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Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

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Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

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One of the well-known Chinese revolutionary classics The White-Haired Girl (baimaonü, 白毛女) has gone through different adaptations as a propaganda of Chinese Communist Party from the 1940s to the 1960s. In recent years, the 2011 and 2015 operas are presented by the Ministry of Culture. The 2015 opera became especially widely known for Xi Jinping’s wife, Peng Liyuan’s involvement as an artistic director. What is the purpose of remaking this outdated propaganda in post-socialist China? How can these new adaptations work effectively as a means of propaganda? My study on the new adaptations of the White-Haired Girl (hereafter WHG) can serve as an example of the changes of the propaganda in the age of post-socialism. To do so, this study will use the 2011 opera and the TV reportage program which analyzes the 2011 and 2015 opera in the following ways: examine the 2011 opera as a representative work of the 21stcentury adaptations and focus on the TV reportage program Cultural Focus (Wenhuashidian, 文化视点) which demonstrates the intention of the production through interviewing the main artists and staffs of the 2011 and 2015 operas, and the Chinese public. By doing so, I argue that the emphasis of propaganda is switched from class struggle to social harmony in the 2011 and 2015 operas compared to the film (1950) and the ballet film (1971). This social harmony is achieved by promotion of familial and generational harmony. Also, the heroine, Xi’er is represented as a female individual who can contribute to the unification of the nation instead of being presented as a class subject. In this regard, the endeavor of seeking social harmony through new adaptations reflects anxieties over social disintegration in contemporary China.


First Advisor

Amanda C. Seaman

Second Advisor

Elena Suet-Ying Chiu

Third Advisor

Zhongwei Shen