Yale Himalaya Initiative

environment | livelihood | culture

Courses with Himalayan Content

Spring 2014

ANTH 313: Cultural Aspects of International Development

Critical analysis of development ideas and projects in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, with a focus on ethnographic research. Development and cultural diversity; social and economic development politics and practices; institutions that design, fund, and implement development, such as multilateral agencies, governments, and civil society organizations.

Professor: Sara Shneiderman
Spring 2014

RLST 013 | SAST 056 | EAST 013: Who is The Dalai Lama?

The institution of the Dalai Lama and the individuals who have filled that role from fifteenth-century Tibet to twenty-first-century exile in India. Survey of the most important Dalai Lamas; regional histories of Buddhism; the Tibetan tradition of recognized reincarnations and the Buddhist philosophical principles that support it; activities of the current Dalai Lama as interpreted by Chinese government media, Indian exile communities, and the modern West.

Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.

Professor: Andrew Quintman
Spring 2014

The institution of the Dalai Lama and the individuals who have filled that role from fifteenth-century Tibet to twenty-first-century exile in India. Survey of the most important Dalai Lamas; regional histories of Buddhism; the Tibetan tradition of recognized reincarnations and the Buddhist philosophical principles that support it; activities of the current Dalai Lama as interpreted by Chinese government media, Indian exile communities, and the modern West.

Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.

Spring 2014

RLST 583|383 | SAST 567|467: Biography in Asian Religions

The significance of life writing in the religious traditions of Asia. Readings both from primary texts in translation and from theoretical works on biography and autobiography.

Spring 2014

SAST 369|569 | ANTH 353|553: Himalayan Languages and Cultures

In this seminar, we explore the Himalayan belt as a unique case study in the human condition and the distinctive adaptive strategies of smaller communities. Straddling the Indosphere and the Sinosphere, the Himalayan region is of profound geopolitical importance and home to enormous biological, cultural and linguistic diversity. Through reading relevant ethnographies, and by our careful study of the lives and livelihoods of some of the communities settled in and across Himalayan mountain states, we will ask probing questions about territory, identity, belonging and ideology.

Click here to read more about the class.

Spring 2014
Fall 2013

ANTH 317 | HSAR 479 | SAST 363 | EAST 363: Himalayan Collections at Yale

A hands-on, collaborative class that uses technology to explore the links between Yale’s exceptional collections from and about the Himalayan region. Working with online tools and new digital media, we will uncover the material histories and contexts of art objects, photographs and personal archives, and help to enrich the collections through collective cataloguing. Readings and resources are drawn from Yale’s many libraries and museums, and cover Nepal, Tibet and northern India.

Click here to read more about the course.

Fall 2013

RLST 105 | SAST 175: Religious Movements in Modern India

Sacred texts and religious practices of India as they have been disseminated, reinterpreted, and enlisted in various political and cultural projects during the colonial and postindependence periods. Focus on Hindu traditions, with some attention to Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam.  Readings include theological writings, doctrinal tracts, novels, anthropological and sociological analyses, poetry, autobiography, and historical overviews.

Fall 2013

RLST 125 | SAST 267: Introduction to Buddhist Thought and Practice

Significant aspects of Buddhism as practiced mainly in India and South Asia, including philosophy and ethics, monastic and ascetic life, meditation and ritual practices, and the material culture of Buddhist societies. The Mahayana tradition that emerged in the first century B.C.E.; later forms of esoteric Buddhism known as tantra; the development of modern Buddhism in Asia and its manifestation in the West. Readings from Buddhist texts in translation.

Fall 2013

RLST 187 | HSAR 142 | SAST 265: Introduction to the History of Art: The Classical Buddhist World

Buddhist art and architecture of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and central Asia from earliest beginnings to the tenth century, and including Greco-Roman, Persian, and Islamic contact.

Fall 2013

RLST 382 | HSAR 477 | SAST 462: Yoga: Art, Text, and Practice

Critical investigation of texts, images, and the practice of yoga, focusing on Indian traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, as well as modern manifestations in the West. Themes include contemplative practices, bodily disciplines, ritual, narrative painting, architecture, and the role of yoga in tantra. Readings emphasize primary sources and theoretical frameworks.

