Faculty

Daniel Arnold

Dan Arnold, Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religions in the Divinity School and the College, is a scholar of Indian Buddhist philosophy, which he engages in a constructive and comparative way. Considering Indian Buddhist philosophy as integral to the broader tradition of Indian philosophy, he has particularly focused on topics at issue among Buddhist schools of thought (chiefly, those centering on the works of Nāgārjuna and of Dharmakīrti), often considering these in conversation with critics from the orthodox Brahmanical school of Pūrva Mīmāṃsā.

His first book – Buddhists, Brahmins, and Belief: Epistemology in South Asian Philosophy of Religion (Columbia University Press, 2005) – won an American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion. His second book – Brains, Buddhas, and Believing: The Problem of Intentionality in Classical Buddhist and Cognitive-Scientific Philosophy of Mind (Columbia University Press, 2012) – centers on the contemporary philosophical category of intentionality, taken as useful in thinking through central issues in classical Buddhist epistemology and philosophy of mind. This book won the 2013 Toshihide Numate Book Prize in Buddhism.

He is presently working on an anthology of Madhyamaka texts in translation, to appear in the series “Historical Sourcebooks in Classical Indian Thought.” His essays have appeared in such journals as Philosophy East and West, the Journal of Indian PhilosophyAsian Philosophy, the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and Revue Internationale de Philosophie.

James Ketelaar

James Ketelaar works on the intellectual, cultural and religious history of Japan. His current book project looks at the roles and meanings of emotion in Japanese historical imaginations.  Chapters on imagining erotic emotionality in the Edo period and the relation between mantrayana practices and the popular representation of erotic love have been completed. Subsequent work will look at issues ranging from the relationship of the creator gods Izanami and Izanagi to the emotive powers of the deaths of Christian martyrs.

Professor Ketelaar is past Chair of the Executive Committee for the Inter-University Center of Yokohama (a consortial program for the advanced study of Japanese language and culture), Executive Committee member and Director of the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies, and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago. His publications include Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan: Buddhism and its Persecution (Princeton: 1989), winner of the Hans Rosenhaupt Memorial Award. Values, Identity and Equality in 18th and 19th century Japan (Brill, 2015), co-edited with Peter Nosco and Kojima Yasunori, contains an introductory essay and a chapter by Ketelaar. This latter chapter, “Searching for Erotic Emotionality in Tokugawa Japan” is the first published study for the book length project on emotion and history.  Both books, in edited versions with new introductions, have also appeared in Japanese editions.

Professor Ketelaar is also a governing board member for the undergraduate year-abroad program in Kyoto at the Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies.

Wei-Cheng Lin

Wei-Cheng Lin specializes in the history of Chinese art and architecture with a focus on medieval periods. His primary interests of research are visual and material cultural issues in Buddhist art and architecture and China’s funerary practice through history. He is the author of Building a Sacred Mountain: The Buddhist Architecture of China’s Mount Wutai, published by the University of Washington Press in 2014. He has additionally published on a variety of topics, including collecting history, photography and architecture, historiography of Chinese architectural history, and contemporary Chinese art.

Before joining the University of Chicago in fall 2015, Lin taught at Iowa State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was the recipient of the Carter Manny Award (Graham Foundation) and Millard Meiss Publication Award (CAA), and has held fellowships from the Academia Sinica in Taipei and International Academy for China Studies at Peking University. He is currently serving on the editorial board for the Archives of Asian Art.

Lin’s current book project, titled Performative Architecture of China, investigates the ways in which Chinese architecture can be considered as actively engaging its users by structuring, affecting, evoking, or shaping their spatial senses and imagination. It explores architecture’s performative potential through history and the meanings enacted through such architectural performance. Other ongoing projects examine re-appropriations of traditional architecture in contemporary China, history of Chinese mortuary architecture, and the politics of Chinese art collection during the 1930s and 1940s. 

