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Department of English, City University of Hong Kong
Between Abjection and Refusal: Yellow Feminism in The Bacchus Lady

Anne Cheng notes in Ornamentalism that, “We say black women, brown women, white women, but not yellow women.” Cheng's statement, which is as much an indictment as an observation, serves as my starting point in asking: what does a yellow feminism look like? In attempting to craft one possible way of thinking about "yellow feminism," and in beginning to build an archive for how we might examine and define it, I turn to E J-yong’s 2016 film, The Bacchus Lady, about an elderly sex worker who comes to care for a Korean-Filippino (known as Kopino) child. Reading The Bacchus Lady alongside Bonnie Honig’s study of the Bacchae in her latest book, A Feminist Theory of Refusal, I adumbrate one form of radical yellow feminism, rooted in a historically, culturally, and politically South Korean experience and practice. I argue that E J-yong’s film demonstrates its feminist commitments by crafting a complex woman heroine who embodies a radical politics of care in the face of cruel late-stage capitalism, models a radical queer communitarian politics, and, finally, self-reflexively takes to task not only the male director but also the voyeuristic viewer.


Jerrine Tan is an Assistant Professor in the English department at City University Hong Kong. She received her PhD from Brown University and was previously Visiting Lecturer in Global Anglophone Literature at Mount Holyoke College. Her scholarly and public writing have been published or are forthcoming in Modern Fiction Studies, Cambridge Companion to Kazuo Ishiguro, Lit Hub, WIRED, Los Angeles Review of Books, Asian American Writers' Workshop, The Brooklyn Rail, and Post45.

Zoom Details

Zoom link: https://hku.zoom.us/j/91514525076?pwd=UXJpY3l2QldIVFBSUFVwdGVTb25Xdz09

Meeting ID: 915 1452 5076
Password: 533678

In view of the current pandemic situation, all face-to-face events or activities shall be suspended in accordance to the notice issued by Task Force. As a matter of fact, the upcoming seminar will be shifted from hybrid mode to online mode only.