Loved and lost : the adolescent girls' same-sex romance and Chinese sexual modernity

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Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Lingnan University

Event Title

Cultural Magazine Series, 2003-04

Document Type

Public Seminar




5:30 p.m. -- 7:30 p.m.




The adolescent girls' Same-sex romance narrative has a history in Chinese cultural production stretching back to the 1920s and 1930s, with the translation of Japanese and European sexology. Recent scholarship has discussed the historical context of this narrative initial emergence (Tze-lan D. Sang, The Emerging Lesbian, 2003), but little has been written to date on its contemporary manifestations. The story of the same-sex teenage girl-friend loved and lost continues to be reproduced and enthusiastically consumed across multiple sites of transnational Chinese popular and elite culture, from short stories from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the People Republic of China to a recent spate of free-to-air Taiwanese TV series and telemovies. These programmes are accessed by audiences in Hong Kong and mainland China via Internet-based VCD/ DVD sales and informal FTP file transfers between fans, and Internet-based discussion of these programmes has produced some very lively "discursive communities" across all three Chinese regions. What conclusions can be drawn from the enduring popularity of this narrative in Chinese public cultures today? This paper discusses literary, televisual and Internet-based manifestations of the narrative, and is interested, first, in the intra-Asian aspect of the narrative history, particularly in cultural flows between Japan and China / Taiwan . Second, I consider how contemporary instances of the narrative construct gender and sexual identity in relation to memory and loss, and how audiences' computer-mediated interaction with the television programmes enables particular modes of gendered and sexual identification.



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Dr Fran Martin is Lecturer in Cinema Studies at La Trobe University, Australia. She has published widely on sexuality, media, and literature in contemporary Taiwan, and is author of Situating Sexualities: Queer Representation in Taiwanese Fiction, Film and Public Culture (Hong Kong University Press, 2003), translator of Angelwings: Contemporary Queer Fiction from Taiwan (Hawai University Press, 2003), and co-editor with Chris Berry and Audrey Yue of Mobile Cultures: New Media and Queer Asia (Duke University Press, 2003). Her recent publications include an article on Taiwanese pop singer Sandee Chan lesbian signification, in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 4.2 (August 2003), and her current research project investigates lesbian representation in the transnational Chinese popular cultures that span Hong Kong, Taiwan and the People Republic of China.

Cultural Magazine Series, 2003-04, 1st semester, chapter 4

The public seminar was part of the Cultural Studies Seminar Series, an ongoing series of informal talks, jointly organized by the Department of Cultural Studies and Kwan Fong Cultural Research and Development Programme (KFCRD), Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, in which researchers in dialogue with leading cultural critics, designers, producers and entrepreneurs working in and around Hong Kong. Aimed at an undergraduate audience, the Seminar used a “chat show” format to encourage students to join in the discussion of new cultural research and development projects.

Recommended Citation

Martin, F. (2003, December 18). Loved and lost: The adolescent girls' same-sex romance and Chinese sexual modernity [Video podcast]. Retrieved from http://commons.ln.edu.hk/videos/213