RELIGION 351 - Gods, Ghosts, and Gangsters: Popular Religion in China
Section: 001
Term: FA 2017
Subject: Religion (RELIGION)
Department: LSA Studies in Religion
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course introduces students to the traditions, doctrines, and rituals of Chinese popular religion from pre-imperial times to the modern age. Existing alongside and to a certain extent throughout China’s more familiar religious traditions — Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism — the category of “popular religion” refers to the beliefs and practices of everyday life. Rather than focusing on specific ideologies or institutions, this course will adopt a thematic approach. We will begin by discussing the main theoretical and methodological issues in the study of myth, ritual, and popular religion. We then move on to survey key themes in Chinese mythology, such as the creation of the universe and human society. The major players in the Chinese ritual arena – exorcists, diviners, and priests will be introduced. Family and gender issues will be explored through a close reading of vernacular religious literature. We will also consider the modern era and examine the role of popular religion in contemporary Mainland China and Taiwan, with particular attention to the relationship between state, society, and religion, and the influence of popular beliefs and practices on new religious movements, such as the Falun Gong and Christian sects. The goal of this course is to situate the variety of Chinese religious experiences in specific social and cultural contexts, and to consider the various meanings of “religion” in the Chinese cultural context.

Course Requirements:

Attendance 10% - Participation 10% - Reading Responses 20% - Mid-term paper 20% - Final paper 30% - Presentation 10%

Intended Audience:

No prior experience is necessary. All are welcome.

Undergraduate students from all levels who are interested in History, Religion, Asian Studies, Philosophy, popular culture, Sociology, International Studies and other similar disciplines.

Class Format:

This class will consist of short lectures and extensive discussion. Two 90-minute meetings weekly.

RELIGION 351 - Gods, Ghosts, and Gangsters: Popular Religion in China
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
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