[A Collective Fantasia of the Financial Age in Early 1990s China: On Finance and Literature]

𝐒𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐫: Prof. Zhang Yu (Assistant Professor, Department of Chinese Culture, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)
𝐃𝐚𝐭𝐞: March 26, 2023 (Tuesday)
𝐓𝐢𝐦𝐞: 15:00 – 16: 30 PM (HKT)
𝐕𝐞𝐧𝐮𝐞: Wu Ho Man Yuen Building Room 404 (WMY_404), The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Conducted in English. All are welcome.

𝐑𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐤:



When the notion of “finance” re-entered ordinary Chinese people’s lives since the Reform and Opening Up, how were “finance and economics” (caijing) perceived and felt? This talk is situated in the intersection of finance and literary practice and focuses on the Mainland critics’ reviews of the “finance-themed” novels by the Hong Kong entrepreneur-cum-writer Leung Fung Yee (1949- ) and discusses how “Leung fever” (1992-1993) provided a medium for a collective imagination of the financial age. Leung’s fiction introduced “sensuous and lively” financial knowledge particularly attractive to a financially uneducated Mainland readership who nonetheless desired to engage in adventurous economic activities. This coming of the new financial age was first and foremost experienced as an “erotic-speculative sensation” in which an erotic adventure was experienced similar to the financial behavior of speculation. The critics envisioned what I call “the neoliberal labor heroine,” who creatively utilizes the intervals to maximize the productive value and performs “presentist worldly wisdom” to strategically navigate life and achieve optimal outputs and success in a disorienting world.


Yu Zhang is teaching in the Department of Chinese History and Culture at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She received her Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Stanford University. She is the author of Going to the Countryside: The Rural in Modern Chinese Cultural Imagination, 1915-1965 (The University of Michigan Press, 2020). Her other publications appear in Positions: Asia Critique, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Twentieth-Century China and others. Currently, she is working on a new book titled Wiring the Hearts: A Sentimental History of Phones in China.


𝐄𝐧𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐫𝐲: jefferytse@cuhk.edu.hk