Wolfson scholars collaborate on a unique exhibition on the art of major world religions at the Ashmolean Museum.
THSC Past Events
Trinity Term 2017
Friday 23 June, LWA, 5-9pm: Award of an Honorary Fellowship to HH the Gyalwang Drukpa, see https://www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/event/honorary-fellowship-award-ceremony-hi...
Monday 8 May, 3:30-4:30pm, Weston Library Lecture Theatre: Research Uncovered - a Linked Open Data Buddhist Text Archive, with Jeff Wallman (TBRC). For further information see https://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/digital/2017/04/25/jeffwallman/
Thursday 11 May, 5-6pm, Oriental Institute (Pusey Lane): Prof. em. Per Kvaerne (University of Oslo), title tba.
12-13 May, Wolfson College, LWA: Conference on "Global Lives and Local Perspectives: New Approaches to Tibetan Life Writing". Conveners: Lucia Galli, Franz-Xaver Erhard. The event is free of charge and lunch will be provided, but registration is essential. For further information and updates see https://www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/event/global-lives-and-local-perspectives-new-approaches-tibetan-life-writing
Thursday 25 May, 5-6pm, Oriental Institute (Pusey Lane): Dr Albion Butters (University of Turku, Finnland), The Tantric Superhero: A History of Vajrayana Buddhism in Comics.
Over the past eighty years, elements of Vajrayana Buddhism have appeared in a number of popular Western superhero comics, from Green Lama to Strange Tales to The Invisibles. Tantra has been practiced as a spiritual path by mainstream heroes like Batman and alternative ones like King Mob and Promethea, challenging traditional notions of the superhero. This presentation draws on specific case studies to provide a diachronic overview of how tantra has been presented in comics and graphic novels, changing attitudes towards authenticity versus cultural appropriation, the evolution of the spiritual superhero, and the use of literary devices to make tantra-related content more accessible to a Western audience.
Wednesday 7 June, 5-6pm, Oriental Institute (Pusey Lane): Dr Olivier Chiron (Bordeaux): The Organisation of the Sacred Landscape of Sikkim: Between Tradition and Modernity.
This talk will explore the formation and origin of the sacred landscape of Sikkim (Sbas Yul 'Bras mo ljongs, "the Hidden Valley of Rice”), Tibetan notions of hidden lands (sbas yul), as well as that of a pure geographical landscape according to sacred texts and guide books. Particular attention will be paid to the 'Bras mo ijongs gnas yig, a religious guide bookthat organises the landscape in the circular model of a mandala.
Hilary Term 2017
Friday 3 March 2017, Wolfson, Haldane Room: Tibetan Losar (New Year) Party. All are welcome!
Thursday 2 March 2017, Wolfson, Florey Room, 5:00pm: Prof. Carmen Meinert (Bochum, Germany) will give a lecture on Transcendence of the Senses? Examples from Tantric Ritual Manuals in the Chinese Kharakhoto Manuscripts Collection
By means of a strong patronage system the Tangut court in Eastern Central Asia enabled in the twelfth century the very first transmission of Tibetan Tantric materials into Chinese, nowadays still visible in the Kharakhoto manuscript collection. It comprises a large number of ritual manuals which show how Tantric Buddhist rituals fully engage the senses on the path to awakening. In this talk I aim to explore how in a prescribed ritual process the senses are used to induce a religious experience and how thereby the oscillation between an immanent and a transcendent sphere is mediated.
Friday 10 February, Wolfson, Buttery, 5:30pm: Prof.Yudru Tsomo (Sichuan University) will give a talk on Guoshang Trading Houses and Tibetan Middlemen in Dartsedo, the "Shanghai of Tibet".