Fall 2013

RLST 573 | EALL 560: Sacred Place in Asia

Critical examination of representative studies on sacred places in Asia.

Professor: Koichi Shinohara
Fall 2013

SAST 219 | ANTH 276: South Asian Social Worlds

Study of a series of texts that introduce anthropological and critical approaches to South Asia’s peoples and cultures while questioning the historical and political possibility of understanding such a diverse region.

Fall 2013

SKRT 110 | LING 115 | LING 515 | SKRT 510: Introductory Sanskrit I

An introduction to Sanskrit language and grammar. Focus on learning to read and translate basic Sanskrit sentences in Devanagari script.

No prior background in Sanskrit assumed.

Fall 2013

SKRT 130 | LING 138 | LING 538 | SKRT 530: Intermediate Sanskrit I

The first half of a two-term sequence aimed at helping students develop the skills necessary to read texts written in Sanskrit. Readings include selections from the Hitopadesa, Kathasaritsagara, Mahabharata, and Bhagavadgita.

Fall 2013

SKRT 510 | LING 115 | SKRT 110 | LING 515: Introductory Sanskrit I

An introduction to Sanskrit language and grammar. Focus on learning to read and translate basic Sanskrit sentences in the Indian Devanagari script. Credit only on completion of SKRT 520b/LING 525b.

Fall 2013

Tibetan 110|510

Classical Tibetan language is now being offered at Yale through the Center for Language Study and its Shared Course Initiative. Learn the language of Buddhist texts from Tibet and the Himalayan region.

Monday, Wednesday 11:00 - 12:50 pm

Classes begin September 4.

Please click here to view the flyer advertising this course.

Fall 2013
Spring 2013, Fall 2013

HSAR 143 | RLST 188: Introduction to the History of Art: Buddhist Art and Architecture, 900 to 1600

Instructor Name: 

 Mimi Yiengpruksawan

Term: 

 Spring 2013

Introduction to the History of Art: Buddhist Art and Architecture, 900 to 1600

HSAR 143 01 (21557) / Religious Studies (RLST) 188  

Spring Semester 2013

Buddhist art and architecture of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Tibet from the tenth century to the early modern period. Emphasis on cross-regional engagements including the impact of Islam.

Spring 2013, Fall 2013
Instructor Name: 

 Mimi Yiengpruksawan

Term: 

 Spring 2013

Introduction to the History of Art: Buddhist Art and Architecture, 900 to 1600

HSAR 143 01 (21557) / Religious Studies (RLST) 188  

Spring Semester 2013

Buddhist art and architecture of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Tibet from the tenth century to the early modern period. Emphasis on cross-regional engagements including the impact of Islam.

Spring 2013, Fall 2013
Spring 2013

ANTH 463 | SAST 419 | ER&M 366: Ethnicity, Indigeneity, Mobility

Ethnicity, Indigeneity, Mobility

Anthropology (ANTH) 463 01 (23055), South Asian Studies (SAST) 419 & ER&M366

Spring Semester 2013

Classic literature on ethnicity in conversation with more recent work on indigeneity and mobility. Relationships among place, belonging, and citizenship in shaping contemporary identity practices and discourses. Focus on South Asia, with attention to Latin America, Native North America, Southeast and East Asia, Australia/New Zealand, and Africa.

Professor: Sara Shneiderman
Spring 2013

RLST 137 | SAST 263: Introduction to Hinduism

Introduction to Hinduism

Religious Studies (RLST) 137 01 (22026) / South Asian Studies (SAST) 263

Spring Semester 2013

 

A broad introduction to classical Hinduism, emphasizing the close reading of primary texts in translation. Readings include selections from the major genres of religious writing: RgVeda, Brahmanas, Upanisads, epics and puranas, and philosophical works.

