Dr. Cuilan Liu Named Emmanuel College’s Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies

TORONTO, ON—Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto has named Dr. Cuilan Liu an assistant professor of Buddhist Studies, effective July 1, 2016. “I am very pleased to be given this opportunity to be part of the community at Emmanuel College. I look forward to joining my colleagues to make positive contributions to the community as a scholar specializing in Buddhist Studies,” says Liu, who is currently an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill University in the Department of East Asian Studies.

Liu holds a PhD (2014) from Harvard University, Department of South Asian Studies, with a focus on Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism. In 2014 she held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany. In addition, she holds an MA in linguistics from Peking University, Department of Chinese Language and Literature, and a BA from Beijing Language University. Liu has taught courses dealing with Chinese religions, Buddhist ethics, and law and Buddhism. She holds a certificate for distinction in teaching from Harvard’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.

As a doctoral student, and as part of her Secondary PhD Field in Critical Media Practice, she produced a documentary film, Young Jigme (2014), with the Harvard Film Center. Her documentary is about a young monk named Jigme who is struggling with a decision whether to stay in his small Buddhist monastery in Tibet or to return his monastic robe and become a layperson. The film has been shown in at least four international film festivals (Paris, Leipzig, Guanxi and Taipai). She has an edited volume, Discipline: Vinaya Texts and Practices Across Asia, currently under consideration with Hamburg University Press, and has published peer-reviewed articles.

Liu is fluent in Chinese and in classical Chinese, with near native proficiency in both classical and colloquial Tibetan. Her research focuses on monasticism, law and the performing arts in Buddhism, with a focus on China and Tibet. Her doctoral thesis, “Song, Dance and Instrumental Music in Buddhist Canon Law,” was funded by 17 competitive grants and awards and focuses on the apparent contradiction between Buddhist canon law’s prohibition of the performance and consumption of music by ordained Buddhists and the omnipresence of music used in Buddhist liturgies.

She is interested in pursuing research in medieval developments of law, Buddhism and society in East Asia, with a particular focus on the clash between the legal systems of the Buddhist temple and the state in medieval China (618–907). She is confident her research will be relevant for contemporary matters such as attempts to find a balance between the restriction and accommodation of religion and religious law within the public sphere.

Mark Toulouse, principal of Emmanuel College, says, “Professor Liu brings impressive credentials as a scholar specializing in Chinese and Tibetan forms of Buddhism. She also possesses an impressive record of working with Buddhist communities and will make important connections for us across Buddhist traditions in the Greater Toronto Area.”


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