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The Rhetoric of Mao Zedong
Transforming China and Its People

Xing Lu

A thorough examination of the Chinese leader’s speeches and writings that reshaped a nation’s culture

Mao Zedong fundamentally transformed China from a Confucian society characterized by hierarchy and harmony into a socialist state guided by communist ideologies of class struggle and radicalization. It was a transformation made possible largely by Mao’s rhetorical ability to attract, persuade, and mobilize millions of Chinese people. Xing Lu’s book, Rhetoric of Mao Zedong, analyzes Mao’s speeches and writings over a span of sixty years, tracing the sources and evolution of Mao’s discourse, analyzing his skills as a rhetor and mythmaker, and assessing his symbolic power and continuing presence in contemporary China. Lu observes that Mao’s rhetorical legacy has been commoditized, culturally consumed, and politically appropriated since his death.

Applying both Western rhetorical theories and Chinese rhetorical concepts to reach a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of his rhetorical legacy, Lu shows how Mao employed a host of rhetorical appeals and strategies drawn from Chinese tradition and how he interpreted the discourse of Marxism-Leninism to serve foundational themes of his message. She traces the historical contexts in which these themes, his philosophical orientations, and his political views were formed and how they transformed China and Chinese people.

Lu also examines how certain ideas are promoted, modified, and appropriated in Mao’s rhetoric. Mao’s adaptation of the Marxist theory of class struggle, his campaigns of transforming common people into new communist advocates, his promotion of Chinese nationalism, and his stand on China’s foreign policy all contributed to and were responsible for reshaping Chinese thought patterns, culture, and communication behaviors.

Xing Lu is a professor of communication at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. Born and raised in China, she received her doctorate in rhetoric and communication from the University of Oregon. Lu is the author or editor of five books, including Rhetoric in Ancient China, Fifth to Third Century B.C.E., winner of the James A. Winans–Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address, and Rhetoric of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, both published by the University of South Carolina Press.

“Highly contextualized, subtly nuanced, and deeply engaging, The Rhetoric of Mao Zedong is a must read. It not only shines a bright new light on our understanding of Mao’s profound political influence and rhetorical presence in modern China but also opens up a whole new world of studying transformative rhetoric in the global context.”—LuMing Mao, Miami University

“A much-needed book. Mao's speeches and writings have not heretofore been the subject of intensive rhetorical analysis. With careful attention to the content, structure, evolution, context, and strategies of Mao's discourse, Lu explicates how his words helped change the course of Chinese history. There is much of interest here for readers across academic disciplines, as well as for non-specialists who seek to understand Mao and the making of modern China.”—Stephen Lucas, University of Wisconsin





(2017) May
6 x 9
272 pages
ISBN 978-1-61117-752-7
Hardcover, $49.99s

ISBN 978-1-61117-753-4
Ebook, $49.99t
Studies in Rhetoric/Communication


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