Citizenship Lab Research Project: “A Queer Metamorphosis: Animal Narratives and Lesbian Love in Chinese Cultures”

The Humanities Research Center’s Citizenship Lab proudly funds Ruohan Wang’s Signature Work project.

Student: Ruohan Wang

Mentor: Professor Zairong Xiang

This project bridges animal studies and queer theory in the context of Chinese cultures, taking animality as a heuristic lens to examine the queer undercurrents in Chinese stories of animal-human metamorphosis. It primarily focuses on two works from contemporary Hong Kong: Tsu Hark’s 1993 film Green Snake and Dung Kai-Cheung’s 1996 novella Androgyny: The Evolutionary History of a Non-exist Species. These works, featuring imaginary metamorphoses between animals and women, appropriate traditional Chinese cosmologies or modern biological taxonomies to understand the female protagonists’ same-sex intimate relationships. This practice serves as a subversive tool to articulate ineffable queer desires from an animal-centric perspective, and to envision a queer reproduction beyond heteronormative procreation. 

This project aims to culminate in an analytical paper. In addition, it includes three public screenings of Green Snake (1993), The Legend of the White Snake, Beijing Opera (1980), and The White Snake Enchantress (1958) in Spring 2023. Each screening will be accompanied by discussions led by Ruohan and Professor Xiang.