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Unit information: Theravada Buddhist Practice in Asia in 2014/15

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Unit name Theravada Buddhist Practice in Asia
Unit code THRS30019
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Langer
Open unit status Open
Pre-requisites

None

Co-requisites

None

School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description

This unit aims to provide students with an overview of the history and development ‘Theravåda Buddhism’ in practice in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia as well as in depth knowledge of several important topics. The unit focuses on a number of significant topics: the practice of monasticism, lay practice, the relationship between the monk and the laity, the position of women and Buddhist nuns, forest monks, magic and protection, ‘protestant’ Buddhism, and Buddhism and conflict in Sri Lanka. These themes will be investigated by utilizing various kinds of sources – primary textual sources, epigraphical sources in translation, the writings of historians and social anthropologists – in order to illustrate a more general issue in the contemporary study of religion, namely the study of texts and doctrine versus the study of people and practice.

Aims:

  • to develop an overall sense of the actuality of Theravda Buddhism in Asia;
  • to gain an in-depth knowledge of certain significant topics in the history of the practice of Theravda Buddhism in Asia;
  • to encourage reflection on the nature of the relationship between religion's theory and practice;
  • to develop skills in the researching, reading and presentation of complex material.

Intended learning outcomes

  • an overall sense of the actuality of Theravda Buddhism in Asia;
  • an in-depth knowledge of certain significant topics in the history of the practice of Theravda Buddhism in Asia;
  • further developed their skills in the researching, reading and presentation of complex material.

Teaching details

10 x 2 hrs seminars

Assessment Details

One summative coursework essay of 3000 words (50%) and one unseen examination of two hours (50%).

Reading and References

T. Bartholomeusz, Women under the Bo Tree (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).

R. F. Gombrich, Buddhist Precept and Practice: Traditional Buddhism in the Rural Highlands of Ceylon (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1991).

S. J. Tambiah, Buddhism and the Spirit Cults in North-East Thailand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970).

Melford E. Spiro, Buddhism and Society: A Great Tradition and its Burmese Vicissitudes (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982).

Donald K.Swearer, The Buddhist world of Southeast Asia (Albany: State University of New York Press,1995).

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