I am a historian of religion whose work focuses on late nineteenth-century and early twentieth century East Asia, particularly Buddhism in the Republic of China (1912-1949.) My research interests include print culture, publishing, Christian missionary representations of East Asian religions, and the development of digital humanities resources as research and reference tools.
Forthcoming: Religious Publishing and Print Culture in Modern China, 1800-2012, co-editor with Philip Clart and chapter contributor. Boston; Berlin: De Gruyter, mid-2014.
Forthcoming: "The Publishing of Buddhist Books for Beginners in Modern China from Yang Wenhui to Master Sheng Yen 中國近代歷史上的佛學入門書籍出版事業 – 從楊文會居士至聖嚴法師而言." Shengyan yanjiu 聖嚴研究 (Sheng Yen Studies), Vol. 5 (Anticipated 2014.)
"Chinese Buddhist Publishing and Print Culture, 1900-1950." In Oxford Bibliographies in Buddhism, edited by Richard Payne. New York: Oxford University Press, March 2013.
"The Buddhist Nationalism of Dai Jitao 戴季陶". Journal of Chinese Religions, No. 39 (2011): 55-81.
"The Dharma Through a Glass Darkly: On the Study of Modern Chinese Buddhism through Protestant Missionary Sources 彷彿對著鏡子觀看的佛法：藉由基督教傳教士的史料研究現代中國佛教". Shengyan yanjiu 聖嚴研究 (Sheng Yen Studies), Vol. 2 (July, 2011): 47-73.
Edited electronic version available at http://buddhistinformatics.ddbc.edu.tw/dmcb/Through_a_Glass_Darkly
Review of Superstitious Regimes: Religion and the Politics of Chinese Modernity by Rebecca Nedostup. Religious Studies Review, 36 (Sept. 2010): 245.
The Digital Catalogue of Chinese Buddhism 中國佛教數字目錄
An online, searchable catalogue of Chinese Buddhist publications, 1860s - 1950s.
Database of Modern Chinese Buddhism (DMCB) 近代中國佛教檢索
A collaborative, open-content online wiki database on Buddhism in China, 1850 - 1950.
"1898-1948: The Fifty Years that Changed Chinese Religion" 1898-1948: 改變了中國宗教的50年
Contributing project member to the bibliography of Chinese religious publications in Shanghai, 1898 - 1948.
The Online Index of Chinese Buddhism 中國佛教網路資料索引
A website that presents collected links and short descriptions for online resources useful for the study of Buddhism in China. It has been updated since August 26, 2006 and was featured in The Asian Studies WWW Monitor, late Feb 2009, Vol. 16, No. 4 (293).
Contributing author and editor of Finding Aids for the Burke Library Archives, Missionary Research Library Collection
Upcoming: "Orientalism, Buddhology, and the Legacies of Mission Scholarship: Timothy Richard's New Testament of Higher Buddhism", Centre for the Study of World Christianity Seminar Programme, New College, University of Edinburgh, January 14, 2014
Upcoming: "Shanghai Buddhist Books and Shanghai as a Nexus of Chinese Buddhist Publishing in the 1930s", Chinese Studies Seminar Series, University of Edinburgh, February 5, 2014
"Revisiting the Revival: Holmes Welch and the Study of Buddhism in Twentieth-Century China", Workshop Co-Presider, American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Baltimore, November 24, 2013
"Sacred Cities: Urban Buddhism in Modernizing Asia, 1850 - 1950", Panel Organizer and Paper Presenter: "Shanghai Buddhist Books (Shanghai Foxue shuju) and Shanghai as a Nexus of Chinese Buddhist Publishing in the 1930s", American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Baltimore, November 23, 2013
"上海佛學書局有限公司: 功德經濟, 商業經濟, 以及上海與出版在近代中國宗教的地位 (The Shanghai Buddhist Books Company: Merit Economy, Commercial Economy, and the Place of Shanghai and Publishing in Modern Chinese Religion)." Paper submitted for the conference for "1898-1948: Fifty Years that Changed Chinese Religions", Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, November 21-22, 2013
"Navigating the Library of Babel: Building and Rebuilding a Digital Catalogue for Modern Chinese Buddhism." Presentation as part of "A Digital Humanities Workshop in Four Keys: Medicine, Law, Bibliography, and Crime," The University of Edinburgh, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, November 11, 2013
