Becoming-perverse: queering sworn brotherhood in the non/human realm of Songzhuxuan’s Hailiwa and Daokousu

Thomas William Whyke, Melissa Shani Brown

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the pornographic representation of Hailiwa and Daokousu, from Songzhuxuan’s novel Yaohu Yanshi, where a sworn brotherhood incorporates an egalitarian homosexual relationship, something highly unusual in the Qing context in which sexual acts, including same-sex ones, were intelligible only via unequal hierarchies. In so doing we explore the queer potentialities of sworn brotherhood, signifying fraternity, friendship and a sexual relationship simultaneously. Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari, queer theory, and Giffney and Hird’s concept of the non/human, we argue this tale and its wider genre enriches the scope of what we might term “queer literatures” in offering us historically and culturally situated stories of desire that refuse to confine themselves to the binaries that supported conventional premodern Chinese understandings of gender and sexuality—including the Confucian model of the heterosexual family unit, but also the highly hierarchical notions of sexual status underpinning Qing conceptualizations of sexual acts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1185-1203
JournalJournal of Homosexuality
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2022


  • Qing-dynasty pornography
  • sworn brotherhood
  • zhiguai
  • queer studies
  • perversion
  • non/human
  • Deleuze and Guattari


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