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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Collett D. Cox
ASIAN 411
Seattle Campus

Buddhist Literature

Overview of major Buddhist literary traditions of India, China, and Tibet from antiquity to the end of the first millennium CE. Special focus on Indian Mahayana literature and the historical factors that accompanied its introduction and preservation in China and Tibet. Offered: W.

Class description

Buddhist Literature: The course will survey Buddhist literature of India, China, and Japan through selected excerpts chosen from the genres of biography, poetry, narrative, ritual manuals, doctrinal treatises, and historical accounts. The course will begin with the origins of Buddhist literature in India and will trace its further development in India, China, and Japan. Attention will also be given to the themes of textual composition, authorship, audience, transmission, context and function. All works are read in English translation. No prerequisites!!

Student learning goals

gain a general familiarity with the variety of Buddhist literature from South and East Asia

explore the Buddhist practices and teachings that this literature presents

recognize the differences among genres of literary texts in terms of their authorship, audience, structure, function, and context of use

investigate the various perspectives from which literary works can be interpreted

General method of instruction

PowerPoint-assisted lectures will present the historical and cultural background for each text selection, introduce characteristics of the text genre, and raise issues relevant to the interpretation of the text. Text selections will be further analyzed through discussion sections in which students will take an active part.

Recommended preparation

This class assumes no background in the study of Buddhism and has no prerequisites. The most effective technique for success in this course is to read the assigned text selections carefully. Secondary readings will provide a context for broader issues of textual interpretation. (Lecture outlines and questions for study and discussion will assist students in the assigned readings.) Students should be prepared to discuss the text selections and to think critically about the issues they raise.

Class assignments and grading

Requirements include participation in class discussion, WebQ reading quizzes, GoPost response paragraphs and peer feedback on specified topics, a midterm, one short analytical paper (4-5 page limit) for which topics will be suggested, and a take-home final examination

Weekly reading assignments and study guides with questions for student-led discussions, suggested paper topics, and study guides for exams will be provided.

Grading will be as follows:

20% Class participation and WebQ reading review quizzes 15% GoPost response paragraphs and GoPost peer feedback 20% Midterm 20% Short analytical paper 25% Take-home final exam


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Collett D. Cox
Date: 10/25/2011