The Newsletter 48 Summer 2008

Re-fashioning the warrior Hua Mulan: changing norms of sexuality in China

Louise Edwards

<p>The story of Hua Mulan &ndash; a woman successfully masquerading as a man within the imperial military for over a decade &ndash; has entranced and intrigued generations of Chinese. Since the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534), when the original poem The Ballad of Mulan (Mulan shi)1 first appeared, Hua Mulan&rsquo;s remarkable adventures have been a recurring theme in both elite and popular cultural forms. Louise Edwards examines the various renditions of Hua Mulan&rsquo;s story and discovers that China&rsquo;s most famous woman warrior was redolent with sexual significance.</p>