Selected Readings of World Buddhist Literature

Subject code ABS931
Lecturer Dr Elizabeth McDougal
Delivery mode Online, live
On campus, live
Duration 10 weeks
Next start date Visit timetable

Subject Overview

The subject develops the skills to critically read and understand the range of Buddhist literary genres and their ways of communicating to audiences. Focusing on influential texts of each major Buddhist tradition, students will explore the cultural paradigms in which these texts originated, and the multivalent roles of Buddhist literature including as ritual texts and objects of worship. Students will examine the relationship of written texts to oral transmission, and the different ways that Buddhist literature is read across cultures, including individually, collectively, silently and vocally. The subject aims to inform students on different methodological approaches to Buddhist textual analysis. It highlights how historical and cultural conditioning shapes not only the content of Buddhist literature, but the ways that texts have been composed and read by followers.


Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate the ability to interpret the meaning and purpose of a Buddhist text in light of its historical and cultural context.
  2. Develop appreciation of the range of Buddhist literary genres and their functions.
  3. Develop the ability to actively listen and dialogue with different persepctives, both in texts and in the classroom.
  4. Develop critical insight into the relationship between Buddhist written texts and oral traditions.
  5. Critically analyse the different ways of reading found across Buddhist literary traditions, and the implications for methodology in academic textual analysis.



  • Assessment 1: Annotation of a Buddhist text – two-part assessment (20%, due weeks 3 and 5)
  • Assessment 2: Reading log containing reflective writing on five assigned readings (30%, due week 7)
  • Assessment 3: Research report to critically analyse the multivalent nature, functions and contexts of Buddhist literature and their implications for methodology in Buddhist textual analysis (50%, due week 10)


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