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Masculinity in Chinese culture

May 17, 2011

Okay so I like a comparatist approach, which is why sometimes my notes may not seem immediately relevant to a study in NZ YA lit… anyway… There is a book called

The fragile scholar : power and masculinity in Chinese culture / Song Geng (c2004),

which has this blurb about it: “The Fragile Scholar examines the pre-modern construction of Chinese masculinity from the popular image of the fragile scholar (caizi) in late imperial Chinese fiction and drama. The book is an original contribution to the study of the construction of masculinity in the Chinese context from a comparative perspective. Its central thesis is that the concept of “masculinity” in pre-modern China was conceived in the network of hierarchical social and political power in a homosocial context rather than in opposition to “woman.” In other words, gender discourse was more power-based than sex-based in pre-modern China, and Chinese masculinity was androgynous in nature. The author explains how the caizi discourse embodied the mediation between elite culture and popular culture by giving voice to the desire, fantasy, wants and tastes of urbanites.” (my emphases)

Relevance? Perhaps none, but I am sure there are ‘masculinities‘ in a lot of the fiction produced for YAs in NZ… what forms do they take? prefer?  Maurice Gee, Bernard Beckett, Des Hunt? Patricia Grace, Margaret Mahy, VM Jones? … would be interesting to look at is all!


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