Introduction: Reading the Strange Tales Queerly

Thomas William Whyke, Melissa Shani Brown

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review


In this first chapter, we introduce readers to the aims of our book: to offer queer readings of Chinese Qing Dynasty zhiguai—‘strange tales’. We explain and defend our conceptual approach, discussing some of the tensions around ‘queer theory’ in the Chinese context, and situating ourselves with those espousing a purposefully reflexive critical position regarding both theory and context. After briefly exploring the socio-cultural context of the era, we then introduce the zhiguai authors whose writing is the focus of our analysis chapters, offering short biographies of Pu Songling, Ji Yun, Yuan Mei, and Songzhuxuan. We then turn to the political discourses around zhiguai as a genre, as a means of providing a brief history of these tales. The politicisation of zhiguai and the debates around what strange tales ‘mean’ is relevant to our argument that these tales can function as a ‘minor literature’, a form of powerful social critique. We finish with an overview of the rest of this book, providing readers with a sense of the focus of our other chapters.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPalgrave Series in Asia and Pacific Studies
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePalgrave Series in Asia and Pacific Studies
VolumePart F1303
ISSN (Print)2662-7922
ISSN (Electronic)2662-7930


  • Chinese Qing Dynasty literature
  • Ji Yun
  • Minor literature (Deleuze)
  • Pu Songling
  • Queer Theory
  • Songzhuxuan
  • Yuan Mei
  • Zhiguai

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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