Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Reading Buddhist poetry from Southeast Asia – Lecture 1: Language

A lecture series presented by Dr Trent Walker of the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies, and Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies, Stanford University.

Organised by the Religion Programme of the University of Otago, with the support of the Dhammachai Education Foundation.

Many of the Buddhist texts composed in second-millennium Southeast Asia are in verse. While prose has long dominated in the realm of Buddhist sermons and scholastic exegesis, poetry was reserved for the texts most frequently recited and memorized by both laypeople and monastics. Despite their abundant parallels across borders and languages, literary compositions in verse from Southeast Asia are rarely seriously studied outside of the confines of particular national traditions.

This lecture series aims to situate classical- and vernacular-language poems from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam within a regional approach to aesthetics and doctrine.

Each lecture explores a different theme germane to the production and performance of Buddhist poetry in Southeast Asia, namely: language, prayer, debt, shock, and pleasure. Readings include articles and book excerpts on Southeast Asian Buddhist poetry as well as English translations of original texts in Chinese, Khmer, Lao, Pali, Sanskrit, Thai, and Vietnamese.

Lecture 1: Language

Many Buddhist poems from Southeast Asia are products of an interconnected web of translations between languages across the region over a period of centuries. How do these historical and linguistic layers affect how we read Buddhist poems?

This lecture draws from examples throughout Southeast Asia, with a central focus on the transformations of a Pali chant as it is translated into Thai, Khmer, and Vietnamese.

Reading poems in the Southeast Asian context requires keen attention to how the interplay between languages shapes how Buddhist texts are produced and performed.


This public lecture will be livestreamed via Zoom at the link below.

Zoom link for Reading Buddhist Poetry from Southeast Asia Lecture 1: Language

Date Monday, 13 February 2023
Time 3:00pm - 5:00pm
Audience Public,All University
Event Category Humanities
Event Type Lecture
Online and in-person
DepartmentReligious Studies
LocationInformation Services Building AV Conference Suite 1 W05b, University of Otago Dunedin campus, and online via Zoom
Contact NameElizabeth Guthrie-Higbee
Contact Phone+64 21 669 634

Save this event