01:098:338 Religious Themes in East Asian Literature

Course description:This seminar examines prominent religious ideas and practices from Buddhism, Daoism, and Shinto that have colored the Chinese and Japanese literary imagination for generations. We will read literary works from China and Japan, ranging from dramas, hagiographies, ecstatic poetry, and tales of the supernatural to Zen/Ch’an records. Concepts such as enlightenment, impermanence, karma, and rebirth will serve as the centers of the investigation. Practices, including elixir making, demon expelling, meditation, and spirit possession, will be our guide to the world in which the authors and readers of these works lived. The ultimate question we will return to again and again is: how have the same concepts and practices manifested differently in Chinese and Japanese literature, and why?