palms and rooftops at Stanford

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

 

All Courses

Autumn
This course looks at foundations of East Asian thought, including Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism as well as other cultural traditions. The ideologies were first articulated in ancient China (or India) and from there spread to Korea, Japan, and throughout Southeast Asia, where they remain important today. We will read selections from seminal texts including "The Confucian Analects", "Daode jing", "Zhuangzi", and "The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch". Attention is also given to other perennial (and often problematic) themes of Asian life and society, including those of conflicting loyalties and violent revenge. Finally, the course examines aesthetic expression in painting and calligraphy that became the embodiment of classical philosophical values and their own articulation of an aestheticized Way, still widely practiced and admired. This course is part of the Humanities Core, a collaborative set of global humanities seminars that brings all of its students and faculty into conversation. On Mondays you meet in your own course, and on Wednesdays all the HumCore seminars (in session that quarter) meet together: https://humanitiescore.stanford.edu/.
Winter
Is it okay to feel pleasure? Should humans choose beauty or renunciation? This is the main controversy of medieval Japan. This course introduces students to the famous literary works that created a world of taste, subtlety, and sensuality. We also read essays that warn against the risks of leading a life of gratification, both in this life and in the afterlife. And we discover together the ways in which these two positions can be not that far from each other. Does love always lead to heartbreak? Is the appreciation of nature compatible with the truths of Buddhism? Is it good to have a family? What kind of house should we build for ourselves? Can fictional stories make us better persons? Each week, during the first class meeting, we will focus on these issues in Japan. During the second class meeting, we will participate in a collaborative conversation with the other students and faculty in Humanities Core classes, about other regions and issues. This course is taught in English. This course is part of the Humanities Core, a collaborative set of global humanities seminars that brings all of its students and faculty into conversation. On Mondays you meet in your own course, and on Wednesdays all the HumCore seminars (in session that quarter) meet together: https://humanitiescore.stanford.edu/.
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.
Spring
This course surveys major religious traditions of the world in all of their complexity, in relation to philosophy and politics; liturgy and literature; identity and social hierarchies; art, community, and emotion. Through examination of a variety of materials, including scriptures and other spiritual writings, religious objects and artifacts, and modern documentary, fiction and film, we explore Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Daoism as rich historical and living traditions.
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.
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.
Autumn
How has the modern fascination with the Buddha, who lived nearly 2,500 years ago, come to influence scientific research on the nature of mind and its potential role in human flourishing? Do "mindfulness apps" have anything to do with ancient Buddhist theories of mind and techniques for training and transforming it? This class explores these and related questions through studying the history, nature, and implications of the diverse encounters and exchanges between Buddhists and psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers of mind.
Spring
This course is an introduction to Chan/Zen Buddhism. We will study the historical and doctrinal development of this tradition in China and Japan and examine various facets of Zen, such as the philosophy, practices, rituals, culture, and institution. For this aim, we will read and discuss classical Zen texts in translation and important secondary literature. This class will further feature a visit of a Zen teacher, who will give an introduction to sitting meditation.
Winter
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
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to some of the oldest and most racially and linguistically diverse Buddhist communities in the United States. This course engages differences in power and representation in Buddhist temples and centers across the Bay Area, focusing on Asian American institutions and other communities of color. We will also explore the entanglement of race, religion, and the appropriation of mindfulness-based practices in Silicon Valley. In addition to reading works by anthropologists and sociologists of religion, we will conduct fieldwork with local communities to build a more representative picture of Buddhist life in the Bay Area from the nineteenth century to the present.
Autumn
Is the body we identify as a 'self' a given? How does a body that is gendered, raced, or marked as deviant become free? Like Queer studies, Buddhism has long ago recognized the constructedness of identity, and developed an impressive array of contemplative practices, ritual performances, and philosophical systems that aim to transcend binary constructions. At the same time however, Buddhist institutions continue to be steeped in patriarchal societies that derive their power from creating various categories of bodily exclusion. How do we reconcile this seeming contradiction between the ultimate goal of liberation and the relative reality of identity markers of difference?
Winter
Buddhism often figures in the popular imagination not as a religion, but as a philosophy, or a way of life. But why is such a distinction made? Does Buddhist thought and practice make sense as a philosophy? What do Buddhists actually mean when they say there is no self? Is this a philosophical claim? And what about the Buddhist arguments that everything is empty, projected by the mind, or the result of past karma? Is meditation on such theories philosophical practice? This course explores these and other questions by studying the perennial ideas that have made Buddhist traditions distinctive, the implications of these claims for living a meaningful life, and how these ideas and their associated practices have been received in contemporary secularized societies.
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.
Spring
The focus of this course is on approaches to the past from within Buddhist traditions rather than modern academic writing on Buddhist history. We will briefly examine research on religious conceptions of the past in other religions before turning to the full range of Buddhist historiography, including writings from India, Ceylon, China, Tibet and Japan. The first half of the class will be dedicated to reading and discussing scholarship as well as some primary sources in translation. In the second half of the course, students will develop projects based on their interests, culminating in presentations and a research paper.
Winter
Independent study in Buddhism. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Spring
Independent study in Buddhism. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Summer
Independent study in Buddhism. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Autumn
Independent study in Buddhism. 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.
Summer
May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Autumn
May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Spring
Required supervised internship for PhDs.
Autumn
Required supervised internship for PhDs.
Winter
Required supervised internship for PhDs.