Introducing…Peerpod!

‘Peerpod’ is your go-to podcast for all the insider knowledge on how to navigate uni life.

Hosted by our very own Peer Learning Advisors, the podcast is all about increasing a deeper sense of connectivity and belonging at Uni via a bi-monthly topical podcast.

We’ll be sharing stories, providing advice, and answering all the questions you have about Uni. Subscribe now!

Do you have a question for the Podcast?

Email peerpod.pla@sydney.edu.au

Episode 1 – Starting the Semester off Right

This week the POD is upgrading your University experience with tips on how to start your semester right, and stay right! Here in Episode 1 we are all about gearing ourselves up to plan our semesters, talking strategies, feels, healthy student advice, and that it’s never too late to bounce back, start over, and be a better student at any point along the way. Join your POD for this episode: your trusty host Life Coach Leyla, joined this week by Sayan the Go Getter, and Betta, she’s not just good she’s better! as they share their pro-tips and take you on a romantic-comedy-high-action journey of self-discovery towards making you even better than you were last semester.

Listen to the introductory episode now!

The Peer Learning Advisors aka PLAs are all experienced students with their fingers on the pulse of student needs in real time and are best places to represent, speak to and share space with the student body. They have been trained in being a point of referral to students, offering tips on everything from where to find the best coffee on campus, to overcoming feeling isolated to using tech to support student initiatives and goals. 

Drop in for a chat with our PLAs at ThinkSpace, Bosch Commons, the Quarter, Dentistry Library, or Camden Commons.

PopFest at the Library – Browse our iconic manga 漫画 collection

As part of USU’s PopFest, the Library is exhibiting a selection of iconic manga from our collection titled: From slapdash drawings to an art form: Japanese manga from the East Asian Collection.

ベルサイユのばら <完全版>, vol. 1. ©Ikeda Riyoko Production

Deemed by some as rooted in the twelfth-century scrolls of illustrated stories, manga (漫画) – literally meaning dispersed, uncontrolled, careless, free-form, excessive drawings and translated as comics or graphic novels – became a successful cultural export of Japan during the twentieth century. Since its entry into the domain of popular culture first in Japan and then around the world, it has established itself as a unique art and literary form diverging greatly on styles as well as subject matters. This exhibition showcases some of the iconic works of manga from the Library’s East Asian Collection. Want to see more? Go explore our extensive manga collection on level 9, Fisher Library. 

少女漫画 Girls’ manga or純情漫画 “Pure love” manga

少女漫画 [shōjo manga] is manga intended primarily for young female readership, as opposed to 少年漫画 [shōnen manga], manga for teen boys. Often considered as not so much a genre but a category by target audience, and sometimes disregarded and passed as inferior as are many things created and appreciated by women, shōjo manga is in fact a distinct and distinguished genre in itself that made space for women creators and readership in the manga world, opening possibilities for alternative characters, narratives, and sensibilities beyond the battles and adventures of robots, pirates, and samurai. From this genre many auteurs and masterpieces emerged, some that may today seem conventional and others subversive, yet all worth consideration 

Cover image, ベルサイユのばら <完全版>, vol. 1. ©Ikeda Riyoko Production 

ベルサイユのばら = La rose de Versailles

La rose de Versailles, affectionately nicknamed ベルバラ [berubara], is a classic of the classics in the genre of 少女漫画 [shōjo manga]. Also known as Lady OscarBerubara tells a story of two main characters: Oscar and Marie Antoinette. Both are caught in the political and romantic whirlwind against the backdrop of pre- and post-revolutionary France. Oscar is especially conflicted between their duty as the commander of the Royal Guard and their sympathy with the revolution. 

ベルサイユのばら <完全版>, vol. 1, pp. 212-213. ©Ikeda Riyoko Production 

It first appeared in May 1972 in the Margaret (マーガレット[Māgaretto]) magazine, which ran weekly then. After the final episode was published in the magazine in 1973, a forty-episode anime television series of Berubara was released in 1979. The series gained a huge national following during its first run until 1980, achieving cult status in Japan and overseas thereafter. Consequently, it was rerun numerous times until very recently. Berubara has also been made into Takarazuka (宝塚), Japanese all-female musical theatre, since 1974. 

