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ASST 133
Buddhist Literature Spring 2021
Division II
Cross-listed REL 133 / ASST 133 / ENGL 147

Class Details

This course introduces students to the diverse literary culture of Buddhist Asia. Through close readings of particular influential Buddhist texts, we will analyze not only what the texts say and mean, but also learn about the “social life” of these texts–i.e., what is the socio-historical context of these texts, who are the intended audience, what is the relationship of these texts with their particular communities, how do these communities engage with their texts, including how texts have been translated, taught, worshipped and ritualized. We will also explore the materiality of these texts, which is as diverse as the languages in which these texts are written. Alongside an exploration of materiality requires that we reflect on what counts as “text”. Moreover, by sampling different genres of Buddhist texts (e.g., philosophical, historical, narrative, grammatical, cosmological, astrological, magical), we will discuss what makes them Buddhist and what makes them literary. The Lotus Sutra, the Heart Sutra, the Dhammapada, and Vessantara Jataka are just some of the texts we will study in this course. No prior knowledge about Buddhism is required.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 5551
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Attendance and active participation 20%; Short writing assignments 25% (i.e., a one-page, single-space, critical response based on the class reading x 5 total); Mid-term exam (in-class: identification terms and short essay) 25%; Final project and presentation 30% (the final grade includes initial consultation with the instructor regarding topic selection, annotated bibliography, project outline, final presentation, and final written report).
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: REL, ASST, and ENG majors
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
REL 133 Division II ASST 133 Division II ENGL 147 Division I

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