Document Type

Honors Project


In the wake of shifting cultural attitudes about gender and sexuality in Post-Mao China, new discourses have emerged about desires and subjectivities that had previously been denied visibility. This thesis takes one such emerging discourse as its focus, the discourse of female homoeroticism in contemporary Chinese literature. The project has three major purposes: (1) to investigate the historical and cultural conditions that have contributed to the emergence of this discourse in the 1990s, an era of profound ideological and cultural change in China, (2) to explore the local and global analyses that contribute to the discourse, and (3) to discuss the ways in which this discourse influences the social reality of female tongzhi (同志), or women who love and desire other women. Though analysis of four works by representative writers within this emerging discourse, “Brothers” by Wang Anyi, A Private Life and “Breaking Open” by Chen Ran, and “Seat on the Veranda” by Lin Bai, I argue that the possibilities for women articulated through these texts influence the social reality of female tongzhi by increasing the public imaginability of desires and relationships characteristic of female tongzhi, as well as by providing individuals with allegories through which to reinterpret their lives. Furthermore, I argue that the full significance of the emerging discourse on female homoeroticism is constituted by neither local nor global analysis and interpretation, but rather by the combination of and intersections between the two, along with the interpretive agency of non-academic readership.


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