Gender, Power, and Talent is a richly detailed and sophisticated sinological study of Daoist priestesses in the Tang dynasty (618–907). Jinhua Jia not only breaks new ground in the study of women in Daoism, but also advances an emerging gender-critical approach combined with religious and literary studies. In this way, Jia's work represents a new model for the academic study of Daoism, one in which Chinese studies, Daoist studies, and gender studies infuse and cross-pollinate each other.

Generally speaking, Jia's pioneering work is noteworthy for a number of reasons. First, it explores the relatively under-researched history of female participation in the Daoist tradition as well as the experience of Daoist women. In the process, the book addresses the ways in which women embraced clerical and monastic identity as their career and vocation, including as a path to personal fulfillment, gender empowerment, and social participation. Jia points out that “[t]he emergence...

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