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ASIAN 223 A: Buddhist Literature

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
SIG 225
Collett Cox photo
Collett Cox

Syllabus Description:

ASIAN 223-Syllabus

ASIAN 223: Buddhist Literature

Meeting time and location: T/Th 1:30-3:20, Sieg 225
Instructor: Collett Cox
Office: M245 Gowen
Office hours: T/Th 11:30-12:20 and by appt.
Tel.: #3-4996 (Asian L&L office)

Canvas Resources

Canvas student overview:

Canvas student guide:

Nature of the Course

The course will survey the Buddhist literature of India, China, and Japan through selected excerpts chosen from the genres of biography, poetry, narrative, ritual manuals, doctrinal treatises, and historical accounts. The course will begin with the origins of Buddhist literature in India and will trace its further development in India, China, and Japan. Attention will also be given to the themes of textual composition, authorship, audience, transmission, context, and function. Readings will include background material, which will situate the topic in historical and cultural context, and translations from primary texts.


Through this course, students will

  •  gain general familiarity with major examples of Buddhist literature from South and East Asia
  •  explore the Buddhist practices and teachings that this literature describes
  •  recognize the differences among genres of literary texts in terms of their authorship, audience, structure, function, and context of use
  •  investigate the various perspectives from which literary works can be interpreted

Requirements for the course

The course is a cooperative undertaking and thus assumes active involvement with the assigned readings and participation in class discussion. Please feel free to raise questions throughout the lectures. Requirements also include reading quizzes (through Canvas), facilitating class discussion, two midterm exams, and a take-home final examination submitted online through Canvas MONDAY, MARCH 12, 2018, no later than 5:00 pm.

Class Participation

Students are expected to attend all classes and are responsible for carrying out the assigned readings prior to the dates indicated on the syllabus or in accordance with any changes that I announce in class and/or on the course web site. (Please check the course web site regularly!) All students are encouraged to ask questions at any time, but specific students will be expected to contribute to the class discussion of the primary text materials to which they have been assigned.

Facilitating/Leading Class Discussion

During my introduction for each topic, I encourage questions and discussion. In order to facilitate the airing of student views, I will also designate several students to be particularly responsible for each set of assigned readings, including both secondary and primary sources. These students should expect to be asked to share their views on the readings and should come to class prepared to raise topics and questions for further discussion. I will also ask students to take the lead in the discussion of particular primary text materials. (This should not be seen as a “formal presentation” but rather as an exercise in stimulating questions from and discussion among your classmates.) It may be useful for the students assigned to a set of readings to discuss, prior to their assigned classes, topics and questions (and possible responses) for further class discussion.

Canvas Discussions$CANVAS_COURSE_REFERENCE$/discussion_topics

Since our time in class is limited, Canvas Discussions can serve as an additional forum for the discussion of issues and questions that relate to the course. I will post questions related to major topics, and students may respond and add their own questions or observations. Although participation in Canvas discussions is not required, I encourage all students to use this resource.

Canvas quizzes

Prior to the class discussion of each major section of readings, students will be expected to complete a Canvas quiz on the required readings for that section. (Canvas quizzes must be completed prior to class on the due dates that are listed on the syllabus.)


The following required texts are available for purchase from the University Bookstore:

Gethin, Rupert. The Foundations of Buddhism, Oxford U Press.

Conze, Edward. Buddhist Scriptures, Oxford U Press.

Required readings indicated by CP are contained in a coursepack entitled ASIAN 223 available at Ram’s Copy Center, 4144 University Way NE, (Tel: 206-632-6630).

The syllabus also includes “Recommended readings” (indicated by CWS) that are available on the “course web site.” These readings are not required for the course or Canvas quizzes but may be referred to in lectures and will be useful for those interested in a particular topic.

Tips for the Course

  1. Needless to say, success in this course depends upon attendance at all class meetings.
  2. Do the reading for each topic and consult the reading questions provided on the course web site. bring the assigned COURSEPACK readings TO EACH CLASS MEETING. (Also, be sure to complete the Canvas quizzes as assigned!)
  3. The readings include both background or secondary readings (e.g., Gethin, recommended readings) and primary text readings (e.g., the majority of the readings in Conze and in the coursepack). The primary text selections require critical or close reading. Plan to read these selections more than once! (For the method of “critical or close” reading, please follow the suggestions provided in “Reading ‘Critically’,” “Preparing a Close Reading,” and “My Close Reading Tips” assigned for the first class.)
  4. Prepare for and participate actively in class discussion.
  5. Take advantage of recommended readings.
  6. You are encouraged to come to me with any problems concerning the course or its subject matter at any point during the term. The material may seem difficult simply because it is new to you. Do not hesitate to clarify problems as soon as they arise. Please, please take advantage of my office hours to go over questions or problems you might be having!

Fair Use and Academic Conduct

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

The presentation of another's words and ideas as one's own is a serious offense; violations will be dealt with according to the University of Washington Student Conduct code, which stipulates sanctions up to and including expulsion. See


If you would like to request academic accommodations, please contact Disability Resources for Students (206-543-8924). If you have a letter from that office, please present the letter to me as soon as possible so that we can discuss the accommodations you might need for the course.

Catalog Description: 
Introduction to Buddhist literature in India, China, and Japan including biographies, poetry, narratives, ritual manuals, doctrinal treatises, and historical accounts. Attention also given to issues of textual composition, transmission, authorship, audience, context, and function. Taught in English. Offered: W.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
February 6, 2018 - 9:40pm