BUDDSTD C225 Readings in Japanese Buddhist Texts 2 or 4 Units



This seminar serves as an introduction to a broad range of Japanese Buddhist literature belonging to different historical periods and genres, including liturgical texts; monastic records, rules, and ritual manuals; doctrinal treatises; biographies of monks; and histories of Buddhism in Japan. Students are required to do all the readings in the original languages, which are classical Chinese (Kanbun) and classical Japanese. It will also serve as a tools and methods course, covering basic reference works and secondary scholarship in the field of Japanese Buddhism. The content of the course will be adjusted from semester to semester to accommodate the needs and interests of the students.

Spring 2021: 

This exploratory graduate seminar, co-taught by Mark Blum (East Asian Languages and Cultures/Buddhist Studies) and Greg Levine (History of Art), focuses on the study of race, class, and gender within the Buddhist tradition, its doctrinal, ritual, and institutional histories as well as visual and material cultures. Possible topics include: race and gender/racism and mysogyny in medieval Buddhist textual genre; gender prohibitions at sacred sites; the visual-material cultures of Japan’s imperial convents; British colonial archaeology of Indian Buddhist sites; Buddhist pan-Asianism and anti-imperial/colonial efforts by modern Buddhist teachers and lay writers; inherent racism at the World’s Parliament of Religions; orientalist/white supremacist formations of “Buddhist Studies”; anti-caste prejudice actions taken by Buddhist institutions, such as Higashi Honganji; debates about gender and lineage; race and gender in twentieth-century diaspora and convert Buddhisms; Buddhism in the Japanese WWII internment camps; racialized and sexualized representations of Buddhism in popular culture; anti-racism, anti-sexism teachings in/actions by contemporary Buddhist communities; and so on. Participants may take the seminar for two or four units. Assignments will include weekly readings and written commentary, turns leading discussion, and for four units, a focused research-based essay. Knowledge of Asian languages is not required, but students with such knowledge will be asked to contribute from their readings and work with primary and secondary sources in these languages. The seminar is also open to students outside Buddhist Studies and art history with interests in race, class, gender, and decolonization in the study of religions and the humanities.

Prerequisites: Consent of instructor

Repeat rules: Course may be repeated for credit when topic changes.

Also listed as: JAPAN C225