ベルサイユのばら <完全版>, vol. 9, prologue. ©Ikeda Riyoko Production 
ベルサイユのばら <完全版>, vol. 9, pp. 10-11. ©Ikeda Riyoko Production
Cover image of the DVD set ベルサイユのばら ©池田理代子∙TMS 
Title page, ガラスの仮面, vol. 1. ©Suzue Miuchi 1976

ガラスの仮面 = The Glass mask

The Glass mask is a manga written and illustrated by Miuchi Suzue that first appeared in shōjo manga magazine Hana to yume (花と, “Flowers and dreams”) in 1976. It is a story of two ambitious and talented young women, the protagonist Maya and her rival Ayumi, striving to reach the highest level of the art of acting as well as to achieve their career goals. 

First scene introducing the protagonist, ガラスの仮面, vol. 1. ©Suzue Miuchi 1976 

One of the bestselling shōjo manga (over 50 million copies by 2006), Garasu no kamen is still running, the most recent volume being volume 49 published in 2012. Known to be a perfectionist, Miuchi does not release new episode easily or often. She is now 68 years old and her readership, of all genders and ages, is wishing her all the best and looking desperately forward to the next volumes. One fan aged over 80 said in an interview that her last wish would be to be able read the finale of Garasu no kamen in her lifetime. A Musical based on Garasu no kamen is scheduled to premiere in 2020, for which Miuchi is writing the scenario. 

Introduction to main characters, ガラスの仮面, vol. 43. ©Suzue Miuchi 1976 
Title page, ナナ, vol. 2. © Yazawa Manga Seikakusho 2000

ナナ = Nana

Fast forward to 1999, when Nana was created by Yazawa Ai. Nana first appeared in josei-and-shōjo (女性・少女, “women and girls”) manga magazine Cookie (クッキー), and started as a series in 2000, running until June 2009. It soon became one of the bestselling shōjo manga, selling over 34.5 million copies by 2006. In 2009 Yazawa fell ill and stopped creating Nana, leaving the story unfinished with forty-seven episodes so far. Meanwhile, monograph series was published by Shūeisha (集英社) in twenty-one volumes. 

 Title page, ナナ, vol. 6. © Yazawa Manga Seikakusho 2000 

Nana is a story that evolves around the lives of two seemingly opposite women, both of whose names are Nana: one Komatsu Nana (小松奈々), the other Ōsaki Nana (大崎ナナ). Komatsu comes from a care-free home with her naïve outlook and dependent personality. Ōsaki on the other hand was a teenage runaway who is now a depressed and anxious punk rock singer. At the age of twenty-one, both end up heading to the big city, Tokyo, for a new chapter in their lives. The pair meets for the first time on their train to Tokyo and then get to live together in their new city, where one is looking for musical success and fame while the other seeks love and stability. 

Ōsaki Nana on stage, with the text reading : ”I thought that if I can’t make it as a pro, there’s something wrong with this world.”, ナナ, vol. 7. © Yazawa Manga Seikakusho 2000 

With the pages turning, the reader follows their journey in friendship and solidarity, while clumsily and painfully navigating their new surroundings, relationships, work, and passion. One can surely call Nana a type of twenty-first century coming-of-age tale of two young women, that cannot be told without female friendship taking centre stage. 

A double-page spread from ナナ, vol. 2. © Yazawa Manga Seikakusho 2000 
ナナ, vol. 6, pp. 110-111. © Yazawa Manga Seikakusho 2000 

子供向け漫画Children’s manga

子供向け漫画 [kodomo muke manga], or simply 子供漫画 [kodomo manga], is manga for children. Usually of a shorter length and telling simpler stories, children’s manga often features children themselves as main characters and contains educational content. Many children grow up reading manga, alone in their rooms and socially amongst friends. They read manga during their bus or subway trip to and back from school, during class breaks, and hanging out with friends after school. They borrow manga books from libraries, save up their pocket money to purchase new releases, and circulate volumes amongst friends. Manga is part of their daily lives and a common reference and forms their childhood memory as they grow up. Researchers have shown that manga helps develop literacy in children by exposing them to complex visual narrative sequences. Through repeated practice in visual language, children’s ability to comprehend and create narratives is increased. More researchers are finding that children who read manga also read more of other materials compared to those who do not, and grow up to be avid readers in general. 

