Free and open to the public. Please RSVP here.
A talk by Manling Luo, Associate Professor of Chinese Literature, Indiana University
Buddhist laymen who compiled miracle tales to promote Buddhism in medieval China were proselytizing storytellers. While claiming to follow the examples of their early medieval predecessors, Tang literati compilers developed distinctive, systematic strategies for presenting their accounts as evidence of Buddhist truths. Such strategies included theorizing in collection prefaces and documenting story sources in epilogues to individual entries. Rather than dismissing such textual strategies as mere fictional devices, I analyze their underlying assumptions to reveal the storytellers’ nuanced understandings of storytelling networks and practices. I argue that despite their religious agendas, proselytizing storytellers constituted an important part of the culture of informal storytelling in the Tang period.