Summer 2021 - HIST 468W D100

Problems in the History of Religion (4)

Ancient & Modern Buddhisms

Class Number: 3493

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including nine units of lower division history.



An advanced examination into the concepts and methodology of the history of religion. Content may vary from offering to offering; see course outline for further information. HIST 468W may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught. Writing.


   In 2001 a cocaine-addled Buddha joined the Super Best Friends (Parker's South Park), and in 2006 began sharing a Tokyo apartment with Jesus (Nakamura's Saint Young Men).  He's come a long way from ancient India.  This semester we'll study and compare the earliest Buddhism alongside its modern echoes.  We'll spend a month learning the basics: the Buddha, his teachings, his organization (the oldest continuously operating corporate body in history), and the historical sources available to us.  The rest of the course will explore a variety of themes following student interests.  Topics for ancient India may include archaeology, art, literature, meditation, humour, gender, and cosmology; modern topics may include anti-imperialist meditation movements in Burma, debate on women's ordination in Thailand, the Buddhism in the Cold War, and controversial "mindfulness" in classrooms in Yaletown.
   If 5+ students are keen, we'll run an optional language workshop where you learn to read simple primary sources in either Pali (Sanskrit's easier cousin) or classical Chinese (an important language for ancient India).


  • Seminar attendance and participation 20%
  • Quiz on basic concepts 5%
  • Two 2-page prospectuses for the research papers 15%
  • Two 6-to-10-page research papers 40%
  • Two referats (formal presentations on research) 10%
  • Optional language workshop OR higher research-paper grade (whichever's higher) 10%



All required readings will be made available online.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Teaching at SFU in summer 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods, but we will continue to have in-person experiential activities for a selection of courses.  Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112).