This course explores the interaction between Buddhism and its cultural heritage (texts, ideas, deities, practices) and other aspects of premodern Japanese culture, in particular those traditions of kami worship today known under the term Shinto. After some introductory sessions covering the inception of Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent and its eastward expansion to China and the Korean peninsula, the course will focus on Japan and, the interactions between Buddhism, other continental traditions, and, in particular local traditions of kami. Through a largely chronological (but at times thematic) examination of key moments, ideas, and practices spanning over a thousand years, this course attempts to investigate the modalities and implications of cultural transmission, including questions of identity, hybridization and appropriation. Basic historiographical and methodological issues, as well as the modern implications of the study of pre-modern histories, will also be discussed. Students will also be introduced to some basic issues in the area of iconology and museology. Previous coursework on East Asia and/or Buddhism is recommended but not required, and no prior knowledge of Chinese, Korean, or Japanese history or language is required. Prerequisite: junior level or above or permission of instructor.
Course Attributes: AS HUM; AS LCD; FA HUM; AR HUM; EN H