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Internet Literature in China

Internet Literature in China

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Internet Literature in China
    Book Description:

    Since the 1990s, Chinese literary enthusiasts have explored new spaces for creative expression online, giving rise to a modern genre that has transformed Chinese culture and society. Ranging from the self-consciously avant-garde to the pornographic, web-based writing has introduced innovative forms, themes, and practices into Chinese literature and its aesthetic traditions.

    Conducting the first comprehensive survey in English of this phenomenon, Michel Hockx describes in detail the types of Chinese literature taking shape right now online and their novel aesthetic, political, and ideological challenges. Offering a unique portal into postsocialist Chinese culture, he presents a complex portrait of internet culture and control in China that avoids one-dimensional representations of oppression. The Chinese government still strictly regulates the publishing world, yet it is growing increasingly tolerant of internet literature and its publishing practices while still drawing a clear yet ever-shifting ideological bottom line. Hockx interviews online authors, publishers, and censors, capturing the convergence of mass media, creativity, censorship, and free speech that is upending traditional hierarchies and conventions within China--and across Asia.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53853-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology, Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XII)
    (pp. XIII-XVI)
    (pp. 1-23)

    IN OCTOBER 2011 the seventeenth Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) held its sixth plenum. The theme of the four-day gathering was culture. China watchers writing for the U.S. and U.K. media had difficulty coming to terms with this fact. Although it was acknowledged that culture was related to soft power, which had been high on the CCP agenda for a number of years, the general tenor of the reports was that it was inexplicable that the Central Committee would talk about culture, rather than more significant issues such as the economy and the imminent transition of political...

  6. ONE Internet Literature in China HISTORY, TECHNOLOGY, AND CONVENTIONS
    (pp. 24-58)

    INTERNET LITERATURE, like any other literature, is shaped by general technological developments and by specific social conventions. In the early twentieth century in China, the spread of mechanized printing and the demise of the literati lifestyle conspired to produce a richly varied magazine literature. This literature catered to a wide variety of tastes and was written in an equally wide variety of linguistic and cultural registers, but the many magazines of the early Republican period also had some notable shared characteristics. Most of them reveled in the opportunities the new printing technologies offered for combining textual and visual contents. Photographs,...

    (pp. 59-107)

    ON OCTOBER 24, 2010, I met up with Chen Cun in a bookshop in Shanghai. We talked about Chinese literature in general, about the Internet, and about his involvement in Banyan Tree and other literature portals. At some point during the conversation I asked him when he had published his first online work. His response came instantly: “I have never published any works [zuopin] online. What I do online is just random writing. My real literary work has all appeared in print.”

    This chapter represents a deliberate attempt, foolhardy though it may seem, to challenge Chen’s opinion about his own...

    (pp. 108-140)

    “A SHUHAO (LITERALLY BOOK NUMBER),” writes Kevin Latham in the 2005Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture, “is a registration number required to publish any book in China. . . . Without a book number it is illegal to publish.”¹ Nearly a decade down the line, these words remain true but only with reference to printed books. Since 2005 a huge market for born-digital literature, especially popular genre fiction, has emerged in the PRC. Lengthy novels in hundreds of chapters are serialized online for paying customers, none of them carrying ISBN numbers (as book numbers are officially called) unless they are...

  9. FOUR Online Poetry in and out of China, in Chinese, or with Chinese
    (pp. 141-185)

    IF GENRE FICTION HAS BEEN the most successful type of Chinese Internet literature in economic terms, poetry has outperformed all other modes of online writing in terms of variety, experimentation, and critical acclaim. In Chinese Internet poetry we see a range of aesthetic programs being developed, from provocative avant-garde and moral transgression to reappropriation of the social functions of classical poetry. There is also lively interaction between poets working inside and those outside the PRC, while Chinese written characters can also be seen to be incorporated into the work of non-Chinese electronic poets, continuing a modernist tradition that dates back...

    (pp. 186-194)

    AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS BOOK I cited statistics showing that prior to 2012 more Chinese people went online to enjoy literature than to do online shopping. Since that year, the growth in numbers of users of Internet literature applications has slowed down, prompting the following pessimistic comments from the China Internet Network Information Center, here quoted in the original English:

    As a new form of literature, the online literature was popular in the earlier stage of its development due to its low threshold when a vast number of works were written and distributed on the Internet to a vast...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 195-228)
    (pp. 229-238)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 239-251)