Paul Copp

Paul Copp is Associate Professor in Chinese Religion and Thought in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and in the College. His research focuses on the history of religious practice in China and eastern Central Asia during the period stretching from the eighth through the twelfth centuries. He is most interested in the study of visual and material sources, and especially of the manuscripts and xylographs discovered at the “silk road” sites of Dunhuang, Turfan, and Khara-khoto. His graduate seminars focus on the philological close reading of texts in their historical (and, whenever possible, material) contexts, on methods for the use of manuscripts, epigraphy, and archaeological remains in the study of pre-modern religious practice, as well as on critical engagement with the fields of Sinology and the History of Religions.

His first book, The Body Incantatory: Spells and the Ritual Imagination in Medieval Chinese Buddhism (Columbia University Press, 2014), is a study of the nature and history of Buddhist incantatory and amuletic practices in Tang China centered in archaeological evidence.

His new book project is a paleographic 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: Material Religion and the Ritualist’s Craft at Dunhuang.” Early versions of this work can be found in his articles, “Manuscript Culture as Ritual Culture in Late Medieval Dunhuang: Buddhist Seals and Their Manuals,” Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie 20 (2012); “Seals as Conceptual and Ritual Tools in Chinese Buddhism, ca. 700-1000, CE,” forthcoming the journal The Medieval Globe; and “Writing Buddhist Liturgies at Dunhuang: Hints of the Ritualist’s Craft,” forthcoming in the volume  Language and Religion, ed. Robert Yelle, et al.

Katherine R. Tsiang

Katherine R. Tsiang is Associate Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Art History and does research in Buddhist art from the early medieval and medieval periods of Chinese history. She is interested in aspects of the relationships between images, texts, and Buddhist belief and practice.

She is currently coordinating a center collaborative research and innovative digital imaging project on the reconstruction and recontextualization of the sixth century Buddhist cave temples of Xiangtangshan in Hebei, China. The project is funded by grants from the Carpenter Foundation and the Getty Foundation. For more information on activities and programs of the Center for the Art of East Asia, see the caves project website.

Wu Hung

Hung Wu specializes in early Chinese art, from the earliest years to the Cultural Revolution. His special research interests include relationships between visual forms (architecture, bronze vessels, pictorial carvings and murals, etc.) and ritual, social memory and political discourses. Also the consulting curator for the Smart Museum of Art, Hung is the author of Transience: Chinese Experimental Art at the End of the Twentieth Century (University Of Chicago Press, 1999), Monumentality in Early Chinese Art (Stanford University Press, 1995), Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting (Yale University Press, 1997), and Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square and the Creation of a Political Space (2005). Hung grew up in Beijing and studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. From 1973 to 1978 he served on the research staff at the Palace Museum, located inside Beijing’s Forbidden City. He came to Chicago in 1994.

Brook Ziporyn

Brook Ziporyn is a scholar of ancient and medieval Chinese religion and philosophy who has distinguished himself as a premier expositor and translator of some of the most complex philosophical texts and concepts of the Chinese religious traditions.  Professor Ziporyn received his BA in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago, and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining the Divinity School faculty, Professor Ziporyn taught at Northwestern University (in the religion and philosophy departments) since 1998.

Ziporyn is the author of seven published books, including Evil And/Or/As the Good: Omnicentric Holism, Intersubjectivity and Value Paradox in Tiantai Buddhist Thought (Harvard, 2000), The Penumbra Unbound: The Neo-Taoist Philosophy of Guo Xiang (SUNY Press, 2003), Zhuangzi: The Essential Writings with Selections from Traditional Commentaries (Hackett, 2009), and Ironies of Oneness and Difference: Coherence in Early Chinese Thought; Prolegomena to the Study of Li 理 (SUNY Press, 2013). His seventh book, Emptiness and Omnipresence: The Lotus Sutra and Tiantai Buddhism, was published by Indiana University Press in 2016.   He is currently working on a cross-cultural inquiry into the themes of death, time and perception, tentatively entitled Against Being Here Now, as well as a book-length exposition of atheism as a form of religious and mystical experience in the intellectual histories of Europe, India, and China.

