The 9th MaMa Charitable Foundation
Lecture Series in Buddhist Studies
A Monkey Jumps and Britain Awakens to Mahayana:
Aspects of the Westward Spread of Chinese Buddhism
Professor T. H. Barrett
The 9th MaMa Charitable Foundation Visiting Professor in Buddhist Studies
Emeritus Professor, SOAS, University of London
T. H. Barrett graduated in Chinese Studies from Cambridge and then studied at Yale for a doctorate in Religious Studies, examining the background to the appearance of new Confucian thinking in the late eighth century CE. After returning to Cambridge to teach for over a decade, he spent over a quarter of a century as Professor of East Asian History at SOAS, University of London, before becoming Professor Emeritus in 2014. He has published a number of books, chapters, articles and book reviews on aspects of East Asian religious history, frequently touching on matters relating to bibliography and book history, and also on the history of the understanding of China in the United Kingdom.
About the lecture series
These three lectures will look at the various ways in which British people have come to know about Chinese Buddhism. The first concerns a medieval encounter between a Chinese religious figure and a Frenchman that probably became known to at least one contemporary scholar in England. But we must not assume that this encounter was related to Buddhism itself: the actual background is very complicated, showing the richness of Chinese religious culture with which outsiders had to make themselves familiar. The second lecture will look at the academic study of Chinese Buddhism in the United Kingdom, showing how in its origins it had strong links with British rule in India. The third lecture will show how outside the universities various other persons in Britain and beyond selected a work in Chinese that seemed most profound to them and tried to circulate its thought through a number of publications largely forgotten today, though some archives relating to its translation still exist.