This interdisciplinary seminar is an introduction to the history of Buddhism in the Korean Peninsula from its introduction (ca. fourth-century) to the twentieth-century. Rather than as a chronological outline of Korean Buddhism, this course is conceived as a thematic examination of individuals, texts, places, ideas and practices; it aims to locate Korean Buddhism within its broader East Asian context, with particular attention to its relationship with China and Japan, in order to identify continuities and original developments. While the modalities and implications of cultural transmission constitute the overarching theme of this course, some of the specific issues we will examine include: Buddhism and the state; hagiographic literature; bodhisattva cults; relic worship; the interpretation of portents and notions of kingship; universalism and particularism in East Asian Buddhism; Buddhist discourses on violence; the role of Buddhism within colonialism and liberation movements. Basic historiographical and methodological issues will also be discussed, and we will spend some time thinking about the modern implications of the study of premodern Korean Buddhism and history. Previous coursework on Buddhism is recommended but not required, and no prior knowledge of Korean history or Korean language is required.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU BA; AS HUM; AS LCD; AS SD I; UC CD; FA HUM; AR HUM