Job title: (On sabbatical) Reader

Role: Director of Research, History of Art

Tel: +44 (0) 131 650 2340

Email: halle.o'

Office address: Room 0.49, Higgitt Gallery, Hunter Building

Contact time: Monday, 4pm - 5pm

Research outputs: Dr Halle O'Neal on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Halle O’Neal, a specialist in Japanese Buddhist art, is a Reader and Director of Research in the History of Art department and an Associate in Research at Harvard University, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies. Previously, she worked as a Mellon Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University. She completed her PhD in the Kress Department of Art History at the University of Kansas. Her work explores areas of word and image, relics and reliquaries, invisibility in visual and material culture, reuse and recycling, performativity, and the spectacular visualizations of embodiment. 

Her monograph, Word Embodied: The Jeweled Pagoda Mandalas in Japanese Buddhist Art, was published by Harvard University Press in 2018. It was awarded the CAA Millard Meiss Publication Fund and the JAHF First Book Subvention Prize. Her journal articles have appeared in The Art Bulletin (PDF)Artibus Asiae (PDF), and Journal of Oriental Studies (PDF). She has a forthcoming article in Ars Orientalis and a book chapter co-written with Paul Harrison in the Routledge Handbook of Translation and Religion

O’Neal recently delivered a keynote lecture for the 25th Annual Gender and Medieval Studies conference at Durham University. Other recent invited talks include those at McGill University, Harvard Art Museum, Stanford University, SOAS, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, Manchester University, and Woodenfish Foundation at Dafo Temple, Guangzhou, China.

From 2017-2019, she is working on a new project on medieval reuse and recycling in Japanese Buddhist visual and material culture with the support of a grant from the British Academy. Based on this project, she is serving as the guest editor of a ten-article special issue forthcoming in Ars Orientalis, titled “Reuse and Recycling in Japanese Visual and Material Cultures.” Her current monograph project, “Writing through Death: Memorial Palimpsests of Medieval Japan,” explores the materiality of death and mourning and the visualisation of memory and embodiment in Japanese letter sutras. O'Neal is also the co-director of the Edinburgh Buddhist Studies network and sits on the journal board of Art in Translation.

  • Blood, bones, bodies: Buddhist relics in Asia (4th year)
  • Visions of the Buddha: Religious art in medieval Japan (3rd year)
  • Lectures for History of Art 1 (1st year)
  • Lectures for Art History: Texts, Objects, Institutions (3rd year)
  • Lectures for Global Middle Ages core course (MSc)

Research Interests

  • Japanese Buddhist art
  • Word and image studies 
  • Relics and reliquaries
  • Performativity
  • Death commemorations in visual and material culture
  • Palimpsests
  • Digital Humanities

Current PhD students

PhD Supervision Topics

  • Japanese Buddhist art
  • Buddhist art
  • Relics and reliquaries
  • Word and image studies