Boys’ love, byte-sized: a qualitative exploration of queer-themed microfiction in Chinese cyberspace

Shaw, Gareth (2017) Boys’ love, byte-sized: a qualitative exploration of queer-themed microfiction in Chinese cyberspace. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This project undertakes an in-depth, qualitative investigation into queer-themed ‘Boys Love’ microfiction within the realm of Chinese cyberspace, with the aim of further understanding both the features of the genre and the motivation for production and consumption among its primarily heterosexual female user-base. Expanding upon previous studies, which have focused primarily on investigation into the consumer groups of such fiction, this project seeks to establish links between the linguistic/discursive features of queer Chinese-language microfiction and observable social phenomena or cultural frameworks.

Using and developing Gee’s tools of inquiry (2014) for textual analysis, this project explores the situated meanings, figured worlds and Discourses embodied in very short fictional stories representing male same-sex intimacies and queer sexualities. In doing so, I proposes a development of Johnson’s circuits of culture model (1986), in which I hypothesize that, confronted with heteronormative social structures—constructed along a gender binary and framed through patriarchal familial and social relationships—China’s cyberspace has offered a new platform for marginalized individuals (both queer-identified and those heterosexual consumers who enjoy fantasizing about same-sex intimacies) to engage, navigate and negotiate space to tell their stories. In doing so, they find opportunities to renegotiate citizenship based on sexual identity. Therefore, this study creates a ‘circuit of queer cyberculture’ framework through which to analyse queer-themed microfiction. This framework proposes that, through an emerging form of ‘cultural self-determination’ rooted in sexual and gender identity and the declaration and negotiation of sexual citizenship, netizens who experience social marginalization in the real world through their attraction to representation of queer lives begin to indigenize circuits of popular culture observable in mainstream media platforms by creating and distributing their own works of art and fiction online.

Through a combination of Critical Discourse Analysis of 40 selected works of microfiction and applied thematic analysis of 39 interviews conducted with producers and consumers of the genre in Mainland China, this project therefore assesses the development of the Boys’ Love genre into a microfiction format, distributed via a publicly visible online platform. Investigation of the defining characteristics of the genre, in combination with data gathered from interviews, allows this project to demonstrate how this new empirical data can expand our global and local knowledge of theoretical and conceptual debates regarding identity, gender, representation, queer sexualities, sexual citizenship and circuits of culture.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Yip, Andrew Kam-Tuck
Zhang, Xiaoling
Taylor, Jeremy E.
Keywords: Microfiction, China, Queer, Feminism, Discourse Analysis
Subjects: P Language and literature > PN Literature (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Sociology and Social Policy
Item ID: 43822
Depositing User: Shaw, Gareth
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2017 04:40
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2017 15:28

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