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Martha G. Newman, Chair BUR 529, Mailcode A3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-7737

Oliver Freiberger

Ph.D., Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany

Associate Professor
Oliver Freiberger

Contact

  • Phone: 512-471-8239
  • Office: WCH 4.104A
  • Office Hours: ON LEAVE: AY 2014-15
  • Campus Mail Code: G9300

Biography

Oliver Freiberger is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Asian Studies.  He completed his Ph.D. in Indology, with concentrations in History of Religions and Tibetology, at the University of Göttingen in 1999 and received his Habilitation Degree in Religious Studies from the University of Bayreuth in 2009.

Prof. Freiberger's primary interests lie in the history of early Buddhism in India, asceticism, and comparison in the study of religion.  He has edited a volume on Asceticism and Its Critics and published a monograph in German comparing ascetic beliefs and practices in India and early Christianity (English: The Asceticism Discourse in the History of Religion: A Comparative Study of Brahmanical and Early Christian Texts). His most recent book is a handbook of and introduction to Buddhism, co-authored with Christoph Kleine. Currently he works on a book about the method of comparison in Religious Studies.

Interests

Indian Buddhism | asceticism | comparison in the study of religion

R S 302 • History Of Religions Of Asia

44475 • Spring 2014
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am UTC 3.134
(also listed as ANS 301R, CTI 310 )
show description

This course offers a survey of the major religious traditions of Asia (Hinduism, Buddhism in South and East Asia, Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto). It focuses on the historical development of their beliefs, practices, rituals, and customs in social context. The course will combine lectures with class discussions on readings.

Course materials:

  1. Willard G. Oxtoby, Roy C. Amore, eds. World Religions: Eastern Traditions. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  2. R. K. Narayan, The Mahabharata: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000.
  3. Zhuangzi: Basic Writings, translated by Burton Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.
  4. Readings provided as PDF files on CANVAS

Grading
Attendance/participation: 20%
Two quizzes: 20% (10% each)
Two short essays: 20% (10% each)
Midterm exam: 20%
Final exam: 20%

R S 375S • Intro To Comparatv Religion

44635 • Spring 2014
Meets W 300pm-600pm PAR 210
(also listed as ANS 340 )
show description

This course introduces and discusses major comparative approaches in the study of religion. Note that it is NOT an introduction to world religions but rather an advanced seminar on method and theory of comparison in Religious Studies. - The act of comparison is as old as religion is. Religious individuals and groups have often compared their beliefs and practices with those of their neighbors, sometimes with a sincere religious interest, sometimes merely to demonstrate the superiority of their own religion. Since the end of the 19th century, scholars of religion have sought to develop methods of comparison that were not religiously biased. They asked: What are the differences and the similarities in the religions of the world? Why do religions have the same – or completely different – answers to the same existential questions? Why do they express their beliefs by developing very different – or strikingly similar – practices? This course surveys classical and current approaches to the comparison of religions. The guiding questions are: What are the respective goals of the comparative enterprises? What specific methods are advocated and actually carried out? Should we adopt those goals and methods for our own reflections on religion? The introduction to these issues will be illustrated by numerous examples from the history of religions. Many examples will be taken from Asian religions, but depending on the interests of students in class, we may extend our scope into any direction.

Readings:
Course Packet

Grading:
Attendance/participation: 25%
Oral presentation: 20%
Response papers: 20%
Research project: 35% (two essay drafts, presentation, final essay)

R S 312C • Introduction To Buddhism

44150 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 303
(also listed as ANS 301M )
show description

This course is designed to provide the student with a structural and historical overview of Buddhism through the examination of various schools, doctrines, and religious practices. We will begin our study in India and look at the ways in which the contexts of post-Vedic civilization and orthodox Hinduism made Buddhism possible, and ask the following questions about Buddhism's founder: Who was the "historical Buddha?" What were the factors that led to his enlightenment? What did the Buddha teach, and what didn't he? How was the early Buddhist community structured? We will examine the developments in Theravada (also termed Orthodox or Southern) and Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) Buddhism and the spread of these two distinctive schools into Southeast and East Asia respectively. We will also study Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle) Buddhism as it manifested in Tibet. Finally, we will examine the peculiar relationship that Buddhism has had with the West and explore the various ways in which European and American societies have embraced Buddhism and made it their own.

