Lingyin Buddhist Studies Fellowship Awarded to Youteng Bi and Jeffrey Liu

May 4, 2022

The Center for Buddhist Studies and the Department of East Asian Studies are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022-2023 Lingyin Buddhist Studies Fellowship, Youteng Bi and Jeffrey Liu. An award ceremony will take place in conjunction with the East Asian Studies ceremony on Friday, May 6, 2022.

Youteng Bi is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Arizona. Her research project examines a 17th-century Buddhist reading guide for the Buddhist canon, Yuezang Zhijin 閱藏知津 (Reading the Buddhist Canon to Know the Path), written by Ouyi Zhixu 藕益智旭. Previous scholarship has explored its bibliographical value as a Buddhist catalog. However, the context of its composition and its significance in the 17th-century Buddhist revival has not been fully studied. Moreover, often translated as catalog, the Chinese mulu 目錄 differs from a dry list of books and often contains more sophisticated organizational structures as well as exegetical commentary for each entry. In this sense, Chinese Buddhist mulu had more ideological significance than the straight-forward information retrieval systems that characterize current library catalogs. Furthermore, reading, disseminating, and writing Buddhist texts became a prevalent form of spiritual practice among the literati to express aesthetic taste and disposition. This project will examine the content and the structural scheme of Yuezang Zhijin and situate its composition in the social and cultural context of 17th-century China. Instead of being a mere list of book titles for cataloging purposes, Yuezang Zhijin is closer to an educational book for common readers to guide their textual practices on the Buddhist canon. This study unravels more nuanced aspects of textual practices in 17th-century China, including ritual, as well as geographical perspectives, and proposes to use a new concept, a “textual map,” to understand the characteristics of works such as Yuezang Zhijin more thoroughly and accurately.

Jeffrey Liu (劉瑋) is originally from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. He is now a third year Ph.D. student majoring in Chinese Buddhism. He received his B.A. in International Business from Yuan Ze University, and his M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Fo Guang University. He is now the graduate program coordinator for the Center for Buddhist Studies. His current research project is to investigate how Hangzhou Buddhist culture is reimagined and reconstructed through a late Ming Buddhist monastic gazetteer titled the Wulin Fanzhi (武林梵志). To accomplish this goal, his research highlights how Buddhism interacted with socio-cultural phenomena, including culture, power, and geography, with interdisciplinary approaches that combine religious studies and digital humanities.

Thanks to the generous support of Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, China, the Center for Buddhist Studies at the University of Arizona established the Lingyin Buddhist Studies Fellowship, which is awarded to two graduate students each year. The students each receive $10,000 to complete a major project related to the Hangzhou Buddhist culture. For more information: Student Awards | Center for Buddhist Studies | University of Arizona.