Ian Johnson is a Beijing-based writer who contributes regularly to The New York Review of Books and The New York Times, and also advises the Journal of Asian Studies. In 2001, when he was a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of China. His reporting from China has also been honored by the Asia Society, Overseas Press Club, and the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the author Wild Grass: Three Stories of Change in Modern China; A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West; and a forthcoming book on China’s religious revival.
This course is a survey of various religions in China that may include, not only Confucianism and Taoism, but also Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Manicheism and popular or “folk” religion. The course will consider the function of these various religions in the development of Chinese society and their significance in Chinese civilization from ancient mythology to contemporary practices and developments.
We will spend time looking at the five authorized religions in China for insight, but this course will also use case studies to look at trends and directions away from the mainline spiritual establishment, as well as splits within the religious communities on what and how to worship. We will look at sects; at how worship has been practiced historically and locally; and why religious revival in China is occurring at the grassroots level more and more often. We will read relevant texts, and we will examine places of worship and speak with practitioners to arrive a more comprehensive understanding of religious renaissance in Chinese society.
Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the beliefs, practices, and institutions in varied contexts and historical periods in China, of various religions, both indigenous and “foreign.”