Religious Studies | Religions of Asia
R153 | 5897 | H. Blair


How do contemporary representations of Asian religions  Buddhism, Hinduism,
Confucianism, Daoism, Shinto and folk religion  rely on and transform classical ideals and
traditional practices? This accessible introduction to major Asian religious traditions
juxtaposes movies and classical theology, music and traditional practices to explore how
interpretation of major themes varies over time. Themes covered in the course include the
identity of god and our relationship with him/her, what it means to be a good person, what
it means to live in harmony with nature, and how we should cultivate wisdom. The course
combines background reading and lectures, study of classical texts, and discussion of film,
music, fiction, and other media. By the end of the course, students will have developed a
basic vocabulary for talking about Asian religions, as well as skills in the close reading of
primary sources in a variety of genres. Students will also be able to identify values,
themes, and patterns that derive from Asian religions and that commonly occur in
contemporary popular culture. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to develop
their own interpretations of course materials. And in a series of short writing assignments
and exams, students also learn to use specific cases and examples to support those
interpretations. Requirements include exams, short writing assignments, and participation
in discussion. This course carries Culture Studies and Global Civilizations and Cultures
credit. No pre-requisite.