Job title: Chancellor's Fellow & Lecturer

Role: Director of Research, History of Art

Tel: +44 (0) 131 650 2340

Email: halle.o'

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

​Halle O’Neal is a specialist in Japanese Buddhist art. Before joining History of Art as a Chancellor’s Fellow in the autumn of 2014, she worked as a Mellon Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University. She completed her PhD in the Kress Department of Art History at the University of Kansas and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University.

Her monograph, Word Embodied: The Jeweled Pagoda Mandalas in Japanese Buddhist Art, is forthcoming with Harvard University Press in 2018. She has also published articles in The Art Bulletin and the Journal of Oriental Studies. These publications explore the jeweled pagoda mandalas' revolutionary use of text as picture to show how this visual conflation mirrors important conceptual indivisibilities in medieval Japan. The textual pagoda projects the complex constellation of relics, reliquaries, scripture, and body in religious doctrine, practice, and art. These publications also expand our thinking about the demands of viewing, recasting the audience as active producers of meaning and offering a novel perspective on disciplinary discussions of word and image that often presuppose an ontological divide between them. These examinations of the jeweled pagoda mandalas, therefore, recover crucial dynamics underlying Japanese Buddhist art, including invisibility, performative viewing, and the spectacular visualizations of embodiment. 

From 2017-2019, she will be 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. A forthcoming article in Artibus Asiae explores this topic from the angle of sutra letters: "Inscribing Grief and Salvation: Embodiment and Medieval Reuse and Recycling in Buddhist Palimpsests" (2019). 

O'Neal is the convenor of the History of Art Research Workshop and co-convenor of the Asian Religions Network at the University of Edinburgh. She is also Director of Research for History of Art.

  • 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