Buddhism on the Silk Road C120

Ever since the German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the term in the late nineteenth century, the "Silk Road" has captivated the western imagination, inspiring thoughts of fabled cities and exotic peoples from the Mediterranean basin across central Asia to China and Japan. In addition to discussing aspects of daily life on the Silk Road, this course will draw on a variety of disciplinary perspectives (history, anthropology, religious studies, and so on) to examine some of the underlying notions bound up in the study of such vast cultural regions under a single headway. Relying on the records left by a number of early Western travelers, we will trace the rise of the Silk Road in world history, and explore the role played by different religious traditions in the telling of that history, particularly Buddhism. Prerequisites: None.