From Confucianism to Marxism: A century of theme treatment in Chinese writing instruction

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Theme treatment is a long neglected issue in intercultural studies of school writing. Taking a historical approach, this chapter traces theme treatment in Chinese school essay writing during the 20th century. The study shows that Chinese school writing moved from neo-Confucian topics to Socialist issues for the most part of the century and that the themes always needed to be “correct,” or in alignment with the dominant Chinese ideology. Currently, Chinese students write on diversified themes reflecting a hybrid value system emerging in Chinese society. The study further reveals that theme treatment carried equal, if not more, weight to textual organization in that it often decided the selection of types of writing and dictated the layout of text structure.


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