From Jetavana to Jerusalem: Sacred Biography in Asian Perspectives and Beyond

From Jetavana to Jerusalem: Sacred Biography in Asian Perspectives and Beyond

[Jetavanaramaya Stupa in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Photo by A.Savin.]


An International Conference in Honour of Dr. Phyllis Granoff
(November 7–9, 2021)

Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies @ Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies @ Yale
Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies @ UBC


Abstracts Panelists Schedule Keynote Presentation
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Sacred biographies constitute a highly valuable source for the study of religious life. Having long been underappreciated by scholars in the field until the publication of Speaking of Monks (1992) by P. Granoff and K. Shinohara, today a substantial and growing body of literature explores the ways that accounts of the lives of religious achievers help us to understand practice and belief. As work by R. Monge, K. P. C. San Chirico, and R. J. Smith (Hagiography and Religious Truth; 2016), M. Rondolino (Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Hagiographical Strategies; 2017), and J. Keune (Comparative vs. Hagiology; 2019), among others indicates, a lively conversation is underway about the methods and theories that allow for cross-cultural study of these important materials. Exploring sacred biographies produced and circulated within and well beyond Asia, the “From Jetavana to Jerusalem” Conference aims to build on this path-breaking scholarship to further explore how transcultural and cross border approaches to the study of hagio-biography, in particular, strengthen our understandings of monastic figures, as well as the communities who celebrate their legacies.

Bringing together scholars with expertise in diverse contexts and methodological approaches to reorient our studies of records of monastic lives, we will pursue questions including, but not limited to: What do the telling and retelling of saintly lives achieve for individuals and communities? What forms do hagio-biographies take? Which factors inform their composition? How do records of religious achievers illuminate the study of ritual, music, art, and material culture? The international conference “From Jetavana to Jerusalem: Sacred Biography in Asian Perspectives and Beyond” will be held between November 7–9, 2021 in honour of Professor Phyllis Granoff, hosted by the Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, cosponsored by Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies at Yale and Glorisun Global Network for Buddhist Studies at UBC, with administrative support from Frogbear (

The organizers welcome contributions from individuals from any academic field working on monastic hagiography or hagiology. Topics might include:

  1. sacred biography and secular biography
  2. sacred biography and autobiography
  3. sacred biography and epitaphs
  4. sacred biographies and art, music, ritual, and material culture;
  5. political ends served or subverted by the lives of saints;
  6. sacred biography as sectarian and polemic devices;
  7. gendered biography: relationships between sacred biographies and gender;
  8. relationships between hagiography, hagiology, and landscape(s);
  9. strategies of reading sacred biography;
  10. how technologies are changing what and how we know about hagiology.

This conference will follow a symposia format. Panelists will first address comments from session discussants, then exchange feedback with fellow panelists, and if time allows, respond to questions from public attendees.

Please contact if you have any questions about the conference.




This conference will produce a festschrift in two volumes (one English and the other Chinese) in honour of Professor Phyllis Granoff, who recently retired from Yale. The organizing committee welcomes paper proposals related to any aspect(s) of sacred biography. We will reserve priority to proposals from scholars who are students or colleagues of Prof. Granoff, but in line with the mission of Frogbear, we also welcome the participation of emerging scholars who are influenced by or respond to her research. Only scholars who are confident they can complete draft papers by mid-October, 2021 and submit publishable papers by the end of 2021 are encouraged to apply.

Please email proposals and CVs to by June 15, 2021.