New technologies of gender in Chinese digital entertainment: How algorithms rewrite history

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1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Virtual event
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About this event

In this talk, inspired by Teresa de Lauretis’ Technologies of Gender, Professor Geng Song explores the role of new gender technologies, in both the literal and Foucauldian sense, in Chinese digital entertainment. 

Enabled by the democratization of narration, ordinary individuals create online fiction that transforms into various digital formats, such as short videos, TV/web dramas, animations, and games. These creative works not only express the desires, fantasies, and frustrations of ordinary people, but their popularity has also been capitalized upon by platforms and entertainment production companies. 

A common thread in these productions is the incorporation of affective technological innovations, including affective computing, mood tracking, sentiment analysis, and social robotics. In the era of the “algorithmic turn,” platforms utilize automated systems to analyze users’ emotional expressions and encourage specific behaviors, leading to the regulation of emotions.

In light of this, this talk delves into the flattening of history and re-adaptation of long-standing Chinese literary and cultural tropes in digital narratives and how new meanings and emotional transformations are created. For example, the matrilocal husband, once seen as a threat to masculinity, now represents neoliberal manhood. 

Online stories address the crisis of masculinity by emphasizing the “pleasure point” and offering emotional outlets for male readers, serving as an escape from societal anxiety about success. The narrative pattern is intensified by algorithms on online literature and entertainment platforms. This talk thus explores, from a gendered perspective, the interplay between subjectivity, neoliberalism, and AI technology in the context of contemporary China. 

Video recording

About the speaker

Geng Song is a Professor in the School of Chinese, University of Hong Kong. He has written extensively on topics such as men and masculinities in East Asia, Chinese television, and Chinese nationalism. Among his publications are Televising Chineseness: Gender, Nation, and Subjectivity (2022), Men and Masculinities in Contemporary China (co-author, 2014), Chinese Television in the Twenty-First Century (co-editor, 2015), The Cosmopolitan Dream: Transnational Chinese Masculinities in a Global Age (co-editor, 2018), and The Fragile Scholar: Power and Masculinity in Chinese Culture (2004). He also co-edits a book series on “Transnational Asian Masculinities” for Hong Kong University Press. 

Chair: Dr Xiaoning Lu, SOAS Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures


This webinar will take place online via Zoom. All welcome, but registration is required.



Photo credit: Jerry Wang on Unsplash