RELIGION 118 - Dr. Rennie

Fall 2013

Schedule of Classes:
Religion 118 will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 - 12:30 in Patterson Hall 207.
The schedule of assignments, quizzes, etc. remains negotiable until week 9. Changes must be made before this date.

Office Hours:
I will be available in my office in Patterson 336 every day from 9:30 to 10:30 and by arrangement.

Date: 8/27 | 9/3 | 9/10 | 9/17 | 9/24 | 10/1 | 10/8 | 10/15 | 10/22 | 10/29 | 11/5 | 11/12 | 11/19 | 11/26 | 12/3 |12/9
Click the date to see the week.

Chen Hongshou, The Four Joys of Nan Sheng-lu (1649)

Week 1 - Introduction: Who are the Chinese and what is Religon?

Tues. 8/27
Introduction to the course: the class description, the webpage, textbooks, and additional readings. The Problem of defining religion - especially Chinese religion. Consider Sommer's Chinese Religion page vii and Thompson's Chinese Religion “introduction” and pages 80 and 124. An introduction to the idea of dimensional models of religion and their application to the Chinese context.

Thur. 8/29 Who are the Chinese? Language, Culture, and Geography.
See these notes on the transliteration of Chinese into English.
Classics of Chinese scripture.

Make sure that you know the location of China. See these maps (1) & (2).

Week 2 - Our Study of Chinese Religion, continued.

Tues. 9/3 Why not start with a simple definition of religion?
Can we really understand another religion, especially from a foreign culture? The “phenomenology” and “heterophenomenology” of religion. Herbert Fingarette, Confucius-The Secular as Sacred as an example of heterophenomenology; Chris Arthur, “Phenomenology and the Art of Story-telling,” and “Notes from Fingarette.doc” on My.Westminster. Consider Fingarette on li, on ch'ih, and on jen.

Thur. 9/5 Continuing our consideration of Fingarette's analysis of these important early Chinese ideas: How do they relate to Laurence G. Thompson's application of Frederick Streng's understanding of religion as a means of “ultimate transformation” (see Thompson's Chinese Religions p. 80). Consider also the article on “The Confucian Tradition: A Confucian Perspective On Learning To Be Human,” by Tu Wei-ming (My.Westminster).

Sima Qian (Ssu-Ma Chien) from Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe, p. 149 (Doubleday, 1994)


Week 3 - An Introduction to the Historical Background: from pre-history to the end of the Former Han. See Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe (based mainly on the Annals of the Historian by Sima Qian, see Ebrey, 67).

Tues. 9/10 Gonick, pages 53-110. Prehistory to Confucius to the advent of the First Emperor. For primary sources from this period, see Sommer 3 - 48.

Thur. 9/12 Gonick, pages 110-150. The rise of the Han to the writing of Sima Qian's (Ssu-Ma Chien's) History.
See also Sommer 101 - 116.

Week 4 - Archaic Chinese Religion.

Tues. 9/17 Archaic Chinese Religion:
“The Early Chinese Worldview” (Thompson's Chinese Religions, “Introduction” and chapter one).
The Classical Chinese Scriptures.
See Sommer 3- 39, and 49 - 70.
Reading and discussion of some primary texts, including excerpts from Sima Qian's (Ssu-Ma Chien's) Shi-ji (Historical Records).

Thur. 9/19 QUIZ #1, see also the recommended vocabularly for the course.

Han Empire, from Patricia Ebrey's Cambridge Illustrated History of China.
Click for full-sized image.

Week 5 - Archaic Chinese Religion: continued.

Tues. 9/24 “Prescientific Theory and Religious Practice” (Thompson's Chinese Religions, chapter two).

Thur. 9/26 The Family: Kindred and Ancestors (Thompson's Chinese Religions, chapter three).

Week 6 - Archaic Chinese Religion, continued and Taoism (Daoism). See Thompson's Chinese Religions, chapters four - six and Sommer 71 - 83.

Tues. 10/1 “The Community: Gods and Temples” (Thompson's Chinese Religions, chapter four) and “The State: Emperor and Officials” (Thompson's Chinese Religions, chapter five).