Within the field of Sino-Tibetan frontier studies, there is very little in-depth scholarly discussion about commerce, trade, and the people who facilitated these activities across the Sino-Tibetan border; studies in English are particularly sparse. This lecture aims to contribute to a wider and deeper understanding of the nature of trade on the Sino-Tibetan frontier and the role of women as facilitators by looking at some of the actual “dealmakers.” In the border town of Dartsedo—the “Shanghai of Tibet”—guozhuang (trading houses, Tib. achak khapa) not only evolved into convenient spaces for travelers to come to rest, but also were spaces of flux. It was in these trading houses that traditional notions of gender, class, and hierarchy were called into question and played out in unexpected ways.
20-21 January 2017, Wolfson College, Haldane Room: Workshop on Tibetan Law. Conveners: Fernanda Pirie and Berthe Jansen
This workshop brings together scholars working on different aspects of law in traditional Tibetan societies. They will consider a range of examples, including material from the early empire; historical accounts and legalistic documents from the medieval period; the zhal lce and administrative documents of the Ganden Phodrang era; legal documents of the Oirat Mongols; and regional and local legalism.
For updates please see: https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/events/law-and-legalism-tibet
Monday 16 January 2017, Wolfson, LWA, 5pm: Screening of A Gesar Bard's Tale. Director Donagh Coleman will be present. For further information see http://gesarbard.com/
Gakar Rinpoche is the So-Wide visiting scholar this term. He will offer readings of Tibetan Buddhist texts and is available for individual meetings and interviews.Gakar Rinpoche is a reincarnate Lama of the Nyingma tradition, born in Dolpo and currently based in Shechen Monastery (Nepal).
Michaelmas Term 2016
Wednesday 12 October 2016, 5-6pm, Oriental Institute (Pusey Lane), Dr Jim Rheingans (University of Bonn): How to do things with texts? Text type and communicative function in Tibetan literature
Tibet’s traditions manifest an abundance of textual classes. Scholars in pre-modern Tibet, however, did not theorise extensively about genre or literature, but developed implicit pragmatic schemes and classifications that were by no means homogenous. This paper briefly introduces the text linguistic concept of text type. It then examines the framework of the ‘communicative function’ of a text as a crucial element for developing classifications, but also for other aims of inquiry. With some examples from my current research and other studies, I would like to discuss whether and how this could be a helpful analytical angle for research employing Tibetan texts.
Thursday 13 October 2016, 5-6pm, Oriental Institute (Pusey Lane), Dr Lewis Doney (British Museum): Rupture and Revelation: Indian Themes in Early Tibetan Writings on Empire
This presentation focuses on the birth and growth of Tibetan Buddhist historiography as a literary genre in particular. Special attention will be paid to the Testimony of Ba (dBa’ bzhed) tradition, which narrates the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet from India and China. Recently discovered sources of this tradition allow a new assessment of the changing perception of South Asia, as distinct from other regions, expressed in the Tibetan emperor’s dealings with Buddhist masters from India.
Thursday 27 October, 5-6pm, Oriental Institute (Pusey Lane), Prof. Anna Morcom (Royal Holloway, London): Tibet, Politics, and Pop Music: subversion, co-option, and commonality
Pop songs and music videos are widely seen as political and a strong form of resistance in a tightly controlled climate. However, I explore a number of reasons why the state would not just tolerate this thriving popular culture, but actually showcase it on state media. I explore the limits to the expression of subversive politics in legally released pop videos and ways in which these songs in fact embody visions of Tibet, Tibetan life, and Tibetan people that are consonant or at least not dissonant with those of the state.
Thursday 1 December 2016, 5:30pm, Wolfson College, LWA: Aris Lecture in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies. Prof. Charles Ramble (EPHE, Paris) will speak on Social History and Vampires: the Dark Continents of Tibetan Studies.
A well-known theme in Tibetan literature depicts the land as an area of benighted savagery, peopled by red-faced flesh-eating demons and an even larger population of malign autochthonous powers; the civilising power of Buddhism tamed the humans and their gods, and transformed the land into a fitting receptacle for the Good Law. Almost a thousand years after it was formulated, this story not only continues to provide a prism through which Tibetans view their own history, but it also influences research on Tibet in subtle but significant ways. This talk will support the case for looking beyond the dominant narrative to discern elements that might form the composition of a very different picture.
