This article revisits a controversy that initially unfolded three decades ago. The immediate impetus for revisiting the controversy is the thirtieth anniversary of the 1989 protests that ended in a massacre in Tiananmen Square. An intermediate reason is to reflect on how the methodological questions at the heart of that controversy are still very much alive as the protean field of Chinese studies continues reinventing itself in relation to theory. A still deeper reason is to rethink, via Bruno Latour, the status of fiction in the age of posttruth and fake news—a task incumbent upon all of us who call ourselves literary scholars.

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