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Kurtis R. Schaeffer

Imagining Tibetan intellectual history

Time: 21 May 2019, 18:00–19:30
Venue: Room 2.25 ("Seminarraum"), 2nd floor, Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia
Hollandstr. 11–13, 1020 Vienna
Organisation: Birgit Kellner


This lecture asks how we imagine intellectuals in Tibet’s past, and how this imagination informs our practices of intellectual history in a Tibetan context. Much has been written about Tibetan philosophers, religious specialists, and Buddhist masters. Yet we seldom take a step back to ask how our sense of what constitutes an intellectual informs our work on famous (or not-so-famous) Tibetan writers. This lecture uses the case of 18th-century intellectual Jikmé Lingpa, and the 50-year history of scholarship on him and his work, to pose more general questions, and offer some answers, on the practice of crafting intellectual biographies of Tibetan writers in the pre-modern period, and writing intellectual histories of Tibet more broadly.


Kurtis R. Schaeffer

Kurtis R. Schaeffer is the Frances Myers Ball Professor of Religion and the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He is a student of Buddhist history and culture, with a special interest in the spiritual literature of Tibet and the Himalayas. He is the author or editor of nine books, including the largest anthology of Tibetan literature in English and, most recently, a translation of the life of the Buddha. Schaeffer co-directs the half-century old Tibetan Buddhist studies graduate program at the University of Virginia and, with Martien Halvorson-Taylor, directs the Global Religion Lab at UVA.

Image: Jikmé Lingpa (1729-1798) © 2019 Himalayan Art Resources, undated

Öster­reichi­sche Aka­demie der Wissen­schaften
Institut für Kultur- und Geistes­geschichte Asiens
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