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The Press as a Medium for Change: Periodical Publications and the Shaping of Modern Chinese Buddhism

Lu, Lianghao (2019) The Press as a Medium for Change: Periodical Publications and the Shaping of Modern Chinese Buddhism. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Through the lens of Buddhist periodicals, this dissertation argues that the modernization of Chinese Buddhism was shaped by debates, polemics, and communications via the periodical press, resulting in a multifaceted modernity discourse that allowed a progressive vision to coexist with a conservative one. Despite recent scholarship on the adaptation and transformation of Buddhism in Republican China, insufficient attention has been paid to the mediating role of Buddhist periodicals. This has led to a skewed historical view in which the reform discourse initiated by Taixu is seen as even more dominant than it actually was. By identifying seven periodicals from both conservative and progressive camps of Buddhists, this dissertation contends that the reform camp’s successful employment of the new medium of periodicals resulted in the dominance of both its own position and its modernization rhetoric.
By exploring, however, periodicals published by the conservative camp led by Dixian and Yinguang, I illustrate that the conservative camp also produced periodicals for the purpose of propagating particular Buddhist teachings to a targeted audience. In order to show the dynamics of the Buddhist periodical press, this dissertation explores several themes: the relationship between Buddhism and science; the discussion of Buddhism and the state; concrete practices concerning the temple expropriation campaign; and the exposition of Buddhist asceticism and vegetarianism. Buddhist periodicals not only propagated arguments of elite leaders, but also included many ordinary contributors who had similar concerns and who ruminated on these themes. These authors are the main disseminators and agitators whose texts directly influenced the Buddhist community.
Furthermore, this dissertation discusses the often-neglected writings on Buddhist asceticism and vegetarianism in these periodicals. By doing so, it shows the fluid boundary between the reform and conservative orientations—the reform camp valued ascetic practices that showed Buddhist faith and countered charges of corruption, while the conservative camp was willing to absorb modern interpretations to renew the vegetarian tradition. Overall, this dissertation shows that modern Chinese Buddhism was shaped by two camps and the periodicals they produced.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lu, Lianghaoluliangh007@gmail.comlil76@pitt.edu0000-0003-4942-4798
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairChilson,
Committee CoChairRawski,
Committee MemberShear,
Committee MemberQian,
Committee MemberKranson,
Date: 27 September 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 14 June 2019
Approval Date: 27 September 2019
Submission Date: 8 July 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 294
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Religion (Cooperative Program in the study of)
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Buddhist Periodicals, Chinese Buddhism, Modernization, Press
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 16:18
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2019 16:18


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