Online Linguistic Violence in Contemporary China

Summer 2017

Jiaqian Zhu : Comparative Literature and East Asian Languages & Cultures

Donor: Wishek Fund
Mentor: Andrew F. Jones

Through this research, I want to find out how we should understand a social phenomenon of vehement linguistic violence on China’s main social media sites as well as a newly-emerging netizen group “keyboard warrior” in the society. How does keyboard warriors’ collective action of expressing aggression against others produce a new form of youth culture or pop culture in contemporary China? Or does the Internet as a new medium offer a new possibility to wield violence beyond verbal communication and physical interaction? With a consideration of violent dictions on the Internet, how does the vestige of Maoist discourse perform and function on a new medium and during a new era? How do words carry a historical violence and trauma through literature, visual arts and online speech? Back to the Cultural Revolution, how did the keyword slogans become a product of Maoist discourse and how did these words come to suffuse people’s quotation utterances as well as visual media? This research can contribute to Chinese studies, sociolinguistics and media studies as it concerns about a trans-media use of language, a new form of expression and interaction, as well as a social anxiety conveyed through a violent potentiality in language. 

I would like to thank Wishek Fund for offering me a great opportunity to conduct research in the field of humanities and East Asian. SURF program taught me academic skills to prepare for research, thesis and presentation and also introduced me to many passionate peers. Peers and mentors gave me many helpful suggestions so that I could finalize my research into a report for the conference. I am deeply grateful for the SURF program and the Wishek Fund.