Mulan is a story without a single historical precedent. From a medieval ballad to early modern narratives to plays and operas, it’s been told over and over again. Mulan’s exploits are always presented as having happened “once upon a time,” anytime from the Han dynasty to the early Tang period. These stories about a fierce heroine and her loyalties tell us a lot about changing ideas of gender and cultural identity in China.
Lan Dong, Mulan's Legend and Legacy in China and the United States, Temple University Press, (2011).
Hans H. Frankel, The Flowering Plum and the Palace Lady: Interpretations of Chinese Poetry, Yale University Press, (1976).
Chang-Tai Hung, "Female Symbols of Resistance in Chinese Wartime Spoken Drama." Modern China 15 (1989): 149-77.
Shiamin Kwa and Wilt L. Idema, ed. and trans., Mulan: Five Versions of a Classic Chinese Legend, with Related Texts, Hackett, (2010).
Feng Lan, "The Female Individual and the Empire: A Historicist Approach to Mulan and Kingston's Woman Warrior." Comparative Literature 55 (2003): 229-45.
This episode is part of our Footnoting Disney Series.
Mulan, Disney, (1998).
Mulan, Disney, (2020).
Music: "Evening Melodrama" by Kevin Macleod (www.incompetech.com)