Title page, ドラえもん, vol. 44. ©藤子プロ1974 

ドラえもん = Doraemon

Doraemon is an iconic and much beloved children’s manga series created by 藤子・F・不二雄  [Fujiko F. Fujio], nom de plume of the manga artist duo 藤本弘 [Fujimoto Hiroshi] and 安孫子素雄 [Abiko Motoo]. Doraemon first appeared in 1969 in an educational magazine for school children and in 月刊コロコロコミック (“Monthly Korokoro Comics”), both published by 小学館 [Shōgakukan], a publishing house specialising in primary education books. ロコロコ is a mimetic word describing a small, round object rolling. In January 1970, Doraemon became a regular appearance and the original series concluded with 1,345 short stories in total in 1996. Selected stories from the series were also published in monograph forms in 45 volumes from 1974 and 1996, which became one of the bestselling manga in the world, selling more than 100 million copies by 2015. 

The very first scene, ドラえもん, vol. 1. ©藤子プロ1974 

Doraemon is a story of a twenty-two-century robotic cat named Doraemon with special time-traveling powers who takes a boy, 野比のび太 [Nobi Nobita], on adventures anywhere and anytime: overseas, in the past, and into the future, while trying to help him with his troubles. Doraemon is in fact sent by a descendant of Nobita, and is equipped with all kind of futuristic gadgets. While each short story covers one problem to solve and has an ending, all stories have something in common: Doraemon uses his secret tools that magically appear from his pocket to help Nobita, but something somehow always goes wrong. 

©Fujiko-pro & Naomi Hirabayashi 2002, from Theドラえもん展 ©Theドラえもん展 製作委員會

Doraemon was and still is extremely popular, and naturally grew to a huge franchise including anime series, e-book series, anime film, feature films, and video games, adored all around the world. Licensed merchandise is also very popular, generating billions of dollars globally. Doraemon collected many an award, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan appointed the character Doraemon as the nation’s first anime ambassador in 2008. 

©Fujiko-pro & Takashi Murakami /Kaikai Kiki 2002, from Theドラえもん展 ©Theドラえもん展 製作委員會
©Fujiko-pro & Akira Onozuka 2002, from Theドラえもん展 ©Theドラえもん展 製作委員會 
©Fujiko-pro & K. Hattori 2002, from Theドラえもん展 ©Theドラえもん展 製作委員會

Displayed are the manga Doraemon itself and the images of entries for the Doraemon exhibition subtitled ‘please make your own Doraemon’, held in Japan between 2002 and 2004. 

グルメ漫画 Gourmet manga

グルメ漫画 [gurume manga], gourmet manga, is manga on food that has established itself as a topical genre over time, starting with 包丁人味平 (Hōchōnin AjiheiAjihei the cook, 1973-1977). Deemed to be the very first work in the genre, Hōchōnin Ajihei was a series written by 牛次郎[Gyū Jirō] and illustrated by ビッグ錠 [Bikku Jō], published in Weekly shōnen jump. In this seminal work, Ajihei, son of a renowned and respected chef of traditional Japanese cuisine, decides to go on his own journey against his father’s wishes. To his father’s dismay, he decides to become best at making inexpensive yet delicious food for the people. Hōchōnin Ajihei tells a story of Ajihei’s development as a chef, including the obstacles and challenges he meets. It is filled with information on ingredients, dishes, and cooking techniques, and punctuated with many a cooking battle. Although this particular work is not held by the East Asian Collection, the building blocks of Gourmet manga established and developed in Hōchōnin Ajihei are evident in the succeeding titles held in the collection. The bubble economy during the 1980s and 1990s in Japan brought about a boom in gastronomy, and the gourmet manga also proliferated. 

Cover image, 将太の寿司 : 全国大会編, vol. 17. ©寺沢大介2000 

将太の寿司=Shōta no sushi

Shōta no sushi, “Shōta’s sushi”,  is a typical example of the subgenre of Gourmet manga, バトル物, “the battle type”, where the protagonist chef’s personal and professional growth is achieved through various cooking battles and competitions. Created by 寺沢大介 [Daisuke Terasawa] in 1992, the original series was published in Weekly shōnen magazine between 1992 and 1997, followed by a sequel series 将太の寿司 : 全国大会編 [Shōta no sushi : zenkoku taikai hen] from 1997 to 2000.

