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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Asian Studies

Postgraduate Course: Terminology, Topics and Methods in the Study of Asian Religions (ASST11080)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course is based on the premise that the language employed in the study of religion in its principal analytical terms contains specific approaches, hierarchies, values, and questions. The course regards terminology as the basis of conceptual approaches towards religions, specific understanding of what religion is and how it could be understood. Within different academic disciplines certain key terms have proven to work as common analytical tools. These terms, however, are defined differently in different disciplines and in different historical and cultural contexts. So any analysis of religion needs to begin with the reflection on the range of basic terms and their implicit assumptions.
Course description 1. Introductory session: The Keyword-approach. Definitions, classifications, language, terminology and conceptualizations in Asia and the West.
- Bennett, Tony et al., New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005, Introduction, pp. 17-26.
- Edgar, Andrew and Peter Sedgwick (eds). Cultural Theory: The Key Concepts.
London/New York: Routledge 1/1999 (as Key Concepts in Cultural Theory), 2/2002,
3/2003, Introduction, pp. 1-9.
- Hayles, N. Katherine. 'Deciphering the Rules of Unruly Disciplines: A Modest
Proposal for Literature and Science', in: Donald Bruce and Anthony Purdy (eds),
Literature and Science, Amsterdam, Atlanta: Rodopi Press, 1994, pp. 25-48.
- Himmelfarb, Gertrude. 'The Abyss Revisited', in: American Scholar Summer (1992):337-48.
- Lopez Jr., D. S. 'Introduction: Impressions of the Buddha', in: id., Critical Terms for the Study of Buddhism, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005, pp. 1-11.
- Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. London:
Fontana Press, 1983, Introduction, pp. 1-27.

2. Religion
- Pye, Michael. "What is 'Religion' in East Asia?", in: Ugo Bianchi (ed.), The Notion of 'Religion' in Comparative Research, Rom: L'Erma di Bretschneider 1994, pp. 115-122.
- Smith, Jonathan Z. "Religion, Religions, Religious," in: Mark E. Taylor (ed.), Critical Terms for Religious Studies, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 1998, pp. 269-284.
- Wilson, Brian C. "From the Lexical to the Polythetic: A Brief History of the
Definition of Religion," in: A. Thomas Idinopulos (ed.), What is religion?: origins, definitions, and explanations, Leiden: Brill, 1998 (Studies in the history of religions Vol. 81).

3. Magic
- Malinowski, Bronislaw. "The Role of Magic and Religion," in: William A. Lessa u. Evon Z. Vogt (eds.), Reader in Comparative Religion: An Anthropological Approach, NY: Harper&Row, 1979, pp. 37-45.
- Mauss, Marcel. A General Theory of Magic (R. Brain, Trans.). New York: Norton
Library, 1972. (Original work published 1903).
- Tambiah, S. J. Magic, Science, Religion, and the Scope of Rationality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
- Versnel, H.S. "Some Reflections on the Relationship Magic-Religion," in: Numen
38.2 (1991): 177-197.

4. Ritual
- Bell, Catherine. 'Theories: The History of Interpretation', in: id., Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions, New York / Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997, pp. 1-20.
- Kreinath, Jens, Jan Snoek and Michael Stausberg. 'Ritual Studies, Ritual Theory, Theorizing Rituals 'An Introductory Essay', in: id. (eds.) Theorizing Rituals, Volume 1 Issues, Topics, Approaches, Concepts, Leiden: Brill, 2006, pp. xiii-xxv.

5. Incarnation
- Bergunder, Michael. 'Reinkarnationsvorstellungen als Gegenstand von
Religionswissenschaft und Theologie' in: Theologische Literaturzeitung 126 (2001): 701-720.
- Bodewitz, H. W. The Hindu Doctrine of Transmigration. Its Origin and Background, in: Indologica Taurinensia 23-24 (1998), 583-605.
- O'Flaherty, Wendy D. (ed.). Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions.
Berkeley 1983.

6. Body
- Asad, Talal. 'Remarks on the Anthropology of the Body', in: Coakley, S. (ed.),
Religion and the Body, Cambridge, 1997.
- Csordas, T.J. 'Introduction: the body as representation and being-in-the-world', in: id., Embodiment and Experience, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 42-52.

