palms and rooftops at Stanford

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

 

All Courses

Winter
This course will analyze both the reception in America of Asian religions (i.e. of Buddhism in the 19th century), and the development in America of Asian American religious traditions.
Winter
This course will explore archaeological evidence for the ritual and religions of Ancient Eurasia, including Greco-Roman polytheism, early Christianity, and early Buddhism. Each week, we will discuss the most significant themes, methods, and approaches that archaeologists are now using to study religious beliefs and rituals. Examples will focus on the everyday social, material, and symbolic aspects of religion. The course will also consider the role of archaeological heritage in religious conflicts today and the ethical dilemmas of archaeology in the 21st century.
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.
Winter
This course will analyze both the reception in America of Asian religions (i.e. of Buddhism in the 19th century), and the development in America of Asian American religious traditions.
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/.
Spring
This class designed to prepare students participating in the 2020 BOSP Nepal Seminar. Through readings, lectures, and class discussions, students will acquire a working knowledge of coupled human-natural system theory and examine case studies of CHNS analysis in the region. We will also provide content on the history of Nepal and the Sherpa people, Buddhist and Hindu thoughts on nature and resources, agricultural systems across Himalayan ecotones, and geology, glaciology, water, and energy issues relevant to the course itinerary. The class will meet weekly through the Spring quarter. We may switch the time to accommodate the schedules of all enrolled students. The class is mandatory for students participating in BOSP Nepal 2020.
Autumn
This colloquium explores the major themes of Korean history before 1800 and the role of culture and religions in shaping the everyday life of Chosôn-dynasty Koreans. Themes include the aristocracy and military in the Koryô dynasty, Buddhism and Confucianism in the making of Chosôn Korea, kingship and court culture, slavery and women, family and rituals, death and punishment, and the Korean alphabet (Hangûl) and print culture.
Autumn
This colloquium explores the major themes of Korean history before 1800 and the role of culture and religions in shaping the everyday life of Chosôn-dynasty Koreans. Themes include the aristocracy and military in the Koryô dynasty, Buddhism and Confucianism in the making of Chosôn Korea, kingship and court culture, slavery and women, family and rituals, death and punishment, and the Korean alphabet (Hangûl) and print culture.
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/.
Winter
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.
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
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.
Autumn
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
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.
Autumn
What do we owe our parents? This course centers how Buddhist authors in Cambodia and Vietnam have wrestled with questions of debt and gratitude in the family. We will begin with the Indian and Chinese antecedents that shaped ideals of filial piety in the region of Southeast Asia formerly known as "Indochina." The core of our readings and discussions will engage classical Khmer and Vietnamese literature in translation, including the verse novels "A Child Called Dream" and "The Tale of Kieu." The course will close with Asian American celebrations and critiques of filial piety. Our aim throughout the quarter will be to complicate contemporary views on familial debts by charting a specific religious and literary history in Southeast Asia.
Winter
This course provides an introduction to Buddhist Tantra through considering select themes in its historical development, philosophy, contemplative and ritual dynamics, visual and material culture, and variations across different times and cultures, from medieval India to the globalized present. Students will learn how to interpret tantric Buddhist literature in translation, assess modern scholarly studies, appreciate diverse contemplative and ritual techniques, analyze examples of tantric Buddhist artwork, and develop final projects based on their interests. Course readings are in English. No prerequisite is required.
Autumn
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
An exploration of two key Mahayana Buddhist scriptures (the Heart & Diamond Sutras) and their histories, looking at what they say and how they have been used, from the first millennium to the present day.
Winter
This seminar explores the role of women in Japanese Buddhism, starting from the earliest records until today. 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.
Spring
This course explores the relationship between Buddhism and magic through the lens of an unstudied Southeast Asian manuscript held at Stanford's Cantor Arts Center. Working together as a class, we'll discover how to decipher the words, decode the numerological diagrams, and interpret the vivid illuminations of this unique document in light of the wider world of Buddhist witchcraft and wizardry. Prerequisites: Some background in Buddhist studies or Asian religions encouraged; no background in Southeast Asian languages required. NOTE: Undergraduates must enroll for 5 units; graduate students can enroll 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
This course will analyze both the reception in America of Asian religions (i.e. of Buddhism in the 19th century), and the development in America of Asian American religious traditions.
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.
Autumn
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.
Autumn
Readings in Hindu texts in Sanskrit. Texts will be selected based on student interest. Prerequisite: Sanskrit.
Autumn
This graduate 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.
Winter
This seminar explores the role of women in Japanese Buddhism, starting from the earliest records until today. 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.
Spring
This course explores the relationship between Buddhism and magic through the lens of an unstudied Southeast Asian manuscript held at Stanford's Cantor Arts Center. Working together as a class, we'll discover how to decipher the words, decode the numerological diagrams, and interpret the vivid illuminations of this unique document in light of the wider world of Buddhist witchcraft and wizardry. Prerequisites: Some background in Buddhist studies or Asian religions encouraged; no background in Southeast Asian languages required. NOTE: Undergraduates must enroll for 5 units; graduate students can enroll for 3-5 units.
Winter
This course will analyze both the reception in America of Asian religions (i.e. of Buddhism in the 19th century), and the development in America of Asian American religious traditions.
Autumn
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.
Spring
Independent study in Buddhism. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Winter
Independent study in Buddhism. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Summer
May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Winter
May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Autumn
May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Spring
May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.