Cluster Leader: Lori Meeks, University of Southern California
How did people encounter and engage with texts under conditions of rapid dissemination and constantly increasing volume, in various religious traditions in EA? How did EA traditions celebrate or control reading as a religious practice?
Some of the issues we will examine in this cluster include:
(1) The relationship between esoteric knowledge, printing, and public dissemination. How and when do transitions from esoteric to public forms of religious knowledge take place? How did the rise of print culture affect or change esoteric forms of religious knowledge?
(2) The role of commentarial traditions, print catalogues, anthologies, digests, and other reference works in East Asian religious traditions. In making sense of increasingly large numbers of sacred texts, East Asian scholars, both monastic and lay, relied heavily upon a wide variety of reference works. How were these works produced, and what role did they play in reading practices?
(3) The relationships between texts and popular teaching. What role did texts play in the teaching traditions of EA religions, and what kinds of texts were especially important in this context? How did monastics and other preachers use sutras, commentaries, preaching guides, letters, and other works to teach members of the laity? When and to what extent did laypeople engage directly with textual traditions?
This cluster will support research that addresses these general topics in different periods of EA religious history.
The cluster plans to hold three research conferences, each focused on one of the three topics described above — OR — In the final year of the project we will host a three-day conference, with one day devoted to each of the topics outlined above.