Utopian Fiction in China

Genre, Print Culture and Knowledge Formation, 1902–1912


Unlike previous studies that have examined the late Qing utopian imagination as an ahistorical motif, a literary theme, and a translation phenomenon, in this book Shuk Man Leung considers utopian fiction as a knowledge apparatus that helped develop Chinese nationalism and modernity. Based on untapped primary sources in Chinese, English, and Japanese, her research reveals how utopian imagination, blooming after Liang Qichao’s publication of The Future of New China, served as a tool of knowledge formation and dissemination that transformed China’s public sphere and catalysed historical change.

Embracing interdisciplinary approach from genre studies, studies on modern Chinese newspapers and intellectual history, this book provides an analysis of the development of utopian literary practices, epistemic meanings, and fictional narratives and the interactions between traditional and imported knowledge that helped shape the discourse in early 20th century China.

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Shuk Man Leung, Ph.D. (2013), School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, is Assistant Professor of the School of Chinese at the University of Hong Kong. Her works on late Qing and modern Chinese fiction, Hong Kong literature and print culture during the cultural Cold War have appeared in journals such as Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Asian Studies Review, Cultural Studies, Comparative Literature Studies and Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese.
Edited by Barend J. ter Haar, University of Hamburg

In co-operation with P.K. Bol, D.R. Knechtges, E.S.Rawski, W.L. Idema, H.T. Zurndorfer
"In this meticulously researched and carefully argued new study, Shuk Man Leung guides her readers towards a coherent and complex understanding of Chinese “New Fiction” from the first decade of the twentieth century. Building on and moving beyond existing studies of the genre’s literary characteristics, Leung demonstrates its significance in sparking a “utopian imagination” that came to pervade all aspects of Chinese modernity, shaping the ways of knowing China’s future that circulated among participants in the period’s flourishing print culture, intellectual debate, and political activism."
– Michel Hockx, University of Notre Dame

"Shuk Man Leung’s monograph offers an in-depth and original investigation into Utopian fiction in Chinese in the final years of the Qing dynasty at the beginning of the twentieth century. Her work explores how this genre, imported through translation first of Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, played a vital role in the reimagining of the political arena and the nation-state at this critical juncture in modern Chinese history. Leung also demonstrates how utopian visions of China’s future underpinned the entire project of modern Chinese literature. A must read for researchers in modern Chinese intellectual history, modern Chinese literature, and translation studies."
– James St Andre, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

"Literature does not merely represent reality/history; it creates “reality”/history that leads to a coming future through imagination at a critical historical turning point. Leung’s book precisely tells us how the Chinese literary modernity of utopian fiction in the early twentieth century contributed to modern Chinese nation-building. From a global perspective and fresh way, she demonstrates how modern Chinese utopian fiction functioned as an influential and unique mass medium and contributed to people’s identity formatting at the outset of Chinese nation-building. This book tells us how language, particularly utopian fiction, mediates and bridges between the past, reality and the coming future and how literary imagination can create history."
– LIN Shaoyang, Distinguished Professor, History Department, University of Macau
List of Figures

 1 Historicizing Chinese Modernity and New Fiction’s Utopian Imagination
 2 New Fiction as a New Genre
 3 Utopian Fiction in China
 4 The Position of the Authors: Liang Qichao and His Contemporaries
 5 Chapter Summaries

1 Establishment: New Fiction, Utopian Imagination, and the Generic System
 1 The Order of Things: Legitimization of Fiction in the Chinese Bibliography
 2 The Emergence of New Fiction and Its Generic Norms
 3 The Generic Features of New Fiction: The Future of New China
 4 Conclusion

2 Dissemination: the Generic Features of the Utopian Imagination
 1 Generic Classification of New Fiction
 2 Conclusion: the Intergeneric Element of the Utopian Imagination

3 Channels: the Political Function of Utopian Fiction and the Chinese Public Sphere
 1 Utopian Fiction as a Form of Public Opinion
 2 Utopia or Dystopia? China’s Partition and Revolutionary Journals
 3 Utopia(s) Realized? The Constitutional Campaign and Fiction Magazines
 4 Utopia beyond Constitutionalism: the Chinese Revolution of 1911 and Shanghai News
 5 Conclusion

4 Origins: Liang Qichao and Chinese, Japanese, and Western Epistemology
 1 The Discourse of the Future
 2 The Discourse of the Nation
 3 Conclusion: Utopian Temporality and Spatiality

5 Borderless Nations? Cosmopolitan Utopias with Anarchist and Socialist Faces
 1 A Cosmopolitan Utopia with an Anarchist Face
 2 The Third Road: Socialist Cosmopolitanism as a Moral Solution
 3 Conclusion: a Moral Order for Building a Nation/Society

6 Crossing the Border: Chinese Settler Colonialism and a Borderless National Imagination
 1 The Discovery of Colonization and Chinese Nationalism
 2 Lü Sheng’s a Madman’s Dream: Deterritorialized China
 3 Yunnan Journal and Its Utopian Novels: Transnational Autonomy
 4 Conclusion

Conclusion: the Dual Community of New Fiction’s Utopian Imagination: Writing, Reading and Imagining
 1 The Way “We” Imagine
 2 The Way “We” Write and Read
 3 The Power of Utopia: History, Imagination and Knowledge Formation

Appendix: Figures
This book will enrich the understanding of undergraduates, postgraduates, and specialists of the literary modernity and the epistemic identity of New Fiction’s utopian imagination and its relationship with the modern press in the late Qing period. The first readership is located in the field of late Qing and modern Chinese literature, with the secondary readership in the field of utopian studies, particularly those in comparative studies, and the third readership in the field of the study of modern Chinese newspapers.
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