Niezi and Its Legacies: Tracing the Emergence of Gay and Queer Subcultures in Taiwan

  • Chih-Chi Ting

Student thesis: Phd


AbstractThis thesis seeks to trace the representations of male homosexuality in Taiwanese society since the 1970s, with a specific focus on the legacies and representations of Pai Hsien-yung's novel Niezi (Crystal Boys, published in 1983), widely regarded as the first full-length novel themed on homosexuality in Taiwan's literary history. Set in 1970s Taiwan during the Martial Law period, the novel's portrayal of the underground homosexual community and male prostitution culture based in Taipei's New Park (now 228 Park) did not capture critical attention or gain commercial success when published, owing to the then conservative social atmosphere. Nonetheless, after the lifting of Martial Law, as Taiwan became a democratised nation with mature elective democracy and participation in globalised cultural circuits, Niezi became canonised and politicised as the iconic text for a sequence of social activism regarding homosexual human rights in academia and related cultural activities in the 1990s and 2000s. Even today, Niezi is still considered the most debatable representative homosexual literary text in Taiwan's homosexual community. While Niezi's iconic status has stood the test of time over the past three decades, the changing interpretations of the text offer a great resource through which to examine the representations of male homosexuality in Taiwan during this period. Taiwanese society transformed from an authoritarian regime in the 1970s and 1980s, to quasi-democracy in the early 1990s, then full elective democracy in the mid-1990s, and now Taiwan has fully joined the globalised circuits of the capitalist economy, with free markets, cross-cultural communication and rapid flows of information. This social transformation brought about changing interpretations of Niezi, in which male homosexuality was no longer a social taboo, and activist cultural critics started to demand equal rights for homosexuals inspired by Euro-American theoretical discourse and social reform. The social transformation also saw two visual adaptations of the novel through the forms of film and television, which I shall examine in this thesis. I will also demonstrate not just how male homosexuality has been represented in different social contexts, but also what has contributed to the endurance of Niezi's legacies in the past three decades. In addition, while there was a great amount of homosexual literature produced after the lifting of Martial Law owing to social liberalisation, the thesis will also consider Niezi's continuing iconic status.
Date of Award31 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorDavid Alderson (Supervisor)


  • Niezi
  • Queer Subculture
  • Adaptation
  • Taiwan

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