(En)gendering global China: Lesbian affectivity in Fan Wu’s February Flowers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


In the age of global modernity and the ensuing frequent cross-cultural encounters and exchanges, it is not surprising that there has been a phenomenal rise of women writers of Chinese origin who write from a transnational and transcultural vantage point. Fan Wu (b. 1973), an emerging post-seventies writer born in China and currently based in the United States, is a notable example. Putting an accent on Wu’s first novel, February Flowers (2007), this paper critically examines the formation and constitution of lesbian subjectivities and its qu(e)erring of Chineseness in relation to the discourse of globalization and the competing impulses of the national and the transnational/postnational. Set in post-Mao and postsocialist China in the early 1990s and early 2000s, the novel depicts the subtle female-female love between two university students, Ming and Yan, in the modernizing and globalizing city of Guangzhou. Through the perspective of the heroine, Ming, it narrates how the two girls, whose familial backgrounds and personal dispositions are vastly different, come from other provinces in China to study in the booming southern city where they develop an affectingly powerful bond that is indicative of incipient, albeit unnamed, homosexual yearnings. The novel ends with Ming looking for Yan in the United States, thus implicating at once the hetero-normativity of China and the possibility of a diasporic consummation of their un-verbalized love in the US. Borrowing from queer and transnational theorizations and formulations, this paper illustrates the ways in which the novel portrays a female coming of age through coming to terms with inchoate lesbian desires amidst global modernity, thereby asserting a lesbian subjectivity. In so doing, it argues that the claiming of a lesbian subjectivity is both predicated upon an affirmation of a global and hybridized Chineseness and the idealization of America as a queer space of potentialities. Copyright © 2015 Inter-Disciplinary Press.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRe/presenting gender and love
EditorsDikmen Yakalı ÇAMOĞLU
Place of PublicationOxford, England
PublisherInter-Disciplinary Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781848883437
ISBN (Print)9789004374447
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Tse, K. Y. N. (2015). (En)gendering global China: Lesbian affectivity in Fan Wu’s February Flowers. In D. Y. Çamoğlu (Ed.), Re/presenting gender and love (pp. 27-34). Inter-Disciplinary Press. https://doi.org/10.1163/9781848883437_004


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