Dorothy Wong will introduce and discuss her new book Buddhist Pilgrim-Monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission: The International Buddhist Art Style in East Asia, Ca. 645-770. This event is free and open to the public, and all with an interest in the Buddhist arts of Asia are welcome to attend.
The period ca. 645–770 marked an extraordinary era in the development of East Asian Buddhism and Buddhist art. Increased contacts between China and regions to both its west and east facilitated exchanges and the circulation of ideas, practices and art forms, giving rise to a synthetic art style uniform in both iconography and formal characteristics. The formulation of this new Buddhist art style occurred in China in the latter part of the seventh century, and from there it became widely disseminated and copied throughout East Asia, and to some extent in Central Asia, in the eighth century. This book argues that notions of Buddhist kingship formed the underpinnings of Buddhist states experimented in China and Japan from the late seventh to the mid-eighth century. For brief periods, the imperial cities of the Tang and Nara courts—Chang’an, Luoyang and Heijōkyō (present-day Nara)—became transformed into capitals of Buddhist empires. The volume also argues that Buddhist pilgrim-monks were among the key agents in the transmission of the religio-political ideals of state Buddhism, its visual language, and attendant rituals and practices. As this visual style of state Buddhism was spread, circulated, adopted and transformed in faraway lands, it transcended cultural and geographical boundaries and became cosmopolitan.
Tanya Marie Luhrmann is the 2018 Willis Wood Lecturer for the Amherst College Department of Religion. She is the Watkins University Professor at Stanford University in the Department of Anthropology. Her work focuses on the edge of experience: on voices, visions, the world of the supernatural and the world of psychosis. She has done ethnography on the streets of Chicago with homeless and psychotic women, and worked with people who hear voices in Chennai, Accra and the South Bay. She has also done fieldwork with evangelical Christians who seek to hear God speak back, with Zoroastrians who set out to create a more mystical faith, and with people who practice magic. She uses a combination of ethnographic and experimental methods to understand the phenomenology of unusual sensory experiences, the way they are shaped by ideas about minds and persons, and what we can learn from this social shaping that can help us to help those whose voices are distressing.
Luhrmann was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and received a John Guggenheim Fellowship award in 2007. When God Talks Back was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year. It was awarded the $100,000 Grawemeyer Prize for Religion by the University of Louisville. She has published over thirty op-eds in The New York Times, and her work has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, Science News and many other publications. Her new book, Our Most Troubling Madness: Schizophrenia and Culture, was published by the University of California Press in October 2016.
This talk makes the argument that the way we think about our minds matters, and may shape the phenomenology of our mental events. It makes the case that different practices of attending to mental events have identifiable phenomenological consequences; and that different cultures and different theologies emphasize mind and mental process in distinctive ways. The way that people map the territory of the mind works as a kind of practice of attention: with practiced attention and cultural invitation, Christians report that some kinds of events come to feel more “external”—they develop more confidence that God has spoken, and they report a more sensory quality to the voice. The data suggest that one consequence of culturally different ways of representing mind and mental experience is that Americans have a harsher experience of psychosis, and less spiritual experience.
The talk is open to the public.
The Arabic Program at Amherst College and the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) are proud to present an evening of Arabic literature and music as part of the first U.S. IPAF book tour.
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is the most prestigious and important literary prize in the Arab world. Its aim is to reward excellence in contemporary Arabic creative writing and to encourage the readership of high-quality Arabic literature internationally through the translation and publication of winning and shortlisted novels in other major languages.
Saud Alsanousi, author of the IPAF-winning novel The Bamboo Stalk
Jonathan Wright, award-winning translator of The Bamboo Stalk
Live performance by:
Layaali Arabic Music Trio
This event is free and open to the public. A reception with light refreshments will follow.
Sponsored by the Five College Arabic Language Initiative, the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and the Tagliabu Fund
About The Bamboo Stalk:
Josephine escapes poverty by coming to Kuwait from the Philippines to work as a maid, where she meets Rashid, an idealistic only son with literary aspirations. Josephine, with all the wide-eyed naivety of youth, believes she has found true love. But when she becomes pregnant, and with the rumble of war growing ever louder, Rashid bows to family and social pressure and sends her back home with her baby son, José.
Brought up struggling with his dual identity, José clings to the hope of returning to his father's country when he is 18. He is ill-prepared to plunge headfirst into a world where the fear of tyrants and dictators is nothing compared to the fear of "what people will say." And with a Filipino face, a Kuwaiti passport, an Arab surname and a Christian first name, will his father’s country welcome him?
The Bamboo Stalk takes an unflinching look at the lives of foreign workers in Arab countries and confronts the universal problems of identity, race and religion.
About the author:
Saud Alsanousi is an award-winning Kuwaiti novelist and journalist, born in 1981. His debut novel, The Bamboo Stalk, won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. His work has appeared in a number of Kuwaiti publications, including Al-Watan newspaper and Al-Arabi, Al-Kuwait and Al-Abwab magazines, and he currently writes for Al-Qabas newspaper.
About the translator:
Jonathan Wright studied Arabic, Turkish and Islamic civilization at St John’s College, Oxford. He joined Reuters news agency in 1980 as a correspondent, and has been based in the Middle East for most of the last three decades. He has translated numerous novels from Arabic, including, most recently, Ahmed Saadawi’s award-winning novel Frankenstein in Baghdad. He won the 2016 Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of The Bamboo Stalk.
Professor David Gloman has partnered with Kurt Heidinger, director of the Biocitizen School, to create an art event that inspires the public to imagine the unique biocultural character of the Nonotuck biome (also known as the central Connecticut River Valley) by “re-presenting” the landscapes that Orra Hitchcock depicted in the mid 19th century. Professor Gloman has located the sites where they were painted and created his own painted landscape portraits of those sites. View Gloman and Hitchcock's illustrations together in Frost Library's Mezzanine Gallery from September 4 - October 29.
The opening reception will be on September 27 from 4:30 - 6 p.m. in the Center for Humanistic Inquiry (2nd Floor, Frost Library).