Religious Studies 407/507 Buddhism and Women, Spring 2005-06 CRN38287/38288
Instructor: Mark T. Unno, Office: PLC 812, Tel. 346-4973, Email:
Unno Home Page: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~munno/
Class meetings: Tuesdays 2:00 p.m -5:50 p.m., PLC 353
Office Hours: Tuesdays 1:00 - 2:00 p.m., PLC 812
This course examines theory and narrative in the study of Buddhist women in cross-cultural and comparative context. We will begin by reading scholarly literature dealing with issues of feminist and gender theory in general as well as specifically regarding Buddhism. After this, we will focus on narrative accounts of Buddhist women and women in other religions and spiritual traditions as found in journals, autobiographies, and other personal accounts. The theoretical readings at the beginning of the course provide analytical tools for digesting and examining the narrative accounts, and the narrative provide test cases for the theories we will have covered earlier.
1. Attendance: Required. Students can have one unexcused absence without penalty. Each class missed thereafter without prior permission will result in 1/2 grade penalty for the course grade.
2. Short exam: There will be one short, in-class exam, based on materials from the readings, lectures, and course web site.
3. Medium papers & summaries:
There will be two shorter papers (2-3 pages, 3-4 pages) based on topics that will be provided by the instructor. Each student will also do one 1-page (one-page) summary of an article from the reader or a selection from one of the required texts, due by the Friday before class at 5 p.m, to be submitted to the instructor by email. In addition, each student will do one 1-page (one-page) summary of a chapter from Rosemarie Tong's Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction. These will be do by Friday, April 7, to be submitted to the instructor by email.
Students will make a presentation on one of the readings for one of the section meetings. Each presenter will prepare a one-page handout with 1 or 2 questions and brief, corresponding quotations from the readings. The presenter should not summarize the reading but should use the presentation to discuss why the selected ideas/passages in question are important for understanding the reading and proceed to explain as well as raise questions about these ideas/passages.
The primary purpose of the presentations is to launch the discussion, not to demonstrate breadth of knowledge or to lead the discussion. More detailed instructions will be provided on the course web site.
5. Final paper: Each student will hand in a final paper of 7-10 pages double-spaced (A longer final paper of 12-15 pages will be required for those who have registered for REL507). Suggested topics will be provided. Students may choose to create their own topics with the consent of the instructor. In the case of the latter, a one-paragraph description of the topic must be submitted by email to the instructor one week prior to the final paper due date.
6. Late policy on written assignments: Three grace days total will be allotted excluding the final paper and summaries for which no extensions will be given. For all other written assignments, a cumulative total of three late days will be allowed without penalty. Thereafter, each late day will result in a two-point deduction from the course grade. Weekends are not counted against the grace days.
7. Discussion: Contribution to discussion will be 15% of
your grade. You do not necessarily have to speak up all of the time
to make your contribution to discussion. In fact, attentive listening
can be as or more effective in cultivating a learning environment as
speaking up in class, and in this course, your ability to deeply
listen to what others are trying to say will be weighed heavily.
Note: You must complete all assignments in order to receive course
Even if you are too late for an assignment to receive a passing grade, you must hand it in.
Short exam - MAY 2 10% Final paper - JUN 6 30%
Short paper I - APR 27 10% Presentation 10%
Short paper II - MAY 22 15% Discussion 15%
1. Rita M. Gross, Buddhism After Patriarchy (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993)
2. Kate Wheeler, "Bowing, Not Scraping," in Buddhist Women on the Edge (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1996) 57-67.
3. Robert A. F. Thurman, trans. The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1983) 56-63, 73-77.
4. Karma Lekshe Tsomo, "Tibetan Nuns and Nunneries," in Feminine Ground: Essays on Women and Tibet, ed. Janice Willis (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 1987) 118-134.
5. Jan Willis, "Buddhism and Race: An African American Perspective," in Buddhist Women on the Edge, 81-92.
6. Pema Chodron, "No Right, No Wrong," in Buddhist Women on the Edge (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1996) 293-303.
7. Robert Akeret, "Naomi: The Dancer from the Dance," in his Tales from a Travelling Couch (NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996) 20-57.
8. Judith Plaskow, "Jewish Memory from a Feminist Perspective," in Weaving the Visions ed. Plaskow and Carol Christ (NY: HarperCollins, 1989) 39-50.
Weekly Schedule-REL 407/507 Buddhism and Women
RT = Required Text; CR = Course Reader
Week 1 - APR 4
Rita Gross, Buddhism after Patriarchy (CR)
The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 56-63, 73-77. (CR)
Kate Wheeler, "Bowing, Not Scraping," in Buddhist Women on the Edge 57-67. (CR)
Week 2 - APR 11
Rosemarie Tong, Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction. (RT)
Week 3 - APR 18
Broughton Coburn, Aama in America. (RT)
Pema Chodron, "No Right, No Wrong," in Buddhist Women on the Edge 293-303. (CR)
Chodron Summary 2
Week 4 - APR 25:
Natalie Goldberg, Long Quiet Highway (RT)
Shosan Victoria Austin, "Suzuki Sensei's Spirit," in Buddhist Women on the Edge 209-216. (CR)
Austin Summary 2
APR 27: SHORT PAPER I DUE: Deliver to PLC 812 by 5 p.m.
Week 5 - MAY 2: Short exam in class.
Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life. (RT)
Judith Plaskow, "Jewish Memory from a Feminist Perspective,"
in Weaving the Visions ed. Plaskow and Carol Christ 39-50. (CR)
Week 6 - May 9
Vicki MacKenzie, Cave in the Snow (RT)
Karma Lekshe Tsomo, "Tibetan Nuns and Nunneries,"
in Feminine Ground: Essays on Women and Tibet, ed. Janice Willis 118-134 (CR).
Tsomo Summary 2
Tsomo Summary 3
Week 7 - MAY 16: Paper II due in class.
Alice Walker, The Color Purple.
Jan Willis, "Buddhism and Race: An African American Perspective,"
in Buddhist Women on the Edge, 81-92. (CR)
Willis Summary 2
May 22: SHORT PAPER II DUE: Deliver to PLC 812 by 5 p.m.
Week 8 - MAY 23
Film: The Color Purple.
Robert Akeret, "Naomi: The Dancer from the Dance," in his Tales from a Travelling Couch 20-57. (CR)
Akeret Summary 2
Week 9 - MAY 30
Film: Antonia's Line.
Week 10 - JUNE 6: FINAL PAPERS DUE IN CLASS.