An Extremely Tentative Look at My Research Plans for 2021

A still from the forthcoming Thai BL series Lovely Writer, scheduled to begin broadcast in February 2021

Today is my last day in the office for 2020, a year that has been extraordinarily challenging for the whole world but which has certainly hit the tertiary education sector in Australia harder than many other industries due to a lack of proactive engagement on behalf of our federal government. I began this year with an extremely optimistic plan for research – all of which was predicated on various overseas fieldtrips which quite naturally fell through as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened.

That said, through consistent overwork (believe me, I sacrificed a lot of my private time to pull this off) I managed to apply for four major grants (although most were unsuccessful) and had 6 publications come out (most of which had been in the pipeline since 2019), with a further 2 already dated for 2021.

In this post, I am pre-emptively going to write a simple list of projects I will focus my energy on in 2021. I doubt I will manage to pull them all off!

1. Thai Boys Love Book

This was supposed to be my major project for 2020, but I needed to do fieldwork to pull it off successfully. I spent most of 2020 instead re-conceptualising how I would approach this book and will spend the first half of 2021 finishing off chapter drafts. I aim to submit the book proposal as soon as possible in 2021 so I can have it contracted. In some ways, it is good this book was delayed since 2020 represents an explosion in global Thai BL fandom which I never expected! Further, I now have the opportunity to include the exciting ethnographic moment when I got to interact with the Thai BL idols upon whom a lot of the analysis is based!

2. Thai Boys Love Advertising

Working together with my colleague Dr Chavalin Svetanant at Macquarie, I am preparing a paper that spins off from my Thai BL book which explores the rise of BL as a key part of the advertising landscape of Thailand. In particular, we will explore how “shipping” has been coopted by Thailand’s media as a way to produce particular desires for consumption. This project will also explore how Thailand’s media is increasingly drawing upon East Asian media to innovate.

3. Responding to Misogynistic Interpretations of BL in the Philippines

My colleague Dr Kristine Santos and I have been watching debates over the spread of BL to the Philippines and its impacts on local media cultures with some trepidation. We are both concerned about misogynistic dismissals of women’s contributions to BL culture and how the yaoi ronso seems to be resurfacing within this context. Due to our commitment to feminist and radically queer interpretations of BL’s transnationalisation, we feel a political calling to respond to this concerning development through a joint paper.

4. Queer consumers of Japanese and Korean popular culture in Australia

My various applications for funding have focused on developing a new project which examines the impacts of East Asian media fandom on producing new sexual fantasies among LGBTQ consumers in Australia. I will continue to conduct pilot research on this topic in 2021. This is important work, as I have uncovered that both Japanese and Korean popular culture represent powerful tools that LGBTQ Australian fans use to make sense of their positioning within society.

5. A critical analysis of two YA novels focussing on K-pop

This one is really very new, but will emerge out of some new collaborations with colleagues in the Discipline of Literature in my new Department at MQ. Very tentative, so who knows where it will go (or if it will even get up at all)! The texts are Shine, by Jessica Jung, and K-pop Confidential, by Stephan Lee. You can see my initial thoughts on this tweet.

Finally, here is a sneak peak at some papers that should come out next year (assuming that peer reviews come out nicely!!).

One thought on “An Extremely Tentative Look at My Research Plans for 2021

  1. Im just curious because of the focus of your researxh if you’ve of danmei novels and their popularity in China and surrounding areas.

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