Chinese Storytelling


Vibeke Børdahl

Jette Ross



Chinese Storytelling:

The Interplay of Oral and Written Traditions in Popular Culture

Project leader Vibeke BÝrdahl

The project aims at studying the development of the oral arts in China with a special view to the interface between the written literature and the oral traditions of storytelling. The orality/literacy dichotomy, treated in its cultural-specific context, seems of major importance for an understanding of the structural specifics and conditions of existence of the oral arts. The storytelling genres have survived as orally transmitted traditions through more than a thousand years up to our present time and as such they offer a unique territory for research in oral tradition.

The study is based on fieldwork on present day storytelling of the "Water Margin" cycle in the Lower Yangzi area, as well as on the collection and analysis of other oral, oral-derived and literary texts related to the "Water Margin" theme. The project includes small-scale teamwork with Chinese storytellers and other performers.

The results of the project are currently communicated in the form of monographs, articles in international scientific periodicals, TV- and radio-programs. The primary target group is the international scholarly milieu, but parts of the project are also suitable for communication to a broader audience.

Since 2004 this project is incorporated into the larger project:

"Traditional Oral Culture in the Modern Media World of Asia -- The Case of Chinese Storytelling"


Papers presented at the following conferences:

2001 September: Conference of the European Association of Chinese Linguistics 2, Rome.

2001 September: 7th International CHIME Conference, 'Music and Meaning in China and East Asia', Venice.
2001 December: International Symposium on Protection and Legislation of Folk/Traditional Culture, Beijing.

See also output of the project "Traditional Oral Culture in the Modern Media World of Asia -- The Case of Chinese Storytelling"