Tze-lan Deborah
Sang 桑梓蘭

Professor of Chinese

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, Comparative Literature

Research Interests: Gender and sexuality, modern Chinese literature and film, urban studies, performance studies, Taiwan studies

Email: tzelan@msu.edu

Tze-lan Sang's teaching and research focus on modern Chinese literature and visual culture. Her first book, The Emerging Lesbian: Female Same-Sex Desire in Modern China (University of Chicago Press, 2003), sheds light on China's formative bourgeoisie's pursuit of modernity and cosmopolitanism since the early twentieth century by tracing the rise of a system of sexuality revolving around the heterosexual/homosexual binary, of which the woman-preferring woman is a crucial, contested link. By closely exmining fiction, the mass media, popular medical discourse, and recent feminist and queer identity movements, she details the localization, in the Chinese-speaking world, of global regimes of sexual knowledge and disciplines of the self. Her second book, Documenting Taiwan on Film: Issues and Methods in New Documentaries (Routledge, 2012, co-edited), is the first full-length study in English on nonfiction film from Taiwan. Her current research focuses on three areas: 1) the Chinese "modern girl" discourse in the first half of the twentieth century, situating it in a transnational context; 2) Chinese cinema—especially independent documentary films—from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China; and 3) representations of postindustrial cities. Her research articles have appeared in journals such as as GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies,《當代》 Contemporary,《視界》 (Horizons), and many edited volumes. 

Sang's research has received support from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation. She was faculty at Stanford University and the University of Oregon prior to joining Michigan State University.


Independent Chinese Documentaries

Introduction to Chinese Culture

Modern Chinese Literature and Film 

The Chinese New Woman and Modern Girl in a Global Context

Film and Literature from Taiwan



The Modern Girl in Early-Twentieth-Century China: Media Controversy and Fictional Representation. Under contract with Columbia University Press.

《浮現中的女同性戀:現代中國的女同性愛欲》. Chinese edition of The Emerging Lesbian: Female Same-Sex Desire in Modern China. Taipei: National Taiwan University Press, 2014, paperback. 384 p.

Documenting Taiwan on Film: Issues and Methods in New Documentaries. Co-edited with Sylvia Li-chun Lin. London: Routledge, 2012. Paperback 2013. xvi + 228 p.

The Emerging Lesbian: Female Same-Sex Desire in Modern China. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003, hardback & paperback. xii + 380 p.

[Reviewed in Journal of the History of Sexuality, Research on Women in Modern Chinese History, Public Affairs, Comparative Literature, China Review International, Textual Practice, Journal of Contemporary Asia, China Journal, and so forth]

Taiwan’s Women Documentary Filmmakers: Public Intellectuals and Innovative Artists. In preparation.

Guest-edited Special Issues:

   Ruinscapes in Modern Chinese Literature and Visual Culture. A special issue.  Frontiers of Literary Studies in China 11, no. 2 (2017).

Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

"Special Issue Introduction: Ruinscapes in Modern Chinese Literature and Visual Culture." Frontiers of Literary Studies in China 11, no. 2 (2017): 233-38.

“Art and Activism in the Ruins: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Nangang Bottle Cap Factory.” Frontiers of Literary Studies in China 11, no. 2 (2017): 298-328.

“Between Word and Image: On Adaptation and The Assassin文字與影像之間:談《刺客聶隱娘》的改編. In The Many Lives of Nie Yinniang 《聶隱娘的前世今生》, ed. Hsiang-Yin Chen 陳相因and Siqi Chen 陳思齊. Taipei: Shibao chuban, 2016. 142-62. [In Chinese]

“Eileen Chang and the Genius Art of Failure.” In The Oxford Handbook on Modern Chinese Literatures, ed. Carlos Rojas and Andrea Bachner. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. 765-778.

“The Modern Girl in Modern Chinese Literature.” In A Companion to Modern Chinese Literature, ed. Yingjin Zhang. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. 411-23.

“From Flowers to Boys: Queer Adaptation in Wu Jiwen’s The Fin-de-siècle Boy Love Reader.” In Queer Sinophone Cultures, ed. Howard H. Chiang and Larissa Heinrich. London and New York: Routledge, 2014. 67-83.