Shōta’s Sushi follows a teenage male apprentice sushi cook, Shōta, through his journey to becoming a specialist sushi chef. The story centres around Shōta solving problems and overcoming obstacles while competing in sushi tournament competitions, from regional preliminaries to nationals.

Character introduction, 将太の寿司 : 全国大会編, vol. 17. ©寺沢大介2000 
A “battle” scene from 将太の寿司 : 全国大会編, vol. 17, pp. 64-65. ©寺沢大介2000 
Cover image, 美味しんぼ, vol. 102. ©Tetsu Kariya ∙ Akira Hanasaki 2008 

美味しんぼ=Oishinbo

Unlike Shōta’s sushiOishinbo, “The Gourmet”, belongs to another subgenre of Gourmet manga called 情報物, “the information type”, although the boundaries are unclear. In this type of gourmet manga, information on ingredients, recipes, origins, traditions, and food-related social practices are central to the story. In line with such characteristics, Oishinbo often provides lengthy and detailed description of the dishes featured, accompanied by realistic and meticulous pictorial representation. 

A scene featuring abalone porridge from Jeju Island, 美味しんぼ, vol. 102, pp. 20-21. ©Tetsu Kariya ∙ Akira Hanasaki 2008

It follows two newspaper journalists Shirō and Yūko who are put in charge of the paper’s special centenary project titled <the perfect menu>. Written by 雁屋哲[Kariya Tetsu] and illustrated by 花咲アキラ[Hanasaki Akira], Oishinbo series was first published in 1983 and ran until suspension in 2014 on the pages of Big Comic Spirits. The monograph series was published in 111 volumes, and soon became one of the bestselling manga in the world, with the approximate sales over 130 million copies by 2008. Anime television series, television films, and live-action films were also released. 


From the ramen section in 美味しんぼ塾, pp. 18-19. ©Tetsu Kariya 2001 

Exhibited are the manga Oishinbo itself, along with two related materials: <美味しんぼ> をもっと美味しくする特别講義  (“Special lecture to make Oishinbo more delicious”), and; 美味しんぼア・ラ・カルト. 15(身も心も温まる!鍋料理) (“Oishinbo à la carte 15: nabe dishes to warm your body and mind”). 

Table of contents, 美味しんぼア・ラ・カルト. ©Tetsu Kariya ∙ Akira Hanasaki 2006 
Pages with Satomi’s oden  recipe, 美味しんぼア・ラ・カルト. ©Tetsu Kariya ∙ Akira Hanasaki 2006 

Browse more manga in our East Asian Collection 

Acknowledgement: 

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From slapdash drawings to an art form: Japanese manga from the East Asian Collection will be exhibiting in SciTech Library, from 9th September.

Celebrate USU’s PopFest from 11-13th September. Visit the USU website to see the line up of events including Photoshop for Insta! workshop and Beat Saber Challenge at ThinkSpace and Sphero Bowling and VR Escape Room at the International Student Lounge.

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Purple Pride: Bending Sydney Exhibition

As part of Wear It Purple Day, 2019 the Library is proud to present Bending Sydney: Camp Ink 1970-77, a new exhibition featuring material from Rare Books & Special Collections. The exhibition runs from 30 August – 30 September in Fisher Library and on our ThinkSpace video wall.

We will be decorating service points and rolling out the purple carpet! Wear It Purple strives to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environment for young members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Photograph from a CAMP Inc demonstration, 6 October 1971. Photograph by Phillip Potter.

The exhibition Bending Sydney features material from CAMP Ink, which was the official publication of Sydney’s first lesbian and gay political organisation Campaign Against Moral Persecution. CAMP was co-founded in 1970 by John Ware and Christabel Poll to create a “safe space” for homosexual women and men to come together to discuss the issues of discrimination they were facing in Australia at the time.

Covers of CAMP INK publications, on display in the ‘Bending Sydney’ Exhibition. Left Vol 2, No. 2/3, December 1971, January 1972. Right: Vol 4, No. 1, 1974

A CAMP Inc branch was established on the campus of The University of Sydney, and Rare Books & Special Collections now holds the collection of the group’s historical publication which was published from 1970 – 1977. This exhibition highlights these publications, which was a vital outlet for CAMP Inc.