"Networks of Content and Collaboration in Early Chinese Buddhist Periodicals, 1912 - 1918", Workshop on Modern Chinese Buddhism, Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, November 29, 2012
Paper Presenter: "The Publishing of Buddhist Books for Beginners in Modern China from Yang Wenhui to Master Sheng Yen 中國近代歷史上的佛學入門書籍出版事業 - 從楊文會居士至聖嚴法師而言", Fourth International Conference of the Sheng Yen Educational Foundation, Taiwan, June 3, 2012
"Early Chinese-language Buddhist Periodicals as Social and Religious Networks", Workshop on Buddhists and Buddhism in the History of Twentieth Century China, May 30, 2012, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Panel Convenor: "The Construction of Religion between China and Japan, 1860s - 1930s", Paper Presenter: "Periodicals, Canons, and Buddhist Print Culture in Translation between China and Japan", Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Toronto, March 15, 2012
Panel Co-Convenor: "Publishing Religion, Negotiating the Party-State: New Perspectives on Religion in Modern China", Paper Presenter: "Classical Exegesis and the Dharma: Navigating the Sea of Scriptures with Ding Fubao (1874 - 1952)", American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Francisco, November 21, 2011
Panel Convenor: "Right Belief, Orthodoxy, and the Boundaries of Modern Chinese Buddhism", Paper Presenter: "Print Culture and the Making of Buddhist Histories in Meiji and Republican East Asia", XVIth Congress of the International Association for Buddhist Studies, Dharma Drum Buddhist College, New Taipei City, Taiwan, June 24, 2011
"Print Culture and the Making of Buddhist Histories in Meiji and Republican East Asia", Buddhist Dynamics in East Asian Religions, Italian School of East Asian Studies, Kyoto, June 18, 2011
"The Dharma Through a Glass Darkly: On the Study of Modern Chinese Buddhism through Missionary Sources," Third International Conference of the Sheng Yen Educational Foundation, Taipei, Taiwan, May 31, 2010
"The Dharma Through a Glass Darkly: On the Study of Modern Chinese Buddhism through Missionary Sources," North American Graduate Students Conference on Buddhist Studies, Toronto, Canada, April 10, 2010
Panel Discussant: "Religious Narratives," Columbia University Graduate Student Conference on East Asia, February 6, 2010
I am a historian of religion whose work focuses on late nineteenth-century and early twentieth century East Asia, particularly Buddhism in the Republic of China (1912-1949.)
My doctoral dissertation, "Conversion by the Book: Buddhist Print Culture in Early Republican China," explores the history of publishing and print culture among Buddhists in China from the late Qing through to the end of the 1920s. Through examining major publication institutions, publishing projects, and their managers and contributors from the late nineteenth century to the 1920s, I argued that the expansion of the scope and variety of printed works, as well as new the social structures surrounding publishing, substantially impacted the religious activity of Chinese Buddhists. In doing so I demonstrate that publishing, propelled by new print technologies and new forms of social organization, was a key field of interaction and communication for religious actors during this era, one that helped make possible the introduction and adoption of new forms of religious thought and practice. This topic has wider significance for the fields of Chinese History and Religious Studies, as similar processes were likely occurring among other social and religious groups around the same time. During my early doctoral classwork I began researching expressions of nationalism among Chinese Buddhists, and although I did not pursue this topic for my dissertation, it resulted in an article published in the Journal of Chinese Religions, "The Buddhist Nationalism of Dai Jitao 戴季陶," which examines the Buddhist involvement of the Guomindang (Nationalist Party) ideologue and politician Dai Jitao.
