Online course: Religious Transformation in Early China: the Period of Division (part of the Long term online programme: History of China)

Dates: any time

Duration: 22 hours

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 out of 27 ratings (see top rating courses here)

Participating countries: any country

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Organizer: The Chinese University of Hong Kong at Coursera

Cost:

  • FREE
  • $49 with sharable certificate

Religious Transformation in Early China: the Period of Division

This sequence of four courses will propose a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of Chinese cultural history conceived of as a succession of modes of rationality (philosophical, bureaucratic, and economic). The focus will be on the moments of paradigm shift from one mode of rationality to another. For each of these moments, cultural facts and artifacts—thought, literature, ritual—will be examined in relationship to changing social, political, and economic systems.

The first two courses will cover the periods of the Warring States (481-256 BCE) and the Period of Division (220-589 CE), with a brief excursion into the Han (206 BCE-220 CE). The Warring States laid the social and cultural foundations for the emergence of the imperial mode of rationality; the Period of Division saw the Buddhist “conquest” of China and the emergence of a rationality defined by the opposition of the Three Teachings to shamanism, that is, of a clear contrast between elite and popular culture. The third and fourth courses will focus on the emergence of modern China in the Song-Yuan (960-1368) and of today’s China 1850 to the present. We will see how the modern attack on religion, redefined as “superstition”, led not only to religious reform movements but also to a society in which science and the nation became the primary value systems promoted by the state. The courses are listed below: A Critical Cultural History of China – Early China I: Intellectual Change in the Warring States and Han (481 BCE-220 CE) A Critical Cultural History of China – Early China II: Religious Transformation in the Period of Division (220-589 CE) A Critical Cultural History of China – Modern China I: Religion and Thought in the Song, Jin, and Yuan (960-1368) A Critical Cultural History of China – Modern China II: Structuring Values (1850-2015)

Programme

WEEK 1: 2 hours to complete

MODULE 06 Religious Transformation in the Period of Division (220-589 AD)

This module presents the relationship between the elite attack on shamanism and their promotion of a cosmology that transformed medicine and laid the foundations for both self-cultivation and a bureaucratic empire.

M06.1 Basic facts
M06.2 Buddhism, Daoism and the state
M06.3 Liang Wudi
M06.4 Conquest or sinification?
M06.5 Liminality

WEEK 2: 2 hours to complete

MODULE 07 Religious Communities

This module introduces the three kinds of new religious community that appear from the second century on: those organized around transcendents, by the Heavenly Masters, and by the Buddhists.

M07.1.1 Who are the transcendents
M07.1.2 Stories of transcendents
M07.1.3 Elite or popular?
M07.1.4 The world of the dead before Buddhism
M07.2.1 Basic facts
M07.2.2 Lu Xiujin
M07.2.3 Initiation
M07.3 The Buddhist community

WEEK 3: 5 hours to complete

MODULE 08 Rituals

This module explains how Buddhist and Daoist rituals revolutionized Chinese society and individuals. It reveals the importance of orality in Buddhism, written documents in Daoism.

M08.1 Buddhism as a public religion
M08.2 The rule of law
M08.3 Orality and dualism
M08.4 In sum
M08.5 The Daoist petition
M08.6 Daoism in North China
M08.7 Lingbao Daoism
M08.8 The Lingbao fast and Lu Xiujing

WEEK 4: 4 hours to complete

MODULE 09 Scriptures

This module explores how Buddhist and Daoist scriptures confirm the oral/aural bias of Buddhism, the written/visual bias of Daoism. We are going to learn the centrality of logic in Buddhism, of cosmology in Daoism.

M09.1 Translated and indigenous Buddhist scriptures
M09.2 Buddhist orality and logic
M09.3 Daoist writs
M09.4 The visual and the spatial
M09.5 Lord Lao
M09.6 The Celestial Worthy

WEEK 5: 3 hours to complete

MODULE 10 Literature

This module indicates the attractiveness of key Buddhist scriptures and how Chinese poetry was transformed by Buddhism. It also shows how the “public sermons” of Buddhism contrasted with the “private records of the imagination” of Daoism.

M10.1 New Buddhist literary genres
M10.2 Buddhist influence on Chinese poetry
M10.3 The Lotus and Vimalakirti sutras
M10.4 Daoist poetry

WEEK 6: 4 hours to complete

MODULE 11 Sacred Geography

This module is about how Daoist sacred geography is above all an exploration of the inner self and how mountains played a role both in imperial preference for Daoism and in the Buddhist “conquest” of China.

M11.1 Mountains as sacred sites
M11.2 Mountains and revelation
M11.3 Imperial and Daoist convergence
M11.4 The “Scripture of the Man-Bird Mountain”
M11.5 The Daoist subject
M11.6 Buddhist sacred geography

WEEK 7: 2 hours to complete

MODULE 12 Popular Religion

This module illustrates why popular religion continued to thrive in spite of elite attacks on it, and how Buddhism and Daoism dealt with widespread fear of the spirits of the dead.

M12.1 Return and repression of the shamans
M12.2 Buddhist and Daoist responses to shamanist

Long term programme

Name of the course Category Educator Price Duration (hours) Score Number of ratings
Structuring Values in Modern China History, Culture The Chinese University of Hong Kong FREE 25 4.6 15
Religion and Thought in Modern China: the Song, Jin, and Yuan History, Culture The Chinese University of Hong Kong FREE 28 4.6 27
Intellectual Change in Early China: Warring States and Han History, Culture The Chinese University of Hong Kong FREE 23 4.7 68
Religious Transformation in Early China: the Period of Division History, Culture The Chinese University of Hong Kong FREE 22 4.8 27