Envisioning Posthuman Existence in Han Song’s Subway (2010)

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Chinese science fiction writer Han Song (韩松) is frequently compared with Can Xue, Lu Xun, and Franz Kafka in the literary style of his unnerving stories, which traverse magical realism, dystopian science fiction, and allegories of post-human existence. Focusing on Han Song’s Subway series (《地铁》, 2010), this paper takes a post-humanistic and ecocritical approach in understanding the prevalent eerie affect of ennui that is registered in the corporeality and subjectivity of the characters. The stories reflect a progress-obsessed Chinese modernisation haunted by the ghost of social Darwinism. Of particular interest is the dark affects that surround the technologised spaces, where the boundaries of the human, nonhuman, and posthuman are blurred and where corporeality is nullified by subjective numbness that mirrors the curious mixture of terror and indifference that characterises contemporary responses to environmental crises in the Anthropocene.

Keywords:Han Song, Subway, China, science fiction, posthuman, Anthropocene, trans-corporeality, affect
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-39
JournalLimina, A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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