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asian studies

Asian Studies Symposium

Representations of Buddhism: February 13 - 17, 2017


Writers, pilgrims, devotees and artists have represented aspects of Buddhist tradition and belief in a multitude of manners and perspectives.  The 2016-17 Asian Studies Symposium Representations of Buddhism at Belmont University is designed to balance both the breadth and depth of this remarkable array of resources and depictions. The February 13-17, 2017 Symposium is intentionally constructed to support the exhibition Secrets of Buddhist Art: Tibet, Japan, and Korea opening in the Ingram Gallery of the Frist Center for Visual Arts on February 10. Dr. Katherine Paul, Curator of the Arts of Asia collections of the Newark Museum will open the Belmont Asian Studies Symposium and other national speakers will highlight divergent facets of Buddhism's representation through art, literature, popular culture, social activism and personal journey.


Monday • FEBRUARY 13

10:00 - 10:50 a.m. • JAAC 4094 • Creative & Performing Arts Convocation
"Living Hells and Heavens: the Art of Buddhist Rebirths"
Dr. Katherine Anne Paul, Curator, Arts of Asia, Newark Museum of Art

As part of Belmont’s Asian Studies Symposium and this year’s partnership with Nashville’s Frist Center for Visual Arts, Dr. Katherine Anne Paul, Curator of the Arts of Asia at the Newark Museum of Art will focus on a few specific artistic works devoted to the Buddhist concept of rebirth. The works featured in this talk can be seen in the Secrets of Buddhist Art: Tibet, Japan, and Korea exhibition at the Frist Center from February 10 to May 7, 2017. 

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. • JAAC 4094 • GCLDP Convocation
"Zen Master Dogen on 'Moon' from the Shobogenzo"
Dr. Kimiyo Murata-Soraci, Asian Studies, Belmont University

As part of Belmont’s Asian Studies Symposium, Belmont’s own Dr. Kimiyo Murata-Soraci, professor of Asian Studies and Japanese Language will introduce and interpret one revealing image used in the Shobogenzo (Treasure of the True Dharma Eye), the collection of works written by the famous 13th century Japanese Buddhist master, Eihei Dogen.

7:00 - 8:00 p.m. • JAAC 4094 • Society and the Arts & Sciences Convocation
"The Buddhist Art and Architecture of Angkor"
Dr. Paul Lavy, Southeast and South Asian Art History, University of Hawai'i at Manoa

As part of Belmont’s Asian Studies Symposium, Dr. Paul Lavy, Professor of Southeast and South Asian Art History at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa will use images to discuss the development of a distinctive esoteric Buddhist art tradition associated with the world’s largest religious monument and temple complex, Angkor Wat (Angkor=Khmer, Cambodia).


Tuesday • FEBRUARY 14

10:00 - 10:50 a.m. • JAAC 4094 • Society and the Arts & Sciences Convocation
"The Miraculous Buddhist Images of Southeast Asia"
Dr. Paul Lavy, Southeast and South Asian Art History, University of Hawai'i at Manoa

As part of Belmont’s Asian Studies Symposium and this year’s partnership with Nashville’s Frist Center for Visual Arts, Dr. Paul Lavy, Professor of Southeast and South Asian Art History at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa will use images to show how the Buddha images in Southeast Asia are more than representations, meditational devices, and a form of portraiture. They may also be active agents capable of performing miracles, granting wishes, foreseeing the future, and legitimating kings. Through complex interactions with other spirits, they may also be considered to have distinct personalities and proclivities. This presentation introduces and examines several of the most powerful Southeast Asian Buddha images in their cultural, historical, and art historical context: the Emerald Buddha of Thailand, the Phra Bang Buddha of Laos, and the Mahamuni Buddha.

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. • JAAC 4094 • Society and the Arts & Sciences Convocation
"Faith Warriors: The Ikko Ikki and Jodo Shinsu Buddhism"
Dr. Cynthia Bisson, East Asian History, Belmont University

As part of Belmont’s Asian Studies Symposium, Belmont’s professor of East Asian History, Dr. Cynthia Bisson will describe and interpret the ironies and realities of the Ikko-Ikki uprising against daimyo rule in 15th- and 16th-century Japan which involved Buddhist warrior monks of the Jōdo Shinshū (True Pure Land) sect of Buddhism, and who were devoted to Amida Buddha's grace.

7:00 - 8:00 p.m. • JAAC 4094 • Society and the Arts & Sciences Convocation
"History and Hagiography in Tibetan Life-Writing"
Dr. William Gorvine, Chair, Religious Studies, Hendrix College

As part of Belmont’s Asian Studies Symposium, Dr. William Gorvine, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Hendrix College will share aspects of his research on the minority Bön religious tradition in Tibet, especially as it developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with a focus on the translation of the life of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1859-1934), one of the most influential figures in contemporary Bön. Dr. Gorvine’s project explores the blurring of boundaries between history and hagiography in Tibetan life-writing, and offers insights into the unique social environment of the disciple-biographer and his audience.


