In this episode, Zhange Ni introduces us to some of the myriad fantasy genres proliferating on Chinese internet platforms and beyond. She describes and contextualises recent subgenres such as qihuan 奇幻 and xuanhuan 玄幻 (and their relationship with wuxia 武俠 wandering warrior/martial arts fiction) before zooming in on xiuzhen 修真 (immortality cultivation) tales that effortlessly mingle contrasting realms of (the idea of) ancient Daoism and contemporary computer games. Finally, we discuss the danmei 耽美 (tanbi) boys’ love romances predominantly produced and consumed by women readers as well as these transmedial genres’ implications for our understanding of what literature is.
Magical Guest: Zhange Ni（倪湛舸）is an associate professor of religion and literature at Virginia Tech currently posted as a research fellow at the Nantes Institute for Advanced Study (France). She received her Ph.D. in religion and literature from the University of Chicago Divinity School, did postdoctoral work at the “Women’s Studies in Religion Program” at Harvard Divinity School. She is currently working on a book project tentatively entitled The Cult of Fiction in the Age of the Internet: Chinese Religions, Digital Capitalism, and the Fantasy Boom in Contemporary China.
Host under Cultivation: Astrid Møller-Olsen is the author of Sensing the Sinophone: Urban Memoryscapes in Contemporary Fiction (Cambria Press, 2022). She is currently international research fellow with the Universities of Lund, Stavanger, and Oxford, funded by the Swedish Research Council working on a cross-generic study of plant-human relationships in contemporary Sinophone literature from science fiction to surrealism. She hosts the xiaoshuo.blog and has published on arboreal temporalities, fictional dictionaries, oneiric soundscapes, digital chronotopes, and sensory urban spacetime.