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Yeung, Siu Yin (2022) Semiotics of Allegory: Queerness in Contemporary Taiwan and Hong Kong Novel and Cinema. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This project offers the framework of “semiotics of allegory” as an alternative to Fredric Jameson’s national allegory for studying non-Western cultural products by emphasising their plural meanings of signs and the importance of situating their reading in production discourse. Against Confucianism and Buddhism, a study of the semiotics of allegory focuses on the relationship between queer representations and the space, the image, the music, and the myth in four cultural texts. They are Pai Hsien-yung’s 白先勇 novel Niezi (孽子, Crystal Boys, 1983), Chu T’ien-wen’s 朱天文 novel Huangren shouji (荒人手記, Notes of a Desolate Man, 1994), Tsai Ming-liang’s 蔡明亮 film Heliu (河流 The River, 1997), and Wong Kar-wai’s 王家衛 film Ceon gwong zaa sit (春光乍洩 Happy Together, 1997). This project adopts Shih Shu-mei’s framework of Sinophone studies, Chen Kuan-hsing’s inter- Asian studies in Asia as Method, and the theories of Judith Butler, Roland Barthes, and Rebecca Braun. Judith Butler’s notions of queer performativity in Bodies That Matter (1993) and alternative kinship in Antigone’s Claim (2000) and “Is Kinship Always Already Heterosexual?” (2002) are relevant to studying the gays’ and queers’ agency and family relationships. Roland Barthes’ view on the process of writing, reading, and meaning-making as non-binary acts of creativity in Writing Degree Zero (1953), The Neutral (2002), and Empire of Signs (1970) are useful for the re-interpretation of these Sinophone allegories. Also, his thoughts about the excess of meaning in “The Third Meaning” (1970), his five-code module about the structuring or structuration of writerly text in S/Z (1970), his idea of punctum that emphasises affects (emotions) in Camera Lucida (1980), and his neologism of ideology-as-mask in language as “myth” in Mythologies (1957) will also be deployed. Lastly, bringing back the author to life from the Barthesian notion of “Death of the Author” by borrowing the world authorship researcher Rebecca Braun’s Bourdieusian idea of emphasising the “collaboration” and “interaction” between author and other players in the cultural production field, this study calls for the interpretations of non-Western cultures to go beyond literalism, geopolitics, and nationalism.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Wen-Chin Ouyang, Xiaoning Lu and Cosima Bruno
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2022 17:53

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