Chinese Folklore Studies Today

Chinese Folklore Studies Today

Discourse and Practice
Edited by Lijun Zhang and Ziying You
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 09/13/2019
Format: Hardback 6 b&w illus., 1 map, 1 table
ISBN: 978-0-253-04409-9
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Chinese folklorists are well acquainted with the work of their English-language colleagues, but until recently the same could not be said about American scholars' knowledge of Chinese folkloristics. Chinese Folklore Studies Today aims to address this knowledge gap by illustrating the dynamics of contemporary folklore studies in China as seen through the eyes of the up-and-coming generation of scholars. Contributors to this volume focuses on topics that have long been the dominant areas of folklore studies in China, including myth, folk song, and cultural heritage, as well as topics that are new to the field, such as urban folklore and women's folklore. The ethnographic case studies presented here represent a broad range of geographic areas within mainland China and also introduce English-language readers to relevant Chinese literature on each topic, creating the foundation for further cross-cultural collaborations between English-language and Chinese folkloristics.

Author Bio

Chao Gejin is Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Institute of Ethic Literature at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He is the author of Oral Poetics: Formulaic Diction of Arimpil's Jangar Singing and the editor of Annual Review of China Folkloristics.

Levi S. Gibbs is Assistant Professor of Chinese language and literature at Dartmouth College. He is author of Song King: Connecting People, Places, and Past in Contemporary China.

Wenyuan Shao is a Doctoral Candidate in East Asian Languages and Literatures at The Ohio State University, with a Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in Folklore.

Junxia Wang is Associate Professor of Folklore at East China Normal University. Currently she focuses on the history of women's folklore studies in China and the individual life history of craftswomen.

Ziying You is Visiting Assistant Professor of Chinese Studies at The College of Wooster. She is co-editor of a special issue for the journal Asian Ethnology, titled Intangible Cultural Heritage in Asia: Traditions in Transition.

Yongyi Yue is Professor of Folklore at the Institute of Folk Literature at Beijing Normal University. He has published eight books, including his most recent titles, The Rural Voice of Urban China: Folklore, Quyi, and the Mind and Spiritual Mountain. He is also associate editor of the Cambridge Journal of China Studies.

Lijun Zhang is Assistant Professor of Folklore at George Mason University. She previously served as Research Curator at the Anthropology Museum of Guangxi in China. She is author of Chinese Folk Art and Crafts and coeditor (with Marsha MacDowell) of Quilts of Southwest China.



An excellent contribution to the communication between Chinese and American folklorists that reflects important aspects of current studies on Chinese folklore from the eyes of young folklorists. This book is an important and a necessary supplement to those publications on Chinese folklore studies in English which have mainly been written and organized by senior Chinese folklorists.


 (Lihui Yang, author (with Deming An) of Handbook of Chinese Mythology)


The strength of this volume lies in its display of the diversity of contemporary scholarship on Chinese folklore in a relatively small number of articles. Rather than focus on senior scholars or "classics," the volume features the work of younger scholars and its greatest innovation is that each essay focuses both on the history of scholarship on a specific genre or topic and contemporary ethnographic work by the author. This provides the reader with both an understanding of the history of folklore scholarship within China, as well as a glimpse into recent ethnographic study.


 (Michael Ann Williams, author of Homeplace: The Social Use and Meaning of the Folk Dwelling in Southwestern North Carolina)

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Table of Contents

Foreword / Chao Gejin


Introduction: History and Trends of Chinese Folklore Studies / Lijun Zhang and Ziying You

1. Disciplinary Tradition, Everyday Life, and Childbirth Negotiation: The Past and Present of Chinese Urban Folklore Studies / Yongyi Yue, Translated by Wenyuan Shao and Yuanhao Zhao

2. From "Women" to "Female Folklore Practitioners": The History and Current Trend of Women's Folklore Studies in China / Junxia Wang

3. A Semiotics of Song: Fusing Lyrical and Social Narratives in Contemporary China / Levi S. Gibbs

4. Contested Myth, History, and Beliefs: Remaking Yao and Shun's Stories in Hongtong, Shanxi / Ziying You

5. Institutional Practice of Heritage-Making: The Transformation of Tulou from Residential Home to UNESCO World Heritage / Lijun Zhang