2-Day Seminar on "Journeys in Time, Space, and Mind: Xuanzang’s Travels and Their Transformations" — Led by Ben Brose

Sunday April 7th 2024, 10:00AM - 4:00PM
Ben Brose

Ben Brose, "Crossing Boundaries: Early Visual and Textual Evidence for Xuanzang's Deification"


This seminar will consider some of the ways narratives about Xuanzang’s life and travels evolved after his death in 664. Particular attention will be paid to more fantastical versions of his pilgrimage, which treat him as a kind of spirit monk capable of traversing the human and heavenly realms. These narratives would eventually become the basis for the famous sixteenth-century novel, Journey to the West, but they appear in visual and textual forms as early as the eleventh century. We will consider some of the earliest elements, including paintings and sculptures found in a variety of Buddhist caves and the earliest extant written narrative, The Poetic Tale of the Great Tang Trepiṭaka Master’s Obtaining the Scriptures (Da Tang Sanzang qu jing shihua 大唐三藏取經詩話).


Benjamin Brose received his PhD from Stanford’s Religious Studies department in 2009. Currently Professor of Chinese and Buddhist Studies and Chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan, he is the author of Patrons and Patriarchs: Regional Rulers and Chan Monks during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (2015), Xuanzang: China’s Legendary Pilgrim and Translator (2021), and Embodying Xuanzang: The Postmortem Travels of a Medieval Pilgrim.

This seminar is by invitation only due to limited space.