Remembrance of Scholars Past: Sinophone Academic Fiction within the Genre Canon

Roman Lashin

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperpeer-review


Academic fiction is a literary genre centered on professors and universities. The dominance of Anglo-American tradition characterizes its short history: works by British and North American writers formed a genre canon, while examples from other national literatures were considered derivative. Recently, more studies started challenging the status quo by emphasizing the genre’s circulation through nations and cultures and even conceiving competing canons. Thus, traditions’ clash and the “canon anxiety” have defined the global genre’s image. Sinophone academic fiction has also flourished in recent decades, following the higher education boom and strengthening ties between writers and universities. However, it exists mainly beyond the context of competing traditions. In this study, I posit that the struggle for a place in genre canon is not the factor that ensures the Sinophone genre variant’s prominent position within global academic fiction.
To prove it, I turn to Bakhtin’s “genre memory” theory to explore the literary-historical continuity between contemporary Sinophone academic fiction and premodern literati fiction. As Ilya Kliger puts it, “[t]he memory of genre ensures that the author is never one-on-one with the contemporary world.” (Kliger 2016, p. 248-49) Drawing upon Chinese literature’s immense experience of depicting scholars, such authors as Yan Lianke or Li Er let the genre memory expand the scope of their creations. I argue that Sinophone academic fiction’s quest for legitimacy is based not on competing with other genre traditions but on rooting itself firmly in China’s literary past and forming an unbroken link with premodern masterpieces of literati fiction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2023
Event2023 AAS-in-Asia Conference - Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 24 Jun 202327 Jun 2023


Conference2023 AAS-in-Asia Conference
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of
Internet address


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