Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor and Director, Religion and East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Southern California

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2001
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Religion, Princeton University
Nuns, Court Ladies, and Female Bodhisattvas: The Women of Japan's Medieval Ritsu-school Nuns' Revival Movement

My proposed project will clarify and analyze the roles of women – as patrons, as religious leaders, as scholars, and as symbols of divinity and motherhood – in Japan’s late thirteenth and fourteenth century revival of ancient Buddhist nunneries. Although this movement is associated with the reestablishment of as many as fourteen nunneries, the stories of Japanese nuns and nunneries have remained largely untold, despite the fact that an abundance of ancient documents and texts survive to this day: ritual manuals, engi (temple origin and miracle stories), letters, temple registers, financial notes, and legal documents, many of them penned by the nuns themselves. My project will not only uncover and examine this rich collection of narratives written by women, but it will also provide a careful study of the ways in which medieval Japanese women were able to manipulate the gendered politics of their day so as to pursue their own scholarly and religious ambitions.