Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2018

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

East Asian Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)

Degree Type



This research examines the gendered image of the Song dynasty (960-1279) Daoist matriarch Sun Bu’er (1119-1182) based on four hagiographies dedicated to her in four different anthologies from the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Building on Sun’s representation in these hagiographies, previous scholarship argued that Sun Bu’er’s Daoist identity is more significant than her gender identity. However, a close study of these hagiographic narratives reveals that as the only female disciple among the Seven Perfected Sun Bu’er was chronicled differently than the six male disciples, with emphasis on her gender. This is evident in the Daoist designation given to her by the Quanzhen founder Wang Chongyang (1113-1170). It is also evident within the hagiographic narratives, where we can detect many themes highlighting Sun Bu’er‘s gender, rather than her Daoist identity. This examination of the hagiographic treatment of Sun Bu’er can further our understanding of how gender played a role in the construction of sainthood, as well as provide a more nuanced understanding of the often idealized relationship between women and the Daoist tradition.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Professor Beata Grant

Committee Members

Professor Robert E. Hegel Dr. Tobias Zürn


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