Welcome to the Institute of Buddhist Studies Home

Thank you!

The Institute of Buddhist Studies would like to thank all the panelists, participants, and guests who made the 2010 Buddhism Without Borders Conference such a wonderful success!

Overview | Conference Schedule | Paper Abstracts | Film Screening |

Buddhism without Borders: Contemporary Developments of Buddhism in the West

at the Institute of Buddhist Studies
Berkeley, California
March 18 - 21, 2010

Panel I: Buddhist Experiences: Expressions and Subjectivities, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Telling Tales Out of School: The Fiction of Buddhism in North America

Kimberly Beek, McMaster University

The proliferation of Buddhist ideas has found a way into North American popular literature in the form of Buddhist Fiction. This genre title describes fictional prose in short story and novel form that dramatizes Buddhist teachings and worldviews for a contemporary, English reading, North American audience. The purpose of my paper is to introduce the literary genre of Buddhist Fiction to the Buddhist Studies academy, an academy that is familiar with time-honored Buddhist stories from India, China, or Japan, but has not yet considered the implications of this new literature for the study of Buddhism in North America. As an emerging genre, Buddhist Fiction tells tales out of ìschoolî or outside of conventional Buddhist literature that narrates religious doctrine and practice. Buddhist Fiction also tells tales outside of the closely related genre of North American Asian Literature. In works of Buddhist Fiction such as Keith Kachtick’s novel Hungry Ghost, and in works of North American Asian Literature such as Amy Tan’s novel The Kitchen God’s Wife, we can recognize Buddhism as it is lived in our contemporary North American context of modernism, multi-culturalism, globalism, and transnationalism. What distinguishes Buddhist Fiction is an emphasis on dramatizing the dharma that allows the scholarly reader to reflect on issues of authenticity regarding the development of Buddhism in North America. Thus with the emergence of Buddhist Fiction we have narratives that create a discursive space in which storylines of traditions, ideologies and doctrines are being challenged and reshaped.

« previous   |   next »