Buddhist Studies


In doctoral work in Buddhist Studies at Harvard, it is possible to investigate ideas, practices, experiences, institutions, and life-worlds created by Buddhists in all times and places. Projects in this field can be focused on a single tradition or on interactions among religious groups, in a particular geographical area or across areas, and in either premodern or contemporary settings. The disciplinary range of the field is broad; the faculty welcomes projects in textual and intellectual history, cultural history, anthropology and ethnography, philosophy, literature, the arts, gender studies, and ethics. Comparative work is also welcomed. Projects regarding any corner of the Buddhist world are possible, but the field has particular strength in South Asia, East Asia, Inner Asia, and Tibet. Work in this field requires expertise in the classical and/or modern languages relevant to the specific project.

Recent dissertation topics include:

  • Patrul Rinpoch on Self-Cultivation: The Rhetoric of Nineteenth-Century Tibetan Buddhist Spiritual Advice
  • The Unlikely Buddhologist: Mou Zongsan (1909-1995)
  • Memory, Rhetoric, and Education in the Great Lamp of the Dharma Dhāranī Scripture
  • Anarchy in the Pure Land: Tradition, Modernity, and the Reinvention of the Cult of Maitreya in Republican China
  • Differentiating the Pearl From the Fish Eye: Ouyang Jingwu (1871-1943) and the Revival of Scholastic Buddhism
  • Yogacara Buddhism Transmitted and Transformed? Paramartha (499-569) and His Chinese Interpreters
  • How does a Chan Buddhist Practice what he Preaches: A Study of the Works of Layman Ruru
  • Logic, Lives and Lineage: Jetsun Chokyi Gyaltsen's Ascension and the Secret Biography of Khedrup Geleg Pelzang
  • Toward a New History of Japanese and Korean Buddhist Relations, 1877-1912
  • The Politics of Materiality: Sokdokpa Lodro Gyaltsan’s Literary Representations of Material Religion and the Formation of Tibetan Buddhist Politics in the 17th c
  • Recontextualization, Exegesis, and Logic: Kuiji's (632-682) Methodological Restructuring of Chinese Buddhism
  • Kakuno and the Making of Shinran and Shin Buddhism
  • Secrets of the Vajra Body: Dngos po'I gnas lugs and the Apotheosis of the Body in the Work of Rgyal ba Yang dgon pa