“Not Ruin Porn: Graffiti in the Nangang Bottle Cap Factory,” written with the assistance of Ian Hoopingarner. chinaSMACK, December 11, 2014: http://www.chinasmack.com/2014/features/not-ruin-porn-graffiti-in-the-nangang-bottle-cap-factory.html

“Women’s Film and Visual Ethnography: On Hu Tai-Li’s Documentaries” 女性影像与民族志:胡台纪录. In Woman in the Lens: Gender in Chinese Cinema 红颜华语电影的性, ed. Lin Shaoxiong 林少雄. Beijing: China Film Press, 2013. 61-71. [In Chinese]

“Reclaiming Taiwan’s Colonial Modernity: The Case of Viva Tonal: The Dance Age.” In Documenting Taiwan on Film: Issues and Methods in New Documentaries, ed. Sylvia Li-chun Lin and Tze-lan D. Sang. London: Routledge, 2012. 60-88.

“Chapter I: Introduction,” written (as first author) with Sylvia Li-chun Lin. In Documenting Taiwan on Film: Issues and Methods in New Documentaries, ed. Sylvia Li-chun Lin and Tze-lan D. Sang. London: Routledge, 2012. 1-10.

“Romancing Rhetoricity and Historicity: The Representational Politics and Poetics of Little Reunion.” In Eileen Chang: Romancing Languages, Cultures, Genres, ed. Kam Louie. Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong Press, 2012. 193-215. 

“Failed Modern Girls in Early-twentieth-century China.” In Performing “Nation”: Gender Politics in Literature, Theater and the Visual Arts of China and Japan, 1880-1940, ed. Catherine Yeh, Doris Croissant, and Joshua Mostow. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2008. 179-202. 

“The Transgender Body in Wang Dulu’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” In Modernity Incarnate: Refiguring Chinese Body Politics, ed. Larissa Heinrich and Fran Martin. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2006. 98-112.

“Women’s Work and Boundary Transgression in Wang Dulu’s Popular Novels.” In Gender in Motion: Divisions of Labor and Cultural Change in Late Imperial and Modern China, ed. Bryna Goodman and Wendy Larson. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2005. 287-308.

“The Female Bildungsroman in Wang Dulu’s Beijing-Flavored Novels” 王度的京味女性成. In Beijing: Urban Imagination and Cultural Memory 《北京:都市想象与文化记忆, ed. Chen Pingyuan 平原and David Der-wei Wang 王德威. Beijing: Beijing University Press, 2005. 209-38. [In Chinese]

“Cheng Dieyi: Towards a Queer Reading of Farewell My Concubine程蝶衣:一個異端詮釋的起點. In Farewell My Concubine: Queer Readings and Cross-Cultural Dialogue《霸王別:同志讀與跨文化對話》, ed. Chen Yazhen 陳雅湞. Chiayi: Nanhua daxue, 2004. 37-67. Reprint (with minor revisions) of “Cheng Dieyi: The Point of Departure of an Interpretation” 程蝶衣:一個詮釋的起點. Contemporary Monthly《當代》no. 96 [Taipei] (1994): 54-73. [In Chinese]        

“At the Juncture of Censure and Mass Voyeurism: Narratives of Female Homoerotic Desire in Post-Mao China.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 8, no. 4 (2002): 523-52.

“The Discourse of Urban Space in The Old Capital《古都》的都市空間論述. In Space, Region and Culture 《空間、地域與文化》, ed. Li Fengmao 李豐懋 and Liu Yuanru 劉苑如. Taipei: Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, Academia Sinica, 2002. 439-74. [In Chinese]

“The Fate of The Peony Pavilion Abroad” 《牡丹亭》在海外之命运. Horizons界》 no. 2 [Beijing] (2001): 208-20. [In Chinese]

“Three Recent Productions of The Peony Pavilion牡丹三樣開. Daya 《大雅》 (Connoisseurship, a Magazine on Art and Literature) no. 11 [Taipei] (2000): 40-52. [In Chinese]

“Gender-Transcendent Consciousness and Same-Sex Love” 超性与同性, an interview with the writer Chen Ran . In Beyond Language 《不可言, ed. Chen Ran . Beijing: Writers’ Publishing House, 2000. 101-39. [In Chinese]

“Feminism’s Double: Lesbian Activism in the Mediated Public Sphere of Taiwan.” In Spaces of Their Own: Women's Public Sphere in Transnational China, ed. Mayfair Yang. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. 132-61.

