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New Directions in Tibetan Literary Studies:
A Two-Part Workshop on Perspectives and Prospects in Auto/Biography

Friday, November 14, 5:00 PM
East Asian Languages and Cultures Department Lounge
Room 403 Kent Hall, Columbia University
Click Here for a map indicating the location of Kent Hall.

Saturday, November 15, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Heyman Center for the Humanities
Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
Click Here for directions to the Heyman Center.



Sarah Jacoby, Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Columbia University

Andrew Quintman, Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, Princeton University



Biography and autobiography have recently emerged as two of the most promising avenues for the study of religious and literary cultures across the Himalayan Buddhist world. Panels at numerous academic conferences in the past year (the American Academy of Religion, the Association of Asian Studies, and the International Association of Buddhist Studies) have opened up an exciting and fruitful conversation about new directions in the study of Tibetan literature. In an effort to seize upon this watershed moment and to more rigorously focus that conversation, we are planning two one-day workshops to be convened during the 2008-2009 academic year: one at Columbia in the fall and one at Princeton in the spring. We envision these events as opportunities to share and discuss common interests in a sustained fashion without the constraints or concerns of a larger conference format. We therefore expect the workshops to be largely informal events, with an emphasis on conversation and, we hope, brainstorming about the future directions of Tibetan literary studies.

The first meeting will broadly address questions of sources and genres in Tibetan auto/biographical literature. How do we understand, translate, and analyze traditional classifications of texts and literary genres? How are these categories maintained or blurred, both in traditional literature and in our own work? What sources and resources are we drawing on and how can we better make use of them?

Sponsored by the Society of Fellows in the Humanities, the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department, and the Modern Tibetan Studies Program.



Friday, Nov 14
5:00 PM
East Asian Languages and Cultures Department Lounge
Room 403, Kent Hall
Columbia University

Saturday, Nov 15
Heyman Center for the Humanites
Second Floor Common Room
Columbia University

Morning Session
8:30-9:00 AM
Light Breakfast

9:00-9:15 AM
Sarah Jacoby, Columbia University
Welcome and Introduction

9:15-9:45 AM
Janet Gyatso, Harvard University
“What Are We Looking For in the Study of Tibetan Autobiography?”

9:45-10:15 AM
Kurtis Schaeffer, University of Virginia
“Tibetan Biography Before the Year 1000”

10:15-10:45 AM
Coffee Break

10:45-11:15 AM
Carl Yamamoto, University of Virginia
“Was Lama Zhang’s Autobiography a Biography”

11:15-11:45 AM
Andrew Quintman, Princeton University
“Shijé Ripa’s Illuminating Lamp: A Fourteenth-Century Biographical State of the Field”


12:15-2:00 PM
Amsterdam Restaurant and Tapas Lounge
1207 Amsterdam Ave. Between 119th and 120th Streets.
Click Here for directions to Amsterdam Restaurant.

Afternoon Session
2:00-2:30 PM
Suzanne Bessenger, University of Virginia
“Composing the Life of Sonam Peldren”

2:30-3:00 PM
Gene Smith, Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center
“Extended Visions and Collected Writings as an Autobiographical Form: Two Examples, Lha btsun Nam mka’ ’jigs med (1597-1650) and Sle lung Rje drung Bzhad pa’i rdo rje (b. 1697)”

3:00-3:30 PM
Ben Bogin, Georgetown University
“The Autobiographical Illuminations of Yolmo Tenzin Norbu”

3:30-4:00 PM
Coffee Break

4:00-4:30 PM
Annabella Pitkin, Columbia University
“Life-Story Genres and Lineage Continuities: Community, Memory, Memorialization?”

4:30-5:00 PM

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