Volume XII Number 2, Spring/Summer 2014
Andrea Lingenfelter, 2013-14 Kiriyama Fellow
This paper uses a genre of online Chinese popular fiction known as Web-Game fiction as an entry point for exploring the influence of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) on linear narrative fiction. By offering a thick description of MMORPG gameplay and of gamers’ movements between online and offline worlds, Web-Game fiction narrates and “deinteractivates” the subjective experiences of players as they progress through the levels of online role-playing games. This essay proposes that the genre offers an alternative perspective on transmedia production strategies in Chinese popular culture and on the nature of immersion in online environments, often viewed in negative terms by Chinese critics who employ vocabulary such as youxihua (“gamification” or “ludification”), “YY” (yiyin, or “mental masturbation”), and chenmi (absorption or addiction) to warn of the dangers of allowing one’s imagination to run wild in mediated fictional worlds. By reading one novel from the perspectives of transmedia storytelling, remediation, and affective involvement in digital games, I suggest that Web-Game fiction is emblematic of Chinese netizens’ desire to take control of their own stories within a larger contemporary reality, the rules and parameters of which lie beyond any individual control.
“New Indian Stories @ the Digital Frontline: Women, Work, America, and Sex” examines aspects of India’s experience with the digital age. While it is a commonplace to speak of a digital revolution, its specifics are rarely well delineated. Focusing on individual experiences and on the narrative portrayal of those experiences is one path to understanding the larger impact of the digital revolution. This paper begins by looking at interactions in the 1990s in Chennai (then Madras) at the beginning of Indian immigration to Silicon Valley. This first narrative should be considered as field notes from a working environment. This paper then examines the writings of Chetan Bhagat, and how his novels and the subsequent films they inspired have illuminated the new dynamics of the workplace in the digital age. Another novel, Bharati Mukherjee’s Miss New India, is discussed in this context. Finally, recent journalistic representations of the effect of the digital age on lived lives, particularly women’s lives, are explored. News stories of sexual violence, rape, and dangers to women workers are examined. Within these intertwined narratives from anecdotes, novels, films and news stories, two themes stand out. One theme is the increased, and deepening intimate cultural connection between India and the United States. The second theme is the sexual danger, both perceived and real, that the new Indian workplace presents to working women.
The digital turn in the humanities brings with it a potential for paradigmatic changes, and one of these could be a revaluation of what constitutes a “translation” of a literary text. In the past, translations were thought to be the bound commodity object sold and read as a self-complete version of the original. But because these objects did not expose the negotiations taking place in the process of translation, they have not been considered sufficient textual bodies to support literary criticism. Literary critics are discouraged from publishing criticism on literature in the absence of recourse to its original language. Since the digital turn, however, translations can include digital archives of drafts, correspondence, notes and other textual embodiments of the translation process through open access archives. With such a wide range of materials to draw upon, scholars from a wide range of other fields can engage not only the content of the texts but create methodologies of reading work in translation. This essay asks how such archives might impact the reception and study of Chinese Literature in relation to the current popularity of world Anglophone Literature.
Hui Faye Xiao
Graduate Student Paper
This research looks at the development of Japan’s bathing culture as a nationally and culturally significant activity. The goal is to show that ideas about bathing both reflect changing Japanese social norms and project an idealized form of cultural identity. This has been done by examining local and foreign sources that reference baths in Japan, academic articles, “Japanese interest” non-fiction, and scholarly works on the emergence of national nostalgia as a byproduct of modernization around the beginning of the nineteenth century.
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