“Translating Homosexuality: The Discourse of Tongxing’ai in Republican China (1912-1949).” In Tokens of Exchange: The Problem of Translation in Global Circulations, ed. Lydia H. Liu. Durham: Duke University Press, 1999. 276-304.

“Eileen Chang's Eighteen Springs and The Affinity of Half a Lifetime: A Study of the Popular Novel” 張愛玲《十八春》和《半生緣》研究. In Chinese Literary Theory and Popular Culture 《文藝理論與通俗文化》, ed. Peng Hsiao-yen 彭小妍. Taipei: Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, Academia Sinica, 1999. 677-705. [In Chinese]

“Cheng Dieyi: The Point of Departure of an Interpretation” 程蝶衣:一個詮釋的起點. Contemporary Monthly《當代》no. 96 [Taipei] (1994): 54-73. [In Chinese]

Book Reviews:

Howard Chiang, ed. Transgender China. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Transgender Studies Quarterly 2.4 (2015): 72528.

Song Hwee Lim. Celluloid Comrades: Representations of Male Homosexuality in Contemporary Chinese Cinemas. University of Hawai’i Press, 2007. Bulletin of Chinese Literature and Philosophy 31 (2007). 

Xiaomei Chen. Acting the Right Part: Political Theater and Popular Drama. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2002. Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles and Reviews 26 (2004): 200-202.

Xueping Zhong. Masculinity Besieged? Issues of Modernity and Male Subjectivity in Chinese Literature of the Late Twentieth Century. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000. The Journal of Asian Studies 60, no. 3 (2001): 860-61.

David Der-wei Wang. Fin-de-siècle Splendor: Repressed Modernities of Late Qing Fiction, 1849-1911. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese 3, no. 1 (1999): 156-59.


Entry on “Lesbian Literature.” In The Encyclopedia on Contemporary Chinese Culture, ed. Edward Davis. New York: Routledge, 2005.

“Restless Longing: Homoerotic Fiction in China.” IIAS  (International Institute for Asian Studies) Newsletter no. 29 (November 2002): 6.

Creative Writing:

“Atropurpurea” 酒紅, an original short story. Today 《今天》, no. 52 (2001): 136-59. [In Chinese]


Four poems by Huang Chunming 黃春明: “Silvergrass” 管芒花, “My Vegetarian and Sutra-Incanting Grandmother”  吃齋念佛的老奶奶,  “Turtle Island” 龜山島, “Guojun Is Not Coming Home to Dinner” 國峻不回來吃飯. Translated with the author’s permission for a suite written by composer Shih-Hui Chen, Professor of Composition, The Shepherd School of Music, Rice University. 2016.

Three documents from the controversy over the novel The Locked Heart (Xinsuo 心鎖; 1962) by 郭良蕙. In The Columbia Sourcebook of Literary Taiwan, ed. Sung-sheng Yvonne Chang, Michelle Yeh, and Ming-ju Fan. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. 204-11.

Women’s Bell. A translation of Nüjiezhong 女界鐘 (1903) by Jin Tianhe 金天翮. Translated by Michael H. Hill and edited from the Chinese by Tze-lan D. Sang. In The Birth of Chinese Feminism, ed. Lydia H. Liu, Dorothy Ko, and Rebecca Karl. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. 207-85.

Poems by Wang Xiaoni 王小妮 (b. 1955). In Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China, ed. Qingping Wang; translation coeditors Sylvia Li-chun Lin and Howard Goldblatt. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2011. 42-45.

“Intoxication.” A translation of “Chenzui” 沈醉 (1948) by Ou Tansheng 歐坦生. In The 2/28 Incident in Literature: A Special Issue, ed. Sylvia Li-chun Lin. Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series (July 2008): 7-32.

“Green Card.” A translation of “Lü ka” 綠卡 by Chen Ruoxi 陳若曦. In The Short Stories of Chen Ruoxi, Translated from the Original Chinese: A Writer at the Crossroads, ed. Hsin-sheng  C. Kao. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1993. 233-62.

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