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PA357 – Women in Hinduism & Buddhism

Using theory on gender and sexuality, Tracy Coleman's class will look more deeply into social and religious implications for women living in South Asia.

Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/romsrini/4194682016/">romsrini</a>
Photo credit: romsrini

Instructor(s)

Associate Professor, Chair Tracy Coleman email

An exploration of constructions of gender and sexuality, and of the status of women in South Asian culture, this course focuses on ancient and medieval texts and historical practices that continue to inform the diverse experiences of contemporary women in various religious and domestic settings. Beginning with epic literature and its foundational image of the ideal woman (as devoted wife and mother), we consider the limited paths open to women within the brahmanical system and compare socially subversive alternatives that allow women to join the Buddhist saṃgha and become nuns, thereby renouncing marriage, children, and familial life. Dharma, the renunciation of dharma, and the articulation of a spiritual dharma are therefore underlying course themes, having been central to South Asian culture since the time of the Buddha Śākyamuni and the subsequent development of popular Hindu devotional traditions known as bhakti.

Also listed as: RE357, FG357