 

Grading:

Attendance/participation: 20% Three quizzes: 10% ea.Oral presentation: 20%Final exam: 30%

Texts:

C. S. Prebish / D. Keown, Introducing Buddhism (or: Buddhism - the eBook)J. Strong, The Experience of Buddhism, 3rd ed.

R S 375S • Radical Religion: Ascetics

44335 • Fall 2013
Meets W 300pm-600pm RLM 6.126
(also listed as ANS 379 )
show description

Asceticism, as a concept and a way of life, exists in many religious traditions. Ascetics commit to bodily restraints that can be manifold and are practiced at various levels of intensity. From specific food restraints (for example, vegetarianism) to fasting to death; from celibacy to self-castration; from wearing simple robes to going naked; from shaving one’s head to severe self-mutilation; from living in a monastic community to locking one-self in a cell to constant wandering. Using case studies from various religions, this course discusses the concepts, practices, and goals associated with this radical way of life. It also introduces students to scholarly approaches to asceticism, which includes theories of the body and of culture more generally. Other topics discussed in class are the social status of the ascetic; asceticism and gender; asceticism and devotion; and asceticism and violence. Historical examples will be taken primarily from India (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism) and Mediterranean late antiquity (Greek/Roman religions, Christianity, Judaism).

 

Texts:

TBD

 

Grading:

TBD

R S 302 • History Of Religions Of Asia

43810 • Spring 2013
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am UTC 3.134
(also listed as ANS 301R, CTI 310 )
show description

This course offers a survey of the major religious traditions of Asia (Hinduism, Buddhism in South and East Asia, Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto). It focuses on the historical development of their beliefs, practices, rituals, and customs in social context. The course will combine lectures with class discussions on readings.

R S 322 • History Of Indian Buddhism

43705 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CPE 2.220
(also listed as ANS 340 )
show description

This course introduces students to the institutional, social, economic, and doctrinal history of Buddhism in India. Emerging in the 5th century B.C.E., Buddhism spread quickly across South Asia. For more than 1500 years it had a significant impact on Indian culture, philosophy, art, architecture, and politics. The course discusses Buddhist teachings, from their earliest formulations to later developments, the spread of Buddhist institutions, and resulting social, political, and economic issues. Finally, we will take a look at the revival of Buddhism in India in the 20th century and its impact on society.

Readings:
Paul Williams, Buddhist Thought
Rupert Gethin, Sayings of the Buddha
Course Packet

Grading
Attendance/participation: 20%
Weekly reading responses: 20%
Oral presentation: 15%
Article for class encyclopedia: 15%
Midterm exam: 15%
Final exam: 15%

 

R S 393C • Core Reads: Religion In Asia

43850 • Fall 2012
Meets M 400pm-700pm WCH 4.118
(also listed as ANS 384 )
show description

This course discusses key scholarly works on and major approaches to religion in Asia. Its main focus is on pre-modern South Asia and contemporary Japan, but other regions will be considered too. By discussing major groundbreaking works the seminar will familiarize students with the current scholarly discourse, its most pressing questions, a selection of commonly studied areas and topics, and major theoretical and methodological challenges of the field.

 

R S 312C • Introduction To Buddhism

43640 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm GAR 1.126
(also listed as ANS 301M, CTI 310 )
show description

This course is designed to provide the student with a structural and historical overview of Buddhism through the examination of various schools, doctrines, and religious practices. We will begin our study in India and look at the ways in which the contexts of post-Vedic civilization and orthodox Hinduism made Buddhism possible, and ask the following questions about Buddhism's founder: Who was the "historical Buddha?" What were the factors that led to his enlightenment? What did the Buddha teach, and what didn't he? How was the early Buddhist community structured? We will examine the developments in Theravada and Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) Buddhism and the spread of these two distinctive schools into Southeast and East Asia respectively. We will also study Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle) Buddhism as it manifested in Tibet. Finally, we will examine the peculiar relationship that Buddhism has had with the West and explore the various ways in which European and American societies have embraced Buddhism and made it their own.

 

Texts

C. S. Prebish / D. Keown, Introducing Buddhism (or: Buddhism - the eBook)
J. Strong, The Experience of Buddhism, 3rd ed.

Grading

Attendance/participation: 20% Three quizzes: 10% ea.Oral presentation: 20%Final exam: 30%

R S 375S • Intro To Comparative Religion

43785 • Spring 2012
Meets W 300pm-600pm BUR 128
(also listed as ANS 340 )
show description

This course introduces and discusses major comparative approaches in the study of religion. The act of comparison is as old as religion is. Religious individuals and groups have often compared their beliefs and practices with those of their neighbors, sometimes with a sincere religious interest, sometimes merely to demonstrate the superiority of their own religion. Since the end of the 19th century, scholars of religion sought to develop methods of comparison that were not religiously biased. They asked: What are the differences and the similarities in the religions of the world? Why do religions have the same - or completely different - answers to the same existential questions? Why do they express their beliefs by developing very different - or strikingly similar - practices? This course surveys classical and current approaches to the comparison of religions. The guiding questions are: What are the respective goals of the comparative enterprises? What specific methods are advocated and actually carried out? Should we adopt those goals and methods for our own reflections on religion? The introduction to these issues will be illustrated by numerous examples from the history of religions. Many examples will be taken from Asian religions, but depending on the interests of students in class, we may extend our scope into any direction. In the course of the semester, students will develop individual comparative projects in study groups.

