Cuilan Liu

Photograph of Faculty Member Cuilan Liu

Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies

B. A., Beijing Language University, 2003
M. A., Peking University, 2006
PhḌ., Harvard University, 2014


Office: Room 002
Tel.: (416)585-4518
Fax: (416)585-4516


Dr. Liu is an Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies at Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto. She received her PhD from Harvard University for her dissertation on the status and role of music within the Buddhist religious tradition, and its subsequent interpretation in China and Tibet.  She received a second PhD field in Critical Media Practice offered by the Harvard Film Study Center, for which she completed the 83-minute documentary film Young Jigme shot in a Buddhist monastery in Northeastern Tibet. 

Dr. Liu’s sustained interests in Buddhist ethics, history, and thought brought her to teach and conduct research in the United States, Germany, China, and Canada. Prior to joining Emmanuel College, she held Postdoctoral Fellowships at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (Germany) and McGill University. Her current research focuses on Buddhism and the State in middle period China and Tibet. She examines the tension between Buddhism and the State during the Tang Dynasty from the seventh to the ninth century, when Buddhism and Chinese law both reached a pinnacle of their respective developments. One of her key objectives is to understand how legal space was constantly reshaped by the co-existence and interaction of two complex legal systems. Ultimately, her project aims to examine how a balance was struck between the restriction and accommodation of religious law in the public sphere.

Dr. Liu has published on Buddhist music, law, and history. Her publications include "Noble or Evil: The Ṣaḍvārgika Monks Reconsidered" in Acta Orientalia 66 (2013): 179-195; "Reciters and Chanters: Monastic Musicians in Buddhist Law Texts" in Kenkyū nenpō 研究年報 special issue on Current Issues and Progress in Tibetan Studies 51 (2013): 255-270; book review in Journal of Buddhist Ethics and a number of translations. She is also co-editor of Rules of Engagement: Medieval Traditions of Buddhist Monastic Regulations (forthcoming with Hamburg University Press).


Currently Teaching

Fall 2016

EMT 2631: Foundational Tenets and Practices of Buddhism

EMT 2630: Buddhist Ethics

Winter 2017

Classic Buddhist Texts

History of Buddhist Traditions


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