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Title: Walking into the literary field? : the interaction between China's official and online literary scene
Author: Aquilino, Serafina
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 5662
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis aims to examine the various factors that have influenced the development of China's online literary scene, leading to its gradual assimilation within the conventional literary system. In nearly two decades of its development, Chinese Internet fiction witnessed important changes, in its publication context as well as in its modes of consumption. While the commercialisation of the literary websites sets the first milestone, radically changing the way in which Internet fiction is produced and consumed, a recently found interaction with the literary establishment - represented by the China Writers Association - has led to a gradual assimilation of the online literary scene within the conventional literary field, with the Association opening its threshold to Internet writers. The first part of this thesis engages with a detailed discussion of the factors that influenced the development of the online literature scene. Throughout an analysis of these developments, the genealogy of Internet literature will be divided into three stages - each of which presents substantial differences with the others - seeking to identify the peculiarities of each stage, the evolving context of online publishing and the most successful genres associated with each period. With most of the scholarship on Chinese Internet literature analysing the innovation brought about by the Internet as a new medium for literature publishing in comparison with conventionally published literature, this dissertation focuses on how the subsequent developments change the way Internet fiction is produced and consumed after its initial stage, once online literature has already lost its 'innocence'. The second part focuses more closely on those works and authors that gained some sort of recognition by the literary establishment. The aim of this second part is to explore, on the one hand, what role is Internet literature is playing in the Chinese cultural and literary scene in a broader sense and, on the other hand, how these works integrate within the conventional system, for instance through the establishment of a dedicated Online Writers Association. Using the conventional notion of literature, as formulated in the regulation of important literary awards sponsored by the China Writers Association, the thesis discusses how online published fiction reflects the idea of literature as advocated by the literary establishment and accomplishes the social 'duties' traditionally associated with literature in China. After identifying the most influential genres in this sense, an in-depth analysis of a number of Internet fiction works will focus on how perceptions of contemporary China's urban reality are transmitted by urban fiction published online. In doing so, I hope to show how the official and online literary scenes are actively interacting with each other, contributing to new developments on both sides: the former integrating in its system a new form of literature that has already proved influential among the online public, and the latter eventually gaining an official stamp of approval within the official literary system.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral