Short Topic Paper Guidelines (REL 2036)

August 1, 2009

August 1, 2009

Short Topic Paper Guidelines

On the due date in question bring to class a typed, five-six page paper (double spaced, standard margin) that explores a dimension of religious practice or thought found in our study of the religions of East Asia (China and Japan).  Examples:

  • Explore the relationship between Confucian thought and Daoist practice in China
  • Examine the role of divination in maintaining imperial rule
  • Examine the difference between Daoist meditation and Buddhist meditation
  • Examine the relationship between local gods and The Heavens
  • Critically analyze the ritual process of making offerings to ancestors
  • Examine the function of ancestral kami in Japan
  • Critically analyze the soteriological structure of "New Religions" in Japan
  • Critically analyze the function of rituals as"spiritual technologies"
  • Examine the relationship between State Shinto and the ideology of Meiji Japan
Given the limited length of each paper, the more specific your topic the better.  Example:  You cannot effectively write on Zen in 5-6 pages, but you can comment on the role of walking meditation during Soto Zen retreats.

Document your paper with footnotes and a bibliography.  Be sure to use at least one source beyond Poceski, Ellwood and Toole's lectures (preferably more than one outside source).  Do not use basic web-references.

Provide information and interpretation / analysis (This is the key to a strong paper!).  In other words, do not simply provide personal reflection or just plain data.  Please comment on the information that you provide; interpret it.  Tell the reader why this is important information to know.

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

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