Stephanie Balkwill

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Assistant Professor, Asian Languages & Cultures

Department: Department of Asian Languages & Cultures
290 Royce Hall and 11385 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Keywords: China

I am interested in the literary and public lives of Buddhist women who lived in what is now China between the 4th and 6th centuries. My research engages the question of whether or not Buddhist affiliation provided new social and educational opportunities for women in early medieval China, and, in turn, argues that women were influential in the early spread of the Buddhist tradition throughout East Asia. I am currently undertaking two major research projects in this area, each with its own series of publications. The first project examines the political lives of Buddhist women in the Northern Wei dynasty and puts forth the thesis that the Northern Wei offers the earliest known case study that we have for the confluence of women, Buddhism, and political power that is seen across East Asia in the medieval period. The second project examines the prominence of female-to-male sex transformation narratives in Mahāyāna Buddhist texts within the context of the gendered practice of the tradition in early medieval China.

At present, I am working on revisions to a book-length study of Northern Wei Empress Dowager Ling, entitled: Numinous Under Heaven: The Rise and Fall of a Female, Buddhist Regent in 6th Century Luoyang. I hope to have it published in 2023 with an Open Access series.

I am also the co-Director of the Buddhist Bodies Collective. The aim of the project is to curate and publish new, Open Access, body-centered resources for the teaching of Buddhism at the introductory level and across the humanities more broadly. Follow us on Twitter: @bodiesbuddhist