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Expert to Discuss Women’s Historic Ties to Japanese Buddhism
Lori R. Meeks to Present Ohio Wesleyan’s Annual Merrick Lecture on April 13

March 29, 2011

Lori R. Meeks, Ph.D.
Photo courtesy of Lori R. Meeks
DELAWARE, OH – Lori R. Meeks, Ph.D., associate professor of Religion and East Asian Languages and Culture at the University of Southern California, will present “ ‘Talking Past’ Androcentric Religious Discourse: Gender, Agency, and Ideology in Medieval Japanese Buddhism,” at 7:30 p.m. April 13 in Benes Room B in Ohio Wesleyan University’s Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave. The event is free and open to the public.

Meeks is the author of several articles that focus on clarifying the roles of women as consumers and practitioners of Japanese Buddhism in the Heian and Kamakura periods (roughly the ninth through early 14th centuries). Her research examines the ways in which gender is handled in Buddhist texts, the roles that Buddhist texts played in the dissemination of gendered ideology, and popular responses to doctrinal discussions of sex and gender.

In her book, Hokkeji and the Reemergence of Female Monastic Orders in Premodern Japan (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2010), Meeks dispels previous scholarly opinions about women’s reception of Buddhism. She discusses female religious life at the ancient temple of Hokkeji, where devotional practices and rituals of these medieval nuns attracted lay followers and where these women perceived salvation as achievable through the female body (and not just through a male body, as presented in other Buddhist discourse).

This presentation is Ohio Wesleyan’s 2011 Merrick Lecture. The lecture series was founded by Frederick Merrick, a professor and former president of the university. Each year’s lecture discusses an aspect of “experimental and practical religion” and, over the course of the past century, has reflected the dynamic growth and change of the academic study of religion. Past lecturers have included Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, Hazel Barnes, and Martin Marty. The Merrick Lecture is the university’s oldest running lecture series.

Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities, with more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 Division III varsity sports. Located in Delaware, Ohio, just minutes north of Ohio’s capital and largest city, Columbus, the university combines a globally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that translate classroom theory into real-world practice. OWU’s close-knit community of 1,850 students represents 45 states and 52 countries. Ohio Wesleyan earned a 2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in General Community Service, is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” and is included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.