Nguyen To Lan (Researcher, Institute of Sino-Nom Studies, Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences; HYI Visiting Scholar)
Chair and Discussant: Karen Thornber (Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University)
The “Chinese model” is a concept brought up by Alexander Woodside in 1971 to affirm that the Nguyễn reign fought to ensure that their government would reach the same model as that in China. This opinion, since its birth, has divided scholars of Vietnamese history into two different camps: one tendency is to clarify its content; the other is to argue that Vietnam, through interacting with other cultures in the region, managed to build and maintain a unique national character, distinguished from China. In the last ten years, research from different perspectives such as Vietnamese literature and costume history has shown a tendency to “revisit from a new angle” the model Woodside proposed. This presentation of research on the Vietnamese dramatic adaptation (Tuồng) of the Three Kingdoms points out the important role of Tuồng in establishing the Chinese model during the Nguyễn reign. Unlike many other rigid and inefficient adoptions of the Chinese model in the ruling mechanism, Tuồng was officialized efficiently, based on its form of local performance art together with the influence and adaptation of Chinese literature in Vietnam at the time.