Professor: Phyllis Granoff
Spring 2013

RLST 182 | SAST 459: Buddhist Traditions of Mind and Meditation

Buddhist Traditions of Mind and Meditation

Religious Studies (RLST) 182/ South Asian Studies (SAST) 459

Spring Semester 2013

This seminar surveys a range of Buddhist meditation practices in the context of traditional theories of mind, perception, and cognition. Beginning with canonical descriptions of the mind and its variety of mental states, the course will then examine early scriptural expositions on the two principal types of meditation techniques:  serenity or concentration meditation (samatha) and insight meditation (vipassana). We will then examine techniques for cultivating compassion and the view of emptiness that were central to the later Indian traditions of the Mahāyāna or Great Vehicle. The course will finally turn to the elaborate systems of Tantra that developed in India and spread through Tibet, which incorporate the visualization of deities and recitation of mantras. Readings will include both primary Buddhist canonical works and commentaries by contemporary Buddhist teachers in English translation as well as secondary scholarship on the historical context of Buddhist meditation systems, cognitive theory, and ritual practice.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Andrew Quintman
Spring 2013

RLST 187 | HSAR 142 | SAST 265: Introduction to the History of Art: The Classical Buddhist World

Buddhist art and architecture of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and central Asia from earliest beginnings to the tenth century, and including Greco-Roman, Persian, and Islamic contact.

Spring 2013

RLST 188 | HSAR 143: Introduction to the History of Art: Buddhist Art and Architecture, 900 to 1600

Introduction to the History of Art: Buddhist Art and Architecture, 900 to 1600

Religious Studies (RLST) 188 01 (21558) /HSAR143

Spring Semester 2013

Buddhist art and architecture of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Tibet from the tenth century to the early modern period. Emphasis on cross-regional engagements including the impact of Islam.

Spring 2013

RLST 593: Advanced Readings in Tibetan Buddhism

Advanced Readings in Tibetan Buddhism

Religious Studies (RLST) 593

Spring Semester 2013

Brief outline of course

This seminar examines a range of Tibetan Buddhist literature including doctrinal, historical, biographical, and polemical works. The focus will be on primary materials although relevant secondary sources on the study of Tibetan literature and literary genres will be included. Some knowledge of Classical Tibetan is required.

Click here to read more about the class.

Spring 2013

SAST 369|569 | ANTH 353|553: Himalayan Languages and Cultures

Himalayan Languages and Cultures

South Asian Studies (SAST) 369/569 & Anthropology (ANTH) 353/553

Spring Semester 2013

 

In this seminar, we explore the Himalayan belt as a unique case study in the human condition and the distinctive adaptive strategies of smaller communities. Straddling the Indosphere and the Sinosphere, the Himalayan region is of profound geopolitical importance and home to enormous biological, cultural and linguistic diversity. Through reading relevant ethnographies, and by our careful study of the lives and livelihoods of some of the communities settled in and across Himalayan mountain states, we will ask probing questions about territory, identity, belonging and ideology.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Mark Turin
Spring 2013
Fall 2012

ANTH 276 | SAST 219: South Asian Social Worlds

South Asian Social Worlds

Anthropology (ANTH) 276 01 (12567)  & South Asian Studies (SAST) 219

Fall Semester 2012

Study of a series of texts that introduce anthropological and critical approaches to South Asia’s peoples and cultures while questioning the historical and political possibility of understanding such a diverse region.

Professor: Sara Shneiderman
Fall 2012

F&ES 520a | ANTH 581a: Society and Environment: Introduction to Theory and Method

Society and Environment: Introduction to Theory and Method

Fall Semester 2012

Mondays 2:30pm - 5:20p
Kroon Hall

This is an introductory course on the scope of social scientific contributions to environmental and natural resource issues. Section I presents an overview of the field and course; Section II deals with the way that environmental problems are initially framed; Section III focuses on questions of method; Section IV is concerned with local peoples and the environment. No prerequisites. This is a ‘Foundation’ course in F&ES, a ‘Core’ course in the joint F&ES/Anthropology doctoral degree program, and a prerequisite for F&ES 869b/ANTH572b. Three-hour lecture/seminar. 

