The idea of writing a book on Chinese television drama began to take root in the year 2000, when a Chinese-television-related conference was held at Tufts University. I thank a former colleague, Wang Qingping, for proposing and organizing the conference. I would also like to thank my colleagues, especially Vida Johnson and Christiane Romero, of the Department of German, Russian, and Asian Languages and Literatures of Tufts University for making the conference possible and for actively participating in welcoming the Chinese delegation at the conference.
I am also grateful to my colleague Mingquan Wang for his untiring willingness to help me troubleshoot computer-related problems.
An American Council of Learned Societies research grant as well as a summer faculty research grant and other research grants from Tufts University made it possible for me to make several trips to China. Invited talks and presentations were good opportunities for me to flesh out ideas and questions about how to approach what proved to be a challenging project. I thank Yomi Braester for inviting me to a conference on visuality at the University of Washington, Hong Zhang for asking me to give a talk on the phenomenon of Chinese television drama at Colby College, Zhang Zhen for having me give a talk on “history drama” at New York University, Chris Berry for inviting me to join a panel at the Association for Asian Studies on Chinese television drama, Paul Festa for the opportunity to present the chapter on television songs at a workshop on popular culture in Asia at Harvard University, and Wang Ban and Ching Kwan Lee for inviting me to present the chapter on anticorruption drama at a conference held at University of Michigan.
Many colleagues and friends have been, in various ways, inspirational over the years in confirming the importance of this project. Thanks are therefore due to Cai Rong, Cao Tianyu, Chen Huifen, Claire Conceison, Huang Zhen, Haiyan Lee, Lin Chun, Liao Kebin, Lu Yan, Wang Ban, and Ye Weili. I must also thank the two anonymous readers of the manuscript for this book for their constructive comments and suggestions. I am particularly grateful to Pamela (p.x) Kelley at the University of Hawai‘i Press for her recognition of the significance of the book’s subject matter and for her professionalism, which made the revision process smooth and efficient. Special thanks go to Lili Ch’en, whose upbeat spirit, sense of humor, and wisdom have sustained me throughout years of a sometimes drudging way of life. My heartfelt gratitude goes to Susan Greenberg, whose excellent editorial skills unfailingly help clean up a nonnative-language writer’s various mistakes, big and small. I would not have developed a critical sense of my own writing if not for Malcolm Griffith, who has been the most critical, sharp, and demanding reader of what I write in English. Indeed, I will never be able to thank Susan and Malcolm enough for the help they have given me over the years and for the special friendship I have with each of them. My final thanks are reserved for the late Charles Nelson, my mentor at Tufts University, whose friendship was essential during the years I have been at Tufts. He was a liangshi yiyou to me, a most kind, considerate, supportive, and funny mentor and friend. I dedicate this book in memory of Charlie.