Reticent poetics, queer politics

Jen Peng Liu, Naifei Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


This is a preliminary rethinking of the interface of tolerance and reticence as a dominant aesthetic-ethical value with the maintaining of 'proper' sexual relations and the keeping of deviant sex(ualities) in the realm of ghosts and wangliang. The paper is a descriptive analysis of certain effects of homophobia as the latter is re-figured through 'silent words and reticent tolerance', passing for the most 'traditional' of virtues in modern 'democratic' guise. We think that just as person-hood is in Taiwan (and perhaps in other Chinese-ness marked worlds) inextricably entangled with paternalist familial relations in impure modern forms, so too have the rhetoric and politics of tolerance and reticence retained seemingly old powers while articulating new disciplinary and rhetorical forces, especially in the field of sexuality in and around the family. Contemporary novelistic representation, such as the acclaimed popular novel of 'queer' desire, The Unfilial Daughter, may be read as both representing and complicit with just such reticent aesthetic and political powers. We are also concerned with how new regimes of progressive knowledge-production in the fields of gender and queer theorizing and historical analyses can be inadvertently complicit with these same reticent shadowy homophobic forces to the extent the former posits culturally essential 'Chinese' non-homophobic subjects and situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-55
Number of pages26
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2005


  • China studies
  • Gender and queer studies
  • Homophobic effect
  • Narrative reticence
  • Penumbra query shadow (wangliang wen ying)
  • Poetics and politics of reticence (hanxu)


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