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SF in/of China

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Organizer: Cara Healey

Co-Organizer: Hua Li

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This seminar seeks to create a cross-cultural dialogue on China in SF (speculative fiction / science fiction / science fantasy) and Chinese SF. 

An imagined “China” has been and continues to be a locus of speculation in the Anglophone tradition, from Yellow Peril narratives to techno-Orientalist incarnations of cyberpunk (e.g. Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age) or space western (e.g. Joss Whedon’s Firefly). In the current age of decolonization and #OwnVoices, SF has emerged that challenges these Western-centered approaches. Chinese American and other diaspora writers incorporate elements of Chinese history, culture, and society into their own works, from Ken Liu’s silkpunk and Rebecca Kuang’s China-centered grimdark to Maggie Shen King’s and Cindy Pon’s near-future dystopias and Lawrence Lek’s take on Sinofuturism. At the same time, Chinese SF has seen a boom in global popularity with the success of Liu Cixin’s award-winning Three-Body Problem trilogy and Frant Gwo’s 2019 blockbuster The Wandering Earth, along with translations of many other contemporary Chinese SF works into English and other languages

SF is central to our understanding of China, and China to our understanding of SF in a technocultural-information era. As authors and creators increasingly work in multiple linguistic and cultural contexts, the Anglophone and Sinophone SF traditions grow more intertwined, their boundaries ever more porous. This seminar is particularly interested in boundary-crossing approaches to languages, cultures, literatures, or media. We invite papers on SF focusing on “China,” broadly conceived, by creative writers from a variety of communities, including but not limited to Chinese, Sinophone, Chinese-American, or other members of the Greater-China diaspora. Panelist may select to discuss themes of gender, class, environmentalism, posthumanism, and scientism, as well as SF texts in a variety of media: fiction, film, television, animation, graphic novels, visual art, video games, and other online/digital media. We also welcome discussions on the production, distribution, and consumption of SF in/of China, including papers that take reception studies or fan studies as their methodological framework. 

This seminar is supported by the Association of Chinese and Comparative Literature (ACCL). 


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