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Research

I engage in interdisciplinary research on media cultures in contemporary China and East Asia, particularly in relation to gender, sexuality, and nationalism. Below is an overview of my published works with links to publishers’ sites. If you are interested in any of my works, please send me an email via songlinhk@gmail.com.

Books

Lin Song, 2021

Queering Chinese Kinship: Queer Public Culture in Globalizing China

Hong Kong University Press

This book probes into the interactions between non-normative sexualities and blood kinship relations as part and parcel of contemporary Chinese public culture. Studying queer representations across a range of subcultural and pop-cultural media genres including independent documentary, arthouse cinema, transnational musical theater, and online video, the book argues that blood kinship relations must be understood as central to, rather than separate from, any articulation of queer selfhood and culture in China today. By delineating a picture of Chinese queerness and kinship in contention and transformation against the complex background of state-sponsored commercialization and cultural liberation, local media control and censorship, intraregional flows of capital, talent, and knowledge, and global popular cultural encounters, the book shows how the convergence of local, regional, and global sexual knowledges and cultural politics gives rise to new modes of queer becoming, new configurations of Chinese kinship, and new structures of hegemony and homonormativity in a globalizing China.

(Book in Chinese) Liu Yan, Lin Song, et al., 2019

Sex/Gender 性别

外语教学与研究出版社 Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press (Beijing)

This is a reader in Chinese on gender and sexuality in literary studies. It introduces theories of gender and sexuality and offers examples of how to use apply these theories in literary analysis. I authored chapters on queer theory, Sedgwick’s Between Men, and Schwenger’s Phallic Critique.

本书包含五章,第一章辨析了性别的基本定义和学术论争;第二章论述了性别研究三大分支——女性主义、男性研究、酷儿理论——的渊源与流变;第三章对“阁楼上的疯女人”等三个经典性别研究案例进行了评析;第四章展示了“辛西娅·欧芝克小说中女性的知识主体性”等三则原创性别研究案例;第五章对国内外性别研究现状进行了反思和展望,提出了性别研究的本土化对策和多元研究视点。

Journal articles

Runze Ding and Lin Song*, forthcoming.

Digital sexual publics: understanding DIY gay porn and lived experiences of sexuality in China

International Journal of Communication

This paper puts forward “digital sexual publics” as an interpretive framework through which to understand DIY porn production and consumption practices that have recently proliferated on domestic and international digital platforms in China. Drawing on semi-structured in-depth interviews with 12 Chinese porn producers and consumers, we explore the relationship between digital media use and lived experiences of sexuality. We identify three characteristics of digital sexual publics. The first is a hybridity of media, where “old” and “new” digital technologies co-exist to produce an array of sexual representations that creatively negotiate with censorship. The second is the emergence of a truly “digital” intimacy that produces flexible public spaces to embody queer desire. The third is digital sexual publics’ ambivalent politics that at once transform sexual identities and constrain sexual imaginaries. Through these discussions, we direct attention to the situatedness of lived experiences of sexuality, and advance the agenda of Asian porn studies by changing the focus from the existence and political significance of sexually explicit media to the transformations they bring to individual lives. 

Lin Song, 2022.

Politics of Fun and Participatory Censorship: China’s Reception of Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

This paper discusses China’s ban of the hit Japanese video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Situating the ban in the context of Chinese digital economy, this paper investigates the politics of fun as it intersects with censorship and popular nationalism in China today. Drawing on user-generated content and social media discussions of the game and its ban, the paper discusses two outcomes deriving from China’s precarious environment for gameplay, where fun could be easily confiscated by authorities: the first is the emergence of participatory censorship where netizens voluntarily and collectively set the limit for self-expression in an effort to depoliticize gameplay; the second is the convergence between fun and nationalism, which transforms gameplay into a vessel for expressing and strengthening official ideology. In doing so, the paper reconsiders the thesis of digital democratization by shedding light on the regulated processes of digital self-making.

Lin Song and Shih-Diing Liu, 2022.

Demobilising and Reorienting Online Emotions: China’s Emotional Governance during the COVID-19 Outbreak

Asian Studies Review

This paper discusses China’s ban of the hit Japanese video game Animal Crossing: New Horizon. Situating the ban in the context of Chinese digital economy, this paper investigates the politics of fun as it intersects with censorship and popular nationalism in China today. Drawing on user-generated content and social media discussions of the game and its ban, the paper discusses two outcomes deriving from China’s precarious environment for gameplay, where fun could be easily confiscated by authorities: the first is the emergence of participatory censorship where netizens voluntarily and collectively set the limit for self-expression in an effort to depoliticize gameplay; the second is  the convergence between fun and nationalism, which transforms gameplay into a vessel for expressing and strengthening official ideology. In doing so, the paper reconsiders the thesis of digital democratization by shedding light on the regulated processes of digital self-making.

Lin Song, 2022

Desiring Wanghuang: Live Streaming, Porn Consumption and Acts of Citizenship among Gay Men in Digital China

Television and New Media

This paper investigates Chinese gay men’s consumption of domestic pornography on international social network platforms following the country’s anti-porn campaigns targeting live streaming. Set against the backdrop of China’s illiberal digital landscape characterized by rapid platformization and evolving Internet governance, the paper draws on in-depth interviews with 21 Chinese young gay men to explore how they take advantage of digital platforms and algorithms to creatively and resiliently carve out a space for expressing same-sex desires in a precarious environment. It argues that, although these creative acts of sexual citizenship empower gay men in self-understanding and community-building, they are also critically limited by China’s intertwining neoliberal and illiberal cultures. 

