Religions of East Asia Syllabus

August 1, 2009

August 1, 2009

Prof. Mark A. Toole
Telephone: Office: (336) 841-9323 ​Cell / Home (303) 813-9113
Course Description
This introductory course will provide a basic, yet systematic overview of the religious traditions of China and Japan. In particular we will examine the religious practices and beliefs associated with Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and Shinto in these two countries. Throughout the course we examine the relationship between religion and the natural order, religion and the individual, and religion and society. Through this three-fold schema we will come to better understand topics such as divination, geomancy, filial piety, ancestor veneration, cosmology, inner alchemy and meditation. We will work almost exclusively with secondary scholarship to further our understanding of the rich and diverse configurations of East Asian religious belief and practice.

Goals for the course / Learning Outcomes
By the end of this course you should…
• have some critical understanding of what “religion” is taken to be.
• have developed more skills for thinking critically about the phenomenon of religion.
• have developed an understanding of the role of ritual practice in religious expression.
• have a basic understanding of several primary religious rituals found throughout East Asia.
• know the basic differences between Confucianism & Daoism.
• know the basic differences Buddhism & Shinto.
• have a sense of the syncretistic developments of these religious traditions.

Four Film Reflections (2 pages each) 20 points (20% of final grade)
Twelve “One Question” Quizzes 25 points (25% of final grade)
Short topic paper (5-6 pages) 25 points (25% of final grade)
Final Exam 20 points (20% of final grade)
Attendance & Participation 10 points (10% of final grade)

Required Books
1. Ellwood, Robert. Introducing Japanese Religion
(Routledge, 2008) ISBN 978-0-415-77426-0

2. Poceski, Mario. Introducing Chinese Religions
(Routledge, 2009) ISBN 978-0-415-43406-5

* Indicates required photocopied readings (on reserve at Smith Library & available thru course website)
Course Schedule and Outline
“R” = reading assignments that should have been completed for that week
It should be noted that this schedule is subject to change as the course progresses. Any changes (topics for the week, reading assignments, films) will be announced during preceding class periods.

Week One: August 25th & 27th​​​
Introduction & Toward a Definition of Religion
• Introduction to the format of the course, readings, scope of our study, etc.
• Review syllabus, expectations, grading policy, etc.
• Question of what is “religion”?

Week Two: August 30th, September 1st & 3rd
Introduction to Religions in East Asia
R:​ Poceski, Introduction

Week Three: September 6th, 8th & 10th ​​
Natural Order (T'ien)
R:​ Poceski, Chap 1
Quiz: Chapter 1 "One Question" Quiz on Sept. 10th

Week Four: September 13th, 15th & 17th ​
Natural Order (T'ien)
R:​ Poceski, Chap 3
Quiz: Chapter 3 "One Question" Quiz on Sept 17th

Week Five: September 20th, 22nd & 24th ​​
Individual Organism (Jen)
Due:​ First Film Reflection - Sept 24th
R: Poceski, Chap 4
Quiz: Chapter 4 "One Question" Quiz on Sept 24th

Week Six: September 27th, 29th & October 1st
Individual Organism (Jen)
R:​ Poceski, Chap 5
Quiz: Chapter 5 "One Question" Quiz on Oct 1st

Week Seven: October 4th, 6th & 8th ​​​
Society (She-hui)
R:​ Poceski, Chap 6
Quiz: Chapter 6 "One Question" Quiz on Oct 8th

Week Eight: October 11th, 13th & 15th
Society (She-hui) ​​​​
Due:​ Second Film Reflection - Oct 15th
R:​ Poceski, Chap 2 & 8​
Quiz: Chapter 2 or 8 "One Question" Quiz on Oct 15th

Fall Break​ Oct 16th – 24th

Week Nine: October 25th, 27th & 29th​​​
Nature & Religion
R:​ Ellwood, Chap 1 & 3
Quiz: Chapter 3 "One Question" Quiz on Oct 29th

Week Ten: November 1st, 3rd & 5th ​​​
Nature & Religion
R: Ellwood, Interlude & 4, 5
Quiz: Chapter 4 or 5 "One Question" Quiz on Nov 5th

Week Eleven: ​November 8th, 10th & 12th ​​
Due: Third Film Reflection - Nov 12th
R:​ Ellwood, Chapter 7
Quiz: Chapter 7 "One Question" Quiz on Nov 12th

Week Twelve: November 15th, 17th & 19th​​
R:​ Ellwood, Chapter 6
Quiz: Chapter 6 "One Question" Quiz on Nov 19th

Week Thirteen: November 22nd​
Religion & Society
R:​ Ellwood, Chapter 9
Quiz: Chapter 9 "One Question" Quiz on Nov 22nd

Thanksgiving Holiday Break Nov 24th - 28th

Week Fourteen: November 29th, December 1st & 3rd ​
Religion & Society
Due: Fourth Film Reflection - Dec 1st & Short Topic Paper - Dec 3rd
R:​ Ellwood, Chapter 10 & 11
Quiz: Chapter 10 or 11 "One Question" Quiz on Dec 3rd

Week Fifteen: December 6th & 8th
Review for Final Exam
December 9th is Reading Day

Final Exam: ​Friday, December 10th (8:30-11:30am)

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