Reportage and its Contemporary Variations–special MCLC issue (Abstracts due 8/31)

deadline for submissions: 
August 31, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Charles Laughlin and Li Guo
contact email: 


This special issue of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture welcomes essays on reportage narratives in contemporary China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as explorations of nonfiction, documentary, and the art of the real in film, media, theater or visual arts, and related theoretical interventions.

From late imperial Chinese exploration narratives about Southwest borderlands to modern author Ai Wu’s travel accounts of Yunnan and Burma, from the Leftwing League’s promotion of reportage as a pathway to proletarian realism in the 1930s to the use of cinéma vérité and direct cinema in contemporary documentary filmmaking, Chinese reportage has found expressions in a nexus of genres, reflecting evolving and polyphonic aesthetic modes and cultural discourses. Xiaomei Chen (1985) observes that the assimilation of Chinese reportage as a genre into the canonical literary system attests to the demands of political and literary history and also highlights the reportage reader’s ethical obligations or what Chen called “lectorial competence.” Yingjin Zhang (1993) argues that reportage illustrates “the ideological workings of narrative” and “consciously interpellates individuals (writers, characters and readers) as subjects in their own rights.” Charles Laughlin (2002) proposes that the “association of the crowd and its collective subjectivity with a theatrical narrative space is the basis of the ‘chronotope’ underlying the modern Chinese reportage narratives.” Yin-Hwa Chou (1985), Zuyan Chen (1993), Thomas Moran (1994), Rudolf Wagner (1992), Shenshen Cai (2016) and others contributed rich studies on the hybrid modes and canons of modern and contemporary Chinese reportage, ranging from early twentieth century travel memoirs to chronicles in the new millennium.

Continuing the above discussions, the special issue will delve into the study of contemporary Chinese reportage, engaging current and less explored reportage authors, works, trends, and theoretical inquiries beyond generic, geographical, and national boundaries. We welcome studies that address the representations, discourses, and analytical demarcations of the reportage concept and that pursue an understanding of the aesthetics of global reportage in a contemporary context. Key themes include but are not limited to:

  • Actuality (zhenshixing) in contemporary literary, visual, and artistic reportage experimentation
  • Chronotopes of the self or gendered interpretations in reportage narratives and arts
  • Reportage, social satire, and the communication of political affect
  • Ideologies, language, and reportage narratives in literary and journalistic works
  • Documentary as reportage, the politics of representation, and its ethical considerations
  • Poetry as societal reportage and emotional resonance as a vehicle of enlivening truth
  • Migration, diaspora, and reportage as an aesthetic mode of recollection and restoration
  • Environmental reportage and activist discourses in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan
  • Reportage photography, drawings, paintings, archives, comics, and visual realism
  • Online, digital, and “real-time” reportage, and the reconfiguration of authenticity through dialogic interaction.

Please send abstracts of 500 words by August 31, 2017 to both guest editors, Charles Laughlin ( and Li Guo (, and the general editor, Kirk A. Denton ( Selected abstracts will be invited to submit full manuscripts (30-50 pages, double-space) by May 15, 2018 for consideration of inclusion in the special issue for Modern Chinese Literature and Culture in Fall 2019.