Eric Huntington studies relationships between visual culture, ritual, and philosophy in the Buddhist traditions of the Himalayas. Employing highly interdisciplinary methods and a variety of comparative and historicizing frameworks, he seeks to rethink how scholars use evidence to understand the fundamental ideas, practices, and material products of Buddhism.
Huntington’s award-winning first book, Creating the Universe: Depictions of the Cosmos in Himalayan Buddhism (University of Washington Press, 2018), examines portrayals of the cosmos in texts, rituals, artwork, and architecture to reveal cosmological thinking as a foundation for many aspects of religious life. Presenting materials from over 2,000 years of history across India, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, and Mongolia, the work introduces a new theory of cosmology in religion and new methods for balancing diverse sources. Huntington has also published on ritual performance in Śāntideva’s Guide to Bodhisattva Practice (Bodhicaryāvatāra), the roles of illustrations in Newar manuscripts, and visual aspects of tantric mandalas.
At Rice, Huntington is working on a second monograph that analyzes varied activities of visual representation in Buddhism. The book addresses both the artistic and ritual practices for creating and worshipping images and the subtle ways that images can communicate complex ideas non-linguistically. Like his first book, this project incorporates a broad spectrum of materials from centuries of history across numerous national and cultural boundaries. Huntington is also co-editing an interdisciplinary volume on transnational connections of cosmology across Asia.
Prior to joining the community at Rice, Huntington served as a fellow in the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford University, a Cotsen fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University, and a Korff & Mellon fellow at Washington University and the Saint Louis Art Museum. He teaches widely across topics of visual and material culture, narrative and biography, geography and sacred space, identity and gender, and tantrism. More information can be found at his website, erichuntington.org.
Readings of Śāntideva’s Guide to Bodhisattva Practic
Jonathan C. Gold and Douglas S. Duckworth (editors)
Awaken: A Tibetan Buddhist Journey Toward Enlightenment
John Henry Rice and Jeff Durham (editors)