Prof. Charles Ramble is Directeur d'études at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne) and a well-known expert on topics such as the Bon tradition, Tibet's sacred geographies, and civil religion and social history of the Himalayas. He was the first to teach Tibetan and Himalayan Studies at the University of Oxford and has been a Governing Body Fellow at Wolfson from 2000 until 2010.
Trinity Term 2016
5 May 2016, 5-6pm, Oriental Institute (Pusey Lane), Lecture Room 1: Prof. Deborah Klimburg-Salter will speak on Discovering Tibet: The Tucci Expeditions and Tibetan Painting. All are welcome!
6-7 May 2016, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium: First International Conference on Spiti. Convener: Yannick Laurent. For details please click on the link.
13-14 May 2016: Conference on The Interplay between the Oral and the Written in Tibetan Literature. Convener: Dr Lama Jabb.
The dynamic interaction between the spoken and the written word remains largely overlooked in the scholarship on Tibetan literature. This interplay needs to be explored for a deeper understanding of Tibetan civilization in general and a more nuanced appreciation of Tibetan literary creations in particular. This first international conference on the interplay of Tibetan literary texts and oral art forms will bring together academics and contemporary Tibetan writers to exchange opinions and findings and for exploring new ideas, methods and themes.
17 May 2016, 5-6pm, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium: Glenn Mullin will speak on The Nyam-gur, or "Mystical Songs and Poems" of the Early Dalai Lamas. No registration needed; all are welcome!
Glenn Mullin studied Tibetan Buddhism for 12 years in the Tibetan School for Westerners (LTWA) established by the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala in 1971. He published approximately 25 books on Tibetan Buddhism, most of them related to the lives and writings of the early Dalai Lamas.
Hilary Term 2016
Ven Nawang Jinpa is the "So-Wide" Visitor in Hilary Term 2016. Her first public lecture will be:
Monday 18 January, 5:15pm, Oriental Institute, LR 1: Ven. Nawang Jinpa will give an Introduction to the Drukpa Lineage - the Yogic Order or 'Divine Madmen. All are welcome!
Thursday 21 January, 5:00-6:30pm, Oriental Institute, Lecture Room 2: Ian Baker will speak on Embodying Enlightenment: The Secret Yogas of Tibet. All are welcome!
This illustrated talk focuses on the deeply embodied physical practices within Tibetan Buddhism that have persisted alongside, but distinct from, Tibet’s monastic traditions of ritual and scriptural study. The talk will explore the foundations of body-mind practices within Vajrayana Buddhism and Dzogchen, their historical transmission to Tibet and other parts of the Himalayan world, and their introduction to the West. - Ian Baker is an anthropologist, author, and independent Tibetan scholar who served as co-curator for ‘Tibet’s Secret Temple: Body, Mind, and Meditation in Tantric Buddhism’, a current exhibition at London’s Wellcome Collection.
Thursday 28 January, 5:00-6:30pm, Wolfson College, Florey Room: Talk by the Archaeologist Mark Aldenderfer on Pre-700 CE Buddhist Traditions in Northern Nepal: A Review of the Evidence. All are welcome!
Buddhism in Upper Mustang is notable by its apparent absence before 1000 CE. History suggests that Padmasambhava visited Lo perhaps in the late 8th C. Gter ma have been found at Lo Gekar, a temple in Lo Manthang, that locals believe was initiated as early as 636 CE. What can archaeology add to the conversation? In this presentation, I will describe artifacts from our recent excavations at Samdzong that suggest the presence of a "lay" Tibetan Buddhism sometime around 600-650 CE. - Mark Aldenderfer is Professor of Anthropology in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts at the University of California, Merced. His research focuses the comparative analysis of high altitude cultural and biological adaptations from an archaeological perspective.