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Michael Dove
Fall 2012

RLST 103: Pilgrimage in Comparative Perspective: World Religions in Practice

RLST 103: Pilgrimage in Comparative Perspective: World Religions in Practice
 

This course provides a methodological and historical introduction to the practice of pilgrimage in different cultural and religious settings, beginning with a consideration of anthropological perspectives on the phenomenon of pilgrimage, and then continuing with investigations of Greco-Roman, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Indian, and Buddhist traditions, as well “secular” forms of ritualized travel.

Click here to read more about the class

Professor: Andrew Quintman, Professor: Stephen Davis
Fall 2012

RLST 126: Tibetan Buddhism

RLST 126: Tibetan Buddhism

This course serves as an introduction to major themes of Tibetan Buddhist thought and practice. Beginning with a close study of Patrul Rinpoche’s classic nineteenth-century guide to Tibetan Buddhism, the early part of tahe course focuses on the doctrinal foundations of the tradition. This will be followed by a historical and more critical examination of Tibetan religious history, proceeding from Buddhism’s Indian antecedents and its initial arrival in Tibet during the seventh century through the present day. The course will explore a wide range of Tibetan religious culture and practice including Buddhist ethics, systems of monastic and ascetic life, ritual activities, sacred geography and pilgrimage, lay religion, as well as the status of Tibetan Buddhism under Chinese occupation and in the West. The majority of readings will consist of primary texts in translation, and will concentrate on Tibet’s rich narrative literary tradition. These will be supplemented by secondary literature on the study of religion and Tibetan Buddhism.

Click here to read more about the class

Professor: Andrew Quintman
Fall 2012

SAST 372 | ANTH 338 | FILM 329: Himalaya Through Film and Text

Himalaya Through Film and Text

South Asian Studies (SAST) 372 & Anthropology (ANTH) 338 & Film Studies (FILM) 329

Fall Semester 2012

An exploration of the Himalayan region through film and ethnography. Comparing visual and textual genres of storytelling and narration, we examine topics such as adventure, caste, education, gender, ritual and violence by watching, analysing and critiquing selected texts. Films and readings are drawn from Bhutan, northern India, Nepal and Tibet.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Mark Turin
Fall 2012
Spring 2012

ANTH 216 | RLST 315: Religion and Ritual in Theory and Practice

ANTH 216 | RLST 315: Ritual and Religion in Theory and Practice

Spring Semester 2012

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 9.00am -10.15am 
William L. Harkness Hall 209

Introduction to the anthropological study of religion and ritual, with a focus on political dimensions. Readings from a range of world traditions and geographical areas.

Professor: Sara Shneiderman
Spring 2012

ANTH 353 | SAST 569 | ANTH 553 | SAST 369: Himalayan Languages and Cultures

ANTH 353 | SAST 569 | ANTH 553 | SAST 369

Himalayan Languages and Cultures

Spring semester 2012
Tuesdays 3.30-5.20pm
Hall of Graduate Studies (GHS) 301

We explore the Himalayan belt as a unique case study in the human condition and the distinctive adaptive strategies of smaller communities. Straddling the Indosphere and the Sinosphere, the Himalayan region is of profound geopolitical importance and home to enormous biological, cultural and linguistic diversity. Through reading relevant ethnographies, and by our careful study of the lives and livelihoods of some of the communities settled in and across Himalayan mountain states, we will ask probing questions about territory, identity, belonging and ideology.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Mark Turin
Spring 2012

F&ES 656b: Physiology of Trees and Forests

F&ES 656b: Physiology of Trees and Forests

Spring 2012
Mondays & Wednesdays 10:30am - 11:50am
Greeley

Mineral nutrition and cycling; mycorrhizas; symbiosis; nitrogen fixation; light processing, photosynthesis, respiration; water relations including transpiration; ecophysiology; Effects of climate changes, past and present, on forests and other current topics are also considered.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Graeme Berlyn
Spring 2012

