Mondays, 10-11am and by appointment
Jimmy Yu (Ph.D. '08, Princeton University, Department of Religion) teaches courses in Chinese religious traditions, with an emphasis in Buddhism and Daoism. His research interests include the history of the body in Chinese religions, Buddhist material culture, Chan/Zen Buddhisms, and popular religious movements within the broader context of fifteenth to seventeenth centuries China. Dr. Yu is also a grant committee advisor of the Sheng Yen Education Foundation Grant for Ph.D. Dissertation Research on Modern Chinese Buddhism, the editor for the Journal of Chinese Buddhist Studies, and the Sheng Yen Series in Chinese Buddhism through Columbia University Press.
His first book, Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500-1700 (Oxford University Press, 2012), explores self-inflicted violence as an essential and sanctioned part of premodern Chinese culture. He examines a wide range of practices, including blood writing, filial body-slicing, chastity mutilations and suicides, ritual exposure, and self-immolation, arguing that each practice was public, scripted, and a signal of cultural expectations. Individuals engaged in acts of self-inflicted violence to exercise power and to affect society, by articulating moral values, reinstituting order, forging new social relations, and protecting against the threat of moral ambiguity. Self-inflicted violence was intelligible both to the person doing the act and to those who viewed and interpreted it, regardless of the various religions of the period. This book is a groundbreaking contribution to scholarship on bodily practices in late imperial China, challenging preconceived ideas about analytic categories of religion, culture, and ritual in the study of Chinese religions.
His second and current book project focuses on the formation of a new religious movement, the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan (DDLC), within Chinese Buddhism. The book will be the first full-length monograph of Chan Buddhism in modern times in any language and the first study of Sheng Yen, the founder of DDLC, in the English language.
- News Item: Sheng Yen Professorship in Chinese Buddhist Studies and Fellowship for Graduate Students
Research and Teaching Interests
- Late Ming period bodily practices
- Death rituals and salvation in East Asian religions
- Buddhist material culture
- Doctrinal developments in Chinese Buddhism
- Systems of Buddhist meditation practice
- Chan/Zen Buddhisms
REL3345 Chan/Zen Buddhism
This course focuses on Chan, a school of Chinese Buddhism popularly known in Japanese as "Zen". The course surveys Zen both historically and thematically, from its beginnings through the modem period. Topics include Chan's origins, history, doctrine, ethical beliefs, meditation, ritual, and monastic institutions.
RLG5346: Seminar on Chinese Buddhism
This course looks at Chinese Buddhism by way of social and cultural practice; examining the institutional, ritual, and doctrinal components for the construction of Buddhist values, roles and identities within the larger field of Chinese religious life. Special consideration is given to the symbolics of religious alterity, especially as they apply to the negotiation between Buddhist and non-Buddhist traditions.
REL3340-1: 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.
RLG6298: SEM: Scriptures
This course is a seminar in scriptures and interpretation that encourages research in selected aspects of the interpretation of sacred texts in a particular tradition or traditions.