Lori Meeks

Associate Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages and Cultures
Email meeks@usc.edu Office ACB 234 Office Phone (323) 719-0984

Research & Practice Areas

Women, Gender, and Religion; Religious and Social History of Japan;
Women’s History in East Asia; Buddhist Literature and Philosophy;
Buddhist Monasticism;
Japanese Literature and Culture


  • B.A. Religion, Columbia University
  • Ph.D. East Asian Religions, Princeton University
  • PostDoctoral Appointments

    • Postdoctoral Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science , 2006-2007
    • Stanford Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, 2003-2004
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    I am interested in the social, cultural, and intellectual histories of Japanese Buddhism. Much of my work has focused, in particular, on clarifying the roles of women in the religious worlds of premodern East Asia. My research has also attempted to shed light on the ways in which gender is handled in Buddhist texts, on the roles that Buddhist texts played in the dissemination of gendered ideology, and on popular responses to doctrinal discussions of sex and gender. Other interests include preaching traditions and the social history of monasticism. Many of my publications are available for download here: https://lorimeeks.academia.edu/?prem_fnl_first=true .

    Research Specialties

    Women, Gender, and Religion; Religious and Social History of Japan;
    Women’s History in East Asia; Buddhist Literature and Philosophy;
    Buddhist Monasticism;
    Japanese Literature and Culture

  • Book

    • Meeks, L. R. (2010). Hokkeji and the Reemergence of Female Monastic Orders in Premodern Japan / / Reviews: Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 37/2 (2010), Religious Studies Review 36/4 (2010), American Historical Review 116.2 (2011), Monumenta Nipponica 66.1 (2011), The Journal of Asian Studies 70.3 (2011), Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 54 (2011) //. Honolulu, HI: Kuroda Institute Studies in East Asian Buddhism (University of Hawai’i Press). Winner of the 2012 John Whitney Hall Prize
    • James Benn, James Robson, and Lori Meeks (Ed.). (2009). Buddhist Monasticism in East Asia: Places of Practice. London: Routledge. Routledge Link

    Book Chapters

    • Meeks, L. (2022). “Monastic Authority in Medieval Japan: The Case of the Convent Hokkeji”. Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Practice Oxford University Press.
    • Meeks, L. R. (2015). “Survival and Salvation in the Tale of the Heike: Reassessing the Legacy of Kenreimon’in”. Loveable Losers: The Taira in Action and Memory University of Hawaii Press.
    • Meeks, L. R. (2014). “Nuns and Laywomen in East Asia”. Blackwell Companion to East & Inner Asian Buddhism pp. 318-339. Wiley Blackwell.
    • Meeks, L. R. (2013). The Priesthood as a Family Trade: Reconsidering Monastic Marriage in Premodern Japan. Family in Buddhism Albany, NY: SUNY Press. SUNY
    • Meeks, L. R. (2010). “Amadera ni okeru seikatsu o saiko suru: Girei, shinko, shakai seikatsu no ba toshite no chusei no Hokkeji” (Reconsidering life in the nunnery: Ritual, devotion, and social life at medieval Hokkeji), trans. Tomoko Kitagawa, in Lucia Dolce and Matsumoto Ikuyo, eds., Girei no chikara (The power of ritual). pp. 207-228. Kyoto: Hozokan. on Amazon Japan
    • Meeks, L. R. (2009). “Chuguji Imperial Convent” (with Monica Bethe) and “Hokkeji Imperial Convent,” with Japanese trans. by the Center for Intercultural Communication. pp. 40-53. (Tokyo: Sankei Shinbunsha, 2009): Amamonzeki–A Hidden Heritage: Treasures of the Japanese Imperial Convents (exhibition catalogue). This book was recently mentioned in The New York Times.
    • Meeks, L. R. (2008). “Chuguji and Female Monasticism in the Age of Shotoku,” in Dorothy Wong, ed., Horyuji Reconsidered. pp. 237-262. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

    Journal Article

    • Meeks, L. R. (2020). “Women and Buddhism in East Asian History: The Case of The Blood Bowl Sutra, Part II: Japan”. Religion Compass.
    • Meeks, L. R. (2019). “Women and Buddhism in East Asian History: The Case of The Blood Bowl Sutra, Part I: China”. Religion Compass.
    • Meeks, L. R. (2016). “Imagining Rahula in Medieval Japan: The Raun Koshiki”. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. Vol. 43 (1), pp. 131-151. http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/nfile/4475
    • Meeks, L. R. (2011). “The Disappearing Medium: Reassessing the Place of Miko in the Religious Landscape of Premodern Japan”. History of Religions (University of Chicago Press). Vol. 51 (1), pp. 208-260. Japanese Version available here
    • Meeks, L. R. (2010). “Buddhist Renunciation and the Female Life Cycle: Understanding Nunhood in Heian and Kamakura Japan”. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. Vol. 70.1 (June 2010), pp. 1-59. Available through Project Muse
    • Meeks, L. R. (2009). “Vows for the Masses: Eison and the Popular Expansion of Precept-Conferral Ceremonies in Premodern Japan”. Numen. Vol. 56 (1 (Jan. 2009)), pp. 1-43. Link to Numen
    • Meeks, L. R. (2007). “In Her Likeness: Female Divinity and Leadership at Medieval Chuguji”. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. Vol. 34 (34/2), pp. 351-392..
    • Meeks, L. R. (2007). “Amerika ni okeru Nihon Bukkyogaku no shomondai: Bukkyo to wa nanika” (“What Counts as ‘Buddhism’?: Problems in the Study of Japanese Buddhism in the United States”) (in Japanese). Higashi Ajia hikaku bunka kenkyu (Journal of the International Association for Comparative Studies of East Asian Culture)/Kasamashoin. Vol. Vol. 6 (June 2007), pp. pp. 29-39.
    • Meeks, L. R. (2006). “Reconfiguring Ritual Authenticity: The Ordination Traditions of Aristocratic Women in Premodern Japan”. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies/Nanzan University. Vol. 33/1, pp. 51-74. Link to PDF


