Religious Studies | Zen Buddhism
R203 | 24929 | Fischer


The above course carries Culture Studies (A) along with Arts and
Humanities distribution.

Zen is a branch of Buddhism that originated and flourished in
medieval China for several centuries before Japanese Buddhists
adopted and modified it into the tradition more commonly known to
the West today.  This course is a historical survey of Zen in China
and Japan.  The first half of the course will examine the evolution
of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism, in the minds of some, into a distinct
system of thought and practice known as Chan.  The second half of
the course will analyze the history of Zen in Japan and will
conclude by looking at how the religion has been presented in the
West.  We will consider different modes of theory and practice in
various schools of Zen, how these schools operated as social
institutions, and some of the ways in which practical Zen is both
culturally enclosed and universally available.

We'll be reading some classic introductory material for the history
of Zen in China and Japan. We will evaluate the readings quite
critically in class.  During our meetings I'll lecture on the more
important elements of Zen, then we'll discuss those facets that
particularly interest the students.  This could include doctrine,
practice, aesthetics, historical changes, regional variation,
whatever.  When possible and relevant, slides of Zen temples and art
will be shown and integrated with the readings.  Three exams (two of
which are take-home) and one short paper will the the primary basis
for your grade.