F&ES 705b: Climate and Air Pollution Seminar

F&ES 705b: Climate and Air Pollution Seminar

Spring 2012

Monday & Wednesday, 9:00-10:20am
Kroon 321, Kroon Hall

Brief Outline of Class

In this seminar, we will review current scientific understanding of the linkages between climate change and air pollution. Topics will include: short-lived climate forcers, climate sensitivity, impact of air pollution control measures on climate, geo-engineering and solar radiation management, metrics used in climate policy, and future climate change impacts on air quality in the United States and other regions. The course also covers soot deposition, climate change and the survival of the Tibetan Glaciers.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Nadine Unger
Spring 2012

F&ES 755b: Modeling Geographic Space

F&ES 755b: Modeling Geographic Space

Spring 2012

Tuesday, 2:30-5:20pm, Bowers Auditorium

Brief Outline of Class

An introduction to the conventions and capabilities of image-based (raster) geographic information systems (GIS) for the analysis and synthesis of spatial patterns and processes. In contrast to F&ES 77011a, the course is oriented more toward the qualities of geographic space itself (e.g., proximity, density, or interspersion) than the discrete objects that may occupy such space (e.g., water bodies, land parcels, or structures). Three hours lecture, problem sets, one class project.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Charles Tomlin
Spring 2012

F&ES 879b | REL 817b | RLST 872b: World Religions and Ecology: Asian Religions

F&ES 879b | REL 817b | RLST 872b
World Religions and Ecology: Asian Religions 

Spring 2012
Tuesdays 2:30pm - 5:20pm

Brief Outline of Class

This course explores the various ways in which religious ideas and practices have contributed to cultural attitudes and human interactions with nature. Examples are selected from Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism. The course examines such topics as symbols, images, and metaphors of nature in canonical texts; views of the divine as transcendent to the world; the indwelling of the sacred in the earth; the ethics of using and valuing nature; ritual practices that link humans to the natural world; and cosmology as orienting humans to the world and embedding them in place.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: John Grim, Professor: Mary Evelyn Tucker
Spring 2012
Fall 2011

ANTH 276 | SAST 219: Contemporary South Asia

ANTH 276 01 | SAST 219: Contemporary South Asia

Fall Semester 2011

Brief Outline of Class

Study of a series of texts that introduce anthropological and critical approaches to South Asia’s peoples and cultures while questioning the historical and political possibility of understanding such a diverse region.

Professor: Sara Shneiderman
Fall 2011

F&ES 520a | ANTH 581a: Society and Environment: Introduction to Theory and Method

F&ES 520a | ANTH 581a 
Society and Environment: Introduction to Theory and Method

Brief Outline of Class

This is an introductory, graduate core course on the scope of social scientific contributions to environmental and natural resource issues. Section I presents an overview of the field and course. Section II deals with the way that environmental problems are initially framed. Case studies focus on placing problems in their wider political context, new approaches to uncertainty and failure, and the importance of how the analytical boundaries to resource systems are drawn. Section III focuses on questions of method, including the dynamics of working within development projects, and the art of rapid appraisal and short-term consultancies. Section IV is concerned with local peoples and the environment, with case studies addressing  myths of tropical forest use and abuse,  development discourse, and the question of indigenous peoples and knowledge . 

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Michael Dove
Fall 2011

F&ES 756a: Modeling Geographic Objects

F&ES 756a: Modeling Geographic Objects

Fall 2011
Thursday, 1:00 - 3:50pm
Burke Auditorium, Kroon Hall

Brief Outline of Class

This course offers a broad and practical introduction to the nature and use of drawing-based (vector) geographic information systems (GIS) for the preparation, interpretation, and presentation of digital cartographic data. In contrast to F&ES 755b, the course is oriented more toward discrete objects in geographical space (e.g., water bodies, land parcels, or structures) than the qualities of that space itself (e.g., proximity, density, or interspersion). Three hours lecture, problem sets, one class project.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Charles Tomlin
Fall 2011
Spring 2011

