fellow-portrait-Stephanie-Balkwill

COHORT

2016–2017

FIELD

Religion

CONTACT

balkwill@usc.edu

Stephanie Balkwill received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies and Ph.D. Diploma in Gender Studies and Feminist Research at McMaster University in Canada. Balkwill’s research proposal, “Because the Buddha is No Longer a Woman: Tracking the Ideal of Female-to-Male Sex Change in Mahāyāna Sūtras,” addresses the topic of female-to-male transformation. Although scholars and practitioners of Buddhism commonly refer to this Mahayana privileging of male bodies, most cite only a few well-known sutras (usually the Lotus and Vimalakirti Sutras). But Balkwill has identified an entire corpus of some twenty Mahayana texts that all speak to this same issue. Her textual analysis of this corpus will provide a much more thorough and nuanced understanding of how early Mahayana thinkers understood and promoted the concept of female-to-male sex change. Balkwill’s deep knowledge of the Buddhist textual tradition, as well as her mastery of multiple Buddhist languages, including Chinese, Mandarin, Sanskrit, and Japanese, is seen as both rare and impressive, innovative and exciting in the the field of Buddhist Studies. Balkwill was most recently a fellow at the Center for Chinese Studies, National Library of Taiwan, Beijing University, and East China Normal University in Shanghai.