Beginning in the first year of my doctoral studies and continuing today, I have been involved in developing online digital humanities resources for the study of Chinese Buddhism. My Online Index of Chinese Buddhism 中國佛教網路資料索引, an annotated collection of links to relevant online research materials, was first put online in mid-2006 and has since been regularly updated. I am co-founder, co-editor, and a major contributor to The Database of Modern Chinese Buddhism 近代中國佛教檢索, founded in 2009 and hosted by Dharma Drum Buddhist College in Taiwan. This project aims to be an open encyclopedia of biographical, historical, and bibliographic data on Chinese Buddhism between 1850 and 1950. In early 2013 I was invited to contribute an annotated research bibliography on publishing and print culture studies relating to modern Chinese Buddhism to the Oxford Bibliographies in Buddhism project, one topic area within the Oxford Bibliographies Online digital publication. As part of my dissertation work, I assembled, edited, and annotated the first comprehensive digital catalogue of published Chinese Buddhist materials, The Digital Catalogue of Chinese Buddhism 中國佛教數字目錄, which covers published works during the period between 1860 and 1949. Originally intended as simply a guide to extant material, it has since developed into a research, reference, and data visualization tool. The goals of my digital humanities projects are: to help organize my research findings; to contribute to scholarly and public knowledge about the field; and to help guide new students in their research. All digital work created by me is made freely available and without charge, in the spirit of open access and the free exchange of knowledge that is at the heart of academe.
During my doctoral coursework I had the opportunity to work as an intern archivist in the Mission Research Library collections within the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, currently administered by Columbia University Libraries. One result of my work processing collections relating to China and Japan was a set of research articles on Christian missionary scholarship on Chinese religions: "The Dharma Through a Glass Darkly: On the Study of Modern Chinese Buddhism through Protestant Missionary Sources" 彷彿對著鏡子觀看的佛法：藉由基督教傳教士的史料研究現代中國佛教 examines the rich yet problematic legacy of mission scholarship; while "Timothy Richard, World Religion, and Reading Christianity in Buddhist Garb” explores Richard's role in representing Buddhism to a Christian readership and how his unique approach to conceptualizing religion led to his embrace of Buddhism as a 'reflection' of religious truth. While I am not a specialist in this field and such work has been largely supplementary to my core research topics, I find it extremely valuable in exploring interdisciplinary approaches to the history of religion in China. It has also enabled me to reach out to religious studies scholars in fields such as mission studies and the history of world Christianity, as well as serving as an excellent venue for examining international and interlingual relationships in constructing modern understandings of Chinese religions.
At present, I am a co-editor, chapter translator, and chapter contributor for the forthcoming volume Religious Publishing and Print Culture in Modern China, currently under contract and in external review at De Gruyter. I have also contributed a chapter to the manuscript of Recovering Buddhist China in the Twentieth Century, currently in external review at Columbia University Press. By participating in these two projects, I hope to further refine my doctoral research and place it into a set of comparative historical frames: that of religious groups and their relationship to print in the former volume, and that of Buddhist activities as part of larger-context historical movements in the latter. I have recently also gotten involved in two additional projects that bring together scholar contributors from around the world: the first is the "Fifty Years that Changed Chinese Religion" project based at Academia Sinica in Taiwan, for which I contributed bibliographic data on Buddhist works published in Shanghai, and which may result in a Chinese-language publication. The second is a proposed multi-year seminar meeting to be held at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, focusing on the scholarly legacy of Holmes Welch, the author of some of the most well-known and authoritative works on Buddhism in modern China. This latter project, if accepted as a continuing meeting, will result in a book manuscript. I see continued participation in international, multi-year projects such as these as a vital aspect of my scholarly work.
For the future, I plan on developing my dissertation into a manuscript for a historical monograph entitled Sea of Scriptures: Print Culture and the Making of Modern Chinese Buddhism. This monograph will involve a thorough revision of each of my dissertation chapters, as well as the addition of two new chapters, covering the period of the 1930s and 1940s, from the explosive production of printing in Shanghai to the challenging circumstances of wartime publishing. Finally, I am planning a new project on material culture among Buddhists in modern China, which will explore the concrete bases for lived religion, including book distribution networks, religious implements, temple and religious association buildings, and consumable projects advertised in periodicals. I will also continue to expand my digital humanities resources, both to collect the data produced by my research, and as a framework of support for future work.