Curriculum Vitaes

Drott Edward


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Associate Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Department of Liberal Arts, Sophia University
M.A.(University of Pennsylvania)
Ph.D(University of Pennsylvania)

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My research explores the role of the body in religion and the role of religious ideology and practice in producing knowledge about the body. My recent publications have examined the ways in which religious ideas and practices helped shape perceptions of old age in early and medieval Japan. I have also published on the intersections of religious and medical knowledge in premodern Japan. I teach courses on the history of Buddhism, Japanese religions, and religion and the body.


  • Edward R. Drott
    Journal of Aging Studies, 47 10-23, Dec, 2018  Peer-reviewed
  • Edward R. Drott
    Religion Compass, 9(1) 1-12, Jan, 2015  Peer-reviewedInvited
  • Edward R. Drott
    Journal of Religion in Japan, 4(1) 1-31, 2015  Peer-reviewed
    In Nara and Heian-period Japan (710-1185), the aged body was commonly described in ways that suggest it was seen as a source of disgust, or even a potential producer of pollution (kegare), a form of defilement that carried important religious connotations, often requiring the attention of ritual specialists to remedy. Court histories, literary and religious texts-especially Buddhist didactic works-portrayed old age as a type of embodiment characterized by stagnation and decay, which violated Chinese naturalist ideas that equated health with the flow of vital pneumas, or as a liminal state in which death was possible at any moment. These texts also devoted particular attention to the forms of effluvia the aged body was seen to produce, which gave rise to the kinds of "matter out of place" that were sources of deep anxiety in pre-modern Japan. In this paper, I analyze the ways in which concepts of pollution and filth colored representations of the aged body in the eighth through eleventh centuries and show how these three models served to reinforce an image of the aged body as a repellent 'other'.
  • Edward R. Drott
    JAPANESE JOURNAL OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES, 42(2) 275-317, 2015  Peer-reviewed
    Between 700 and 1000 ce, Japanese political elites engaged in a variety of practices dedicated to obtaining longevity. Although most of these had continental roots, Japanese courtiers selected and adapted methods to suit their particular social and political circumstances. In particular, they were interested in finding a means not only to prolong life, but also to stave off the marks of senescence-to attain youthful, "ageless" longevity. To understand the unique features and significance of early Japanese longevity practices requires attention to their broader cultural and religio-political contexts. In particular, it is important to consider them in connection with the symbolic uses of the body in some of the dominant political ideologies of the day. The early Japanese court employed an eclectic set of strategies to legitimate the "heavenly sovereign" or Tenno, including many that linked royal virtue to long life and health. Other strategies involved a range of symbolic practices that projected an image of the Tenno as an ever-vital, deathless being. These tropes were also reflected in early Japanese literature, in which the imperial court was commonly portrayed as an incorruptible zone of vitality likened to a land of immortals. This article sets out to examine ritual and ceremonial practices as well as the use of elixirs and other "magical medicines" in light of this political and cultural milieu. It concludes with an examination of early Japanese legends that further illustrate the early Japanese fascination with the prospect, not just of longevity, but of prolonged vitality or a miraculous return to youth.
  • Edward R. Drott
    JAPANESE JOURNAL OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES, 37(2) 247-273, 2010  Peer-reviewed
    This article examines medical works aimed at nourishing life and promoting longevity composed or compiled by Buddhist priests in early medieval Japan, focusing on the Choseiryoyoho and the Kissayojoki. These texts provide an especially useful aperture through which to explore the relationship of medical and religious knowledge in medieval Japan, since theories about the aging process were based on fundamental beliefs about both the structure of bodies and the nature of the forces thought to animate them. A comparison of the different types of practices these texts recommended to forestall physical degeneration and spiritual dissipation provides concrete examples of the ways in which Buddhist physicians, or "priest-doctors" (soi), combined Chinese medical theories with knowledge gleaned from Buddhist scriptures, and sheds light on the various conceptualizations of the body that emerged in the intersection of these traditions.



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