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The Politics of Schadenfreude: Violence and Queer Cultural Critique in Lucifer Hung's Science Fiction

The Politics of Schadenfreude: Violence and Queer Cultural Critique in Lucifer Hung's Science... Both avant-garde and popular, Lucifer Hung's writing has attracted a significant amount of critical attention in Chinese academic circles for its explicit sexual and violent content. This article identifies an ethical conundrum faced by critics who want to support Hung's writing as emerging queer cultural production by framing it within progressive discourses of inclusion, but find that the explicit content of Hung's stories at best only rests uneasily within such a framework and therefore propose limited but significant reservations about Hung's queer, feminist, or postcolonial politics. Taking up this conundrum as marking the limits, both aesthetic and political, of the positive and legitimizing discourses of global gay identity, we argue that there is an innovative queer cultural politics to precisely the aspects of Hung's writings that cause the most discomfort for well-intentioned readers. We propose that both the narrative form and content of Hung's science fiction address the homophobic deployments of what we term reticent schadenfreude. By exposing how it renders oppositional or deviant sexual positionalities impossible or off the map of civil discourse in Chinese-speaking contexts, Hung challenges reticent schadenfreude's relative invisibility; by taking up the generic incorporating alien monster from science fiction cultures and appropriating it as a perverse narrative form and point of view, Hung refuses the trap of victim-ethicality as a default category for difference that wants to make itself heard. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png positions asia critique Duke University Press

The Politics of Schadenfreude: Violence and Queer Cultural Critique in Lucifer Hung's Science Fiction

positions asia critique , Volume 18 (2) – Sep 1, 2010

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Duke University Press
ISSN
1067-9847
eISSN
1527-8271
DOI
10.1215/10679847-2010-004
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Both avant-garde and popular, Lucifer Hung's writing has attracted a significant amount of critical attention in Chinese academic circles for its explicit sexual and violent content. This article identifies an ethical conundrum faced by critics who want to support Hung's writing as emerging queer cultural production by framing it within progressive discourses of inclusion, but find that the explicit content of Hung's stories at best only rests uneasily within such a framework and therefore propose limited but significant reservations about Hung's queer, feminist, or postcolonial politics. Taking up this conundrum as marking the limits, both aesthetic and political, of the positive and legitimizing discourses of global gay identity, we argue that there is an innovative queer cultural politics to precisely the aspects of Hung's writings that cause the most discomfort for well-intentioned readers. We propose that both the narrative form and content of Hung's science fiction address the homophobic deployments of what we term reticent schadenfreude. By exposing how it renders oppositional or deviant sexual positionalities impossible or off the map of civil discourse in Chinese-speaking contexts, Hung challenges reticent schadenfreude's relative invisibility; by taking up the generic incorporating alien monster from science fiction cultures and appropriating it as a perverse narrative form and point of view, Hung refuses the trap of victim-ethicality as a default category for difference that wants to make itself heard.

Journal

positions asia critiqueDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2010

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