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Tales of Futures PastAnticipation and the Ends of Literature in Contemporary China$
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Paola Iovene

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804789370

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804789370.001.0001

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How Idivorced My Robot Wife

How Idivorced My Robot Wife

Visionary Futures between Science and Literature

(p.19) 1 How Idivorced My Robot Wife
Tales of Futures Past

Paola Iovene

Stanford University Press

The chapter discusses forgotten publications dealing with the technological futures of humanity, including popular science magazines, children’s literature, and science fiction and films from the 1950s through the1980s, showing that Chinese socialist culture participated in an imagination of the future shared across the Eastern and Western blocs during the Cold War. Overcoming distinctions between mental and manual labor was central to the Maoist vision of a future society. Various science-related genres considered this issue, especially at moments of intensified utopian aspirations: the Great Leap Forward (late 1950s) and the beginning of the Reform Era (late 1970s and early 1980s). While narratives of the Great Leap Forward glorify physical labor, post-Mao science fiction subverts this hierarchy by associating manual labor with vulgarity, primitive stages of human evolution, and with defective female robots. The laboring body becomes the residue of a technological regime about to be overcome.

Keywords:   Chinese popular science, Chinese children’s literature, Chinese science fiction, Cold War, labor, Great Leap Forward, Maoist China, post-Mao China, utopia, technology

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