ANTH 572 | F&ES 869: Disaster, Degradation, Dystopia: Social Science Approaches to Environmental Perturbation and Change

ANTH 572 | F&ES 869
Disaster, Degradation, Dystopia: Social Science Approaches to Environmental Perturbation and Change

Brief Outline of Class

An advanced seminar on the long tradition of social science scholarship on environmental perturbation and natural disasters, the relevance of which has been heightened by the current global attention to climate change. Topics covered include the academic literature on the social dimension of natural disasters, illustrated with a case study of volcanic hazard; the discursive dimensions of environmental degradation, focusing on deforestation and other case studies; climate change, including discursive dimensions at the global level; the current debate about the relationship between resource wealth and political conflict, focusing on the “green war” thesis, and the case of tropical forest commodities; and alternative perspectives on sustainable environmental relations, based on interdisciplinary work and work in the humanities.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Michael Dove
Spring 2011
Previously Offered

F&ES 384a | ANTH 382a | EVST 345a: Environmental Anthropology: From Historic Origins to Current Debates

F&ES 384a | ANTH 382a | EVST 345a Environmental Anthropology: From Historic Origins to Current Debates

Brief Outline of Class

This is an upper-division undergraduate seminar on the history of the anthropological study of the environment. It is organized around a number of key, persisting themes in the field, including the nature-culture dichotomy, ecology and social organization, methodological debates, the politics of the environment, and knowledge of the environment. Each theme is examined through writings that are theoretically important but also readable, interesting, and relevant. Readings are grouped to stimulate critical thinking and in-depth discussion about anthropology and the environment. The core text for the course is “Environmental Anthropology” (Dove and Carpenter, eds., 2007, Wiley-Blackwell), written especially for this course. 

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Michael Dove, Professor: Carol Carpenter
Previously Offered

F&ES 700b: Alpine, Arctic, and Boreal Ecosystems Seminar

F&ES 700b: Alpine, Arctic, and Boreal Ecosystems Seminar

Brief Outline of Class

Biogeoclimatic analysis of these systems worldwide with special attention to biogeography, biometeorology, physiology, histology, morphology, autecology, and silviculture of high-elevation and high-latitude forests through lectures, guest lectures and discussions, student seminars, and field experience.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: P Mark Ashton, Professor: Graeme Berlyn, Professor: Xuhui Lee
Previously Offered

RLST 126: Tibetan Buddhism

RLST 126: Tibetan Buddhism

Brief Outline of Class

This course serves as an introduction to major themes of Tibetan Buddhist thought and practice. Beginning with a close study of Patrul Rinpoche’s classic nineteenth-century guide to Tibetan Buddhism, the early part of tahe course focuses on the doctrinal foundations of the tradition. This will be followed by a historical and more critical examination of Tibetan religious history, proceeding from Buddhism’s Indian antecedents and its initial arrival in Tibet during the seventh century through the present day. The course will explore a wide range of Tibetan religious culture and practice including Buddhist ethics, systems of monastic and ascetic life, ritual activities, sacred geography and pilgrimage, lay religion, as well as the status of Tibetan Buddhism under Chinese occupation and in the West. The majority of readings will consist of primary texts in translation, and will concentrate on Tibet’s rich narrative literary tradition. These will be supplemented by secondary literature on the study of religion and Tibetan Buddhism.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Andrew Quintman
Previously Offered

RLST 127: Visual Worlds of Himalayan Buddhism

RLST 127: Visual Worlds of Himalayan Buddhism

Brief Outline of Class

How do Tibetan Buddhists look at religious images? What do pilgrims in Nepal see when faced with sacred monuments? Why do devotees in Bhutan display erotic caricatures in public? This seminar will explore the ubiquitous role of images and imagining in the religious traditions of the Himalayan region. Readings and viewings will examine the painting, sculpture, architecture, and performing arts of the Himalaya (including Tibet, Nepal, north India, and Bhutan), placing them in the context of local religious beliefs, ritual practices, and literary canons. The seminar aims to understand how Himalayan cultures produce religious images and the ways of seeing that invest them with meaning. Classes will address specific modes of visual representation, the relationships between text and image, the social lives of images, as well as processes of reading and interpretation. Later sections will survey broader visual representations of the Himalaya, both as self-reflections and in the imagination of the western gaze.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Andrew Quintman
Previously Offered

