Elizabeth Morrison
Office
Munroe Hall 210
Tel
(802) 443-3438
Email
emorriso@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Fall Term: Mondays 12-1:30 p.m., Wednesdays 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m., and by appointment.

Courses Taught

Course Description

Karma
Why do things happen to us as they do? For many throughout Asia, the answer has been or is karma, the ancient Indian notion that over multiple lifetimes individuals reap the effects of past actions. We will examine this powerful idea of moral causality in depth, considering striking variations in classical Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, and compare it to other theories of causation, both religious and scientific. We will also study the wealth of practices believed to improve future lives (and ultimately lead to liberation) and investigate diverse, surprising consequences of karma in some Asian societies, including justification of social hierarchy, mistreatment of some groups, and vegetarianism. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020, Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, PHL, SOA

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Course Description

Independent Study
Approval Required

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

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Course Description

The Buddhist Tradition
Buddhists “take refuge in the three jewels”: the Buddha, his teachings, and the community he founded. After a grounding in the context and content of early Buddhism, we will use texts and images to explore these three categories and what they have meant to Buddhists in different times and places. We will pay special attention to changing views of the Buddha, later developments in Buddhist thought and practice, and the spread of the Buddhist tradition throughout Asia and beyond, which has involved adaptation to a startling array of cultures and societies – as well as modernity. (Juniors and Seniors by waiver) 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019

Requirements

AAL, CMP, PHL, SOA

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Course Description

The Buddhist Tradition in East Asia
An introduction to the development of Buddhism within the East Asian cultural sphere of China, Korea, and Japan. We will consider continuities of thought, institution, and practice with the Indian Buddhist tradition as well as East Asian innovations, particularly the rise of the Chan/Zen and Pure Land schools. (Follows RELI 0121 but may be taken independently) 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

NOA, PHL

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Course Description

Early Daoist Texts
The two great early Daoist (Taoist) texts, the Daodejing (Tao te ching) and the Zhuangzi (Chuang–tzu)/, date from the Warring States period (475 -221 BCE) of China and remain widely read and studied. We will read them closely and slowly, considering questions of authorship, audience, philosophical and religious content, and translation. We will wrestle at length with these wonderful and difficult texts, with attention primarily to their original context and secondarily to their reception and interpretation in later religion, philosophy, and literature in East Asia and beyond. (This is a half credit course.)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

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Course Description

Chinese Religions
An introduction to the rich religious history of China, with an emphasis on primary sources. Topics will include: the ideas and practices of ancient China, the teachings of Confucius and early Taoist (Daoist) thinkers, the introduction of Buddhism to China and its adaptation to Chinese culture, the complex interaction of Buddhism with the Confucian and Taoist traditions, the role of the state in religion, the "popular" Chinese religion of local gods and festivals, and the religious scene in modern Taiwan and mainland China. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020, Spring 2023

Requirements

NOA, PHL

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Course Description

Food in East Asian Religions
One might think that food and eating have nothing to do with the lofty concerns of religious traditions. In fact, many religions bring their fundamental principles to bear on the questions of what, how, and with whom to eat; many also revolve around “feeding” gods and other spiritual beings. In this course, we will examine East Asian religions through the lens of eating practices. We will study Confucian feasting and fasting, various Chinese, Korean, and Japanese rituals offering food to ancestors and gods, Buddhist vegetarianism and its critics, unusual Taoist eating regimens, and the ancient cosmological ideas underlying traditional Chinese medical ideas of healthy eating. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

AAL, NOA, PHL

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Course Description

Japanese Religions
We will begin our study of Japanese religions with the ancient mythology that forms the basis of Shinto (the way of the kami, or gods). We will then consider the introduction of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism to Japan and examine how these traditions were accepted, absorbed, and adapted. We will also investigate Japanese reactions to Christianity in the 16th century and the appearance of "new" Japanese religions starting in the 19th century. Throughout, we will ask how and why Japanese have both adhered to tradition and been open to new religions. (Seniors by waiver) 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

Requirements

AAL, NOA, PHL

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Course Description

Persecution and Revival of Religion in Modern China
In this study of the dramatic recent religious history of China, we will begin with "modern" critics and reformers at the end of the imperial era and then consider the communist suppression of religion and the "cult of Mao." Our focus, however, will be the remarkable revival of religion since Mao's death in 1976. We will investigate the activity itself-ranging from traditional practices to new religious movements to various forms of Christianity—and the complex cultural and political dynamics involved in this "return" to religion. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2021

Requirements

AAL, NOA, PHL

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Course Description

Seminar in Buddhist Studies: Buddhists and Others
The Buddha sent his students to spread his teachings, thus giving rise to the world’s first major missionary religion. As the Buddhist tradition took root across Asia, Buddhists interacted with many other religions and cultures. We will explore a series of these encounters, ranging from rivalry and opposition to cooperation to synthesis. Our goal will be to understand more deeply both the nature of the Buddhist tradition and the varied settings in which it has thrived and to which it has adapted. We will conclude with attention to the further spread of Buddhism in the modern period and its ongoing encounters with “others.” 3 hr. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

AAL, CMP, NOA, PHL

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Course Description

“The Religious Life”: Buddhist and Christian Monastic Traditions Compared
Both Buddhism and Christianity include traditions of monasticism, of men and women leaving home for “the religious life.” In this course, we will study and compare Buddhist and Christian monasticism from historical and religious perspectives. We will read primary sources, from the Life of St. Anthony and the Rule of St. Benedict to the verses attributed to the first Buddhist nuns and a Zen monastic code. We will examine monastic vocation, the integration of monasteries into society, and the adaptation of monasticism to different cultures. Throughout, we will highlight the role of gender. We will conclude with attention to contemporary manifestations of monastic culture. This course is equivalent to HIST 0472 and INTL 0472. 3 hr sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CMP, HIS, PHL

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Course Description

Independent Research
(Approval Required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Winter 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Project
(Approval Required)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Winter 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Research for Honors Candidates
Approval required

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Winter 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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