To view this PAPER PRESENTATION, search for the session title in the Browse by Titlelisting. (See the session title located immediately below ["In Session:"])
China and Inner Asia
In Session: Laughing with Fetters: Satire and Humor in Postsocialist China
3: Faking Conformity: Online Literature’s Satirical Negotiation with Government Censorship in China
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Bucknell University, United States
Online literature, the most important literary form on the 21st-century Chinese literary scene, is a constantly evolving genre: complex, reflexive and always in flux. Due to its popularity and increasing cultural impact on Chinese society as well as its unprecedented ease of circulation, online literature has been under ever tightening government censorship. Naturally, as a genre of change, transformation and negotiation among texts, cultures and technologies, it keenly responds to its own sociopolitical and cultural situations.
This paper will discuss two online literary works, “Yinian chengshen” (Become A God with A Flick of Mind) and Xin Shidai, Xin Difu (New Time, New Hell), by influential authors to show how online literature parodies the current government’s increasing control of thoughts, freedom of speech and creative writing. Tackling specifically the censorship on graphic description of erotic scenes as well as feudal and superstitious content, these two humorous works skillfully reverse the censorship rules, and ridicule the cultural-political restrictions that impact people’s daily life. They utilize socialist doctrine and political slogans in ostensibly correct yet actually absurd situations to illustrate the legitimacy of erotic description and “feudal and superstitious” content in literature. I argue that these highly satirical works strategically adopt the official rhetoric on the great Chinese culture and glorious “Chinese Dream” to circumvent and debunk the censorship, further demonstrating online literature’s quick response to the culture context that it helps to shape in return.