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Reading: Smog and the Psyche: Chen Qiufan’s Reading of the Urban Anthropocene


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Smog and the Psyche: Chen Qiufan’s Reading of the Urban Anthropocene


Martina Codeluppi

About Martina
Martina Codeluppi is Assistant Professor at the University of Insubria. She holds a PhD in contemporary Chinese literature from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and Sorbonne Nouvelle University – Paris 3. Her main publications deal with memory, migrant literature, self-translation, literary theory, and critical discourse analysis. She is the author of the book Fictional Memories: Contemporary Chinese Literature and Transnationality, published in 2020 by L’Harmattan.
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The growing concern for environmental issues has fuelled the rise of climate fiction [cli-fi], a subgenre of science fiction dealing with climate change that has become increasingly popular in the last few decades. In China, significant examples can be found, among others, in Chen Qiufan’s works, which address these problems from different points of view. In his short story “Mai” 霾 [The Smog Society], the author explores the relationship between human beings and nature from an unconventional perspective, overturning the traditional conception of the relationship between the environment and the human mind. This article aims to analyse Chen Qiufan’s short story as an attempt to subvert the causal relationship between pollution and happiness, outlining his interpretation of the urban Anthropocene. The analysis will set out from what Glenn Albrecht has defined as “psychoterratic emotional concepts”, namely earth-related mental health conditions, to explore the author’s view of man-made climate change. In particular, it will explore the depiction of the climatic emergency in the Chinese urban context and its consequences on the protagonist’s psychology and emotions, as well as on urban social life.
How to Cite: Codeluppi, M., 2022. Smog and the Psyche: Chen Qiufan’s Reading of the Urban Anthropocene. Writing Chinese: A Journal of Contemporary Sinophone Literature, 1(1), pp.60–81. DOI:
Published on 06 Jun 2022.
Peer Reviewed


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