palms and rooftops at Stanford
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Rooftops and palms, Stanford. Photo credit: Linda A. Cicero

 

All Courses

Winter
An exploration of the visual arts of East and South Asia from ancient to modern times, in their social, religious, literary and political contexts. Analysis of major monuments of painting, sculpture and architecture will be organized around themes that include ritual and funerary arts, Buddhist art and architecture across Asia, landscape and narrative painting, culture and authority in court arts, and urban arts in the early modern world.
Autumn
Impact of Buddhism on the arts and culture of Japan as seen in the ancient capital of Kyoto. Image production, iconography, representational strategies, as well as the ritual and visual functions of Buddhist sculpture and painting with a focus on selected historical temples and their icons. Also examination of architectural and landscape elements of temple layouts, within which iconographic programs are framed, images are enlivened, and practices centered on these devotional and ritual art.
Winter
What does one need to know about Islam to do business effectively in an Arab country? How can understanding the Protestant ethic help Mexican managers deal with U.S. partners? How does Confucianism influence Chinese business ethics? What are the business advantages of knowing how different countries rate on the spectrum of individualist versus communitarian values? These are the kinds of issues discussed in this course, which seeks to help students who will be engaged in international business during their careers. It aims to examine the deeper levels of attitudes and beliefs, often unconscious, which lie beneath the way business is done in various countries. Information will be provided on major religious and philosophical traditions like Confucianism, Shinto, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Some cross-cultural frameworks will also be considered. Case studies and background readings are set in nations like China, Japan, India, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Mexico and the United States. The class will be discussion-based, drawing on students- own life experiences as well as the cases and readings. The hope is to provide a competitive advantage, both theoretically and practically, to students through understanding certain unspoken rules of the game in global business.
Winter
Temples, prayer beads, icons, robes, books, relics, candles and incense, scarves and hats, sacred food and holy water; objects of all sorts play a prominent role in all religions, evoking a wide range of emotional responses, from reverence, solace and even ecstasy, to fear, hostility and violence. What is it about these things that makes them so powerful? Is it beliefs and doctrines that inspire particular attitudes towards certain objects, or is it the other way around? Many see a tension or even contradiction between religion and material pursuits and argue that the true religious life is a life without things. But is such a life even possible? This course adopts a comparative approach, drawing on a variety of traditions to examine the place of images, food, clothing, ritual objects, architecture and relics in religious thought and practice. Materials for the course include scholarship, scripture, images and at least one museum visit.
Winter
Religious themes and topoi are ubiquitous in Japanese anime and manga. In this course, we will examine how religions are represented in these new media and study the role of religions in contemporary Japan. By doing this, students will also learn fundamental concepts of Buddhism and Shinto.WIN '24: This class will be meeting in room 338 in the East Asia Library.
Spring
This seminar will explore gardens and sacred spaces in Japan. We will study the development of Japanese garden design from the earliest records to contemporary Japan. We will especially focus on the religious, aesthetic, and social dimensions of gardens and sacred spaces. This seminar features a field trip to a Japanese garden in the area, in order to study how Japanese garden design was adapted in North America. Note: This course will be offered in East Asia Library, Room 212.
Autumn
An overview of major themes and historical developments in 5000 years of Chinese religion. In this course, we will try as much as possible to appreciate Chinese religion from the Chinese perspective, paying particular attention to original texts in translation, artifacts and videos, all in an attempt to discern the logic of Chinese religion and the role it has played in the course of Chinese history. To a greater extent perhaps than any other civilization, Chinese have left behind a continuous body of written documents and other artifacts relating to religion stretching over thousands of years, providing a wealth of material for studying the place of religion in history and society.
Autumn
How did ancient Buddhist practices like mindfulness come to be promoted today as essential for our mental and physical wellbeing? How have Buddhists responded to the global COVID-19 health crisis? If Buddhist practice can indeed heal and keep us healthy, how does it claim to heal, and from what? This class explores these and other related questions by studying how Buddhism has throughout its history been intertwined with the theory and practice of medicine. No prior knowledge of Buddhism or medicine is required.
Autumn
In Buddhist practices, devotees have long used their bodies to express religious devotion. This can be seen through asceticism, exorcism, hallucination, mummification, immolation, and even tattoo art. This course examines such themes through textual readings, material culture, and visual imagery. In regards to asceticism, ascetic practices can be used to alter one's physical form, through starvation, fire, practices in the mountains, or other such means. Examples of this include the mountain practitioners who mummified in Japan, immolation practices in China and Tibet, and the "marathon monks" of Mount Hiei. Subthemes of this course include gender and the body, and the body and violence. Undergraduates register for 200-level for 5 units. Graduate students register for 300-level for 3-5 units.
Winter
What happens to Buddhism when the Buddha speaks Chinese? Is the Qur'an still the Qur'an in English? What did Martin Luther do for the German language? We try to answer these and other such questions in this course, which explores the translation of sacred scripture and other religious texts from the earliest times to the present day. Taking a global perspective, and looking at Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, the course is designed to introduce students to the theory and practice of translation and get them thinking about its broader cultural, aesthetic and political significance. Undergraduates register for 200-level for 5 units. Graduate students register for 300-level for 3-5 units.
