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Global Reception of the Zhuangzi: Han to Tang

Berkeley, March 7-9, 2019

Convened by Mark Csikszentmihalyi, this first of a series of workshops on the global reception of the Zhuangzi brought together experts on the classic's early reception history to talk about the multifarious responses it has triggered from the Han to the Tang periods. Aiming to show that the text has been multivocal and mutable over history, the workshop-coonvened twelve scholars from various countries for a focused analysis of new findings regarding Zhuangzi. They included Esther Klein, Scott Cook, Mercedes Valmisa, David Chai, Brook Ziporyn, Liu Xiaogan, Wendy Swartz, Jesse Chapman, Richard Lynn, Friederike Assandri, Jiang Limei, and Tobias Zuern. Topics range from the strictly textual and linguistic through historical and commentary issues to questions of key concepts and the wider influence of the text. [End Page 237]

Association for Asian Studies

Denver, March 21-24, 2019

Closely related to Daoism, the panel on "Divine Communication: Revelation, Mediumism, and Spirit-Writing in Imperial China" offered a longue durée perspective on communication with supernatural beings in imperial China, drawing on both textual and fieldwork expertise. Robert Campany examined dream communications as raw material for theological and pedagogical practices. Terry Kleeman followed the apotheosized founder of the Celestial Masters church, tracing the crystallization of a posthumous persona and charting a unifying function for geographically dispersed communities. Hsiao-wen Cheng honed in on a mediumistic subject doubly occluded: by literati prejudice against the shamans (wu) and by sexual discrimination. Her excavation of female mediums foregrounds the intimacy of possession and the challenge of accessing the medium's subjectivity. Daniel Burton-Rose considered the impact on official historiography of spirit-writing historiographers, examining a case study of what happened when a contributor to the Ming History had already directly communicated with his deceased biographical subject.

Zhuangzi and Chinese Civilization Communication 莊子學與華夏文明傳播學術研討會

Yangzhou, March 27-29, 2019

The Zhuangzi crystallizes the survival wisdom of the Chinese and serves as an important the source of living Chinese civilization. A key resource for many academic fields, notably linguistics, literature, philosophy, art, communication, and more, it has continously promoted the creative transformation and innovative development of Chinese traditional culture. To explore the text in these manifaceted contexts, the conference, organized by the School of Literature and the Institute of Cultural Innovation and Development at Yangzhou University, brought together numerous Chinese and international scholars. Topics included the language, literary power, philosophy, and creative of the Zhuangzi in relation to [End Page 238] different aspects of Chinese civilization—art, literature, drama, film, imagery, and more.

Dao and Time Personal Cultivation and Spiritual Transformation 13th International Conference on Daoist Studies

Los Angeles, June 21-23, 2019

Focusing on time as a universal phenomenon in theoretical and practical dimensions, this meeting explored uniquely Daoist notions and applications of temporalities throughout the ages. About 120 scholars and practitioners from ten different countries gave insightful presentations and inspiring workshops, including artistic and self-cultivation practices. The keynote speakers set the tone and overall scope of the meeting: Paul Harris (Loyola Marymount University) spoke on—"Thinking Gardens, Cultivating Slow Time," exploring the artistic dimension in relation to modern physics; Lisa Raphals (University of California, Riverside) discussed "Time, Chance, and Fate in Early Daoist Texts," centerning on traditional Daoist thought; and Hervé Louchouarn (Instituto Daoista para la Salud, Guernavaca, Mexico), illuminated issues of "Time and Health in Chinese Medicine and Daoist Cultivation," opening access to the dimension of time as a central feature in personal cultivation.

Daoist Lived Religion Epigraphic and Archeological Sources

Chengdu, June 24-30, 2019

Responding to the growing realization of the gaps between Daoism as described in canonic sources and the reality of its lived religion, this week-long workshop—three days of presentations plus three days of site visits in Sichuan—explored rich and alternative sources for Daoist history as found in a vast array of archaeological, epigraphic, and material resources. Ranging from steles and statues through cave shrines to tomb epigraphs and temple inscriptions, they provide rich historical and social [End Page 239] information of specific and local Daoist communities not available in canonic sources, opening new levels for the reexamination of Daoist history. Papers presented by a large array of scholars focused on specific cases of Daoist epigraphic and archeological sources and also examined issues of canonical versus lived religion in general.

American Academy of Religion

San Diego, November 23-26, 2019

The Daoist Studies Unit held a number of exciting panels at the AAR. First, "Authenticity, Wellness, and the Daoist Curriculum," chaired by Tobias Zuern, explored the pedagogy of teaching Daoist religious traditions in both theory and practice and the implications of this for broader comparative work. Presenters included Bede Bidlack, Matthew Duperon, Beverley Zhang, and Pamela Winfield, with Randall Nadeau responding. Next, "Performing Images: Ritual, Art, and Agency in Chinese Religions," chaired by Noelle Giuffrida, focused on images of gods in Chinese religions as presented in sculpture, painting, theatre, and text. Presenters were Aaron Reich, Yilin Wendland-Liu, Michael Naparstek, and Jingyu Liu, with Shih-shan Susan Huang as discussant.

"Rock, Paper, Wood: Exploring Material Culture in Daoism and Chinese Religions," chaired by Gil Raz, centered on the contrast of canonical and lived religion in China, overcoming the compartmentalization into different institutional structures. Presenters included Yi Ding, Yuhang Li, and Jin Tao.

"Animals, Real and Imagined, in Chinese Religions: In the Late Antique and Medieval Periods," chaired by Aaron Stalnaker, strove to remedy the pervasive scholarly neglect of the cultural, social, economic, ecological, and political importance of animals in past societies. Presentations were made by Yukinobu Abe, Xurong Kong, Keith Knapp, Huaiyu Chen, Robert Campany, and Kendall Marchman. [End Page 240]


Daoism and Literature Myths, Stories, Novels, Poetry 14th International Conference on Daoist Studies

Sofia, Bulgaria, 9-12 June, 2020

Daoism in all its schools and dimensions has found vivid expression in literature—from the poetic format of the Daode jing through the fictional accounts in the Zhuangzi and the ecstatic poetry and mythology of the middle ages to extensive novels and alchemical poetry of late imperial China, continuing actively today. Both the doctrinal and experiential expression of Daoism in various literary genres and the adaptation of Daoist imagery and vision by literary masters deserve a great deal further study than undertaken to date. This conference, held in honor of the late Professor Aleksandar Fedotov, a specialist of literature himself, convenes scholars and practictioners from many countries to remedy this shortcoming. The keynote speakers offer discussions of three distinct literary dimensions. Lennert Gesterkamp (Utrecht University) explores "The Shanhai jing and the Roots of Daoist Sacred Geography;" Zornica Kirkova (Staatsbibliothek Berlin) presents on "Daoism and Poetry in Early Medieval China;" and Brigitte Baptandier (CNRS Paris) discusses "The Lady of Linshui in Ming Novels." For more details and registration, see [End Page 241]

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