Covers of CAMP INK publications, on display in the ‘Bending Sydney’ Exhibition.
Left: No. 38, 1976. Right: Vol. 5, No. 2, 1976

The exhibition is curated by Library staff member Suzy Faiz. Suzy graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from Sydney College of the Arts in 2017. Her work explores painting’s critical relevance within contemporary art. It ostensibly concentrates on painting and collage and primarily exhibits abstract tendencies coupled with the occasional inclusion of figurative elements. Suzy’s work has been exhibited locally and internationally and is included in private collections in Australia and Austria.


“As a young queer person, this exhibition has been particularly close to my heart. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the history of Australia’s LGBTQIA+ activism, without which we would not have the freedoms to express ourselves today.”

Suzy Faiz

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Explore the Bending Sydney Exhibition:

Fisher Library: Friday 30th August – Monday 30th September

ThinkSpace: Friday 30th August – Friday 13th September

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The beautiful brain: the exacting detail of anatomical art

Explore the evolution of knowledge about the human brain through Rare Books and Special Collection’s latest exhibition ‘The beautiful brain: the exacting detail of anatomical art’.

See the exquisitely detailed anatomical art which assisted medical students through centuries dating back to the 16th century

The display includes early anatomical atlases and medical texts including Vesalius’s illustrations of the brain in the Fabrica (1543).

Curated by neurologist, Catherine Storey, the exhibition will fascinate everyone. See records of historical & scientific disputes and discoveries attempting to answer questions like: how many pairs of cranial nerves in the human brain?

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Exhibition details:

Fisher Library, level 2

From 11th September 2019

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2019 Printer in Residence Program: Barbara Campbell

The University of Sydney Library is delighted to welcome Barbara Campbell as the 2019 Printer in Residence!

Image: ‘Well there you are’ by Barbara Campbell, 2015

With an extensive creative practice spanning printmaking, performance, bookmaking and concept-driven enquiry, Barbara Campbell will take up residency in the Piscator Press workshop during Semester 2.

Her project ‘A Bird is in the Library’ brings together her passion for print techniques, haiku, libraries, and birds. It anticipates engagement with library users in an imaginative journey via letterpress and the architecture of the library and its systems.

Barbara will also hold two interactive open studios and a book launch exhibition at the end of the residency, see details below.

Image: Wendy Murray during the 2018 Printer in Residence by Sarah Lorien

Read more about the residency program on the Library website or you can follow the Library on social media: FacebookInstagram or Twitter for updates. 

You can also see Barbara’s work online on her Instagram account.

Open Studios

Drop in at our Open Studio sessions to see Barbara Barbara at work and the Piscator Press in action. 

Dates: 

Between 2-4pm Wednesday 11th September, please register here

Between 2-4pm Wednesday 25th September, please register here

Book Exhibition Launch

Please join us the launch of Barbara’s book and to hear the artist speak about the residency, using the Piscator Press and all things letterpress!

Date: Thursday 17th October
Time: 6-8pm
Location: Press room and foyer area, Level 1, Fisher Library.

Please register here

Echo 回声嘹亮: An exhibition on Chinese drama

For many centuries Chinese drama has enthralled all types of people. Drawing on the East Asian Collection of the University Library, this exhibition showcases rare books on the history of Chinese theatre.

The exhibition consists of three parts: the actor’s stagecraft in Chinese drama, the history of Chinese drama, and a comparative study between Chinese and Western drama. Familiarity with Chinese stage conventions is the key to appreciating Chinese drama. Understanding the historical roots of Chinese drama in comparison with Western drama provides new insights into the vicissitudes of theatrical studies.

Chinese drama continues to be a quintessential element of Chinese culture. The curtain of the stage is now raised!

Actor’s stagecraft


戏剧月刊Theatre Monthly  
刘豁公Liu Huogong, editor 
Shanghai : Xi ju yue kan she, 1928-1932 
Available at Fisher Library Rare Books & Special Collections EA 5651 4 A 

In Chinese drama, theatrical conventions made up of movement, costumes, face-painting and props all convey meaning in abstract ways.  

