Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2022

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

East Asian Languages and Culture: Chinese

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATIONLaywoman of Right Faith: The Religious Writings of Wang Peihua (1767-1792) by Meijie Shen Doctor of Philosophy in Chinese Language and Literature Washington University in St. Louis, 2022 Professor Beata Grant, Chair

This dissertation is a case study of an eighteenth-century Buddhist laywoman named Wang Peihua (1767-1792) from the affluent Jiangnan area of imperial China. This period saw the flourishing of women’s education and writings, thanks to which we have collections left behind by them that document their own lives and in their own voice, which enabled us to explore their religious experience. As women started to enter the literary field, which was traditionally reserved for men, another kind of gender transgression was afoot in the department of religious practice, especially the lay Buddhist practices. Wang was a talented writer and advanced spiritual practitioner; her intellectual prowess facilitated her noetic approach to Buddhism and her spiritual perspicacity helps her to rise above the rut of gender binary and the prevalent thought of woman being the inferior. Therefore, she was relatively unconcerned by the gender issue and identifies herself as a jushi, originally used to refer to a literati scholar who chose Buddhist practice at home over going forth to serve in the government. Wang was also reflective of the syncretic trend of the “three teachings,” as her collection, which comprises three sections (on Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism), confirms.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Beata Grant

Committee Members

Robert Hegel, Marvin Marcus, Jamie Newhard, Anca Parvulescu,