Keywords in Chinese Internet Subculture (1)

My name is Xiqing Zheng, Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, University of Washington. I am currently an assistant professor at the Institute of Literature, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a participant (and consultant) of Peking University Internet Literature Research Forum.

As one of the fifteen authors of this book (I am the main author of the Danmei section),  《破壁书:网络文化关键词》 (My own translation of the title goes: The Book of the Shattered Shield, or probably The Book that Shatters Shields), I would like to briefly introduce it to the academic community of modern Chinese literature and culture, because the scholars of contemporary Chinese literature and culture are part of our target audience.

The idea of “shattered shield” refers to a phrase in Chinese otaku community, “dimensional shield,” which ultimately comes from the Japanese otaku community. Literally referring to the differences between the three-dimensional world (of the real people and everyday life) and the two-dimensional world (of the characters and the fictional worlds from Japanese media texts of anime, comics [manga], games, light novels, [abbreviated as ACGN in everyday use in China]), “dimensional shield” describes the semiotic break between the mainstream culture, and the fan/otaku subculture. While the “dimensional shield” is something that stops people from understanding each other, this book is written and edited to break the shield, attempting to establish a path of understanding through keywords definitions.

The book is more of an encyclopedia that captures important keywords in the fan/ACGN/internet popular culture, and therefore provides a lively and dynamic scene of cultural exchange and transformation. Because the connotations of the keywords are always changing while being used, we do not only aim for accurately articulating an exact definition that will possibly stay still in the future, but for delineating the origin, the constantly changing process of the meanings, the signification of the keywords in a social terrain shaped by various powers, discourses and populations.

This book also archives part of the insiders’ memory and knowledge of the early stages of the ACGN community, salvaging a highly hybrid initiation process that results from converging and interacting cultures. Considering that both the mainstream media and the academia are developing an interest in this culture, and there are still few academic researchers who are simultaneously participants of the fandom, this book is also a collective debut of a whole group of aca-fans in China.

I hope this book will be translated into English, as it will benefit scholars of this field. Unfortunately, we haven’t started to look for possible English translators and publishers. But I believe many have asked the Joint Press for digital publication of the book. Hopefully, it will be available to the overseas readers soon.

You are very welcome to ask me for more information concerning this book.

Xiqing Zheng 郑熙青
Assistant Professor
Institute of Literature
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Beijing, China

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