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This course introduces students to the core concepts of Buddhism, as well as historical Buddhist perspectives on gender equality, homosexuality and queerness, the body (masculine, feminine, androgynous), birth (literally and figuratively), sex, contraception, abortion, and clerical marriages throughout Buddhist Asia. We will investigate these issues through close readings of specific sections of the Buddhist canon, alongside secondary sources. Is Buddhism equitable regarding these issues? Does it depend on how one interprets texts? In addition to scriptural interpretations of these issues, we will explore socio-cultural developments beyond the text, including recent challenges to traditional interpretations. In this course, students will sample case studies that include an exploration of: pre-modern South Asian ideals of masculinity; the gender transformation of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvaraor Guanyin in China; love and grief; birth and fertility; abortion and ritual aftermath in contemporary Japan; the struggle for official recognition of Buddhist nuns in contemporary Thailand; as well as mindfulness practices for racial equality. Finally, this course includes brief experiential components on Buddhist meditation and ritual. No prior knowledge about Buddhism is required.
Format: seminar; This class is remote with a mix of synchronous and asynchronous requirements. Synchronous meetings are limited to once a week for roughly one hour (between 60-75 minutes). Many of our synchronous requirements will feature breakout sessions into small groups for intimate, peer exchanges, followed by discussions with the entire class. A few asynchronous sessions will require community-building with your peers through some form of work exchange or reflection related to the weekly topic.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
Attendance and active participation 25%; Short writing assignments 25% (one-page, single-space, critical response based on class reading x 4 total); Mid-term exam 25% (identification terms, short essay); Final project and presentation 25% (initial consultation with the instructor regarding topic selection, annotated bibliography and project outline, formal written report (4-5 single-space pages) , presentation, and final reflection)
REL, ASST, and WGSS majors