CfP: Buddhism in Twentieth-Century British and American Literature

Dr Lawrence Normand and Dr Alison Winch (both Middlesex University, London, UK) are editing a collection of essays with the provisional title Encountering Buddhism in Twentieth-Century British and American Literature.

If you would like to propose a chapter for this volume please send a 300-word abstract by 31 January 2011 to or . We are likely to ask for the completed chapters by 31 December 2011.

Brief summary of book: It will be a coherent, critical examination of British and USA literature’s engagement with Buddhism in the twentieth century. It will show readers how twentieth-century literature has been influenced by Buddhism, and was a major factor in bringing about Buddhism’s increasing spread and influence in the West.  Focussing on Britain and the USA, Buddhism’s influence on a range of key literary texts will be examined in the context of those societies’ evolving modernity. (Texts may also include writers in translation from mainland Europe, and non-literary writers, who influenced literary authors.) Writers discussed may include T. S. Eliot, Hermann Hesse, Virginia Woolf, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, J. D. Salinger, Iris Murdoch, Maxine Hong Kingston, etc. Suggestions of other writers would be welcomed. This book will bring together a series of context-rich interpretations that demonstrate the importance of literature in this ongoing cultural change in Britain and the United States.

The book covers the period from 1900 to the present day, and is divided into three chronological sections representing the historical phases of Buddhism’s reception in the West: 1900-1939, 1939-1970, 1970 to the present. Chapters are informed by current theoretical perspectives from philosophy, psychoanalysis, postcolonial studies, and religious studies. What emerges is that Buddhism influenced literature, and that literature fashioned the Buddhism that flowed into western societies.

The book will have an Introduction of 8-10, 000 words followed by about 10 chapters each of c. 7000 words. Its overall coherence comes from: 1. A shared analytic focus on the interrelationships among the terms literature, Buddhism, modernity, and 2. a thematic range with religion, selfhood, colonialism, culture among its main coordinates.


About Jovan Maud

I'm a lecturer in the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany. Interests include: transnational religious networks, popular religion in Thailand, religious tourism and commodification, and digital anthropology.
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