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Dr. Martha Selby, Chair 120 INNER CAMPUS DR STOP G9300 WCH 4.134 78712-1251 • 512-471-5811

Fall 2009

ANS 372 • Senior Seminar in Asian Studies - W: Death, Dying, and the Afterlife in South and East Asia

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
31180 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
WCH 4.118

Course Description

Designed for graduating majors in the Department of Asian Studies, the purpose of this capstone seminar is to explore and compare multiple understandings of the dying experience, death, and the afterlife across Asian cultural areas (we will look specifically at materials from India, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Japan). During the course of the semester, we will work with different types of literary forms (the novel, poetry, biography, and autobiography), as well as ethnographies, documentaries, and feature-length films that describe and depict ritual performance and provide religious interpretations of different sorts of encounters with death and the dying process. We will also read passages from epic literature and modern short stories to see how death is used as a narrative device in storytelling. For each class session, several students will work as a team to serve as discussion leaders and provide the other seminar participants with five to six-page "topics papers" in advance of the class. Two other students will be asked to respond with a formal written commentary of 2 to 3 pages, and discussion will proceed from there. Formal presentations of research in progress will be held during the final 2 weeks of the semester.

Grading Policy

1 topics paper (5 to 6 pages in length) plus presentation 20% 2 reaction papers (2 to 3 pages in length) plus presentation 30% total (15% each) Formal oral presentation on research paper in progress 20% Final research paper (20 to 30 pages in length) 30%


1. Parry, Jonathan P. Death in Banaras. 2. Mitford, Jessica. The American Way of Death. 3. Ananthamurthy, U. R. Saskra: A Rite for a Dead Man. 4. LaFleur, William R. Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan. 5. Mistry, Rohinton. Such a Long Journey. 6. Evans-Wentz, W. Y., ed. The Tibetan Book of the Dead. 7. Trawick, Margaret. Enemy Lines: Childhood, warfare and Play in Eastern Sri Lanka. 8. Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko. Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers. 9. Readings packet (this will include translations of primary texts and a number of articles)


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