Qiu Miaojin Conference grad panel–cfp

CFP: Grad student panel, Qiu Miaojin Conference at HKU (Nov 28-29)

Dear MCLC list members,

On November 28-29, 2019, the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong will host a 2-day conference on the work of queer Taiwan writer Qiu Miaojin. The conference planning is now at its final stage, but we hope to recruit 1-2 more graduate students who can present on Qiu Miaojin’s work. I provide a description of the conference below. Due to limited budget, we unfortunately can’t provide funding for travel and accommodation at this point. Lunch and dinner will be provided. Confirmed speakers include: Ari Larissa Heinrich, Tze-Lan Sang, Luo Yijun, Chi Ta-wei, Fan-Ting Cheng, Bonnie Huie, Evans Chan, Lolita Hu Ching-fang, and more.

Please send inquiry and abstract to Alvin K. Wong at akhwong@hku.hk

Description of Conference

This conference engages with the literary work of Qiu Miaojin, a famous lesbian writer of Taiwan whose premature death in 1995 marks a watershed moment in queer and literary discourses both in and out of Taiwan. Qiu’s queer classic Notes of a Crocodile (1994) is centered on a lesbian protagonist who assumes a non-human alter ego of a crocodile in the narration, attesting to the social marginalization of LGBT and queer population as “non-normative” at the time of Qiu’s writing. Showcasing the clever use of irony, sarcasm, and dark humor, Qiu’s first novel instantly became a defining work of lesbian queer fiction in Taiwan in the early 1990s, which predated the emergence of mainstream gay and lesbian movement there. Qiu’s writing career ended too early when she committed suicide at the young age of twenty-six, leaving us with her last work called Last Words from Montmartre (1996). Qiu’s last novel reads partly like suicide notes and partly a manifesto of love and desire towards a same-sex lover. Qiu’s transnational impact is evident when her lesbian character in Notes of a Crocodile named “Lazi” is later embraced by real-life lesbians across Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China, who often self-identify as “lala,” a shorthand of “lesbian” but really more an endearment of Qiu’s protagonist. In 2017, Hong Kong filmmaker Evans Chan also made a documentary in honor of Qiu, and it was broadcast by RTHK’s series on global Sinophone writers. Chan has since completed a full feature film called Love and Death in Montmartre (2018). Due to her death in France and last work being inspired by her diasporic experience in Montmartre, Qiu’s novels have been translated into English and French. This conference takes the specific case of Qiu’s lifework to investigate how the mobility of queer desire enables a kind of cross-genre, transmedial, and transnational mode of textuality. Furthermore, it raises the question of why a queer Sinophone author like Qiu attracts such a global readership. Papers that address Qiu Miaojin in broader comparative and global perspectives are most welcome, as well as papers that examine aspects of queer Sinophone culture that invite new comparison and dialogue with Qiu’s work and her contemporaries.


Alvin K. Wong <akhwong@hku.hk>

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