This module will examine classical and contemporary interpretations of Buddhist thought in relation to the issues of origins, gender, politics and colonialism. We will begin with a critical exploration of the usefulness of the designations 'Theravada' and ‘Mahayana,’ before examining early Buddhist literature (in translation) in its historical, social and philosophical context, paying close attention to the question of the relationship of early Indian Buddhism to Vedic Brahmanism, gender representations and the exploration of political themes in early Buddhist literature and history. The module will also explore the impact of colonialism on the emergence of modern Buddhism and the development of engaged Buddhism and Buddhist responses to the environmental crisis.
This module appears in the following module collections.
Method of assessment
Essay 1 (1,500 words) – 50%
Essay 2 (1,500 words) – 50%
Indicative Reading List
Derris K and N. Dummer (2007), Defining Buddhism. A Reader. London: Equinox
Lopez, D (2005), Critical Terms for the Study of Buddhism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Moore, M. (2016), Buddhism and Political Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Outline, critically analyse and discuss key themes and issues related to the historical and modern study of Buddhism;
Demonstrate a detailed and in-depth understanding of the philosophical, social and historical context of early Buddhism;
Demonstrate a detailed and in-depth understanding of early Buddhist teachings in relation to issues of gender, politics and society;
Outline and critically analyse contemporary interpretations of Buddhist teachings in relation to their longer historical development.
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