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East Asia

In our department the study of religion in East Asia focuses primarily on Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan varieties of Buddhism in their historical and cultural contexts, with some attention being paid to other traditions (e.g. Confucianism, Daoism, Shintō). Faculty in the department have strong interests in ritual, literature, history, material culture, philosophy and ethics.

Training emphasizes research in primary sources and requires reading knowledge of the languages relevant to the area of specialization, which may include Chinese, Japanese and/or Tibetan. Students are encouraged to design their own course of study, to explore different scholarly methods and disciplinary approaches, and to undertake independent research.  

The department’s program works closely with the Center for East Asian Studies and with the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies, which provides library and study facilities, research support and extracurricular activities.  We also enjoy a close collaborative relationship with the Buddhist Studies program at the University of California, Berkeley.


Photo of James Gentry

James Gentry

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Portrait Picture of Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison, Department Chair

George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies, Department Chair
Photo of John Kieschnick

John Kieschnick

Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Professor of Buddhist Studies

Pauline Lee

Associate Professor of Chinese Religions and Cultures, Saint Louis University

Mark E. Lewis

Professor of History and, by courtesy, Religious Studies
Profile Photo of Michaela

Michaela Mross

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Lee Yearley

Walter Y. Evans-Wentz Professor of Oriental Philosophy, Religion, and Ethics