In From Outcasts to Emperors, David Quinter illuminates the Shingon Ritsu movement founded by the charismatic monk Eison (1201–90) at Saidaiji in Nara, Japan. The book’s focus on Eison and his disciples’ involvement in the cult of Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva reveals their innovative synthesis of Shingon esotericism, Buddhist discipline (Ritsu; Sk. vinaya), icon and temple construction, and social welfare activities as the cult embraced a spectrum of supporters, from outcasts to warrior and imperial rulers. In so doing, the book redresses typical portrayals of “Kamakura Buddhism” that cast Eison and other Nara Buddhist leaders merely as conservative reformers, rather than creative innovators, amid the dynamic religious and social changes of medieval Japan.
A Liberal Education for a New China
Edited by Arthur Lewis Rosenbaum
Essays in New Perspectives on Yenching University, 1916·1952 reevaluate the experience of China's preeminent Christian university in an era of nationalism and revolution. Although the university was denounced by the Chinese Communists and critics as an elitist and imperialist enterprise irrelevant to China's real needs, the essays demonstrate that Yenching's emphasis on biculturalism, cultural exchange, and a broad liberal education combined with professional expertise ultimately are compatible with nation-building and a modern Chinese identity. They show that the university fostered transnational exchanges of knowledge, changed the lives of students and faculty, and responded to the pressures of nationalism, war, and revolution. Topics include efforts to make Christianity relevant to China's needs; promotion of professional expertise, gender relationships and coeducation; the liberal arts; Sino-American cultural interactions; and Yenching's ambiguous response to Chinese nationalism, Japanese invasion, and revolution.