Faculty Profiles

faculty photo imageTobias Benedikt Zürn

Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion and Humanities
Religion Department
Division of Philosophy, Religion, Psychology, and Linguistics

Tobias Benedikt Zürn is a historian of religion who explores various forms and practices of embodiment, powerful texts, and ritual theory in early and medieval Daoism and Buddhism. In 2016, he earned his PhD in premodern Chinese religions and thought from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In his first monograph, provisionally titled Text/Bodies: The Huainanzi’s Construction as an Embodiment of the Way, Tobias Zürn asks what are texts and what did people historically do with them? By drawing on book history, material culture and religious studies, he argues that the Huainanzi, one of the most important texts from the early Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), was created to serve as a textual embodiment of the Way that could actualize cosmic order by its mere presence. Beyond these explorations, he engages in the multidisciplinary and multimedia reception history of “Zhuangzi’s Butterfly Dream,” one of the most influential vignettes in East Asian religious and cultural history. Tobias Zürn’s research has been published in the Journal of Asian Studies and Early China, as well as in various edited volumes. He is also the co-founder of the international research project “Global Reception of the Classic Zhuangzi” and the “Global Daoist Studies Forum,” a virtual venue that seeks to promote the study of Daoism and foster the global community of scholars in Daoist studies.

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