SEAS 211 - Monks, Magic and Mediums: Buddhism in Southeast Asia
Fall 2020, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Southeast Asian Studies (SEAS)
Department: LSA II: SE Asian Studies
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


‘Buddhism’ typically evokes thoughts of monks, meditation and monasteries in the minds of Americans. Everyday religious life in Buddhist Southeast Asia, however, is also filled with astrologers, spirit mediums, amulets, shrines, deities, and ghosts. This course introduces students to the wide diversity of Buddhist actors, voices, activities, objects and places in contemporary Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

We will explore the social, ritual and material cultures of popular Buddhism that characterize mundane religious life in these countries. How, when and why do individuals seek out monks, nuns, astrologers, spirit mediums, exorcists, and esoteric masters? What goals shape the Buddhist practice of meditation, devotion, divination, renunciation, and pilgrimage? What sorts of ritual objects do Southeast Asian Buddhists create, collect and use in the pursuit of their diverse religious goals? How useful is it to regard these beliefs and practices as magical or superstitious? By the end of the course, students will understand how abstract Buddhist teachings, beliefs, and doctrines take on concrete meaning and significance in the everyday life of Southeast Asian cultures and communities.

Class Format:

This course will meet in person on Mondays and virtually on Wednesdays. Students who require entirely online participation should enroll in section 002.


SEAS 211 - Monks, Magic and Mediums: Buddhism in Southeast Asia
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
002 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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