ASIAN 232 - Zen Masters, Dharma Bums, and Drag Queens: Buddhism in America
Section: 001
Term: FA 2018
Subject: Asian Studies (ASIAN)
Department: LSA Asian Languages & Cultures
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

The history of Buddhism in Asia covers a period of roughly twenty-five hundred years. The history of Buddhism in the United States, by contrast, spans about a single century. Although Buddhist symbols and concepts have become ubiquitous in America culture, those images and ideas are often only loosely related to their original meanings in places like India, Tibet, Japan, and Thailand. In this course we will consider the various ways Buddhism was and is transmitted to this country and how Buddhist traditions have taken shape within the contexts of colonialism, globalization, and distinctly American philosophical and cultural values. We will be looking at a wide range of sources, including novels, Buddhist teachings, popular culture, contemporary scholarship, and films. This course is designed to introduce students to some of the central themes and defining issues of American Buddhist traditions. While we will be discussing the origins and development of Buddhism in the U.S., this class will not attempt to provide a comprehensive survey of all major American traditions and their teachings. Instead, we will consider a small number of case studies that are representative of larger cultural trends.

This course seeks to provide a forum for the development of intellectual skills, especially through discussion, close reading, and response. We will be sampling the teachings of some of the most prominent and influential Buddhist thinkers and teachers in this country, but our goal will be to examine these teachings in a critical and objective way. This course is intended neither as a celebration or an exposé of Buddhism in America, but an inquiry into issues of cultural transmission, adaptation, and appropriation.

Course Requirements:

Attendance 10% - Participation 10% - Reading Responses 20% - Mid-term paper 20% - Final paper 25% - Presentation 15%

Intended Audience:

Undergraduates at all levels. Minors and majors in Asian Studies. Students interested in Asian religious traditions and American culture.

Class Format:

Two 90-minute meetings weekly

ASIAN 232 - Zen Masters, Dharma Bums, and Drag Queens: Buddhism in America
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
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