Article ID: CBB095994009

Locating Kexue Xiangsheng (Science Crosstalk) in Relation to the Selective Tradition of Chinese Science Fiction (2019)


Kexue xiangsheng (science crosstalk) features comic dialogues aimed at popularizing knowledge in the physical and social sciences. This genre emerged in the late 1950s in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as part of a massive effort in the state-supervised culture industry to promote science. The genre shared many of the hallmarks of PRC instrumentalist science fiction, as both were based on a Soviet model. Authors and literary theorists like Guo Moruo, Ye Yonglie, and Gu Junzheng reiterated developmental narratives of socialism and of the power of science as a tool for mastery of nature developed by authors like Maxim Gorky and Mikhail Il’in. These works of socialist realism narrated transformations in the consciousness of their characters as they came to understand guiding principles of the world around them, including basic science, evolution, and dialectical materialism. Dramatic forms like kexue xiangsheng worked in concert with other socialist-realist representative modes, including popular performance, reportage, fiction, film, song, and reappropriations of premodern literary forms. In the process, notions of scientific thinking were conflated with political orthodoxy in promoting public health and political campaigns, and science was dismantled as a professional institution, shifting from a rationalized bureaucratic endeavor to grassroots efforts aimed at solving pragmatic problems. Through education in what I term the “quotidian utopian”—small health and hygiene measures that had the potential to ameliorate major health challenges—these popular science genres also straddled the line between Frederic Jameson’s “Utopian form and Utopian wish,” between what was part utopian text and part expression of the impulse to enact utopia through changes in policy and reconfigurations of the collective body.

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Article Amanda Rees; Iwan Rhys Morus (2019) Presenting Futures Past: Science Fiction and the History of Science. Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 1-15). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Cain, Friedrich
Elisa Edwards
Beumer, Koen
West, Diana Kurkovsky
Ghosh, Arunabh
Zhang, Li
Ziran Kexueshi Yanjiu (Studies in the History of Natural Sciences)
Science-Fiction Studies
Science as Culture
Public Understanding of Science
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
NTM: Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften, Technik und Medizin
University of California, San Diego
University of Pittsburgh Press
University of Pennsylvania Press
LIT Verlag
Franz Steiner Verlag
Brandeis University
Science and government
Science fiction
Science and politics
Social sciences
Von Braun, Wernher
Tingsten, Herbert
Snow, Charles Percy
Ley, Willy
Kotkin, Stephen
Jung, Carl Gustav
Time Periods
20th century, late
21st century
20th century, early
20th century
19th century
United States
Soviet Union
People's Republic of China
Great Britain
Chinese Academy of Sciences

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