Performing Rituals in East Asian Traditions

Spring 2018
T 1:30-3:20pm
Area V
MDIV Requirements: 
Non-Christian Religion, Diversity
Permission Not Required
Limited Enrollment
Course Description: 

This course examines a number of ritual practices in religious, philosophical, or cosmological traditions associated with East Asia: Buddhism, Shamanism, Confucianism, and, in the more recent centuries, Christianity. Students will explore how these particular rituals—from Buddhist chants to shamanist performances, Confucian ceremonies, and Christian prayers—were and are enacted as scripted or improved performances of bodies, voices, and instruments and what meanings they have had for the practitioners. The course takes a case-study approach, selecting particular forms of past and contemporary ritual practices from a much wider spectrum. Students will also be guided to understand how such rituals have been re-contextualized and re-purposed in the course of East Asia’s pursuit of nationhood, modernization, and globalization in the twentieth century. Given the interdisciplinary nature of this class, readings will be drawn from religious studies, ethnomusicology, anthropology, and East Asian studies. 

Background Expected: 

There are no pre-requisites for this course. No background experience in music is needed.

Course Requirements: 

Students should complete the assigned reading, listening, and viewing before the class meeting in which it is discussed. Attendance at each class meeting is required. Each student is allowed 1 unexcused absence per semester without penalty. Students will turn in preliminary research for the final paper in Week 6, turn in the final paper in Week 12, and post 6 short responses to readings and audiovisual materials throughout the semester. 

Basis of Evaluation: 

Attendance and participation: 10 %;6 short response papers: 25 %;Preliminary research: 25 % ;Final research paper: 40 %