RLST 180: Rituals of Buddhist Tantra

RLST 180: Rituals of Buddhist Tantra

Brief Outline of Class

Buddhism has often been described as a philosophical tradition based on systems of logic and reasoning (said to reflect the original teachings of the Buddha as described in Buddhist texts), one that largely rejects ritual practices as mere superstition. More recently, however, we have come to understand the central role ritual has played throughout the history of Buddhism’s development and its spread across different cultural regions. Rituals, we find, pervade nearly all aspects of Buddhist life from monasticism to lay culture and from elite scholasticism to family practice; rituals, we now know, are inscribed in the very texts that were said to shun them. This seminar explores Buddhist ritual traditions, focusing on the cultural centers of India and Tibet and examining both theoretical frameworks and practical applications. The seminar begins with a brief introduction to the ritual field of pre-Buddhist India before covering the traditions of early Buddhism in India as well as later Mahāyāna developments in India and Tibet, including monastic protocol, social and institution-sponsored practices, cults of the book, and the use of prayer and mantra. A large portion of the course will be devoted to exploring the rich traditions of Buddhist tantra in India and Tibet, focusing on their ritual communities and the practices they developed and transmitted.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Andrew Quintman
Previously Offered

RLST 182: Biography in Asian Religions

RLST 182: Biography in Asian Religions

Brief Outline of Class

This seminar examines a variety of primary texts and secondary theoretical works on biography and autobiography in order to evaluate the significance of life writing in the religious traditions of Asia. We will cover a broad range of historical periods, from early medieval to modern, and geographic regions, including South, Southeast, and East Asia. Topics will include the structure, function, style, production, and reception of life writing, as well as more thematic questions of religious transmission, soteriology and praxis, formations of self-identity, and gender. Seminar meetings will focus primarily on the discussion of assigned readings. Students will be responsible for weekly written responses, class presentations, and a final written paper based on a traditional auto/biographical work of their own choosing.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Andrew Quintman
Previously Offered

RLST 413: Buddhist Traditions of Mind and Meditation

RLST 413: Buddhist Traditions of Mind and Meditation

Brief Outline of Class

This seminar surveys a range of Buddhist meditation practices in the context of traditional theories of mind, perception, and cognition. Beginning with canonical descriptions of the mind and its variety of mental states, the course will then examine early scriptural expositions on the two principal types of meditation techniques:  serenity or concentration meditation (samatha) and insight meditation (vipassana). We will then examine techniques for cultivating compassion and the view of emptiness that were central to the later Indian traditions of the Mahāyāna or Great Vehicle. The course will finally turn to the elaborate systems of Tantra that developed in India and spread through Tibet, which incorporate the visualization of deities and recitation of mantras. Readings will include both primary Buddhist canonical works and commentaries by contemporary Buddhist teachers in English translation as well as secondary scholarship on the historical context of Buddhist meditation systems, cognitive theory, and ritual practice.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Andrew Quintman
Previously Offered

RLST 413: Reading Tibetan Buddhist Texts

RLST 413: Reading Tibetan Buddhist Texts

Brief Outline of Class

This course explores the foundational doctrinal systems of Tibetan Buddhism, combining a systematic study of traditional Buddhist exegetical works in English translation with an immersion in the basic vocabulary and grammar of classical Tibetan. The course adopts as its principal texts Gampopa’s The Jewel Ornament of Liberation and Tsongkhapa’s The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. These seminal works represent two of Tibet’s best-known religious traditions and set forth related, though frequently divergent, approaches to engaging with the Buddha’s teachings in the Tibetan Buddhist world.

Click here to read more about the class.

Professor: Andrew Quintman
Previously Offered