Dr. Yawen Ludden’s primary research interest is in the Chinese performing arts during the Cultural Revolution. She primarily focuses on the role that the performing arts played in China’s transformation from a traditional society to a modern nation-state during the last half of the twentieth century. Ludden regularly presents her research at regional, national and international conferences.
In 2010, Ludden received a Fulbright Fellowship enabling her to spend a year at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, where she conducted research on the modernization of China’s iconic art form, Beijing opera. This research project included scores of interviews with musicians, performers and conductors who were instrumental in the transformation of this traditional art form into a performance art with mass appeal in China even to the present day. She has published her findings both in Chinese and in English, including the major journal The Drama Review.
A secondary research interest of Ludden’s is the representation of China in modern Western opera, particularly the twentieth-century American opera Nixon in China. In addition to a number of conference presentations on the social and political ramifications of the opera both in China and the United States, she was also invited by the American Embassy in Beijing in 2011 to present a public lecture titled “Cross-Cultural Conflict and Reconciliation in the Opera Nixon in China,” as part of its “American Dialog” series.
More recently, Ludden has been looking at the role the performing arts have played in promoting gender and ethnic equality in China.