This course is an introduction to the study of medieval Buddhist literature written in classical Chinese. We will read samples from a variety of genres, including early Chinese translations of Sanskrit and Central Asian Buddhist scriptures, indigenous Chinese commentaries, philosophical treatises, and sectarian works, including Chan (Zen koans). The course will also serve as an introduction to resource materials used in the study of Chinese Buddhist texts, and students will be expected to make use of a variety of reference tools in preparation for class. Readings in Chinese will be supplemented by a range of secondary readings in English on Mahayana doctrine and Chinese Buddhist history.
Fall 2020: In addition to classical Buddhist genres, we will also read samples from a variety of literary genres, including poetry, prose, transformation text, precious scroll, fiction, and drama, from the medieval to late imperial periods. We will also discuss texts that debate the relationship among the “three teachings” (Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism) in China. Prerequisites: One semester of Classical Chinese or equivalent.