REL 234

Chinese Religious Traditions

This course provides an introduction to the wide range of religious beliefs and practices that have emerged over the course of Chinese history. Topics covered include not only the classic traditions Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, but also such broader examples of religious expression as oracle bone inscriptions, medieval ghost stories, and contemporary practices in longevity. Throughout the course students explore how those in China have understood the world religiously, and how scholars have interpreted the diverse world of Chinese religion. Some of the questions include: What has it meant to be a human in China? What other spirits, ghosts, and divinities inhabit the Chinese religious world? What is included and what is excluded when we use the term 'religion,' or even 'China'? How do cultural, historical, and political changes affect religious experience, or a person's understanding of 'ultimate reality'? A primary goal of the course is to develop a broad understanding both of Chinese religious history and of contemporary issues involving religion in China.