U.Va. Conference Explores 'Cultural Crossings: China and Beyond in the Medieval Period'

February 15, 2010

February 19, 2010 — The University of Virginia will host a three-day conference, "Cultural Crossings: China and Beyond in the Medieval Period," that will investigate exchanges between China and neighboring cultures during third through 10th centuries from cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspectives.

The conference, scheduled for March 11 to 13, coincides with the U.Va. Art Museum exhibitions "Treasures Rediscovered: Chinese Stone Sculptures from the Sackler Collections at Columbia University" and "Cultural Crossings: China and Beyond in the Medieval Period," which are on view through March 14.

The conference will explore the Silk Road as a channel for the transmission of ideas, technologies and artistic forms, with far-reaching impact that stretched from the Pacific to the Atlantic. In Asia, the transmission of religious faiths along the Silk Road – most notably Buddhism – had a profound impact on the ideas, material culture and languages of the region.

The conference brings together specialists of the period who are engaged in research in such diverse areas as Silk Road studies, history, literature, gender, art and religion of the region to expand the understanding of the transnational impact of these disciplines and their influence on the modern world from a global perspective. 
The conference begins with a keynote lecture, "Crossing the Boundary: Where, When, How" by Lewis Lancaster, emeritus director of the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative at the University of California at Berkeley. Lancaster's talk will be held March 11 at 5:30 p.m. in Campbell Hall, room 153.

Sessions on March 12 include discussions on "Culture and History" and "Art and Religion."

The March 13 morning sessions are: "Image, Ritual and Text in Esoteric Buddhism" and "The Cult of Avalokitesvara."

An afternoon workshop, hosted by U.Va.'s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, will be devoted to "Digital Projects in Asian Art and Humanities." It will focus on collaborative scholarship that has the potential to enhance existing related digital projects in Asian art and humanities.

The conference is free and open to the public. All events will take place in Campbell Hall, room 153. Seating is limited. For information and to register visit here.

The conference is supported by a grant from the Buckner W. Clay Endowment for the Humanities; U.Va.'s East Asia Center, Medieval Studies Program and Page-Barbour Interdisciplinary Initiative Grant; the U.Va. Art Museum; and a grant from the Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, Taiwan, and the Dharma Drum Buddhist College, Taipei.

— By Jane Ford