March 6, 2018

Rachael Rothstein-Safra received the Honors in the Major Outstanding Theses Award for her thesis on China’s only female emperor, Wu Zetian.
Every year, the award is presented to four students. The award recognizes one student thesis from a social sciences, business and education category, a natural sciences and health sciences category, an engineering and technology category and an arts and humanities category. Recognized theses are chosen based on their use of thorough research, display of originality, technical or artistic merit, quality of writing and contribution to the discipline.
Rothstein-Safra’s thesis, “The Rhetoric of Transgression: Reconstructing Female Authority through Wu Zetian’s Legacy,” examines the mobility and freedom of women during the Tang, Song and Ming-Qing periods in Chinese history. She also addresses the sexualization and of China’s only emperor and how her dynasty has been delegitimized by intellectuals.
“Everyone in China knows who Wu Zetian is,” said Rothstein-Safra. “I think the most interesting thing about Wu is that she was China’s only female emperor in title, but not a lot of people here know who she is.”
Her interest of Wu and her legacy was sparked in Dr. Hong Zhang’s course on Women in China. Rothstein-Safra says the help she received from history professors Dr. Zhang, Dr. Edward Dandrow and Professor Patricia Farless have played a significant role throughout the writing process. Rothstein-Safra and the other three recipients will be presented with the Honors in the Major Outstanding Theses Award at this year’s Founder’s Day Ceremony.
For more information about the ceremony, visit