Paul Copp is an Associate Professor in Chinese Religion and Thought, East Asian Languages and Civilizations.
His research focuses on the history of religious practice in China during the eighth through the twelfth centuries. In particular, he studies material sources (manuscripts, amulets, seals, archaeological sites, etc) for the practices of Chinese Buddhism in this period. More recently, he has sought to broaden his work by beginning to study the histories of Manichaeism and Christianity at Dunhuang and Turfan, key sites on the eastern “silk roads.” In general, he has a strong interest in exploring premodern China in its broader eastern Eurasian contexts.
His first book, The Body Incantatory: Spells and the Ritual Imagination in Medieval Chinese Buddhism is a study of the nature and history of Buddhist incantatory and amuletic practices in Tang China centered in archaeological evidence. At present, his main project is a paleographical and material-historical study of the worlds of anonymous ninth and tenth century Chinese Buddhists whose practices, ritual and scribal, are evidenced by manuscript handbooks and liturgies discovered among the cache of materials from Dunhuang. Its working title is “Seal and Scroll: Buddhism and Manuscript Culture at Dunhuang.”