While Zen is perhaps the most well known form of Buddhism outside of Asia, it may also be the least understood. This course studies Zen in its Asian contexts, examining the emergence of Chan/Zen within Buddhist history, the interplay between Zen, aesthetics, and philosophy, and the relation between Zen and such developments as nationalism and social discrimination. The course aims to avoid a romantic study of Zen and to develop instead a balanced understanding, exploring the insights as well as oversights that have appeared within the Zen tradition. As the second course in the first year seminar series, a major part of this course is geared towards developing academic independence by guiding students through the process of writing a major research paper in which they advance an academic argument related to some aspect of Buddhism. Affiliate: Religion.