China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This panel contributes to current queer studies by bringing together pre-modern and contemporary contexts in interdisciplinary conversations, addressing late imperial visualizations of “queer” figures and their reincarnations in the twentieth-century Sinophone world. Considering Sinophone queer studies across the centennial threshold, we discuss how vernacular discourses of bodies and desire reconfigure discourses of homoeroticism, uncover queer sensibilities that were less represented in canonical traditions, and at the same time reconsider links and gaps between past and present, “Chinese” and “Sinophone.” Our papers range from early Qing vernacular stories, late Qing women’s tanci fiction, the reception in Cold War Taiwan of a Hong Kong filmic adaptation of a cross-dressing theatrical performance, to 1990s Taiwanese queer fiction. We discuss how queer temporality can be spatialized to encompass cultural specificities, rather than taking imagining modern queer practices as a “return” of preceding bequests, or considering the early modern queer subject as a “primitive” form. Zhaokun Xin analyzes how early Qing stories explore the potentialities of queer bodies. Li Guo’s reading of a Qing female author's prosimetrical novel locates women’s agency in the work’s inventive use of brotherhood to depict female friendship and same-sex intimacies. Yu-Hsing Chen and Jie Guo both consider contemporary renditions of traditional narratives. Chen studies how a Hong Kong filmic adaption of the “Liangzhu” tale explores identity negotiation for audiences in Cold War Taiwan. Jie Guo concentrates on drastic changes in the perception of male same-sex relationships as captured in a 1990s Taiwanese adaptation of a late Qing novel.