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First Mee.ting of the Conference on Chinese Oral and Performing Literature On 31 March and 1 Apri.l. 1969 a conference was held at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, to consider the possibility of initiating some type of organi%ed activity in the field of the oral and performing literature of China. Attending this meeting were scholars working on China and specializing in music, drama, folklore, sociology, anthropology, literature, and linguistics. One result of the. discussions was to organize a pennanent Conference on Chinese Oral and Performing Literature. Since the Conference was in effect breaking new ground, the first task was to define the field. The consensus was that the attention of the group should be concentrated on the audio-visual aspects of those literary forms normally intended for presentation to some sort o.f audience, and on the historical traditions of these forms. This was restated more simply as "that literature in which performance makes the differc,nce." Rather than formulate a defi.nitive statement of scope, it was decided to be inclusive rather than exclusive. As examples of pertinent areas of interest the Conference listed popular and folk poetry, street plays, storytellers' performances, drum songs, operatic performances, puppet plays, ceremonial chanting and singing, religious rites, the recitation of classical texts, work and vendors' songs~ The group sees itself as expanding work on Chinese literature in three major areas. First, it will add a new perspective to classical studies by adding the dimension of performance to the textual materials. Second, it will encourage interest :ln the non-classical and popular forms which tend to be neglected by the traditional scholar. Third, i.t will work to preserve those forms which, for any number of reasons, are in danger of extinction or significant transformation. It is hoped that future work 0£ the Conf:erence will stimulate a type of study making increased use of modern recording techniques and equipment. As suggested by the title there are two broad divisions which, although overlapping to a certain degree, form two natural categories distinguished by the type of recording most important to their collection and preservation. One of these is the oral material collected on magnc:,tic tape or disks. 111ese will of course be supplemented by written texts including lyrics, librettos, and musical . notations. Tt1e ott1er category includes the performed materials differing from t:he oral simply by adding the elements of .-i.cCJon, gesture, and movement. l This material must be recorded on film -- either still, movie, or video-tape,, Here again the filmed records must be supplemented by texts containing detailed analysis of choreography, kinesics, stage directions, etc~ Both of these major divisions have important historical foundations and call for documentary study. The Conference \•1:Lll encourage work in collection, reconstruction, and preservation of any materials antecedent to the living modern forms. The Conference expressed a strong interest in the re-performance of the materials studied and in making these materials available to interested scholars and to the broader academic community. To this end it was decided to establish -:.1. textual and audio-visual repository with the responsibility of, reproducing, publicizing, and distributing the materials collected in the course of future work sponsored by the Conference. The Cornell University Library has agreed, with the concurrence of those present at the spring meeting, to serve as central repository :for the Conference and has indicated :Lts willingness and ability to handle all the various :forms of recorded material wh.Lch the Conference is likely to collect,, As this is accumulated, it will be catalogued and the acquisitions will be announced :i.n the usual library publications . As funds become available the Cornell University Library will expand "i.ts present holdings in pert:Lnent materials~ The hope i.s that these holdings and [uture acqu.i.s:i.tions -Ln the name of t:he Conference will function as a research archive any :i.nterest:ed scholar can have convenient access to a un:i.que collection~ 11-te repository is not set np to compete existing archives and will duplicate only that part of other collections which :Ls concerned with the specific...


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