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Fwd: Podcast Interview with Nicholas de Villiers on Sexual Disorientation in Tsai Ming-Liang's films

Cruisy, Sleepy, Melancholy

Sexual Disorientation in the Films of Tsai Ming-Liang


A critical figure in queer Sinophone cinema—and the first director ever commissioned to create a film for the permanent collection of the Louvre—Tsai Ming-liang is a major force in Taiwan cinema and global moving image art. Cruisy, Sleepy, Melancholy: Sexual Disorientation in the Films of Tsai Ming-Liang (U Minnesota Press, 2022) offers a fascinating, systematic method for analyzing the queerness of Tsai’s films.

Nicholas de Villiers argues that Tsai expands and revises the notion of queerness by engaging with the sexuality of characters who are migrants, tourists, diasporic, or otherwise displaced. Through their lack of fixed identities, these characters offer a clear challenge to the binary division between heterosexuality and homosexuality, as well as the Orientalist binary division of Asia versus the West. Ultimately, de Villiers explores how Tsai’s films help us understand queerness in terms of spatial, temporal, and sexual disorientation.

Conceiving of Tsai’s cinema as an intertextual network, Cruisy, Sleepy, Melancholy makes an important addition to scholarly work on Tsai in English. It draws on extensive interviews with the director, while also offering a complete reappraisal of Tsai’s body of work. Contributing to queer film theory and the aesthetics of displacement, Cruisy, Sleepy, Melancholy reveals striking connections between sexuality, space, and cinema.

Nicholas de Villiers is professor of English and film at the University of North Florida. He is author of Opacity and the Closet: Queer Tactics in Foucault, Barthes, and Warhol and Sexography: Sex Work in Documentary.

Li-Ping Chen is Postdoctoral Scholar and Teaching Fellow in the East Asian Studies Center at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include literary translingualism, diaspora, and nativism in Sinophone, inter-Asian, and transpacific contexts.


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