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The Aesthetics of Nirvana

Executive Summary

We are pleased to report on the successful completion and wide attendance of a series of campus-wide events entitled The Aesthetics of Nirvana (November 5-8, 2003). The Aesthetics of Nirvana events involved students, faculty and community members, and focused on Buddhism and its related art forms. With this series, we celebrated the careers of Carolina Professors Emeriti James H. Sanford (Department of Religious Studies) and Jerome P. Seaton (Curriculum in Asian Studies). The Series was formed around a core of scholarly presentations made by prominent scholars of Japanese Buddhism, under the auspices of the annual fall meeting of Southern Japan Seminar. In addition, it featured 15 ancillary events, involving arts, film, literature, and electronic resources related to Buddhism and Buddhology. The series was widely publicized and well attended.


The project received particularly generous support in the amount of $3,875.00..00 from the Japan Foundation as well as from the Southern Japan Seminar and nine academic units and organizations at UNC and at Duke: the Ackland Art Museum, the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute at Duke University, the Carolina Asia Center, the Carolina Scholar Program, the Curriculum in Asian Studies, the Curriculum in Comparative Literature, the Department of Religious Studies, the Korean Association of Students and Scholars, and the James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence.

Publicity and Attendance

The events received broad publicity with the help of Dee Reid, Director of Communications in the College of Arts and Sciences and Randi Davenport, Associate Director, James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence. Our events were featured at the top link on the UNC homepage, and were publicized in The Daily Tar Heel, News and Observer, Independent, and University Gazette. Announcements including a link to the Aesthetics of Nirvana homepage were also carried on major regional and international listservs related to Asian Studies, Art History and Religious Studies. We estimate that a total of 70 undergraduate students attended the two hands-on calligraphy workshops, 50 individuals attended the noon-time lecture on calligraphy, 150 people attended the opening of our calligraphy exhibit called “Word into Art,” a total of 100 people saw the three films, between 20-50 people attended each of the five panels, 15 scholars attended the workshop on electronic resources, 55 people attended the gallery lecture at the Ackland, and a total of 90 people (mostly students) attended the three poetry readings. All events (except the electronic resources workshop) were open to the public, and we were pleased at the mixture of students, faculty, and members of the community that attended all of these events, allowing the series to have the maximum potential of serving broad, educational purposes.


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