Research Areas and Interests
My area of research specialization is East Asian religions, with a focus on medieval Japanese Buddhism. In broad terms, my research examines the interweaving of narratives, rituals, and images in devotional cults and the life portraits of charismatic practitioners. Particular interests center on the Shingon Ritsu movement (also known as the Saidaiji order) founded by Eison (1201-90) and Ninshō (1217-1303); medieval Nara Buddhism more broadly; the Manjusri cult in China and Japan; Buddhist devotional cults across Asia; and outcasts (hinin), discrimination, and social welfare in Japanese religion. An emerging area of research interest for me is the study of “lived religion” in Asia and the West in both methodological and empirical terms.
From Outcasts to Emperors: Shingon Ritsu and the Mañjuśrī Cult in Medieval Japan. Brill’s Japanese Studies Library. Leiden: Brill, 2015.
“Moving Monks and Mountains: Chōgen and the Cults of Gyōki, Mañjuśrī, and Wutai.” Studies in Chinese Religions 5, no. 3-4 (2019): 391-414.
“Eison.” In Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Vol. 2, Lives, edited by Jonathan Silk et al., 944–50. Leiden: Brill, 2019.
“Mañjuśrī in East Asia.” In Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Vol. 2, Lives, edited by Jonathan Silk et al., 591–99. Leiden: Brill, 2019.
“Mantras and Materialities: Saidaiji Order Kōmyō Shingon Practices.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 45, no. 2 (2018): 309–40.
“Visualization/Contemplation Sutras.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Buddhism. Ed. Richard Payne. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018 (updated version).
“Materializing and Performing Prajñā: Jōkei’s Mañjuśrī Faith and the Kasagidera Restoration.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 43, no. 1 (2016): 17–54.
“Localizing Strategies: Eison and the Shōtoku Taishi Cult.” Monumenta Nipponica 69, no. 2 (2014): 153–219.
“Relics.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Buddhism. Ed. Richard Payne. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
“Women, Gender, and Nara Buddhism: Reflections on Lori Meeks, Hokkeji and the Reemergence of Female Monastic Orders in Premodern Japan, University of Hawai‘i Press, 2010.” Translated into Japanese by Kikuchi Hiroki. Nihon bukkyō sōgō kenkyū (Interdisciplinary Studies of Japanese Buddhism) 10 (2012): 181-98.
“Invoking the Mother of Awakening: An Investigation of Jōkei’s and Eison’s Monju kōshiki.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 38, no. 2 (2011): 263-302.
“Visualizing the Mañjuśrī Parinirvāṇa Sutra as a Contemplation Sutra.” Asia Major, 3d series, 23, part 2 (2010): 97-128.
“Emulation and Erasure: Eison, Ninshō, and the Gyōki Cult.” Eastern Buddhist, n.s., 39, no. 1 (2008): 29-60.
“Creating Bodhisattvas: Eison, Hinin, and the ‘Living Mañjuśrī.’” Monumenta Nipponica 62, no. 4 (2007): 437-79.
East Asian religions; Japanese religion and culture; Buddhism
EASIA 223 East Asian Religions
EASIA 323 Topics in East Asian Religions: Edo and Modern Japanese Religions
EASIA 423/JAPAN 523 Topics in Japanese Religions: Buddhism, Shinto, Gender
RELIG 240 Introduction to Buddhism
RELIG 343 Zen/Chan Buddhism
RELIG 442/542 Advanced Studies in Buddhism: Visual and Material Culture
We welcome applications from potential graduate students in East Asian religions and Buddhism in both the Department of East Asian Studies and the Interdisciplinary Program in Religious Studies (I have a 50/50 joint appointment and can supervise graduate students in East Asian religions, especially Buddhism, through either program). We have particular strengths in the study of premodern Japanese religions and Japanese Buddhism.
More information about our MA program in East Asian Studies can be found here:
More information about our MA and PhD programs in Religious Studies can be found here:
Survey of the major religious traditions of China, Japan, and Korea.Winter Term 2022
Note: Not open to students with credit in EASIA 323 with the topic Edo and Modern Japan.Fall Term 2021
May be repeated for credit when course content differs. Prerequisite: *3 from EASIA 223, EASIA 323, or RELIG 240, or consent of the Department.Winter Term 2021
Prerequisite: Consent of the Department. May be repeated for credit when course content differs.Winter Term 2021
A study of the emergence of Buddhism as a religion, its basic ideas, spirituality, and literature.Winter Term 2021 Fall Term 2021
Prerequisite: One of: RELIG 240, RELIG 343, EASIA 223, EASIA 323, EASIA 325 or consent of Instructor. Note: Not open to students with credit in RELIG 442 with the topic Visual and Material Culture in East Asia.Winter Term 2022
Note: Not open to students with credit in RELIG 542 with the topic Visual and Material Culture in East Asia.Winter Term 2022