From the press release:
In recent years, Boys’ Love (BL) stories have become a popular genre of pleasure reading among women readers in the Asian countries especially in Japan, China, and Taiwan. BL stories are love stories of two or more male characters created predominantly by women for women; most of them identified themselves as heterosexual. This blooming genre of texts, images, and other forms of creation is also known as Danmei (“indulgence in beauty”) in the Chinese and Japanese speaking regions. It is also known as YAOI or “slash fiction” in the Western world. The genre names of Danmei and YAOI which originated from the Chinese/Japanese languages express a sense that its women readers see love between males as beautiful and romantic. Interestingly, many BL readers see this genre as different from gay literatures. For them, BL stories are purely fantasies created by and for women, which is different from literary works that describe and reflect on the real-world homosexual relationships.
Why do the women readers find BL stories beautiful – so beautiful that many are deeply addicted to the genre? What pleasure do women get from reading and creating BL stories? Informal theories have been speculated by BL readers themselves or by outsiders who tend to pathologize the phenomenon of BL reading. But systematic investigation of the BL readership is rarely seen. This exploratory study thus employs interpretive qualitative methodologies to empirically analyze the reading experiences, motivations, and types of pleasures of 26 adult female readers in Taiwan, aged between 18 years old and 40s. Their occupations ranged from university students, office workers, teachers and college professors. Some are married women with children. Most of them are also engaged in some forms of BL story creation. In this presentation, I will report initial findings on the motivations and types of pleasures experienced by the interviewees from reading Boys’ Love.
Chi-Shiou Lin is an assistant professor in the Dept. of Library & Information Science in the National Taiwan University. He got his Ph.D. from SLIS, UW-Madison in 2007. His research interests are diverse. His current research areas include social informatics, government information, and the practices of pleasure reading and genre reading.
Supported by the Center for the History of Print Culture, the School of Library and Information Studies, Wisconsin Historical Society, UW-Madison Libraries, and the Wisconsin Print Culture Society.