James Welker, "Queer Transfigurations: Boys Love Media in Asia" (U Hawaii Press, 2022)

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Queer Transfigurations: Boys Love Media in Asia (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2022), edited by James Welker, brings together twenty-one scholars exploring BL media, its fans, and its sociocultural impacts in a dozen countries in East, Southeast, and South Asia—and beyond. Contributors draw on their expertise in an array of disciplines and fields, including anthropology, fan studies, gender and sexuality studies, history, literature, media studies, political science, and sociology to shed light on BL media and its fandoms.

The boys love (BL) genre was created for girls and women by young female manga (comic) artists in early 1970s Japan to challenge oppressive gender and sexual norms. Over the years, BL has seen almost irrepressible growth in popularity and since the 2000s has become a global media phenomenon, weaving its way into anime, prose fiction, live-action dramas, video games, audio dramas, and fan works. BL’s male–male romantic and sexual relationships have found a particularly receptive home in other parts of Asia, where strong local fan communities and locally produced BL works have garnered a following throughout the region, taking on new meanings and engendering widespread cultural effects.

Queer Transfigurations reveals the far-reaching influences of the BL genre, demonstrating that it is truly transnational and transcultural in diverse cultural contexts. It has also helped bring about positive changes in the status of LGBT(Q) people and communities as well as enlighten local understandings of gender and sexuality throughout Asia. Queer Transfigurations shows that, some fifty years after the first BL manga appeared in print, the genre is continuing to reverberate and transform lives.

James Welker is a professor in the Department of Cross-Cultural Studies, Kanagawa University, Yokohama, Japan. His research focuses primarily on gender and sexuality in postwar and contemporary Japan, especially fan cultures, feminisms, and the LGBT(Q) community. He is the author of Transfigurations: Redefining Women in Late Twentieth-Century Japan (forthcoming).

Linshan Jiang is Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University. She received her Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies from University of California, Santa Barbara, where she also obtained a Ph.D. emphasis in Translation Studies. Her research interests are modern and contemporary literature, film, and popular culture in mainland China, Taiwan, and Japan; trauma and memory studies; gender and sexuality studies; queer studies; as well as comparative literature and translation studies.

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