Wednesday • FEBRUARY 15

10:00 - 10:50 a.m. • JAAC 4094 • Society and the Arts & Sciences Convocation
"Contemplative Pedagogies in the University Classroom"
Dr. William Gorvine, Chair, Religious Studies, Hendrix College

As part of Belmont’s Asian Studies Symposium, Dr. William Gorvine, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Hendrix College will be reporting on his practice and research into contemplative pedagogies in the university classroom.  The practices of contemplation and meditation are being explored by many universities as a new means of enhancing higher education. Research demonstrates that this approach to teaching contributes to the achievement of traditional educational goals and fosters the development of the whole person.

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. • JAAC 4094 • Society and the Arts & Sciences Convocation
"The Perilous Journey: An Interpretation of Journey to the West (Xiyou ji)"
Dr. Qingjun Li, Asian Studies, Belmont University

As part of Belmont’s Asian Studies Symposium, Dr. Qingjun Li, professor of Asian Studies and Chinese language will examine the nature and purpose of the Chinese classic Journey to the West.  The presentation will feature clips from the CCTV (Chinese Central Television) Series and consider the inner and outer meanings of the narrative. The outer meaning being conveyed by the adventure stories of the characters. The inner meaning being related to the cultivation of a spiritual path, the control of the worldly, lower self, and the principles of awakening along the Buddhist journey.

7:00 - 8:00 p.m. • JAAC 4094 • Society and the Arts & Sciences Convocation
"Buddhism in Personal Journeys and American Culture"
Dr. Marty Bell, Religion,Belmont University, Panel Chair

As part of Belmont’s Asian Studies Symposium, this panel, chaired by Dr. Marty Bell, professor of religion at Belmont, will begin with a short opening statement about the rising popularity of Buddhist teachings and meditation in American culture in the last twenty-five years and then brief presentations by notable regional leaders Lee Olsen, Rami Shapiro and Gordon Peerman about how each views their connection with Buddhism and why they continue to find it relevant in their lives.  Audience dialogue, questions and answers will follow.


Thursday• FEBRUARY 16

10:00 - 10:50 a.m. • JAAC 4094 • Society and the Arts & Sciences Convocation
"Buddhist Ethics and the Superhero"
Dr. Todd Munson, Director of Asian Studies, Randolph-Macon College

As part of Belmont’s Asian Studies Symposium, Dr. Todd Munson, Director of Asian Studies at Randolph-Macon College  will discuss the idea of the “superhero” in terms of Buddhist ethics. While much has been made of the relationship between the superhero genre and the Judeo-Christian religious tradition (specifically Superman) the complex interplay between Buddhist ethics and the American superhero remains largely unexplored. At heart, of course, is the core Buddhist concept of ahimsa, or non-violence. Would a Buddhist hero refrain from physical force, even if was for the greater good? And can a superhero who refrains from physical force be called a “superhero” at all?

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. • JAAC 4094 • Society and the Arts & Sciences Convocation
"The Vimalakirti Sutra"
Dr. Andrew Davis, Philosophy, Belmont University

As part of Belmont’s Asian Studies Symposium, Dr. Andy Davis, professor of Philosophy at Belmont will present the dharma (teachings) and impact of the Vimalakirti Sutra which has become widely popular in East Asian Buddhism.

6:00 - 7:00 p.m. • JAAC 4094 • GCLDP Convocation
"Buddhism and Prison Ministry"
Dr. Cathy Benton, Chair, Department of Religion, Lake Forest College

As part of Belmont’s Asian Studies Symposium, Dr. Cathy Benton, Chair of the Department of Religion at Lake Forest College will explore how Buddhist compassion is not an idea but a practice.  For a number of Buddhist communities around the U.S., this practice takes the form of sitting with prison inmates and meditating together simply as human beings.  Those living on the outside and those whose lives are circumscribed by the fixed physical, mental, and emotional structures of prison institutions meditate together as human beings facing the difficulties of life together.   

Though film clips and letters, we will hear from Buddhist practitioners who organized bizarre transformations of prison rooms into retreat halls and small sitting areas into spaces for meditation in the minutes before an execution.   And we will listen to the stories told by several prisoners about how their serious meditation work and Buddhist teachings have changed their lives, if not their prison sentences.


Friday • FEBRUARY 17

10:00 a.m. - 10:50 a.m. • JAAC 4094 • Society and the Arts & Sciences Convocation
The Past, Present, and Future of Buddhist Symbols in Japan" 
Dr. Todd Munson, Director of Asian Studies, Randolph-Macon College

As part of Belmont’s Asian Studies Symposium, Dr. Todd Munson, Director of Asian Studies at Randolph-Macon College will consider the use, appropriation, and misappropriation of symbols with many meanings.  
 

Previous Years

2016-17 Asian Studies Symposium

2015-16 Asian Studies Symposium

2014-15 Asian Studies Symposium (Held in September 2013)

2013-14 Asian Studies Symposium

2012-13 Asian Studies Symposium

2011-12 Asian Studies Symposium

2010-11 Asian Studies Symposium

2009 -10 Asian Studies Symposium

 

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