Friday 19 February, 2:30-7:00pm, Wolfson College, Haldane Room: Workshop on "Preserving cultural heritage in the Western Himalayas" with Ven. Nawang Jinpa (Hemis, Ladakh), Yannick Laurent (Oxford), Christian Luczanits (SOAS, London), David Pritzker (Oxford), and Helmut Tauscher (Vienna). Convener: Ulrike Roesler. - The workshop programme is available for download at the bottom of this page. All are welcome!
Saturday 20 February, 19:00-23:30pm, Wolfson College, Haldane Room: Tibetan New Year Party! Come and join us to celebrate Losar (New Year) with Tibetan music and Tibetan snacks and tea. Feel free to bring whatever kind of drinks you fancy, and invite family and friends. All are welcome!
Friday 4 March, 4:30-6:00pm, Oriental Institute, Lecture Room 2: Talk by Hon Wai Wai on "Digital Archiving of Monasteries in Tibet". All are welcome!
Michaelmas Term 2015
Wednesday 14 October, 4-6.30pm: Workshop on Monastic and Academic Knowledge Systems with Khenpo Sordargye. Organiser: Catherine Hardie.
Thursday 22 October, 5.30pm: Inaugural annual Aris Lecture. Prof. Janet Gyatso (Harvard): Tibetan Studies and its Possible Futures. The lecture will be held at Wolfson College in the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, followed by a drinks reception. All are welcome!
Wednesday 9 December, 7:00-9:30pm, Haldane Room: Dr Lama Jabb's book Oral and Literary Continuities in Modern Tibetan Literature: the Inescapable Nation has recently come out. Please join us for a book launch. All are welcome!
Lecture Series, Trinity Term 2015
Jeff Watt, Curator of the HAR (Himalayan Art Resources) website, is giving eight lectures on Himalayan Art in the Oxford Collections. Tuesdays and Wednesdays of weeks 2-5, 4:00-5:00pm, Oriental Institute, Lecture Room 1. All are welcome!
Seminar Series, Hilary Term 2015
(Oriental Institute, Pusey Lane, room 314, 5:00pm)
Choni, still little known to the western world, was a Tibetan Principality with over 600 years of documented history and a vital cultural center in the Sino-Tibetan borderlands. Ninety years ago, Joseph Francis Rock (1884-1962), one of the last classic explorers, embarked on extensive expeditions across the Tibetan plateau. More than Eighty years later, this documentary follows in the footsteps of this legendary explorer. It is a memorial meeting of the east and west, a long lasting dialogue between the past and the present.
Widowed at 28, Tibetan farmer Zanta defies her tyrannical father-in-law and after her husband's death refuses to marry the family's only surviving son. When Zanta's in-laws won't let her seven-year-old go to school, she flees her village and heads to Beijing where she becomes a street vendor. Destitute and embattled by discrimination, Zanta inveigles a foreign customer into helping pay her boy's school fees...
19 Feb: Sam Grimes (Wolfson): Dharmakīrti’s Pramāṇa theory, especially with regards to perception.
26 Feb: Matthew Martin (Oxford), How far can the notion of Jñāna-kāya within the Tibetan Kālacakratantra be viewed as containing a similar ontological infrastructure as Tathāgatagarbha within theŚrīmālādevīsiṃhanāda Sūtra?
Seminar Series, Michaelmas Term 2014
30 Oct: Lopon P Ogyan Tanzin, The Tshanglha Language
6 Nov: Hamsa Rajan, The Impact of Economic Development and Unified State Rule on Tibetan Women’s Household Bargaining Power
13 Nov: Samuel Leigh, Re-shaping Shangri-La: Reconstructing Tibetan Identity Online
20 Nov: Sangseraima Ujeed (DPhil student, Brasenose) (TBC)
Trinity Term 2014
Jeff Watt, Curator of "Himalayan Art Resources", is giving eight lectures on "Himalayan Painting Styles". The lectures take place in May (weeks 2-5) in the Oriental Institute (lecture room 2). The times are Tuesdays and Fridays, 4-5pm.
Thursday 19 June, 3-6:30pm
"Nomads, Women and Courtship". An afternoon on the region of Amdo, with talks by Fernanda Pirie and Hamsa Rajan and a screening of the film "Beat the Dog" by Karko Tsedup. The film director will be present. Wolfson College, Florey Room.
