Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, Japanese, and Asian Studies, The Pennsylvania State university
Professor Eubanks' research centers on the intersections of material culture, performance studies, and ethics in literature. Her first book, entitled Buddhist Textual Culture: Miracles of Book and Body in Medieval Japan (University of California Press, 2011), is a study of the relationship between human body and sacred text in the Buddhist literary tradition, focusing on reading as a performance-based act which bridges the text-flesh barrier. The book explores questions concerning the nature of text, the place of writing, and the sensual aspects of religious experience. Her second book project (tentatively titled Archival Memory: Art, Politics, and Visual Culture in Trans-War Japan) moves to the modern period to examine links between visual art, human rights, and testimonial narrative, with a particular emphasis on the development of an "atomic ethics."
Michelle Osterfeld Li
Independent scholar and research fellow, Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford University
Dr. Li’s research is on Japanese literature and Buddhism. Her book Ambiguous Bodies: Reading the Grotesque in Japanese Setsuwa Tales (Stanford University Press, 2009) draws from theories of the grotesque to examine many of the strange and extraordinary creatures and phenomena in the premodern Japanese tales called setsuwa. Grotesque representations in general typically direct our attention to unfinished and unrefined things; they are marked by an earthy sense of the body and an interest in the physical. Because they have many meanings, they can both sustain and undermine authority. Her book aims to make sense of grotesque representations in setsuwa—animated detached body parts, unusual sexual encounters, demons and shape-shifting or otherwise wondrous animals—and, in a broader sense, to show what this type of critical focus can reveal about the mentality of Japanese people in the ancient, classical, and early medieval periods. Dr. Li's article "Human of the Heart: Pitiful Oni in Medieval Japan" is published in The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous (2012).
*Advance readings will be assigned and audience participation strongly encouraged. Contact email@example.com for readings.