynamics, or new readings of old aesthetic traditions in new socio-cultural contexts. Interrogating the positions of the gender being performed and the gender doing the performing, this volume gives a broad cultural account of the contexts in which this unique performance style has found new life.

Table of Contents




Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Cultural Obsession

The Making of China’s National Icon

The Rise of an All-Female Utopia

National Identity and the Formation of the Gender Aesthetics

Chapter 3. Mao’s "Gender Trouble"

The Downfall of the Cross-Gender Performance Tradition

From Theatre to Reality: Normalization of Female Masculinity

The Production of a Social Taboo

Chapter 4. The Revival

White Faced Gentleman: The Unofficial Return of Nandan

"Natural Selection" in the Aesthetic Regime: The Return of Traditional Femininity

The Mainstreaming of Drag in Popular Media

Chapter 5. The New Generation

"Two Spirited" M. Butterfly

The Superwoman Within


Occasional Cross-Gender


"Double Standard"

Employment Opportunities



Chapter 6. Rebel or Follow

When Theatre and Biology Intersect

Interplay: Desires, Identities and Transgression

Make Believe: Creating a Psychological Truth

The Performed and the Innate

The Drama of Reality

Sexual Artifice in Gender Transgression

Chapter 7. Conclusion


Appendix A.

Major interview questions

Appendix B.

List of Interviewees

Appendix C.


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Huai Bao aka H.B. Dhawa is a post-doctoral fellow of the Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto.