Short Topic Paper Guidelines (REL 1008)

August 31, 2009

August 31, 2009

On the due date in question bring to class a typed, five-seven page paper (double spaced, standard margin, etc.) that explores a dimension of Buddhist belief, practice or development (which you did not cover in your in-class presentation).  Examples of possible paper topics:
  • The role of women in the historical sangha
  • King Aśoka’s use of the Buddha-Dharma to further his political goals
  • Vegetarianism and Buddhism
  • The use of koans in Japanese Zen Buddhism
  • "Engaged Buddhism" and social action in contemporary society
  • The unique developments in the American Buddhist sangha
  • Bodhisattva Jizō and abortion in modern Japan
  • Female iconographic representations of Bodhisattva Kuan-yin/Guan-yin in China
  • Merit-making as a central Theravadin lay-practice
Given the limited length of each paper, the more specific your topic the better. Example: You cannot effectively write on Zen in 5-7 pages, but you can comment on the role and usage of walking meditation (kinhin) during Soto Zen retreats.

Document your paper with footnotes and a bibliography.  
  • Be sure to use at least one source beyond Gethin, Robinson & Johnson, Lopez, and Toole's lectures (preferably more than one outside source).  
  • Do not rely exclusively on web-references (exceptions include web-references linked to this website/blog).  Consider journal articles and books available at Smith Library.
  • For help with documentation please consider this link to the Chicago Manual Style Guide Online

Provide information and interpretation / analysis (remember the "cup" analogy).  
  • In other words, do not simply provide personal reflection or just plain data.  
  • Please comment on the information that you present.  
  • Interpret it!  Answer the question "so what?"  
  • Tell the reader why this is important information to know.  What does this material mean?
  • This is the key to a strong paper!

For additional resource ideas look at the bibliographies and "For Further Reading" sections at the end of each chapter in our textbooks.  

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