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Bryan J. Cuevas

John F. Priest Professor of Religion

Departmental Area: History and Ethnography of Religions
Research Areas : Buddhist and Tibetan Studies

Address: Department of Religion
641 University Way / P.O. Box 3061520
The Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1520
Office: 120E Dodd Hall
Email: bcuevas@fsu.edu
Office Hours: By appointment

Background


Bryan J. Cuevas (Ph.D. University of Virginia) teaches courses in Asian religious traditions, specializing in Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhism, Tibetan history, language, and culture. His research focuses on Tibetan history and historiography, the social history of death and death-related practices, Buddhist popular religion, and the politics of religious power in medieval Tibetan society.

He is currently working on a study of Tibetan sorcery and the politics of Buddhist ritual magic in Tibet through the eighteenth century. He is the author of Travels in the Netherworld: Buddhist Popular Narratives of Death and the Afterlife in Tibet (Oxford, 2008) and The Hidden History of the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Oxford, 2003). He is also the co-editor of The Buddhist Dead: Practices, Discourses, Representations, with Jacqueline I. Stone (Kuroda Institute/Hawai'i, 2007) and Power, Politics, and the Reinvention of Tradition: Tibet in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, with Kurtis R. Schaeffer (Brill, 2006). Most recently, he is the translator of The All-Pervading Melodious Drumbeat: The Life of Ra Lotsawa (Penguin Classics, 2015), the biography of Tibet’s most notorious Buddhist sorcerer. His recent articles and reviews have appeared in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Journal of Asian Studies, History of Religions, Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, and Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines, as well as contributions to several anthologies on Tibetan literature, history, and ritual studies.

Dr. Cuevas has been a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2007-08) and has held visiting appointments at UC Berkeley (2005-06), Princeton University (2001-02), and Emory University (2000). He has also been the recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Institute of Indian Studies. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of Religionand is book review editor for the Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies.

 

News

  • Dr. Cuevas has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship

  • Featured on New Books Network : New Books in Buddhist Studies
    Bryan Cuevas, Travels in the Netherworld: Buddhist Popular Narratives of Death and the Afterlife in Tibet. Oxford University Press, 2008. Interview by Scott Mitchell on September 23, 2011
    To read the article and listen to the podcast, click here.

  • FSU News Item : FSU vaults to top-tier in Asian studies

 

Recent Courses


Spring 2017


REL3358 Tibetan & Himalayan Religions
A historical and thematic survey of the religions of Tibet and the Himalayas, including Buddhism, Bon, and popular indigenous traditions. This course examines significant facets of the rich cultural heritage of the Tibetan and Himalayan region, religion, literature, society, and poli­tics, in order to investigate the ways in which Tibetan-speaking peoples from a variety of historical periods, local traditions, and social backgrounds have attempted to make sense of their world and their place within it. Topics will include the ritual cosmos, shamans and saintly madmen, the evolution of monastic power, demons, death and afterlife, and the Dalai Lamas. Meets Liberal Studies: Cultural Practice (LS-CUL) and Diversity in cross cultural studies (DIV-XCC) requirements.

REL4359-1 / RLG5354-1 SP Topics Asian Rel: Buddhist Tantra
This seminar examines the historical development of Tantra and Tantric Buddhism in early medieval India (c. 500-1200 C.E.) with some attention to the spread and practice of these traditions in Nepal, Tibet, China, and Japan. Topics covered include origins and history of the Tantric movement, esoteric literature, sacred biography, magic and ritual, yoga and meditation, and Tantra and politics. The course will also assess the varied scholarly interpretations and popular representations of Buddhist Tantra over the last century in Europe, the United States, and Asia. Instructor permission and previous coursework in Asian Religions, REL 3340, REL 3358. Contact Dr. Cuevas at bcuevas@fsu.edu.

RLG5356    Readings in Tibetan
This course is a seminar that covers selected primary-source readings in Tibetan language about the religious history of Tibet.  Readings are drawn from a variety of historical periods and genres, including history, biography, Buddhist canonical texts, philosophical treatises, ritual manuals, poetry, and epic narrative.  The course also introduces students to various tools and methods for the study of classical and modern Tibetan literature.

Fall 2016


REL3340        The Buddhist Tradition  
This course surveys the Buddhist tradition from its beginnings through the modern period.  Some attention to its contemporary forms.  Meets Liberal Studies: Cultural Practice (LS-CUL) and Diversity in cross cultural studies (DIV-XCC) requirements.

REL 4359-2 / RLG5354-2    SP Topics Asian Rel: Buddhism and Magic 
This seminar offers a comparative study of the forms and functions of magic, wonder-working powers, and associated rituals in various Buddhist societies across Asia. Emphasis will be on understanding a diversity of beliefs and practices within specific Buddhist social and historical contexts and broad comparisons with Western conceptions and scholarly debates about the category of “magic” in order to assess whether such a concept plays a role in Buddhism. Sustained focus will be on the wide variety of academic approaches to magic as a cross-cultural category and the problematic distinction between the categories “magic” and “religion.” Key questions addressed throughout the course include the following: What is magic? What does magic do? Is magic distinct from religion? Is magic natural or supernatural? What is the role of magic in society? The course will run on a seminar format with active and in-depth discussion of readings and intensive individual writing assignments.

RLG5356        Readings in Tibetan  
This course is a seminar that covers selected primary-source readings in Tibetan language about the religious history of Tibet.  Readings are drawn from a variety of historical periods and genres, including history, biography, Buddhist canonical texts, philosophical treatises, ritual manuals, poetry, and epic narrative.  The course also introduces students to various tools and methods for the study of classical and modern Tibetan literature.

 

 

Books