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Research Paper from ASNS 4700: Asian Studies Capstone Directed Study

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“Boys’ Love (BL), also known as yaoi, is a genre originating in Japan that focuses on male-male homosexual romance; the Chinese variant and subgenre of BL is known as danmei. As one might guess by the successful growth of a Chinese subgenre, BL enjoys popularity both transnationally in East Asia and on a global scale. While the genre is defined by its queer romances, BL has come under debate over whether it is a socially positive or negative force for its participants and subjects: namely, straight women and queer individuals. In this paper, I seek to investigate BL as a genre to assess the scope and alignment of its queer influence. Though there is much to be said for BL as a global pop culture force, this genre analysis will be centered around East Asian queer discourse and experiences, specifically Japan, China, and the Chinese transnational sphere, such as Taiwan and Hong Kong. I will first examine the core demographics involved in the production and consumption of BL. Then, I will survey the general state of queer representation in BL media by analyzing common elements among the genre, as well as address exceptions to these rules. Thirdly, building from this cultural investigation of both participants and content, I will delve into critique of the genre at large. Finally, I hope to offer an insight on where BL stands as a queer social presence and where it may be headed in the future. “

Author: Alex Ren

Asian Studies, BA

Economics, BS

Class of 2022

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