Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226734804 Published January 2003
Cloth $64.00 ISBN: 9780226734781 Published January 2003

The Emerging Lesbian

Female Same-Sex Desire in Modern China

Tze-Lan D. Sang

The Emerging Lesbian

Tze-Lan D. Sang

392 pages | 11 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2003
Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226734804 Published January 2003
Cloth $64.00 ISBN: 9780226734781 Published January 2003
In early twentieth-century China, age-old traditions of homosocial and homoerotic relationships between women suddenly became an issue of widespread public concern. Discussed formerly in terms of friendship and sisterhood, these relationships came to be associated with feminism, on the one hand, and psychobiological perversion, on the other—a radical shift whose origins have long been unclear.

In this first ever book-length study of Chinese lesbians, Tze-lan D. Sang convincingly ties the debate over female same-sex love in China to the emergence of Chinese modernity. As women’s participation in social, economic, and political affairs grew, Sang argues, so too did the societal significance of their romantic and sexual relations. Focusing especially on literature by or about women-preferring women, Sang traces the history of female same-sex relations in China from the late imperial period (1600-1911) through the Republican era (1912-1949). She ends by examining the reemergence of public debate on lesbians in China after Mao and in Taiwan after martial law, including the important roles played by globalization and identity politics.
List of Illustrations
1. Introduction

One: Premodern China
2. Revisiting Premodern Chinese Female-Female Relations
3. Odd Girls in Pu Songling’s Tales of the Strange

Two: Republican China
4. Translating Homosexuality: The Discourse of Tongxing ai in Republican China
5. Female Same-Sex Love in May Fourth Fiction

Three: China after Mao
6. The Brave New World of Post-Mao China: An Overview
7. Lin Bai’s Narratives of Female Homoerotic Desire
8. Gender-Transcendent Consciousness and Private Life

Four: Taiwan after Martial Law
9. Lesbian Activism in the Mediated Public Sphere
10. The Autobiographical Lesbian

Select Glossary of Chinese Names and Terms
Select Bibliography
Review Quotes
Gang Zhou | Chinese Literature
"It is a pleasure following Tze-lan Sang’s arguments and imaginative flights enabled by her examinations of literary works. The book is written with great care and clarity. It should be recommended for both specialists in gender studies and Chinese literature as well as generalists interested in understanding contemporary Chinese society and culture."
Gary Sigley | China Journal
“This study of the enunciation and politics of female same-sex love is a welcome and timely addition to the growing body of work examining issues of sexuality and gender identity in China. . . . A valuable addition to critical studies of sexual and gender identity.”
Joan Judge | Journal of the History of Sexuality

“[Sang’s] detailed contextualization of the moments on which the book focuses is exemplary, as is her command of a range of secondary literatures—from Western theories of sexuality to Chinese representations of erotic love in late imperial, Republican, and contemporary Chinese sources. . . . [A] rich contribution to our understanding of gender relations in twentieth-century China, global economies of sexual knowledge, and the lived experience of lesbianism in transnational China today.”

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