China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This panel explores the ways in which the medium of television has defined the environments of postsocialist life in the People’s Republic of China. The technologies of small screens and broadcasting were an essential component of the reorientation of Chinese society toward privatization, domesticity, and a high-tech vision of modernity. Yet, in the decades that followed, the small screens of the New Era private home became nodes in transnational fan communities; television became a medium for both narratives of quotidian life and fantastic technological spectacle; and the passive viewer was joined by the commenting, subtitling and otherwise active fan.
Our panel begins with Julia KEBLINSKA’s analysis of the 1987 television adaptation of Dream of the Red Chamber, and the insight that text gives us into the replacement of grey Maoist materialities with the futurity and flickering lights of New Era color television in the mid-1980s. Dylan SUHER looks at how the fiasco of the 1986 series Kaixuan zai ziye (Triumph at Midnight) led to the emergence of the domesticity-oriented shineiju (“soundstage drama”). Andy RODEKOHR brings our discussion into the present day, asking what it means to call counterfactual historical spectacles such as Langya bang (Nirvana in Fire, 2015) and Yanxi gonglüe (Story of Yanxi Palace, 2018) a “Chinese Game of Thrones.” Jingling CHEN analyzes the communities of translators and amateur researchers involved in the Chinese subtitling of the 2013 Indian TV series Mahabharat, and the way in which
they interface with other fans through danmu (time-synched on-screen comments).