Buddhist East Asia: The Interplay of Religion, the Arts and Politics
This multidisciplinary, four-week program will offer four weeks of context-rich engagement with Buddhist teachings, practices and primary texts (in translation), with a focus on how they have shaped and been shaped by East Asian cultures and societies. The program will enable participants to appreciate how Buddhism traditionally addressed both personal and social needs in ways that were inseparable from the dynamics of intellectual exchange, artistic production, trade and politics. Designed to strike a balance between the needs both for breadth and depth in engaging traditions that are culturally and historically distant, Buddhist East Asia will provide abundant resources for developing pedagogically-effective course materials across a wide range of humanities and social science disciplines. Applicants accepted into the program will receive a $3300 stipend to help defray the costs of participation.
The program will be structured both geographically and historically, working out from Buddhism’s South Asian origins in the first millennium BCE, through its transmission into China, Korea and Japan from the 2nd to 6th centuries, its flourishing across East Asia from the 6th to 16th centuries, and then its encounters with global modernity in the 19th and 20th centuries. Each of the first three weeks of the program will feature sessions that address the intellectual, spiritual, ritual, and institutional dimensions of Buddhism, but also sessions on how Buddhism both shaped and was shaped by ongoing political, economic, literary and artistic dynamics. The final week will be organized around “case studies” of Buddhism as a “living tradition” changing in response to encounters with global modernity. Throughout, the program will focus on enabling participants to understand how Buddhism offered East Asians a new “total care system” that addressed both personal and social needs in ways that were inseparable from the dynamics of cultural interaction, artistic production, trade and politics.