Thur. 10/3 See “The Taoist tradition” on My.Westminster (Thompson's Chinese Religions, chapter six).

Tao Lao Tzu

Week 7 - Taoism (Daoism) continued.

Tues. 10/8 Video: Taoism: A Question of Balance and review.

Thur. 10/10 The Introduction of a Foreign Tradition into China.
See Thompson's Chinese Religions, chapter eight and Sommer 119 - 154.

The topic and thesis of your paper and your Tibetan Buddhist Research proposal should be determined by this time. Please submit a title and a brief (c. 50 words) outline of each.


Week 8 - Buddhism:
(There will be a group of Tibetan Buddhist Monks on campus from 10/13 to 10/19.
All students are required to generate a short research program that takes advantage of this presence.)

Tues. 10/15 See "Basic Buddhism and its appeal in China" on My.Westminster.
Ch'an, T'ien-t'ai, Hua-yen, and Ching-t'u (Pure Land) Buddhism.

Thur. 10/17 Today the Tibetan Buddhist Monks will visit our class for explanation and discussion.

Confucius (Kung Fu Tzu) Kung Fu Tzu
Week 9

Tues. 10/22 QUIZ #2, see also the recommended vocabularly for the course.

Thur. 10/24 - Confucianism: The Tradition of the Literati. See Thompson's Chinese Religions, chapter seven and Sommer 41 - 48. See here for versions of The Analects of Confucius.

"At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning.
"At thirty, I stood firm.
"At forty, I had no doubts.
"At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven.
"At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth.
"At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right."
The Analects of Confucius (Lun Yu), 2:4.
Thompson's Chinese Religions, chapter seven.

Mid-Term Break: Saturday October 26th through Monday 28th.

Week 10 - Review.

Tues. 10/29 - No Class: Monday classes meet today.

Thur. 10/31 - The lasting effects of Confucianism. See "Notes from Thinking Through Confucius.doc," "Notes from Deuchler Agnation in Korea.doc," "Disruption or Continuation of Tradition.doc," and "Notes from Confucianism by Tu Wei-Ming.doc" all available on the class My.Westminster page.

Week 11 - Thompson's Chinese Religions, chapters nine and ten and "Other Traditions in the Far East".
See this map from the Perry-Castaneda Library map collection at the University of Texas at Austin.

Tues. 11/5 - Thompson's Chinese Religions, chapters nine and ten: Cults and Sects and the Festival Year.

Thur. 11/7 - Contemporary Religion in China.
See "Religion in the Far East" and "Other Religions from Outside China: Islam and Christianity" on My.Westminster.

You must submit an initial bibliography for your term paper today. This should contain at least five appropriate sources with a brief (no more than 50 words) description of the contents of each source.
You must have at least as many print sources as you have Internet sources!
These bibliographies should be submitted as an e-mail attachment by the end of the day (4:30) on Thursday.

Week 12 - See Thompson's Chinese Religions, chapter eleven and Sommer 281 - 348.

Tues. 11/12 - The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Sommer 281 - 316). Communism in China and the contemporary situation (Sommer 317 - 348).

See Thompson's Chinese Religions, chapter twelve and MacInnis excerpts from Religion in China Today, on My. Westminster.

Thur. 11/14 - Communism and the Contemporary Situation, continued.

Week 13 - Quiz and Student oral presentations.

Tues. 11/19 - QUIZ #3, see also the recommended vocabularly for the course.

Thur. 11/21 - First student oral presentations of essay topics and theses, etc.
Jesse Armstrong, Gino Colella, Jake Michalski, Robby Moss, Krystina Rothhaar, Ashley Smith

Students will be asked to grade their fellow students' presentations.
See the document on My.Westminster for the "criteria" for grading these presentations.

Week 14 - Student Oral Presentations Concluded.

Note that you may submit a rough draft of your essay to be checked on or before 11/28.

