Buddhist East Asia:   The Interplay of Religion, the Arts and Politics

An NEH Summer Institute ~ May 28 to June 22, 2018 ~ Honolulu, Hawaii ~ Hosted by the Asian Studies Development Program

Buddhist East Asia:  The Interplay of Religion, The Arts and Politics
An NEH Summer Institute

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Week Two:  Korean Transmissions and Transformations of Buddhism

The second week will begin with a participant-led discussion of issues emerging over the first week of the program, with Peter Hershock, Albert Welter and Kate Lingley serving as resources. In the afternoon, Hershock will undertake with participants close readings of three primary texts in translation: the Cakkavatti-Sīhanāda Sutta, a very early text that addresses issues of just governance and the restoration of social harmony; the Sutra in 42 Sections, one of the first texts used to introduce Chinese readers to Buddhism; and excerpts from the Discourse Records of Linji (Linji Lu), a classic example of Chan iconoclasm.


Next, Richard McBride (Brigham Young University) will offer a synoptic historical account of the transmission and transformation of Buddhist traditions in Korea and their changing relationships to state and society, followed by a more in depth look at the practice of medieval Korean Buddhism through the life and work of the monk, Ŭich’ŏn. He will be followed on Tuesday by Youn-Mi Kim (Ewha Woman’s University, Seoul) who will undertake an art historical exploration of Korean Buddhist imaginaries, focusing on how Buddhism affected artistic ideals and practices.


Robert Buswell (UCLA) will join the program for two sessions on Thursday. The first session will counter histories that would limit Korean Buddhism to serving as a one way “bridge” of Chinese influences on Japan, demonstrating instead how Korea was a “bastion” of Buddhist creativity in the context of pan-Asian Buddhist

Pensive Bodhisattva, mid-7th century,           universalism. In the second session, he will discuss the Korean Buddhist experience, addressing the often

Korea; Photo Credit:  www.metmuseum.org   complex interdependence of the personal and the public or political. The week will close with a participant-led

                                                                     discussion with Professors McBride, Kim and Buswell as resource persons.