Wednesday 4 June, 2-6pm
Workshop on Tibetan Protective Deities., conveners: Cameron Bailey and Jeff Watt. Speakers: Cameron Bailey, Daniel Berounsky, George FitzHerbert, Lucia Galli, Rob Mayer, Charles Ramble, Ulrike Roesler, Anna Sehnalova, Heather Stoddard, Jeff Watt. Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, seminar room 3. All are welcome.
24 May 2014, Wolfson College, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
Compassion beyond Culture: A Conference on the Life of Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
The Ven. Tibetan Buddhist Reincarnate Lama, Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche, passed away under tragic circumstances on 8 October 2013 whilst on a visit to oversee his charitable projects in the Tibetan areas of China. Rinpoche was one of the pioneers of introducing Tibetan Buddhism to the West through Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland, which he co-founded with Chogyam Trungpa in 1967. He has been working for the welfare of many as a spiritual mentor and through initiatives for healthcare and therapy, education, and poverty relief. This conference aims at sharing and recording Rinpoche's life and activities. To register please contact the conveners, Dr Mingji Cuomo and Gelong Thubten, at email@example.com
2-3 May 2014, Wolfson College, Haldane Room
Book launch and workshop on "The Great Fifth Dalai Lama and his Circle" to celebrate the publication of The Illusive Play: The Autobiography of the Fifth Dalai Lama, tr. by Samten G. Karmay. We would like to thank the Michael Aris Memorial Trust and Wolfson College for their generous support for this event. To see the conference programme, please click on the PDF symbol in the right-hand column. We have uploaded some pictures from the workshop here: http://1drv.ms/1KUlUu6
Wednesday 29 January 2014, 4pm - LR 2, Oriental Institute, Pusey Lane
"Monastic education and Buddhist dialectics". Talk by Lama Tenzin Telek, Wolfson Visiting Scholar Hilary Term 2014. All are welcome!
Special Lectures on 22 November 2013 - Oriental Institute, Lecture Room 2
3-4pm: Dr Saul Mullard: "Territory, Taxation and the Kingdom of Sikkim: Nineteenth Century Administrative documents from Darjeeling and the Sikkimese Plains (rgya gzhis)"
4:30-5:30pm: Prof Charles Ramble (Paris): "Tormas: the Ritual and Social Function of Tibetan Temporary Art"
8 November 2013
An Evening of Tibetan Poetry and Music: Launch of the Junior Research Fellowship in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies at Wolfson College
The Tibetan and Himalayan Studies Research Centre at Wolfson College celebrated the creation of a new Junior Research Fellowship in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies with an evening of Tibetan poetry and music. It welcomed the first post holder, Dr Lama Jabb, and thanked the donors for their generous and tremendous support.
The evening was opened with Tibetan prayers chanted by a group of monks from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. Students recited Tibetan poems, and Lodup Gyatso, a unique Tibetan singer, performed traditional and modern Tibetan songs. Homemade Tibetan “momos” and “shapaley” provided a typically Tibetan flavour to the evening.
21 February 2013
Tibetan Poetry and Film Night with Jangbu
Tibetan Poet and Film Maker Jangbu will recite poetry from his anthology 'The Nine Eyed Agate' and screen his most recent film, 'Yartsa Gumbu'. Wolfson College Buttery at 7:30pm. All are welcome.
Arjia Rinpoche as Visiting Scholar at Wolfson
In Hilary Term 2013, Arjia Rinpoche was a Visiting Scholar at Wolfson College. He gave several talks on Buddhist monasteries and monastic education, a weekly reading class on Tsongkhapa's Lam rim chen mo (Mondays 3-5pm, St Cross College) and instructions on the Heart Sutra (Wednesdays 7pm, Balliol College).