Lin Song, 2021

Desire for Sale: Live-streaming and Commercial DIY Porn among Chinese Gay Microcelebrities

Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

This paper examines a nascent network of commercial DIY gay porn production by microcelebrities in China against the background of platformization, commodification, and illiberal cultural landscapes. Informed by queer Marxist theories, the paper looks at how the career trajectories of live-streamer-turned DIY gay porn actors/producers are shaped by the intertwining forces of platform capitalism, technological affordances, and state internet governance. Reflecting on the critical potential of these DIY porn production practices, it suggests that they paradoxically showcase both a willing submission to the ever-expanding logics of capitalism and means of creative negotiation with commodification and state censorship.

Lin Song, 2021

Entertainingly queer: illiberal homonormativity and transcultural queer politics in a Chinese Broadway musical

Feminist Media Studies

This paper investigates the cultural politics in the recent proliferation of queer popular cultural products in China through a case study of Q Dadao, a Chinese adaptation of the Broadway musical Avenue Q. Situating the musical in the illiberal conditions of concurrent economic liberalization and ideological control in a globalizing China, the paper examines how liberationist politics embedded in the original musical is transculturally negotiated and reimagined in the Chinese version to engender fundamentally new queer tactics. In particular, the paper highlights the paradoxes and ambivalences in the musical’s cultural politics, and puts forward a framework of illiberal homonormativity to understand complexity and multifariousness of queer identities and embodiments in China today.

Lin Song, 2020

Re-inventing Confucian Subjects: Politics of Subject-making in Chinese Dating with the Parents

Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies

This article delves into the relationship between reality television and the politics of subject-making in contemporary Chinese media culture. Offering a critical discourse analysis of the recent hit reality TV/game show Chinese Dating with the Parents (2017-2018), the case-study explicates how the show’s inclusion of a normalized transgender celebrity host and its Confucianized approaches to dating, marriage, and family relations are connected to the re-packaging and re-articulation of Confucianism at state and personal levels in China. By shedding light on the interconnectedness of state ideology, celebrity culture, and subject-making in reality television, the discussion points out television functions in creating and circulating new state-sanctioned subjectivities.

The article is part of a special issue section entitled “Confucian Values and Television in East Asia”.

The article a special issue section entitled “Confucian Values and Television in East Asia”

Lin Song and Chris K. K. Tan, 2020

The Final Frontier: Imagining Queer Futurity in Star Trek

Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies

This paper offers a critical queer analysis of Star Trek as a history of the future. Juxtaposing two episodes of queerness from Star Trek’s canon with the show’s depiction of gay characters in its latest drama series, the paper unpacks the multiple levels of queerness that are at once facilitated and restricted by the show’s visions of the future. Drawing on discussions of queer futurity, it argues for the usefulness of a queer reparative reading strategy in intervening in heteronormative models of the future and opening up potentialities for queer world-making.

Book chapters

Lin Song, 2021

Straightly Chinese: The Emergence of Systemic Homophobia in China

In Contesting Chineseness: Ethnicity, Identity, and Nation in China and Southeast Asia. Springer.

Drawing on two critical concepts – political homophobia and reticence politics – this chapter analyzes recent incidents of censorship and gay-bashing in contemporary People’s Republic of China to observe the rise of a systemic homophobia at both individual and institutional levels. It argues that the apparently abrupt outbreak of violence toward queer people is deeply rooted in a top-down structure of heterosexism and censorship. By doing so, it attempts to expand the scope of analysis in contemporary Chinese queer studies from optimistic, bottom-up interpretations of individual agency and social progress to include the practical aspects of the top-down reinforcement of state and other institutionalized powers.

Lin Song, 2018

Negotiating Transcultural Masculinities in Dad, Where Are We Going?

In The Cosmopolitan Dream: Transnational Chinese Masculinities in a Global Age, edited by Geng Song and Derek Hird. Hong Kong University Press.

This book chapter discusses the representation of masculinities in the Chinese reality TV show Dad, Where Are We Going? (HunanTV, 2013-2016). Focusing on the show’s transcultural renderings of masculinities in its first season, I argue that on the one hand, the show’s portrayal of loving father figures in childrearing reconfigures conventional scripts of masculinity and creates updated masculinity ideals by hybridizing “pan-East Asian soft masculinity” (Jung 2009); on the other hand, such new masculinities reinforce, instead of challenge, dominant models of hegemonic masculinity by perpetuating gendered division of labor. I conclude that while the show expands notions of Chinese masculinity, it presents an idealized, romanticized, and conservative vision of fatherhood that serves as a compensation for the absence of desirable father figures in contemporary Mainland China.

Lin Song, 2018

Queering Chinese Kinship: Aspiration, Negotiation and New Meanings

In Queering Paradigms VIIContested Bodies and Spaces, edited by Bee Scherer. Peter Lang.

Informed by scholarship in queer Asian studies, this book chapter proposes an alternative framework of “queering Chinese kinship” for understanding and theorizing queer experiences, practices, and politics based on the context of contemporary Chinese societies. It identifies kinship as a pivotal site for investigating and theorizing Chinese queerness, and showcases how local cultural and socioeconomic specificities fundamentally shape queer expressions and identities. Instead of assuming a ready-made, unified queer identity, the chapter accentuates the negotiations, subversions, and transformations engendered by the interactions between queerness and Chinese kinship within kinship system itself, thereby interrogating and rethinking both concepts.

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