RELC 2500: Asian Religions

Asian Religions
Course in Religion and Culture
Course Description:

This course is an introduction to the wide variety of religious beliefs, practices, and ritual technologies in Asia. These religious traditions are not investigated in isolation. Each Asian tradition, like each Western religion, is syncretic and multiple, full of internal contradictions and presenting diverse definitions of the sacred and profane. They each “structure” and are often comfortable with “their own multiplicity.” While we look at traditions such as Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, Zen, and Shinto, we constantly question their boundaries and integrity. Week by week the panoply (or perhaps cacophony) of types and perceptions of religious experience, ritual, knowledge, directives, motives, and aspirations as displayed in these traditions are touched upon. We also think hard about the ways we approach the study of religion and question the very study of Asian religions and world religions in general. This course seeks to generate questions, promote critical inquiry, and elaborate on ways the sacred has been made and continues to be made tangible and the vicissitudes of life made meaningful in Asia.

Course Credits:
1 course unit (c.u.)*
Term Format:
Accelerated 8-Week Term
2024 Term Offered:
Fall 2 (accelerated): Oct 23 - Dec 18, 2024
Course Block:

*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). A course unit (c.u.) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A c.u. (or a fraction of a c.u.) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One c.u. is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course.


  • Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Endowed Professor of the Humanities

Justin McDaniel's research foci include Lao, Thai, Pali and Sanskrit literature, art and architecture, and manuscript studies. His first book, Gathering Leaves and Lifting Words, won the Harry Benda Prize. His second book, The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magic Monk, won the Kahin Prize. He has received grants from the NEH, Mellon, Rockefeller, Fulbright, PACRIM, Luce, the SSRC, among… Read more


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