“A cool kid”
Queer theory travels to China
This article traces the historical moment when queer theory first arrived in mainland China in the early 2000s by comparing and contrasting two translated texts in Chinese: Wang Fengzhen’s book Guaiyi Lilun [Peculiar Theory] and Li Yinhe’s book Ku’er Lilun [A Cool Kid Theory]. Juxtaposing the two translators’ positioning and marketing strategies, along with their use of paratexts such as book cover design and translator’s prefaces, this article aims to explain why Ku’er Lilun ended up being a more popular and widely circulated text than Guaiyi Lilun. It also pinpoints the cultural specificities of queer theory’s reception in the postsocialist Chinese context at the beginning of the new millennium. This article hopes to provide critical insights into the politics of translating academic theories transnationally, with a focus on paratextual, extratextual, and contextual factors which work in tandem to shape the reception of these theories in a non-Western context.
Keywords: queer theory, queer, China, paratexts, Li Yinhe, Wang Fengzhen
Published online: 18 December 2020
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