Steven Heine: Celebrating Forty-Five Years of Scholarship

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At the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion to be held on December 1, 2020 at 11 a.m., there will be an online panel honoring forty-five years of scholarship of Dr. Steven Heine, professor of Religious Studies and History and founding director of the growing Asian Studies Program at FIU. Here is a notice about this session:

2020 American Academy of Religion (AAR) Tribute Panel: “Old Paths and New Directions in Zen Studies: Celebrating Over Four Decades of Scholarship by Steven Heine."

As organized by Pamela Winfield, the Society for the Study of Japanese Religions is celebrating the scholarly contributions of Dr. Heine as he approaches retirement. Five leading scholars of Japanese and East Asian religions, including panelists Jacqueline Stone (Princeton), Richard Jaffe (Duke), Michaela Mross (Stanford), Morten Schlutter (Iowa), and Albert Welter (Arizona), will discuss selected works from Heine's oeuvre of 35 books and edited volumes as well as over 100 articles in order to reflect on how these writings have influenced the field in terms of interregional flows, historical period studies, and methodological approaches.

Dr. Heine has several important scholarly accomplishments this past year. In October, he was awarded an Excellence in Research Award at the annual FIU Faculty Convocation ceremony presented virtually (image above). On November 11, he was the lead speaker at the international workshop, “ Developing a Process for Successful Academic Writing ” held in connection with Duke Kunshan University (DKU) in China. In addition, he has been featured in several other lectures and conferences.

Flowers Blooming on a Withered Tree, Steven Heine

Moreover, Dr. Heine has published two major university press books during 2020. The first is Readings of Dōgen's Treasury of the True Dharma Eye (Columbia University Press), an analysis of the magnum opus of the leading medieval Japanese philosopher, Dōgen (1200-1253), who is increasingly being studied from comparative theoretical and literary perspectives. The second new monograph is Flowers Blooming on a Withered Tree: Giun's Verse Comments on Dōgen's Treasury of the True Dharma Eye(Oxford University Press), which is the study and translation of an essential commentary on Dōgen's seminal text. Dr. Heine also has two additional book projects in the pipeline, with one of the manuscripts already nearing completion.

The following is a review of the Oxford University Press volume:

Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, the magnum opus of Japanese Soto Zen founder Dogen (1200–1253), is a set of profound yet often abstruse teachings. In response to the difficulties posed by the text, the Zen monk Giun (1253–1333) composed a collection called the Verse Comments, summarizing each of Dogen's topics into four-line Chinese-style poetry. Giun's commentary, influential for how Dogen came to be understood in Japan, is the subject of Steven Heine's textual–historical study, Flowers Blooming on a Withered Tree: Giun's Verse Comments on Dogen's Treasury of the True Dharma Eye(Oxford). Contained within this scholarly production is also the first full English translation of the Verse Comments, replete with generous glosses. Readers will delight in Giun's playfully evocative poems, such as the one on the topic of meditation:

Cattails sitting tall are silently swaying,
Dragons humming as clouds float in the vast darkness.
No longer counting the number of breaths,
Three thousand realms are collected in the sacred sea.

Joie Szu-Chiao Chen, Lion's Roar

Finally, a Festschrift volume is now being edited by Charles S. Prebish and On-cho Ng, both of Penn State University where Dr. Heine was a professor before coming to FIU in 1997 to develop the Asian Studies Program. Titled Zen Roots, Zen Branches: Theoretical Reflections and Practical Applications, Essays in Honor of Steven Heine, this book features contributions by fifteen eminent scholars, including several he has mentored over the years, and will be published by Springer in 2021.