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Western Queers in China: Flight to the Land of Oz
     

Western Queers in China: Flight to the Land of Oz

5.0 1
by D. E. Mungello
 

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This unique work examines the role played by sexuality in the historical encounter between China and the West. Distinguished historian D. E. Mungello focuses especially on Western homosexuals who saw China as a place of escape from the homophobia of Europe and North America. His groundbreaking study traces the lives of two dozen men, many previously unknown to have

Overview

This unique work examines the role played by sexuality in the historical encounter between China and the West. Distinguished historian D. E. Mungello focuses especially on Western homosexuals who saw China as a place of escape from the homophobia of Europe and North America. His groundbreaking study traces the lives of two dozen men, many previously unknown to have same-sex desire, who fled to China and in the process influenced perceptions of Chinese culture to this day. Their individual stories encompass flight from homophobia in their home countries, the erotic attraction of Chinese boy-actors, friendships with Chinese men, intellectual connections with the Chinese, and the reorientation of Western aesthetics toward China.

Mungello explores historical attitudes and the atmosphere of oppression toward men with same-sex desire as he recounts the intensification of repression of queers in Europe and North America in the late nineteenth-century. He shows how China became a place of escape, a homosexual “land of Oz” where men could flee from the closets of their minds. Some traveled to China and lived there; others immersed themselves in Chinese culture at a distance. Most established long-term friendships and acted as cultural intermediaries who opened the aesthetic range of Western culture to a new sense of beauty and a fresh source of inspiration for poets, artists, and dramatists. Their “boys”—Chinese males whose services were available at low cost as messengers, rickshaw pullers, guides, cooks, entertainers, escorts, and prostitutes—were transformed into a universal metaphor of Chinese culture that lingers to this day. Indeed, outside men’s range of relationships, intellectual and physical, have had a profound impact in shaping the modern Western conception of China.

Editorial Reviews

T. H. Barrett
This is a fascinating read for anyone involved with China. David Mungello's novel focus on sexual orientation and Sinology illuminates the individuality of these cultural pioneers to striking effect.
Giovanni Vitiello
This is a fascinating journey into the lives of a number of Western men who, especially at the turn of last century, felt irresistibly attracted to China, traveled there, and sometimes made it their home. Aesthetes and art collectors, pharmacists, poets and opera fans, eccentric Sinologists—what drew these men to China? Many of them, David Mungello suggests, shared a most private and powerful secret—their homosexuality. Much has been written about orientalists as complicit agents of the colonial enterprise. Mungello’s book offers a corrective, showing that at least some of them might have been sexual refugees more than anything else.
Journal of Asian Studies - John Whittier Treat
This is a heartfelt tour of sinology’s gay male closet, the door for some of the scholars and ‘aesthetes’ who journeyed from the West to China locked more tightly than for others. By consulting archives and attempting personal contact with surviving family and friends (not all of whom agreed to talk), historian Mungello tells the ‘story of how twenty-three different men with same-sex desire fled to China and influenced history.’ . . . Throughout, Mungello asks a familiar question—What links a (Western, male) homosexual orientation with a passion for Asia?—but from a newer perspective: China hands in the Age of Imperialism. His book is informed, entertaining, and melancholy in equal measure. The heart may be unfathomable, but Mungello has proven it is there.
Nan Nü
D. E. Mungello explores the fascinating question of why so many gay men have been attracted to China, and what impact their enthusiasm has had on Western perceptions of that country. Instead of seeing Orientalism from the standpoint of the Asian subaltern, the reader is shown how generations of gay men have turned to China as a psychological, aesthetic, and even legal refuge. ... A valuable contribution to our understanding of imperialism, Orientalism, and gay history. Mungello demonstrates the surprisingly important role that gay men have had in eliciting Western awareness of China’s profoundly rich aesthetic and intellectual heritage. He also suggests how homoeroticism has shaped Western scholarship and literature about China. Readers cannot help but come away with a fresh view of the history of Sino-Western interactions.
Nan Nu: Men, Women and Gender in China - Bret Hinsch
D. E. Mungello explores the fascinating question of why so many gay men have been attracted to China, and what impact their enthusiasm has had on Western perceptions of that country. Instead of seeing Orientalism from the standpoint of the Asian subaltern, the reader is shown how generations of gay men have turned to China as a psychological, aesthetic, and even legal refuge. . . . A valuable contribution to our understanding of imperialism, Orientalism, and gay history. Mungello demonstrates the surprisingly important role that gay men have had in eliciting Western awareness of China’s profoundly rich aesthetic and intellectual heritage. He also suggests how homoeroticism has shaped Western scholarship and literature about China. Readers cannot help but come away with a fresh view of the history of Sino-Western interactions.
Women and Gender in Chinese Studies Review
Mungello has succeeded in vividly, empathetically and convincingly characterising a wide array of queer men, while acknowledging any gaps or uncertainties in the evidence. The book is a lucid, focused and coherent study on an under-researched topic, and deserves special respect for its broadening of the focus of LGBT/Queer research within Chinese Studies.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442215566
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
02/16/2012
Pages:
212
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

D. E. Mungello is professor of history at Baylor University.

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Western Queers in China: Flight to the Land of Oz 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Emily! Emily! Emi-lyyyyyy! Get up!" Kevin shouts frantically. "Emi- Get up! Why won't you wake, momma? What's wrong?" Kevin shakes his mother harder, becoming confused and frustrated. "Momma?" Though Kevin was a young boy, Hewwo had always been a smart one. The young boy leans down, and softly puts his warm hand to his mother's face. He immediately jerked his hand back, tears forming in his eyes. "No... Emily, NO!!!" <p> Six Years Later... <p> Kevin picks up the stringy hay bale and loads it into the back of the truck. "Papa, when will we be done? All this work is making me tired!" Kevin complains. <br> Daniel looks down at his son, smiling. "Patience, my boy. Patience." Daniel answers, picking up a hay bale. He throws it into the back of the truck, and turns to his son, running his hand through his son's soft, blonde hair. "Emily would be so proud of you.." <br> Kevin looks away, uncomfortable talking about his adopted mother's death. "I never called her momma, for she couldn't replace my real mother, but Emily was an important part in my life. The day she had died, I was going to tell her that i decided to call her momma. But when I went to wake her up for breakfast, she was cold. The doctors said she died in her sleep from an overdose, but I think it was something else that killed her. What that was, I've no clue. But I plan to figure it out..." The boy thinks. <br> Daniel looks down, sensing his son's discomfort. "Alright. We're done for the day. Let's go make some sandwiches for lunch. Sound good?" <br> Kevin nods, slightly looking downcast. "Yes, papa. That sounds good." <br> Daniel sighs, and pats his son on the back, before heading towards the house, the sun beating down on his face. <br> Kevin follows, his dad's tall figure blocking out the sun.