Tues. 11/26 - Second Student oral presentations.
Nick Germano, Logan Lee, Maddy Lunnen, Matt Maxwell, Nate Schramm, Zack Shively
Conclusions and final questions.

Thanksgiving Break: Wednesday November 27th through Sunday December 1st.

Week 15 - The Last Emperor.

Tues. 12/3 - Movie: The Last Emperor.
I will hand out the take-home final in this class.

Thurs. 12/5 - Last Class: Movie: The Last Emperor, continued and concluded.
Student Assessments of the course.

Your essays are due in today. Please make sure that I get them as e-mail attachments no later than 4:30.

Week 16 -

Reading Day, Wednesday, December 11th.
The take-home final is due to be handed in between 1:30 and 2:00 pm on Friday, December 13th.
It may be turned in before this time as an e-mail attachment
but you must await my acknowledgement that I have recieved it.
No excuses about missing finals will be accepted
Finals period December 9th through 13th
Monday through Friday.
Term ends Friday, December 14th.


All students will submit a typewritten or word-processed critical essay of 8-10 pages (double spaced, that is no less than 2,500 words). This paper is due in on Thursday, December 5th.

You are required to obtain the approval of the instructor for your paper topic by Thursday, October 10th.

You are required to submit an annotated bibliography for your paper by Thursday, November 7th. This should contain at least five appropriate sources with a brief (no more than 50 words) description of the contents of each source. You must have at least as many print sources as you have Internet sources!

These are not reports but argumentative essays: that is to say they are editorialism rather than journalism--your own views are as essential as knowledge of your subject material. The standard of your technical writing as well as your accuracy and argument will be taken into consideration. To that end, here is a short list of common avoidable writing errors which should help you to avoid simple mistakes which will otherwise reduce your grade.

Papers cannot be accepted after the due date (Thursday, December 5th).

You may submit a rough draft of your paper to be checked anytime up to Thursday November 28th.

General requirements of an argumentative essay .

1. Papers must have a title which states the topic of your essay. In order to maintain the focus on Religions from East Asia as the topic of this course your papers should be entitled "Religions from China: . . . " with your topic or focus following the colon. Papers must be typed on standard 8½ x 11 paper (no folders please!). Papers will be kept by the professor.

2. You must have a thesis, argument, and a conclusion. "Thesis" is defined as "a proposition laid down or stated, especially as a theme to be discussed or proved" (Oxford English Dictionary). You must explain to your reader why you believe that your thesis is correct, and clearly state the conclusion of your thought. This is mainly to help you to focus your thoughts.

3. The arguments and research which support your thesis should make the main body of the essay.

4. Source material (books, but don't forget articles in journals and encyclopedias, even newspapers and personal interviews) should be integrated into your argument as evidence, example, or illustration. You MUST document the sources of all quotations, statistical information, and paraphrased material.

5. Your conclusions must be clearly stated. They can be negative as well as positive. Don't worry if you find that your original thesis is insupportable. As long as your conclusion is based on your research negative results areas valuable as positive ones. Just re-write your introduction to reflect your results.

6. You must give a separate list of sources (entitled "References" or "Bibliography" or "Works Cited") at the end of your paper. In alphabetical order give the full name of each author, surname first, then first name, followed by the title of the work. Book and journal titles should be italicized (underlining should be avoided and used only if italics are not available, as in hand- or typewritten manuscripts). Article titles should be in quotation marks. Details of publication must be included. For example:

Batson, C. Daniel and W. Larry Ventis. The Religious Experience. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Ferré, Frederick. "The Definition of Religion." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 38, no.1 (1970): 3-16.

Fieser, James (Ed.), The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,, July 10th, 1996.

(For Internet sources the minimum required information is author name, URL --that is the "http://filename/etc.htm"--and the date you took it from the Internet. If you do not know the author, you must say so, for example:

Author Unknown. "Cilicia," 01/01/2006. Or
Rennie, Bryan. "Classical Chinese Scriptures," 04/10/2007.

REMEMBER: You must have at least as many print sources as you have Internet sources!

Your bibliography does not count as part of your length (2,500 words as stated above).