Religion and Social Life in Premodern Japan Project

Faculty Member: Lori Meeks

This initiative represents a collaborative project between Lori Meeks (USC) and Japan-based scholars Masao Kawashima (Professor Emeritus, Ritsumeikan University) and Ikuyo Matsumoto (Associate Professor, Yokohama City University). This group first plans to fill the scholarly need for studies of religious life in late medieval Japan, a period that has been overlooked in earlier works on Japanese religions. Secondly, this group will contribute to a growing field within Buddhist Studies: works that explore the social lives of monasteries.

The larger outcomes of this project are twofold: first, Meeks, Kawashima, and Matsumoto have been undertaking close readings and analyses of the Daijōin jisha zōjiki, an extremely rich, multivolume journal recorded by the monzeki of a Kōfukuji cloister during the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. They will continue to read the text in a series of regular workshops (the first such meetings took place in Japan, in February and July 2011, and the next will take place at USC in March 2012). These workshops will be aimed in particular at providing educational and networking opportunities for our graduate students in Japanese Studies. Second, over the course of several years, they plan to publish a series of article-length studies of and translations from the text.