    • Meeks, L. R. (2009). “Comments on Panel No. 1, ‘Religion and Gender,’” a formal response to papers by Katsuura Noriko, Ushiyama Yoshiyuki, and Takagi Tadashi, presented at the Harvard Conference “Beyond Buddhology,” with Japanese trans. by Ryuichi Abé. pp. 26-36. Kyoto. Yoshiko Oka, ed., Amadera monjo chosa no seika o kiban toshita Nihon no josei to Bukkyo no sogo kenkyu II, published by Kyowa Insatsu.
    • Meeks, L. R. (2007). “Images of Women and Nuns in Chinkai’s _Bodaishinshu_” (in Japanese). 113 (56.1). pp. 20-23. Tokyo. Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies. Link to PDF (in Japanese–click CiNii PDF box in upper right-hand corner)
    • Meeks, L. R., Nishiguchi, J. (2006). “Bukkyo dento no sabetsu teki na joseikan o saketa chusei Shingon Ritsu-shu no bikuni o megutte”. pp. p. 19-21. Kyowa Insatsu, Kyoto, Japan. Amadera monjo chosa no seika o kiban toshita Nihon no josei to bukkyo no sogo kenkyu/Yoshiko Oka (Otemae Daigaku), ed..


    • Meeks, L. R. (2012). Bibliographies for Oxford Bibliography Online (Buddhism Section): “Monasticism, East Asian”; “Feminism, Buddhism in”; and “Japan, Buddhism in.”. Oxford Bibliographies Online. Link to OBO
    • Mellon Graduate Mentoring Award, 2015-2016
    • USC EMSI (Early Modern Studies Institute) Faculty Fellowship, Fall 2013
    • John Whitney Hall Book Prize (2012), 2011-2012
    • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship Recipient, “How Buddhist Views of the Female Body Entered Popular Discourse: Tracing Ideological Change in Late Medieval and Early Modern Japan”, Spring 2011
    • USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, GE Teaching Award, 2005-2006
  • Office Hours

      Mon., Tues. : 1:00-1:50 pm, or by appt.

    Other Advisement or Time Devoted to Students

    • Director of Undergraduate Studies, Religion, 2011 – 2013
  • Administrative Appointments

    • Member of the Dornsife Committee on Appointments and Promotion for RTPC (DCAP), 08/16/2020 – 08/15/2022
    • Director, 08/16/2019 – 08/15/2020
    • Director/Chair, USC School of Religion, 2014 – 2017
    • Director, 08/16/2014 – 08/15/2017
    • Co-Director, USC Center for Japanese Religions and Culture, 2011 – 2014
    • Director of Undergraduate Studies, Religion, 2011 – 2013


    • Member, Faculty Advisory Committee on the USC Dornsife Dean Search, 2015-2016
    • Member, General Education Review Committee, 2013-2014

    Other Service to the University

    • Organizer, 2010 USC College Kambun Workshop: http://college.usc.edu/news/stories/808/usc-college-kambun-workshop-draws-grad-students-nationwide/, 2009-2010
  • Editorships and Editorial Boards

    • Editorial Board Member, Buddhist Studies Review, 2014 –
    • Board of Directors, Kuroda Institute, 2014 –
    • Editorial Board Member, Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism Series, 2014 –
    • Editorial Advisor, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies (JJRS), 2013 –
    • Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Journal of Japanese Studies (JJS), 2013 –
    • Section Editor, Japanese Religious Traditions Section: http://religion-compass.com/sections/east-asian-traditions/, Religion Compass, 2013 –
    • Member, Editorial Board, Buddhism Section, Oxford Bibliographies Online, 2009 –

    Professional Offices

    • Co-Chair, Buddhism Section, American Academy of Religion (AAR), 2011 – 2017
    • President, Society for the Study of Japanese Religions (SSJR), 2011 – 2014

    Professional Memberships

    • European Association of Japanese Studies (EAJS), 06/2008 –
    • Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Japanese Buddhism, 2007 –
    • Japanese Association for Indian and Buddhist Studies, 2006 –
    • Center for the Study of Women, Buddhism, and Cultural History (Kyoto, Japan), 2005 –
    • International Association for Buddhist Studies (IABS), 2004 –
    • American Academy of Religion (AAR), 2002 –
    • Society for the Study of Japanese Religions (SSJR), 2002 –
    • Association for Asian Studies (AAS), 1999 –
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