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Current Courses

RELIGST251: Readings in Indian Buddhist Texts (RELIGST 351)

(Graduate students register for 351.) Introduction to Buddhist literature through reading original texts in Sanskrit. Prerequisite: Sanskrit. Undergraduates register for 200-level for 5 units. Graduate students register for 300-level for 3-5 units.

2018-2019 Autumn
RELIGST264: Hindu Tantra (RELIGST 364)

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.

2018-2019 Autumn
RELIGST31: The Religious Life of Things

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.

2018-2019 Autumn
RELIGST351: Readings in Indian Buddhist Texts (RELIGST 251)

(Graduate students register for 351.) Introduction to Buddhist literature through reading original texts in Sanskrit. Prerequisite: Sanskrit. Undergraduates register for 200-level for 5 units. Graduate students register for 300-level for 3-5 units.

2018-2019 Autumn
RELIGST56: Exploring Chinese Religions

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 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.

2018-2019 Autumn
RELIGST232: Buddhist Meditation: Ancient and Modern (RELIGST 332)

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.

2018-2019 Winter
RELIGST290: Majors Seminar

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.

2018-2019 Winter
RELIGST316: Tantric Buddhism

This course explores many of the key issues in the study of tantric Buddhism, including aspects of its historical development, ritual ideology, visual and material culture, notions of identity and embodiment, and variations across different times and cultures. Focusing on the traditions of India, Nepal, and Tibet, students will read primary texts in translation, debate secondary literature, view artworks in museum galleries, and develop final projects based on their research interests. Course readings are in English.

2018-2019 Winter
RELIGST347: Chinese Buddhist Texts

Chinese Buddhist texts from the Han Dynasty onwards, including sutra translations, prefaces, colophons, story collections and biographies. Prerequisite: reading competence in Chinese.

2018-2019 Winter
RELIGST367: Seminar in Religion and Material Culture

The first part of the course will examine approaches to the role of material culture in religion, including scholarship on icons, sacred space, clothing and food. In the second part of the course, students will develop research projects in their area of specialization.

[Not offered this year]
RELIGST55: Exploring Zen Buddhism

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.

2018-2019 Winter
RELIGST6N: Religion in Anime and Manga

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.

2018-2019 Winter
RELIGST1: Religion Around the Globe

This course surveys major religious traditions of the world. Through examination of a variety of materials, including scriptures and other spiritual writings, religious objects and artifacts, and modern documentary and film, we explore Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Jainism as rich historical and living traditions.

2018-2019 Spring
RELIGST202A: Monsters, Ghosts and Other Fantastic Beings: The Supernatural and the Mysterious in Japanese Culture (RELIGST 302A)

Examine the development of strange and fantastic creatures in Japan. Mysterious creatures in folklore, literature, art, manga and movies. Through them see how the concept of the strange or mysterious have evolved and how they inform Japanese modernity.

[Not offered this year]
RELIGST253: Recent Research on Japanese Buddhism (RELIGST 353)

Readings in recent English-language scholarship on Japanese Buddhism. nUndergraduates must enroll for 5 units; graduate students can enroll for 3-5 units. Prerequisite: Solid foundation in either Buddhist studies or East Asian Studies (5 units for 253, 3-5 units for 353) May be repeat for credit.

2018-2019 Spring
RELIGST348B: Readings in the Corpus of Dharmaraksa

The corpus of translation texts ascribed to Dharmaraksa (fl. ca. 265-308) represents an important milestone in the development of the Chinese Buddhist translation literature. In this course, students will read selections from Dharmaraksa's works, focusing on traces of the translation process, problems of interpretation, and what the texts reveal about the world in which they were composed. Ability to read classical Chinese is required. Some knowledge of Sanskrit and/or Gandhari is desirable, but not necessary.

2018-2019 Spring
RELIGST353: Recent Research on Japanese Buddhism (RELIGST 253)

Readings in recent English-language scholarship on Japanese Buddhism. nUndergraduates must enroll for 5 units; graduate students can enroll for 3-5 units. Prerequisite: Solid foundation in either Buddhist studies or East Asian Studies (5 units for 253, 3-5 units for 353) May be repeat for credit.

2018-2019 Spring
RELIGST50: Exploring Buddhism

A comprehensive historical survey of the Buddhist tradition, from its beginnings to the 21st century, covering principal teachings and practices, institutional and social forms, and artistic and iconographical expressions. (Formerly RELIGST 14.)

2018-2019 Spring
RELIGST8N: Gardens and Sacred Space in Japan

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 fieldtrip to a Japanese garden in the area, in order to study how Japanese garden design was adapted in North America.

2018-2019 Spring