Lecture Series by Jeff Watt, Michaelmas term 2012
Jeff Watt, Curator at Himalayan Art Resources, was a Visiting Scholar at Wolfson in Michaelmas Term 2012. He gave weekly public lectures on aspects of Tibetan Buddhist art in collaboration with the Tibetan & Himalayan Studies Centre and the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. Mondays 5:30-7:00pm; Balliol College, Lecture Room XXIII.
28-29 September 2012
Beyond Biography: New Perspectives on Tibetan Life-writing. Conference at Wolfson College
“Beyond Biography” was the first larger collaboration between the Tibetan and Himalayan Studies Research Cluster and the Life-Writing Centre at Wolfson College.Tibet has an unusually rich tradition of biographical writing, the larger part of which is still waiting to be explored. The aim of the conference was to view Tibetan biographies and autobiographies within the broader context of life-writing across the world and to explore new avenues of interpretation and understanding, addressing for instance literary theory, cross-cultural perspectives, art history, and the pragmatics of (re-)enactment of life-stories.
The conference was opened by Hermione Lee and began with a lively dialogue on autobiography by Elleke Boehmer and Laura Marcus who addressed some of the burning questions that are specific to Tibetan and Buddhist life-writing: How does the belief in reincarnation affect the way a life is viewed and told? How is an individual life story presented in a culture whose predominant philosophy deconstructs the notion of a “self”? The other conference papers focused on Tibetan material, complemented by a paper on the autobiographies of Buddhist masters from Thailand. They analysed the liteary features of Tibetan biographies (such as the interplay of prose and song), looked at different types of biographies (public and “secret” life stories), discussed Tibeto-Monglian interactions and the notion of bio-geography (the way life stories are embedded and re-enacted in their respective locations), and even forshadowed themes of the upcoming conference on “The Lives of Objects” (2013) by a case study of the “secret lives” of sacred objects in some villages of northern Nepal.
During the conference, participants were introduced to the “Treasury of Lives” internet resource and saw images from the photo collection of the late Michael Aris. Speakers and participants enjoyed the warm environment of Wolfson and Oxford, and the discussions continued long into the night in varying locations. The conference was a stimulating experience and led to the resolution not only to publish the conference papers, but also to plan similar follow-up conferences in the future.
15 March 2012, 15:30pm
Presentation by His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa: Education, Health and Environment in the Buddhist Himalayas. Public talk and panel discussion with the head of the Drukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. For further information, please refer to the event report.
23 October 2017Imagining the Divine: Exhibition23 October 2017The College Record 2017
The Wolfson College Record is a formal account of the past year and includes the final President's Letter from Professor Dame Hermione Lee.9 October 2017Message from the Acting President
A warm welcome to those new to Wolfson, and a warm welcome back to those who have been travelling during the summer or hiding away in libraries or...
Concert and Plays24 - 24Oct OctStaging the Modernist Life: Auto/biography, performance, and H.D.Tuesday 24 October -1:30pm to 2:30pm
In this lecture/performance, Sasha Colby will discuss the process of transforming auto/biographical materials into biographical drama in her recent book project Staging Modernist Lives: H.D., Mina Loy, Nancy Cunard, Three Plays and Criticism (McGill-Queen's UP, 2017). With an emphasis on the poet, novelist, and memoirist H.D.Networking24 - 24Oct OctSlanguages exhibition: launch partyTuesday 24 October -4:00pm to 7:00pm
Our Creative Multilingualism Languages in the Creative Economy exhibition will feature the work, archives and ephemera related to the work of three Birmingham-based artists who use different languages in their musical and artistic work.Lectures and Seminars25 - 25Oct OctTennyson, Celebrity and PortraitureWednesday 25 October -5:30pm to 7:00pm
This lecture will explore how publishers became responsible for promoting authors through portraiture in the mid-Victorian period. In particular it will focus on Edward Moxon and his role in expanding the readership of both William Wordsworth and Alfred Tennyson. While portraits of Wordsworth were relatively scarce, Tennyson was surrounded by sculptors, painters and photographers, which led to a new and disturbing experience of literary celebrity that had a major impact on his career.