REL 251 Fall 2012 Zen Buddhism: History and Historiography

Cross Listed as ASST251
Because mystifying references to Zen are strewn throughout American popular culture-from episodes of the Simpsons to names of perfumes and snack foods-most Americans have an image of Zen Buddhism that is disconnected from anything actually practiced in East Asia. This course offers a corrective to this image by familiarizing students with both the history of Zen and the historiographical roots of these popular perceptions. This course will examine the origins of Zen (Ch'an) in China, trace its transmission to Japan, and cover its development in both cultural contexts. It will conclude with an examination of Zen's unique role in American popular culture. The course will enrich the conventional image of Zen by addressing its involvement with power and governance, gods and demons, mummies and sacred sites, sex and violence, nationalism and scholarship. Texts will include selections from primary works in translation (The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, The Gateless Barrier, The Lancet of Seated Meditation) as well as selections from secondary literature including Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture, Victoria, Zen at War, and Faure, The Rhetoric of Immediacy.
Class Format: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: participation in class discussion, short response papers (2-3 pages), a mid term exam, and a take-home final exam
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: Religion and Asian Studies majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: ASST Interdepartmental Electives, INST East Asian Studies Electives,REL East Asian Tradition Courses
Enrollment Limit: 30
Expected Enrollment: 30
Class Number: 1687
REL251-01(F) LEC Zen Buddhism:Hist&Histrgrphy Division 2: Social Studies Jason Josephson
MWF 11:00 AM-12:15 PM Griffin 5 1687
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