Research Centre for Film

Past News & Events

Chinese Popular Fiction from the Alleys to the Internet - 3rd March 2016

Dr Heather Inwood now at the University of Cambridge, joined us as part of the School Research Seminar Series to give a talk on Chinese Popular Fiction from the Alleys to the Internet


This talk explored the diversification of Chinese popular fiction in the age of the internet and consider the historical and contemporary contexts behind some of the most popular texts to have taken hold of readers’ imaginations in recent years. Throughout much of Chinese history, the category of fiction has been subject to moralising and repression in the hands of the country’s elites, written off as leftover history, gossip of the alleys or a source of immorality that threatens the social order. In China today, fiction of the more commercial or popular kind often comes in for similar treatment, criticised as “dumb writings” or “mental porn”. At the same time, however, popular fiction has worked its way to the centre of China’s cultural industries and is currently being used as a primary source of creative content for the country’s film, television and computer game industries. This talk will focus on the philosophical and social implications of the theme of time travel, a narrative trope that has been a source of both ideological consternation and huge economic success in recent years, in order to examine how digital media users and media organisations have helped to reinvent Chinese popular fiction in light of individual desires and changing technological, social and political imaginations.



Heather Inwood is  Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature and Culture at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on interactions between culture and media in the People’s Republic of China, with particular concern for the impact of digital media practices on the production and reception of contemporary poetry and fiction. She is the author of Verse Going Viral: China’s New Media Scenes, published by the University of Washington Press in 2014, and is currently conducting research for her next book on transmedia Chinese popular fiction.



published on: 26 January 2016