SOAS University of London

Centre for Gender Studies

Women, Literature and Obscenity: The Regulation of ‘Harmful Fiction’ in Modern China

Prof. Michel Hockx (Department of Languages and Culture of China and Inner Asia, SOAS, University of London)

Date: 23 January 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 9 January 2014Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G3

Type of Event: Seminar

This paper presents the case of the journal Meiyu (Eyebrow Talk), the first Chinese literary magazine published by and for women, which came out from 1914-1916. Eyebrow Talk gained notoriety for its transgressive content (both texts and images) and was eventually banned by the Chinese government as part of a censorship drive aimed at obscene publications. The paper looks in detail at the censorship process and how the label of obscenity has prejudiced later research on the journal. The paper will also pay attention to the re-emergence of women-oriented erotic writing in contemporary Chinese online literature and recent government attempts at enforcing anti-obscenity legislation in this context. In conclusion, the paper will evaluate the extent to which transgressive writing by women has contributed to the formation of new literary practices in China.

Michel Hockx is Professor of Chinese at SOAS and Director of the SOAS China Institute. He obtained his PhD from Leiden University in 1994 for a thesis on modern Chinese poetry. His research focuses on Chinese literary communities and literary publications throughout the twentieth century, with special emphasis on magazine literature and, more recently, Internet literature. The research presented here was part of an international project on modern Chinese women's magazines (see

Organiser: Gina Heathcote

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