Analysis of selected theme or symbols in relation to several different religious traditions. Topics vary. Prerequisite: admission to the comparative religion MAIS program or permission of instructor. Offered: W.
This seminar focuses on “syncretism” that is one of the salient, common features of religions of, and in, East Asia throughout history. Syncretism may not be unique to religion or East Asia as “all human culture is syncretistic” (Jordan and Overmyer, The Flying Phoenix), but the region offers rich source material that illustrates and epitomizes syncretism as a process through which religions form, grow, survive or thrive in response to particular cultural and social context. Our readings consist of case studies of syncretism in China, Korea, and Japan that encompass a wide spectrum of traditions, both indigenous (Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto) and foreign (Buddhism, Christianity, and Sufism), in pre-modern and modern periods. Our goals include: understanding each case of syncretism and hybridity in terms of its soteriological goals and methods; understanding cultural forces, religious imperatives, and social factors in the formation of syncretistic religion; identifying parallel and contrasting characteristics of syncretism between and among the cases we study; the construction of a working interpretive framework for East Asian religions that foregrounds their syncretistic orientations.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading
> > Readings, annotated bibliography of readings, and a paper of minimum 15 pages in length. > > >
ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING: Participation (20%); a critical review of each of the required readings (30%); research paper (50%).