The fake beard is a distinctive part of the costume for many characters in Chinese drama. “Beard work” in Chinese drama refers to the skilful manipulation of the beard, tossing it in the air, grabbing it in a dramatic pose, and even flicking it outwards to indicate various emotions.  

horsewhip is a flexible cane with several tassels and a finder loop. It is used to indicate mounting, dismounting, riding and leading a horse.   

Flags are usually used to convey a battlefield scene. Four triangular flags are inserted on the back of the performer and it is used to exaggerate the heroic demeanour of the character.  

Pheasant tails are tools that the actor manipulates to express a wide range of emotions. The actors use two fingers on each hand to hold and bend the tails in various poses both in front of and behind themselves. They even clench the feathers in their teeth.  

Actors use long sleeves, long tresses and handkerchiefs to convey internal emotional states from joy to anger in order to punctuate a scene with dramatic action.  

The traditional Chinese opera stage is normally bare. A plain stage with only a table and two chairs can represent a courtroom, household, palace or even mountaintop.   

Cloud whisks are used primarily by supernatural beings like Taoist immortals and religious characters.   

Walking in circles means making a journey.  

The stagecraft of Chinese theatre is to suggest rather than to completely present. The suggestion is enough to evoke the entire reality. 

Curator’s note: 

Chinese drama is a genre capable of treating any topics in great depth – love, war, religious conversion, political struggles and criminal investigations to name a few. Famous plays include:   

  • The Injustice to Dou E by Guan Hanqing     
  • Autumn in the Han Palace by Ma Zhiyuan 
  • Regency of the Duke of Zhou by Zheng Guangzu  
  • Rain on the Paulownia Tree by Bai Pu  
  • The West Chamber by Wang Shifu 
  • The Peony Pavilion by Tang Xianzu 

Comparative studies of Western and Chinese drama 

The Orphan of Zhao赵氏孤儿

The Orphan of Zhao赵氏孤儿 was a play written by Ji Junxiang纪君祥in about 1330 AD. The play has revenge and retribution as its central themes. This piece was the first specimen of Chinese dramatic literature translated into a European language. There were five European adaptations in the 18th century: two in English, one in French, German, and Italian, respectively.   The play is founded on an event which occurred in the middle of the 7th century BC. A military leader is determined on exterminating the whole Zhao family. A faithful dependent of the family saves the life of the orphan by concealing him and passing off his own child in his stead. The orphan is brought up ignorant of his real descent until he reaches manhood. Once the truth is revealed, he seeks vengeance for the death of his family against the usurpers and ultimately recovers his birthright.  

L’orphelin de la Chine: tragédie 
Voltaire, 1755 
Available at Fisher Library Rare Books & Special Collections General French Plays 1018 

Voltaire adapted the play and he had it acted in the Comédie-Française in August 1755. Voltaire used the play as a didactic tale of morality and he called the play “the morals of Confucius in five acts.”  

The Orphan of China: A Tragedy 
Arthur Murphy; Du Halde, J.-B. (Jean-Baptiste), 1759 
Available at Fisher Library Rare Books & Special Collections General RB 4659.21 

Arthur Murphy had his adaptation produced at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane in April 1759. He includes a letter to Voltaire with suggestions to improve the play.  

Chen Shouyi states, “Each adaptation embodies some attempt at Europeanising the Chinese play. Particularly striking are the efforts made in observance of the Three Unities*. Both Voltaire and Murphy simplified the plot element and reduced the stage scenes. Voltaire embodied in the adaptation his admiration for ancient China, his confidence in the triumph of civilization over savagery. Murphy saw in it a fair chance for adapting and improving Voltaire.”[1]


Also see:

Studies in Chinese-Western Comparative Drama

Yun-Tong LUK  

Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1990 

Available at Fisher Library General 895.1 13  

Curator’s note:  

Comparative research is a research methodology in social sciences that aims to make comparisons across different countries or cultures. Can you think of other areas of comparative studies? 

History of Chinese drama 

A History of Chinese Drama  

William Dolby  

London: Paul Elek Books Limited, 1976 

Available at Fisher Library General 792.0951 4 

Dr. William Dolby (杜为廉) was a Professor of Chinese in the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of Edinburgh. As one of the foremost experts on Chinese language, culture and history, Dr. Dolby was a leading pioneer in Chinese theatrical studies and published A History of Chinese Drama in 1976. It was one of the first substantial works of Chinese theatrical history in western countries.  

