The public sphere and literary journals : an investigation of the discursive formation of new fiction's utopian imagination in late Qing

Shuk Man LEUNG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)


This article considers New Fiction's utopian imagination in the Late Qing period as a product of Foucauldian discursive formation, an important element of which is the channel of production through literary journals in the Chinese public sphere. Developing Jürgen Habermas's concept of a bourgeois public sphere during eighteenth- and nineteeth-century Europe, Rudolf Wagner's notion of a Chinese public sphere stresses that the participants came from the top and bottom of society, and that the Qing court was an important and legitimate player. In applying that notion, this article shows how fiction could be a means of public opinion and how a literary journal could be a platform in the public sphere. Monthly Fiction and Racing Independent Club Fiction Monthly, and their publication of utopian novels, are two examples that demonstrate their reactions to political issues and their vertical relationship with the court in the Chinese public sphere. By examining these two case studies, the processes by which the narratives of a new China(s) were produced by this utopian discourse are shown.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-586
Number of pages30
JournalComparative Literature Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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