Call for Contributions for an Edited Volume
Translating Chinese Internet Literature: Global Adaptation and Circulation
Publisher: Routledge (Routledge Studies in Chinese Translation)
Deadline for abstracts: 15 January 2024
Editors: Wenqian Zhang, University of Exeter, UK; Sui He, Swansea University, UK
Chinese Internet literature (CIL), also known as Chinese online/web/network literature, refers to “Chinese-language writing, either in established literary genres or in innovative literary forms, written especially for publication in an interactive online context and meant to be read on-screen” (Hockx 2015, 4). While CIL is commonly equated with Chinese web-based genre fiction known for entertainment value, it encompasses a broader range of genres such as poetry and comic strips, covering realistic themes prevailing in serious literature (Inwood 2016; Feng 2021). CIL is born-digital, but it differs essentially from ‘electronic literature’ or ‘digital literature’ that originated in the West. While Western e-literature is “more technology-oriented” (Duan 2018, 670) and usually involves “some sort of computer programming or code” (Hockx 2015, 5–6), CIL is relatively less technologised and experimental in format. In fact, what makes CIL stand out is its interactive features facilitated by professional literary platforms, its underlying profit motive, and mass participation in terms of literary writing, reading and criticism (Hockx 2015).
Over the past three decades, the proliferation of CIL has been fuelled by advancements in internet technology and formulation of larger social media communities, alongside other key factors such as economic growth and the constantly changing ideological and political discourses in and outside mainland China. One notable landmark in the trajectory of CIL is the implementation of a pay-per-read business model by the literary website Qidian (起点 Starting Points) in 2003 – in this model, Qidian charges readers for accessing serialised popular novels and their ‘VIP chapters’ (Hockx 2015, 110). This step marks the beginning of the commodification of CIL. It reshapes the literary writing practices and author-reader/producer-consumer dynamics in Chinese cyberspace (Schleep 2015, Tian and Adorjan 2016). Further developments along this line have enabled CIL to grow into a streamlined industry and mature ecosystem, with a vast number of popular titles being adapted into films, TV/web series, video games and other types of media products, generating enormous economic value and revenue. Continue reading