Speaker: Jason Protass is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University. He completed doctoral work at Stanford University in 2016, and was a visiting researcher at Academia Sinica in Taipei and at Hanazono and Ryukoku universities in Kyoto.
Buddhist monks in Song dynasty China were visited by a literary impulse that interrupted religious activities and ritual. This unwelcome muse was sometimes referred to as the demon of poetry. In this talk, I explore some lesser-known intersections of Chinese poetry and the Buddhist path. I read monks’ verse together with prescriptive texts that restricted literary activity, including legal codes, primers, and hagiography. I hypothesize that at the heart of monastic verse culture was the negotiation of competing commitments to Buddhist monasticism and to literary expression.