Strange Men: Queerying Male Sexuality in Qing Dynasty Zhiguai

Thomas William Whyke, Melissa Shani Brown

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


This is the second of two chapters which are linked in exploring queer depictions of women and men in zhiguai tales. In both cases, we consider social and representational norms, and thus what constitutes deviance. This chapter extends this discussion by exploring depictions of male sexuality which do not fit within the prevalent tropes for normative masculinity. Though we include consideration of an unusual tale from Pu Songling which appears to depict an asexual character, most of this chapter focuses upon a widespread theme in the zhiguai genre: the ‘dangers’ of sex between men, often depicted through male/male rape (explored through a variety of tales from Ji Yun). Though not depicted positively, and reflecting a wider moral panic present during the Qing Dynasty, we consider how some of these tales queer the anxiety around rape by reframing it as a form of punishment for other kinds of sexual transgressions. We finish with a discussion of Pu Songling’s well-known tale Huang Jiulang, which couches an intimate relationship between two men within ‘sworn brotherhood’. Though the theme of danger persists in this tale, the theme of friendship between the lead characters moves towards the discussion of our final chapter.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPalgrave Series in Asia and Pacific Studies
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

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


  • Asexuality
  • Compulsory heterosexuality
  • Compulsory sexuality
  • Ji Yun
  • Male homosexuality
  • Male rape
  • Pu Songling
  • Qing Masculinities
  • Queer masculinities in literature
  • Zhiguai

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Strange Men: Queerying Male Sexuality in Qing Dynasty Zhiguai'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this