Kim-Renaud East Asian Humanities Lecture Series

2019-20 Lectures:

Becoming Guanyin: Artistic Devotion of Buddhist Women in Late Imperial China

Time: Friday, October 23rd, 2020, 4:00PM-5:30PM via WebEx

Speaker: Yuhang Li, Associate Professor of Asian Studies, University of Wiconsin, Madison

Discussant: Xiaofei Kang, Associate Professor of Religion, George Washington University


Abstract: The goddess Guanyin began in India as the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, originally a male deity. He gradually became indigenized as a female deity in China over the span of nearly a millennium. By the Ming (1358–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) periods, Guanyin had become the most popular female deity in China. In Becoming Guanyin, Yuhang Li examines how lay Buddhist women in late imperial China forged a connection with the subject of their devotion, arguing that women used their own bodies to echo that of Guanyin.  Li focuses on the power of material things to enable women to access religious experience and transcendence. In particular, she examines how secular Buddhist women expressed mimetic devotion and pursued religious salvation through creative depictions of Guanyin in different media such as painting and embroidery and through bodily portrayals of the deity using jewelry and dance. These material displays expressed a worldview that differed from yet fit within the Confucian patriarchal system.

The event is open to the public. Registered guests will receive confirmation email with details for joining Webex 24 hours prior the event.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures and the East Asia National Resource Center



prof. kim-renaud
On the occasion of her retirement in June 2015, Professor Emeritus Young-Key Kim-Renaud, with her husband, Dr. Bertrand Renaud, made a gift of $50,000 to the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures in order to enable the continuation of the East Asian Humanities Lecture Series, originally funded by the Columbian College of Arts and Science Dean’s Office. The lecture series aims to bring specialists in East Asian humanities and cultures to GW to encourage cross-disciplinary discussions. The lecture series was renamed “the Kim-Renaud East Asian Humanities Lecture Series” beginning in 2016. We are delighted that we can continue the lecture series thanks to Professor Kim-Renaud and Dr. Renaud's generosity.
The establishment of the above fund came in addition to the $300,000 Professor Kim-Renaud and Dr. Renaud contributed to the Young-Key Kim-Renaud Fund for Korean Language and Literature, established with the aim of permanently endowing a new professorship in the Korean humanities. With the help of her family and personal friends, Professor Kim-Renaud has raised $900,000 towards her $2.5 million goal. We are immensely grateful for her effort.
Professor Kim-Renaud hopes that the GW community (including alumni) will rally around her mission and add to one or both funds with their own donation.

Make a difference. Give today to the Young-Key Kim-Renaud Fund for Korean Language and Literature!