Cultural Studies

Qin, Abby Youran (2022). I choose you: Reading and transcending women's condition in games of the women, by the women, for the women. Paper to be presented at the 72nd Annual International Communication Association (ICA) Conference, Paris, France.


Romantic interactive novels (RINs) are video games where players assume the protagonist’s role and experience romantic relationships from the first-person point of view. Made and consumed by ordinary women, RINs constitute a fertile ground for both conservative and emancipatory gender politics. Informed by Beauvoir’s feminist existentialism, this paper inspects three types of unconventional RINs, looking for alternative representations of women and romantic love. I find that girls in “strong hero strong heroine” RINs are strong and intelligent, yet innocent and passive in romantic relationships. Empresses in matriarchal RINs, despite being powerful and dominant, are more like men residing in women’s bodies when being read against our social reality of sheer gender inequality. A truly subversive womanhood is exemplified by Lingque, a female character in a male point-of-view RIN, who led an authentic life by following her subjectivity, making choices, and bearing consequences. I also discuss how women’s representations in RINs can potentially influence players’ real-world practice of womanhood.

Chen, D., Qin, Abby Youran, & Xiao, F. (*These authors contributed equally to the work) (2021). Youth media prosumption and creative pre-political resistances in China. Panel presented at the #YouthMediaLife 2021 Conference, University of Vienna.


The past decades have seen a dramatic increase in internet use around the globe, evoking researchers’ imagination of the new media’s democratizing potential. In China, however, such fantasy is overshadowed by unparalleled internet censorship. Growing up in this dual-process of internet expansion and freedom contraction, youth in China have developed a unique way of political expression. By making offensive mash-up videos, flooding the App Store with negative comments, generating creative memes, etcetera, they issue their resistance against the state and giant corporations implicitly, through creative media and communication. Focusing on Chinese youth’s pre-political resistance on the internet, the three studies included in this panel aim at providing a nuanced picture of the vibrant youth struggles inside China’s great firewall.