Engaging in Drama Criticism: Zang Maoxun and His Four New Musical Texts from the Jade Tea Hall
This dissertation focuses on the corpus of Zang Maoxun’s literary creations in The Collection from the Fubao Hall and investigates his involvement in the cultural activities of the Jinling Poetry Society. Unearthing how Zang and this Society, as self and community, played an instrumental role in creating and sustaining a network of dramatists and drama critics in the Jiangnan region, a careful review of his poems and prose shows the extent to which text preparation, commentary, and printing were at the center of his communications with his social circle. Moreover, this dissertation unpacks Zang’s contribution to the promotion of dramatic texts through a thorough examination of his ardent editorial work in revising Tang Xianzu’s The Four Dream Plays from the Jade Tea Hall, the epitome of the southern musical drama. By using Zang’s 1618 Diaochong guan edition of his adaptations as a focal point, this dissertation compares it with three late Ming editions of Tang’s plays printed in the dual colors of red-and-black ink. In light of their innovative editorial designs, and the varying evaluations formed in their pages about Zang’s editorial work, this dissertation reveals the importance of Zang’s adaptations in the history of The Four Dream Plays’ textual transmission, as well as the interplay between the tradition of drama criticism and the new technology of multicolor printing and consequent innovation in editorial principles.