Date of Award
Bachelor of arts (BA)
Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
This paper examines the extent to which Chinese science fiction literature has played a role in the reframing of Chinese national identity as one that is based in scientific and technological development. Specifically, whether the recent push during a 2007 conference in Chengdu for increased science fiction consumption has resulted in more scientific development and more positivist science fictional literature.
The paper both evaluates the current state of science fiction in China and the potential impact of its narratives through an analysis of the historical context of the role of science fiction in China compared to the more modern usage as a promotional tool of national scientific development, and through a close reading of two contemporary, award-winning works of Chinese SF.
This paper finds that despite efforts to encourage positivist SF as it had during the Mao regime, the resulting modern works are largely resistant to efforts of reframing national identity as “Scientific Chinese.” Instead of looking to the future, recent Chinese SF draws inspiration from the past, focusing on ghosts and tradition juxtaposed against oppressive technological development. The narratives reflect anxieties over a loss of cultural identity in the name of progress. What is left are stories that are anti-nationalistic, anti-progressive, and question the legitimacy of the role of technology in modern society.
In conclusion, this paper finds propagandist techniques have not had the desired result on the narratives of Chinese SF in general. Instead, literature is responding to the world and is an outlet of anxieties of a changing world.
Stillman, Nicholas M., "Of Ghosts and Spaceships: Reclaiming Chinese National Identity through Science Fiction" (2014). Global Honors Theses. 26.