This essay argues for an affective methodology based on an attention to how visceral connections to film help queer people from the People's Republic of China interpret their subjectivity. The essay follows a theory of affect that focuses not only on emotion but also on the crucial relationship between the actual and the virtual — what is and what could be or could have been — to construct a story of emergence. In comparing the huge impact in China of the blockbuster cowboy film Brokeback Mountain with a limited-release queer Chinese digital production about space aliens, titled fly, the essay suggests that affect is taking queer subjects beyond normative concepts of place and time and into a realm of potential. This realm constitutes a “queer hyperspace,” from which emerges a reparative reading of contemporary global queer connections. Such a reading allows us to understand not only the variety of motivations queer people have in places that have not traditionally been the focus of queer theory but also the contours of contemporary queer scholarship from places that have not traditionally produced it.
William F. Schroeder; On Cowboys and Aliens: Affective History and Queer Becoming in Contemporary China. GLQ 1 October 2012; 18 (4): 425–452. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-1600689
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