Catherine Becker

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    College: Architecture and the Arts Department: Art History
    Title: Assistant Professor
    Office: 211A Henry Hall Phone: 4136527386
    Participating in the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Awards program: Yes

    Research Interest:
    Having just completed my first book on Buddhist sculpture from the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, I am engaged in a new research project that examines the material remains of artistic and cultural exchange between Buddhist communities in Andhra Pradesh and Sri Lanka during the early centuries of the Common Era. Noting parallels between narrative sculptures from Andhra and episodes from the Pali vamsa literature, I propose that cross-cultural and cross-media comparisons (that is to say, comparisons of narrative relief sculptures from Andhra and texts from Sri Lanka) yield fruitful insights into the shared story-telling techniques employed by Buddhists in these regions. Moving beyond the scholarly debates over the creation of anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha, this project examines a broader corpus of relief sculpture in order to expand our understanding of how Buddhist communities in Sri Lanka and Andhra employed similar legitimizing strategies while also formulating distinct religious requirements for the adornment of sacred space and following uniquely local aesthetic sensibilities.

    I have recently received a fellowship to undertake research in Sri Lanka, and I would be delighted to work with an undergraduate research assistant in preparation for this research trip.

    Minimum time commitment in hours per week: 3

    Qualifications of a Student:
    Prospective student researchers should have taken at least one Art History course (in any area) and should have an interest in art, visual culture, South Asia, or Buddhism. The student researcher should also be highly motivated, intellectually curious, and excited by research in the humanities.

    Brief Summary of what is expected from the student:
    The student researcher will be expected to help me compile an extensive bibliography, survey the body of literature on Buddhist art in Sri Lanka, and plan the trajectory of my research trip. This position will be excellent preparation for a student who is considering applying for graduate work in the humanities.

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