Rebel Men

Masculinity and Attitude in Postsocialist Chinese Literature


Pamela Hunt

ISBN : 978-988-8754-05-2

Cultural Studies, Gender Studies Transnational Asian Masculinities 跨國亞洲男性氣質叢書

May 2022

164 pages, 6″ x 9″

  • HK$500.00

Masculinity, fast-changing and regularly declared to be in the throes of crisis, is attracting more popular and scholarly debate in China than ever before. At the same time, Chinese literature since 1989 has been characterized as brimming with countercultural ‘attitude’. This book probes the link between literary rebellion and manhood in China, showing how, as male writers critique the outcomes of decades of market reform, they also ask the same question: how best to be a man in the new postsocialist order?

In this first full-length discussion of masculinity in post-1989 Chinese literature, Pamela Hunt offers a detailed analysis of four contemporary authors in particular: Zhu Wen, Feng Tang, Xu Zechen, and Han Han. In a series of insightful readings, she explores how all four writers show the same preoccupation with the figure of the man on the edges of society. Drawing on longstanding Chinese and global models of maverick, as well as marginal masculinity, and responding to a desire to retain a measure of masculine authority, their characters all engage in forms of transgression that still rely heavily on heteronormative and patriarchal values. Rebel Men argues that masculinity, so often overlooked in literary analysis of contemporary China, continues to be renegotiated, debated, and agonized over, and is ultimately reconstructed as more powerful than before.

Pamela Hunt is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford. Her work focuses on Chinese literature since 1989, with a special interest in masculinity, transgression, and travel.

‘This book represents a timely intervention into contemporary Chinese literary and cultural studies, drawing attention to the commonalities among a group of hitherto understudied and underappreciated authors. Hunt considers not just their aesthetic, thematic, and stylistic innovations, but more significantly their contributions to masculinity as well as masculine attitudes in a broader gendered context.’ —Heather Inwood, University of Cambridge

‘An exceptionally lucid, elegant study of masculinity in mainland Chinese fiction of the 1990s and 2000s. Both historically and theoretically informed, Rebel Men: Masculinity and Attitude in Postsocialist Chinese Literature offers a major new perspective on post-1989 Chinese counterculture.’ —Julia Lovell, Birkbeck, University of London


Modern Chinese Literature & Culture Resource Center Publication (Copyright February, 2023)