Spring
This seminar explores the influence of the Lotus Sutra, one of the most important Mahayana scriptures, in Japan. We will study how different Japanese Buddhist schools have interpreted this sutra and analyze a wide range of religious practices, art works, and literature associated with this text. All readings will be in English. Prerequisites: Solid foundation in either Buddhist studies or East Asian Studies. You must have taken at least one other course in Buddhist Studies. NOTE: Undergraduates must enroll for 5 units; graduate students can enroll for 3-5 units.
Winter
This seminar studies how practitioners throughout Asian religious traditions have utilized and theorized the senses in rituals. We will study primary sources, secondary literature, visual culture, and multimedia expressive forms. Undergraduates must enroll for 5 units; graduate students can enroll for 3-5 units. WIN '24: This course will be meeting in room 212 in the East Asia Library.
Spring
An exploration of the theory and practice of Buddhist meditation from the time of the Buddha to the modern mindfulness boom, with attention to the wide range of techniques developed and their diverse interpretation. Undergraduates register for 200-level for 5 units. Graduate students register for 300-level for 3-5 units.
Winter
What is Tantra? Tantric forms of ritual and philosophy have been integral to the practice of Hinduism for most of its history. Tantra has provided initiates with a spiritual technology for embodying the divine and transcending the cycle of rebirth; on a social and political level, Tantra has mediated the institutions of Hindu kingship and appealed to a diverse population of initiates. This course covers a number of influential and well-documented Hindu tantric traditions, exploring several prominent features of Tantric religion as they develop historically, including: tantric ritual practice (core technologies of the subtle body, mantras, ma, alas, etc., along with the more notorious elements of sex and transgression), theology and philosophical speculation, as well as Tantra's relationship to the outside world and state power.
Winter
Required of all majors and combined majors. The study of religion reflects upon itself. Representative modern and contemporary attempts to "theorize," and thereby understand, the phenomena of religion in anthropology, psychology, sociology, cultural studies, and philosophy. WIM.
Winter
What happens to Buddhism when the Buddha speaks Chinese? Is the Qur'an still the Qur'an in English? What did Martin Luther do for the German language? We try to answer these and other such questions in this course, which explores the translation of sacred scripture and other religious texts from the earliest times to the present day. Taking a global perspective, and looking at Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, the course is designed to introduce students to the theory and practice of translation and get them thinking about its broader cultural, aesthetic and political significance. Undergraduates register for 200-level for 5 units. Graduate students register for 300-level for 3-5 units.
Spring
Readings in Hindu texts in Sanskrit. Texts will be selected based on student interest. Prerequisite: Sanskrit.
Winter
This seminar studies how practitioners throughout Asian religious traditions have utilized and theorized the senses in rituals. We will study primary sources, secondary literature, visual culture, and multimedia expressive forms. Undergraduates must enroll for 5 units; graduate students can enroll for 3-5 units. WIN '24: This course will be meeting in room 212 in the East Asia Library.
Spring
An exploration of the theory and practice of Buddhist meditation from the time of the Buddha to the modern mindfulness boom, with attention to the wide range of techniques developed and their diverse interpretation. Undergraduates register for 200-level for 5 units. Graduate students register for 300-level for 3-5 units.
Spring
This seminar will explore the mystical writings of the major religious traditions represented in our department: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. It will address major issues in the study of mysticism, exposing students to a wide variety of religious thinkers and literary traditions, while simultaneously interrogating the usefulness of the concept of "mysticism" as a framework in the study of religion. We will consider various paradigms of method (comparative, constructivist, essentialist), and examine the texts with an eye to historical and social context together with the intellectual traditions that they represent. Preserving the distinctiveness of each religious tradition, the class will be structured as a series of five units around these traditions, but our eyes will be continuously trained upon shared topics or themes, including: language; gender; notions of sainthood; scripture and exegesis; autobiography and writing; mysticism and philosophy; poetry and translation; mysticism and social formation; the interface of law, devotion, and spirit; science and mysticism; perceptions of inter-religious influence; mysticism and the modern/ post-modern world. Advanced reading knowledge of at least one language of primary-source scholarship in one of the above traditions is required. Undergraduates register for 200-level for 5 units. Graduate students register for 300-level for 3-5 unit.
Winter
Introduction to Buddhist literature through reading original texts in Sanskrit. Prerequisite: Sanskrit. WIN '24: This class will be meeting in the Ho Center Library in Littlefield Management Center, Room 340.
Autumn
The goal of this course is to familiarize graduate students with themes, debates and methodologies in Buddhist Studies. Works covered are not all recent (though most are), but rather works that raise issues that scholars continue to address in recent works. Some weeks will focus on topics (e.g. Indian monasticism, defining meditative experience), and others on bodies of evidence (e.g. hagiography, material culture). "Buddhist Studies" encompasses a range of discrete disciplines (philosophy, history, anthropology etc.). This course is an opportunity for you to familiarize yourself with some of the most common approaches to Buddhist studies and the specific challenges they pose.
Summer
Graduate Independent study in Buddhism. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Summer
May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Autumn
May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Winter
May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Spring
May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Autumn
Required supervised internship for PhDs.
Winter
Required supervised internship for PhDs.
Spring
Required supervised internship for PhDs.