Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Fine Arts

Committee Chair

Lai, Delin

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Hufbauer, Benjamin

Committee Member

Fulton, Christopher

Committee Member

Parkhurst, Shawn


Mao, Zedong, 1893-1976--Birthplace; Shaoshan (Hunan Sheng, China)--History--20th century; Shaoshan (Hunan Sheng, China)--Buildings, structures, etc.; Architecture and society--China; Nationalism and architecture--China


Between 1949 and 1966, Mao Zedong’s cult of personality swelled into a kind of secular religion in China, and his birthplace, the remote village of Shaoshan, became a sacred site and s signal representative of national commemorative culture. This study rediscovers Shaoshan’s memorial projects undertaken during this period and explores how they embody the complex interplay between art/architecture and politics and the artistic tensions between rural and urban settings in post-Revolutionary China. The text focuses on four endeavors: the historic preservation of Mao’s Old House; the urban renovation plans advanced during the Great Leap Forward; the Exhibition Pavilion constructed by Guangdong architects in 1964; and the Socialist Realist landscape paintings of Shaoshan. Beyond illustrating the development of a distinct rural aesthetic, there works offer a window into the codification of Chinese communist ideology and the ritualized worship practices reflected in and enacted by much art of the era. Ultimately, the study aims to inspire more interdisciplinary study on Shaoshan specifically and, given the site’s significance, to achieve a more complete understanding of Chinese art and architecture overall.