Stephen F. Teiser

2022-2023 Old Dominion Professor in the Humanities Council; D. T. Suzuki Professor in Buddhist Studies and Professor of Religion

Portrait of Professor Stephen F. Teiser

Stephen F. Teiser is D. T. Suzuki Professor in Buddhist Studies and Professor of Religion. His work traces the interaction between cultures along the silk road using textual, artistic, and material remains. He is interested in the transformations of Buddhism throughout Asia and focuses on Chinese-language materials. His most recent book is a monograph (in Chinese) on Buddhism and the study of ritual, Yilu yu fojiao yanjiu (Sanlian Publishers, 2022). Other books include Reinventing the Wheel: Paintings of Rebirth in Medieval Buddhist Temples (2006), awarded the Prix Stanislas Julien by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, Institut de France; The Scripture on the Ten Kings and the Making of Purgatory in Medieval Chinese Buddhism (1994); and The Ghost Festival in Medieval China (1988).

Teiser’s project as Old Dominion Professor in the Humanities Council is to develop his book, Curing with Karma: Healing Liturgies in Chinese Buddhism. One of the most common rituals of healing in premodern Buddhist cultures involved making an offering to a Buddhist temple or priest. Unique, handwritten prayers accompanying these benefactions survive among a rare batch of medieval Chinese Buddhist manuscripts discovered at Dunhuang (northwestern China). The animating question for the book is: How are meritorious deeds or actions thought to cure illness? The project engages with moral issues, the poetics of prayer, and the materiality of liturgical manuscripts.

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