Term of Award

Summer 2024

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Robert Lake

Committee Member 2

Peggy Shannon-Baker

Committee Member 3

William Schubert

Committee Member 3 Email


Non-Voting Committee Member

Shirley Steinberg


Drawing upon multiperspectival cultural studies (Kellner, 1995) as theoretical framework and form of inquiry, I explore contemporary Chinese parenting anxieties over, and dilemmas for, the education of their children caused by education involution (e.g., Li, 2021; Chen et al, 2022) through critical analyses of a top hit Chinese telenovela, A Love for Dilemma. Theoretically I mainly draw upon critical theory (e.g., Gramsci, 1968; Kellner, 1983; Marcuse, 1964; Zhong, 2010), critical cultural studies (e.g., Kellner, 1995; Sun, 2019, 2022), and critical media literacy (e.g., Hammer & Kellner, 2009; Kellner & Share, 2005, 2007; Marcedo & Steinberg, 2007). Methodologically I draw upon critical media and “diagnostic” analyses (e.g., Kellner, 1995; Ho, 2015; Sun, 2019, 2022) and fictional narrative testimonios and analyses (e.g., Deppman, 2010; He, 1999, 2003; Huang, 2001; Wang & Klein, 2022). Eight meanings have emerged from the inquiry. Chinese involution, the root cause of Chinese parental anxieties, is a hidden curriculum that reproduces social stratification and worsens contemporary Chinese middle-class parents’ insecurities and anxieties over the education of, and future for, their children, and deprive children of equal opportunities to thrive in education and life. Chinese involution, embodied in its historical, cultural, social-economic, and policy ideologies and cultural practices, perpetuates education monopoly, commodification, and enclosure, exacerbates internal competition and social inequalities, destroys stabilities and sustainabilities, oppresses creativity and potentialities, and manipulates schooling as a means to profit over, rather than educate, people. Power of fictional narrative lies in its possibilities of creatively telling the truth, resisting illusional “warm realism” in Chinese media cultures, transgressing orthodoxies and dogmas, empowering marginalized and silenced individuals and groups, and reimagining equitable and just opportunities for all. Multiperspectival cultural studies, which utilizes multiple critical intertextual strategies to interpret, criticize, and deconstruct contemporary Chinese parents’ anxieties illustrated in the telenovela, lacks Indigenous perspectives that ground multiperspectival cultural analyses within Chinese historical, social, cultural, and political contexts. Through multiperspectival cultural analyses of education involution displayed in the telenovela in post-Mao China, this research has implications for critical media/cultural studies not only in China but also in other inter-Asia, intercultural, multicultural, multiethnic, and multilingual contexts.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


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