Matthew Kapstein

Matthew Kapstein has worked primarily on the philosophical traditions of later Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, and on the relationship of these with the practical and experiential aspects of religious life, including art, ritual, meditation, and yoga.

His publications include a collaborative volume, Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival and Cultural Identity (University of California Press, 1998); a study of the transformation of religious ideas, The Tibetan Assimilation of Buddhism: Conversion, Contestation and Memory (Oxford Univeristy Press, 2002); a book devoted to Buddhist philosophy, Reason’s Traces: Identity and Interpretation in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Thought (Wisdom Publications, 2001); a volume devoted to the comparative study of religious experience, The Presence of Light: Divine Radiance and Religious Experience (University of Chicago Press 2004); a general introduction to the study of Tibet, The Tibetans (Blackwell 2006); and a collaborative volume, Contributions to the Cultural History of Early Tibet (Brill 2007). More recent work includes Buddhism between Tibet and China (Wisdom Publications, 2009); Sources of Tibetan Tradition (University of Columbia Press, 2013); and Tibetan Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2013). 

Professor Kapstein is a member of the governing board of the International Association for Tibetan Studies and of the Tibetan Himalayan Digital Library, and an editor of the journal History of Religions. He is also director of Tibetan Studies in the division of religious studies of the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris.

Visit Professor Kapstein’s personal webpage here.

Christian Wedemeyer

Christian Wedemeyer is Associate Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School and associate faculty in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations. His work addresses topics of history, literature, and ritual in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. Within this very general domain, the focus of his research has been the esoteric Buddhist traditions of the Mahāyoga Tantras. He has written on the modern historiography of Tantric Buddhism, the question of “antinomianism” in Indian esoteric Buddhism, textual criticism and strategies of legitimating authority in classical Tibetan scholasticism, and the semiology of esoteric Buddhist ritual. 

His most recent book is Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism: History, Semiology, and Transgression in the Indian Traditions (Columbia University Press, 2012). Previously, he authored a text-critical study of one of the principal Indian works on esoteric praxis: Āryadeva’s Lamp that Integrates the Practices (Caryāmelāpakapradīpa): The Gradual Path of Vajrayāna Buddhism according to the Esoteric Community Noble Tradition (critically edited Sanskrit and Tibetan texts, annotated English translation, and study; American Institute of Buddhist Studies, 2007). He has coedited three volumes: Tibetan Buddhist Literature and Praxis: Studies in its Formative Period, 900 – 1400 (Brill 2006, with Ronald M. Davidson), Hermeneutics, Politics, and the History of Religions: The Contested Legacies of Joachim Wach and Mircea Eliade (Oxford 2010, with Wendy Doniger), and In Vimalakīrti’s House: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert A.F. Thurman on the Occasion of his 70th Birthday (AIBS 2013, with John D. Dunne and Thomas F. Yarnall). He is currently working on a collection of translations of ritual texts related to the Guhyasamāja Tantra and is developing a monograph on commentarial practices in Tantric Buddhism.

Professor Wedemeyer received the 2013 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Historical Studies from the American Academy of Religion (AAR) for his 2012 title, Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism: History, Semiology, and Transgression in the Indian Traditions. The Awards for Excellence recognizes new scholarly publications that make significant contributions to the study of religion, and honor books of distinctive originality, intelligence, creativity, and importance; books that affect decisively how religion is examined, understood, and interpreted.

Courses he has offered include: “Indian Buddhism,” “Tibetan Buddhism,” “Mahayana Sutra Literature,” “Issues in Indian Esoteric Buddhism,” “Ritual in South Asian Buddhism,” “Tibetan Auto/biography,” “Representation and Ideology in the Study of South Asian Religions.”

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