7. Canon
- De Bary, Wm Theodore. 'Asian Classics as 'The Great Books of the East'', in: De Bary and Bloom (eds.), Eastern Canons, New York: Columbia UP, 1990, pp. 25-60.
- Ter Borg, Meerten B. 'Canon and Social Control', in: A. van der Kooij and K. van der Toorn (eds), Canonization and Decanonization, Leiden: Brill, 1998, pp. 411-23.
- Bloom, Harold. The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages. New York:
Harcourt Brace, 1994.
- Henderson, John B. Scripture, Canon, and Commentary: A Comparison of Confucian
and Western Exegesis. Princeton: Princeton University, 1991.

8. Syncretism
- Hartman, Sven Samuel (ed.). Syncretism. Based on papers read at the Symposium on Cultural Contact, Meeting of religions, Syncretism, held at Abo, september 8-10, 1966. (Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis III). Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell, 1969.
- Pannikar, R. 'Some Notes on Syncretism and Ecclecticism related to the Growth of Human Consciousness,' in: B.A. Pearson (ed.), Religions Syncretism in Antiquities. Essays in Conversation with Geo Widengren. Missoula, Montana, 1975, S. 47-62.
- Pye, Michael. 'Syncretism and Ambiguity,' in: Numen 18 (1971): 83-93.
- Ringgren, Helmer. 'The Problems of Syncretism,' in: S.S. Hartman, (ed.), Syncretism.
Based on papers read at the Symposium on Cultural Contact, Meeting of religions,
Syncretism, held at Abo, September 8-10, 1966. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell,
1969, pp. 7-14.
- Segert, S. 'Some Remarks concerning Syncretism,' in: B.A. Pearson (ed.), Religions
Syncretism in Antiquities. Essays in Conversation with Geo Widengren. Missoula,
Montana, 1975, S. 63-66.

9. Sacrifice
- Carter, Jeffrey. Understanding Religious Sacrifice: A Reader. New York: Continuum,
- Henri Hubert, Marcel Mauss. Essais sur la nature et la fonction du sacrifice. In:
l'Année sociologique 2, 1897/1898, pp. 29-138. Transl.: Sacrifice. Its nature and function. Cohen & West, London 1964. Selections also in Carter, pp. 88-99.
- Kathryn McClymond. Beyond Sacred Violence: A Comparative Study of Sacrifice.
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

10. Divination
- Loewe, Michael and Carmen Blacke, eds. Oracles and Divination Shambhala,
Random House, 1981.
Language, languages and intention
- Akira Omine, 'Religion and Language: The Soteriological Significance of Religious Language', Center for Contemporary Shin Buddhist Studies On-Line Publication
Series Number One:
- Porter, Stanley E. (ed.). The Nature of Religious Language: A Colloquium. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.
- Elder, Georg E. 'Problems of Language in Buddhist Tantra', in: History of Religions 15.3 (1976): 231-250.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
The course aims at a sustained reflection and systematic exploration of terminology employed in the study of Asian religions. Through a thorough reflection of different theoretical and analytical frameworks the course aims at providing students with basic skills of critical reflection on the usages and linguistic and cultural contexts of terms.

Conceptual flexibility and sensitivity developed through that course will enable students to better understand and analyse Asian religions across its numerous manifestations and texts.
Reading List
- Cancik, Hubert, Burkhard Gladigow, Matthias Laubscher (eds.), Handbuch
- religionswissenschaftlicher Grundbegriffe. 5 vols, Stuttgart, 1988-2001.
- Mircea Eliade (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Religion. 16 vols., New York 1987,
- 1995.
- Graves, Ron. Key Words in Religious Studies, 2006.
- Graves, Ron. Key Words in Buddhism, 2006.
- Kippenberg, Hans G. Discovering Religious History in the Modern Age. Princeton:Princeton University Press, 2002.
- Lopez Jr., Donald S. Critical Terms for the Study of Buddhism, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005
- Taylor, Mark C. (ed.). Critical Terms for Religious Studies, Chicago 1998
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserMr Paul Dundas
Tel: (0131 6)50 4175
Course secretaryMr Iain Sutherland
Tel: (0131 6)51 3988
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