Curator’s question: 

Can you draw a timeline of Chinese theatrical developments using the table of contents?

Curator’s note:  

The cover image is originally from China Illustrated drawn by Thomas Allom who was a famous British illustrator for travel books in the 19th century. The image depicts a Chinese drama performance. Full volumes of China Illustrated can be found in the Rare Books Collections at the Fisher Library. 

China Illustrated  
Thomas Allom  
London: Fisher Son & Co., 1845 
Available at Rare Books & Special Collections General Dewey 915.1 206 

宋元戏曲史 Song Yuan Xiqu Shi (A History of Drama in the Song and Yuan Dynasties)
王国维 Wang Guowei
Taipei: Publications of Ancient Books, 1915
Available at Fisher Library East Asian General EA 5656 4

This book is considered as the first monograph of Chinese theatrical studies. Wang Guowei (王国维) is one of the most renowned intellectual luminaries of modern China.

According to Wang’s research:

  • The definition of Chinese drama must encompass “speech, action and singing in order to perform stories”.
  • Chinese drama originated from witchcraft performances and temple rituals.
  • Chinese drama matured in the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368 AD) and it embodied the value of “naturalness” which Wang considered as a universal standard for good literature.

Chinese drama is an indispensable part of Chinese folk culture. Rare books on folklore in the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD) and the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368 AD) recorded some historical developments of Chinese drama.

南村辍耕录 Nan Cun Chuo Geng Lu 

陶宗仪Tao Zongyi  (1329–1410 AD) 

Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 1959 

Available at Fisher Library East Asian General EA 2700 3 

都城纪胜 Du Cheng Ji Sheng  

耐得翁 Nai Deweng (Song Dynasty) 

Taibei: Taiwan shang wu yin shu guan, 1979 

Available at Fisher Library East Asian General EA 9105 9 

There were amusement quarters known as瓦舍washe ‘tile booths’ in the Song Dynasty where 雜劇zaju ‘variety plays’ were performed.  

东京梦华录 Dong Jing Meng Hua Lu 

孟元老 Meng Yuanlao (Song Dynasty) 

Shanghai: Po ku chai, 1922 

Available at Fisher Library Rare Books & Special Collections, EA 9100 3 

Within瓦舍washe ‘tile booths’ were a number of棚 peng ‘awnings’ which could hold thousands of audience members.  

梦粱录 Meng Liang Lu 

吴自牧Wu Zimu (Song Dynasty) 

Zhejiang: Zhejiang Ren min Chu Ban She, 1980  

Available at Fisher Library East Asian General EA 2665.7 8 

Curator’s question: 

When you write academic essays, you need to provide primary and secondary sources to support your arguments. Are these books primary or secondary sources?  

About the Curator

Jenny Zhijun Yang graduated with a Master of Art Curating with distinction at the University of Sydney in 2018. She graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts in history and Asian studies in 2017, and was awarded the Summer Research Scholarship of the University of Auckland. Jenny is currently a gallery assistant at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and was previously a gallery assistant at the Auckland Art Gallery. She also works as a collection manager for a private collector. She co-curated the Giuseppe Castiglione Print Exhibition宫廷画师郎世宁)at the George Fraser Gallery in collaboration with the Auckland Art Gallery Foundation and the National Palace Museum of Taiwan in 2016. In 2018, she curated an exhibition on Thomas Allom, Perspectives of an outsider: Thomas Allom’s fascination with 19th century China with the University Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections, and gave a Rare Bites talk: Orientalism in Thomas Allom’ s engravings. Jenny has a Chinese heritage and her dream is to share Chinese civilization with others.  

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Exhibition details:

Fisher Library, level 3

From 29th August 2019

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[1] Chen Shouyi, “The Chinese Orphan: A Yuan Play – Its Influence on European Drama of the Eighteenth Century,” in The Vision of China in the English Literature of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries edited by Adrian Hsia, 1998, Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.

* Three Unities require a play to have a single action represented as occurring in a single place and within the course of a day. These principles were called unity of action, unity of place, and unity of time.