Music faculty Nancy Yunhwa Rao receives three book awards for her latest book

Rutgers University’s Nancy Yunhwa Rao recently received the third award for her latest book, Chinatown Opera Theater in North America (Illinois University Press, 2017). The award-winning book tells the story of iconic theater companies and the networks and migrations that made Chinese opera a part of North American cultures. She unmasks a backstage world of performers, performance, and repertoire and sets readers in the spellbound audiences beyond the footlights.

At the recent Association for Asian American Studies’ annual meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, Dr. Rao was presented the 2019 Book Award in Humanities and Cultural Studies (Media, Visual, and Performance Studies). She also received the 2018 Music in American Culture Award from American Musicological Society, which honors each year a book of exceptional merit that both illuminates some important aspect of the music of the United States and places that music in a rich cultural context. In addition, she received 2018 Lowens Book Award from the Society for American Music. The society annually awards this prize to the book judged as the best in the field of American music.

“This book, which engages with issues of racial exclusion, Asian cultural stereotypes, female impersonation and yellowface traditions in opera in a manner both timely and compelling, represents the author's long-term commitment to conducting research on the topic of Chinese-American music, reminding us that national borders were ever-porous and evolving in the history of music in performance, and highlighting patterns of immigration that have informed the deeply transnational aspects of American culture,” the Society for American Music wrote in its citation.

At the meeting of Association for Asian American Studies, the citation for the book award states that “by chronicling performance practices in detail, the book not simply reorients our understanding of this cultural phenomenon but it also offers a means to see how Chinatown Opera often conditioned notions of Chinese belonging and citizenship within the wider scope of geographic North America and beyond.”

Dr. Rao has been on the faculty in the Department of Music, at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University since 1995. Her publications have provided innovative analytical approaches to cross-cultural music, and enhanced public discussions about cultural encounter in music. Through her scholarship, as well as teaching, she has promoted diversity and advanced knowledge and dialogue about the complexity of diversity issues in music scholarship.

Dr. Rao is a graduate of National Taiwan Normal University, where she majored in music. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in music theory from the University of Michigan.

Read more about Dr. Rao here.

Information accurate as of May 2019.