The Joy of the Dharma: Esoteric Buddhism and the Early Medieval Transformation of Japanese Literature


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


My dissertation is a study of the role of ritual practice in the development of Buddhist poetics in medieval Japan. Through close readings of a variety of ritual texts--from manuals for the performance of esoteric rites to records of homiletic discourses for public liturgies--it elucidates the multiple ways that different Buddhist practices contributed to the transformation of theories of language, narrative, and poetry from the late ninth through twelfth centuries in Japan. By situating Buddhist poetics in the context of ritual practice, my dissertation offers a historically nuanced view of the sociocultural processes by which Buddhism defined, shaped, and recast what it meant to create literature in medieval Japan.