History of Art and Architecture

Carolyn Wargula



Carolyn Wargula is a PhD student specializing in pre-modern Japanese art in the History of Art and Architecture Department at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research concerns the patronage, materiality, and ritual function of female Buddhist devotional art from the Heian (794-1185) and Kamakura Period (1185-1333). Since women were prohibited from entering sacred spaces or attaining salvation in the Western Paradise, many female patrons incorporated their own hair or the Buddha’s relics within Buddhist embroideries, sculptures, and architectonic reliquaries to establish close karmic ties with the deity. Her dissertation examines how ritual practices associated with these objects allowed women to subvert patriarchal Buddhist doctrine and heighten their position in this life and the afterlife.

Education Details

MA: University of Pittsburgh

MA Thesis: “Legitimizing Miidera Temple: The Animated Fudō Icon and Reemergence of Abe no Seimei in the Fudō riyaku engi emaki handscroll”

BA: St. John’s University

Honors Thesis:  “The Tale of Genji Handscrolls: Recontextualizing Female Identity”

Selected Publications

Nihon bijutsu shiryō no gurōbaru na kyakutaika he mukete” (日本美術資料のグローバルな客体化へ向けて) (“Towards a Global Realization of Japanese Art Data”) with Cordula Treimer and Junglee Moon, in JAL Project 2015, 103-111.

“Takashi Nagai: Hope for a Defeated Nation.” Diakonos: A Journal of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies 3 (2010): 67-71.

Selected Awards

Henry Luce Foundation Grant, 2016

Graduate Paper Prize, Mid-Atlantic Region Association for Asian Studies (MARAAS), 2015

Taiwan-United States Sister Relations Alliance (TUSA) Fellowship, 2014

Provost’s Humanities Predoctoral Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, 2013-2014

Selected Conferences

“Towards a Global Realization of Japanese Art Data,” JAL (Japanese Art-Librarians Project), The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan November 2015

“From Recipient to Patron: Strands of Women’s Devotion in Embroidered Esoteric Buddhist Images,” Mid-Atlantic Region Association for Asian Studies, Pittsburgh, PA October 2015