RELI 240 - Imagining the Buddha: Images of Buddhism in Asia and the West

What does it mean to imagine the Buddha? This course guides students in narrating the lives of Buddhist images by tracing their creation and movement in Asia as well as in cultural encounters within Europe and the U.S. Today art critics continue to discuss "Buddhist" elements in the work of iconic artists like Georgia O'Keefe and Mark Rothko, Tibetan mandala coloring books are being used for stress relief, and "Zen" aesthetics inform a broad range of fashion and design platforms. This course provides tools for critically reexamining the categories of "East" and "West" within this cultural moment. Through creative processes such as drawing, writing, and conversation, students interact with diverse imagery such as Chinese painted caves, Himalayan esoteric portraits of enlightened reality, and Japanese temple complexes. They interpret Buddhist texts describing the construction of buddha bodies in art, ritual, and in the mind. Students also engage with the work of contemporary performance artists inspired by Buddhist ideals of discipline and impermanence. Reflecting upon these experiences, students uncover how the categories of "East' and "West" have obscured the understanding of Buddhist art, artists, and communities. They document the ways in which power dynamics of colonialism and Orientalism have been integral to making these categories. In response to their findings, students work together to generate a virtual exhibition reimagining images of Buddhism and telling their stories.

Also Offered As
EAS 240, EAS 240, EAS 240, EAS 240, EAS 240
Grade Basis
Regular Grades
Course Attributes
General Ed (Begins 2022)
General Ed-Tiers (Before 2022)
General Education
General Education Attributes
Honors Course