REL 355 Immortals, Ancestors, Ghosts and Gods: SUperhumans in Chinese Religions (3 credits)
This course examines four religions of China—Confucianism, Daoism, Chinese “folk” or popular religion, and Buddhism—in their historical and contemporary contexts. As its title suggests, the class is built around an exploration of the important role that superhumans such as demons, dragons, buddhas, and ghosts play in each of these traditions. Taking as our starting point the Mind period (1368-1644) popular novel, Monkey, in this class we will examine a wide range of primary and secondary sources including paintings, websites, poetry, scripture, articles of clothing, miracle stories, newspapers, statuary, and ritual implements. By combining an historical overview of the topic with a hands-on exploration of the manner in which practices and beliefs related to superhumans remains relevant in China today, the class aims to deepen students’ appreciation of the ways religion continues to shape world events, national policy, daily life, and cultural production within and beyond the region.