 

Texts

Course packet

Grading

Attendance/participation: 20%, oral presentation: 20%,  project development: 30%, and a final exam: 30%.

R S 322 • History Of Indian Buddhism

44235 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 306
(also listed as ANS 340 )
show description

This course introduces students to the institutional, social, economic, and doctrinal history of Buddhism in India. Emerging in the 5th century B.C.E. Buddhism spread quickly across South Asia. For more than 1500 years it had a significant impact on Indian culture, philosophy, art, architecture, and politics. The course discusses Buddhist teachings, from their earliest formulations to later developments, the spread of Buddhist institutions, and resulting social, political, and economic issues. Finally, we will take a look at the revival of Buddhism in India in the 20th century and its impact on society.

TEXTS

  1. Paul Williams, Anthony Tribe. Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition. London: Routledge, 2000.
  2. Sayings of the Buddha: A Selection of Suttas from the Pali Nikāyas. Transl. by Rupert Gethin. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  3. Course packet. 
  4. Optional: Śāntideva, The Bodhicāryāvatāra. A New Translation by Kate Crosby and Andrew Skilton. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

GRADING

Attendance/participation 20%
Reading responses 20%
Oral presentation 15%
Article for class encyclopedia 15%
Midterm exam 15%
Final exam 15%

R S 312C • Introduction To Buddhism

43558 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm JGB 2.218
(also listed as ANS 301M )
show description

This course is designed to provide the student with a structural and historical overview of Buddhism through the examination of various schools, doctrines, and religious practices. We will begin our study in India and look at the ways in which the contexts of post-Vedic civilization and orthodox Hinduism made Buddhism possible, and ask the following questions about Buddhism’s founder: Who was the “historical Buddha?” What were the factors that led to his “enlightenment”? What did the Buddha teach, and what didn’t he? How was the early Buddhist community structured? We will examine the developments in Theravada (also termed “Orthodox” or “Southern”) and Mahayana (“Greater Vehicle”) Buddhism and the spread of these two distinctive schools into Southeast and East Asia respectively. We will also study Vajrayana (“Diamond Vehicle”) Buddhism as it manifested in Tibet. Finally, we will examine the peculiar relationship that Buddhism has had with the West and explore the various ways in which European and American societies have embraced Buddhism and made it their own.

TEXTS:

C. S. Prebish / D. Keown, Introducing Buddhism (or: Buddhism – the eBook)
J. Strong, The Experience of Buddhism, 3rd ed.

GRADING:

Attendance/participation: 20%
Three quizzes: 10% ea.
Oral presentation: 20%
Final exam: 30%

R S 302 • History Of Religions Of Asia

44315 • Spring 2010
Meets MWF 1100-1200 JGB 2.102
show description

This course surveys the central beliefs and patterns of life of living religious traditions of Asia. It will focus particularly on the basic texts or narratives of these traditions, on their essential histories, and on the concepts of humanity, the world, and the divine that are distinctive of each. In addition, the course will explore not only what people believe religiously but also what they do religiously.

 

Text:W. Oxtoby & R. Amore, World Religions: Religions of the East, 3rd ed. The Ramayana, retold by R.K. Narayan, The Life of the Buddha (Buddhacarita), translated by Patrick Olivelle, Zhuangzi: Basic Writings, translated by Burton Watson,

 

Grading:Each of three essays on the assigned reading 15%, Midterm exam 20%, Final exam 35%

Publications

Authored Books

      See short blurbs here.

Edited Books

Articles and Chapters

  • “Introduction” (with Afe Adogame and Magnus Echtler). In: Alternative Voices: A Plurality Approach for Religious Studies. Essays in Honor of Ulrich Berner. Ed. Afe Adogame, Magnus Echtler, Oliver Freiberger. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 9–17.
  • Die deutsche Religionswissenschaft im transnationalen Fachdiskurs ” [German Studies of Religion in the Transnational Disciplinary Discourse]. Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft 21.1 (2013): 1–28.
  • “Religionen und Religion in der Konstruktion des frühen Buddhismus” [Religions and Religion in the Construction of Early Buddhism] in: Religion in Asien? Studien zur Anwendbarkeit des Religionsbegriffs. Ed. Peter Schalk, Max Deeg, Oliver Freiberger, Christoph Kleine, and Astrid van Nahl. Uppsala: Uppsala University Press. 15–41. Online: http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:602914/FULLTEXT03
  • “Der Vergleich als Methode und konstitutiver Ansatz der Religionswissenschaft.” [Comparison as Method and Constitutive Approach in the Study of Religion.] In Religionen erforschen: Kulturwissenschaftliche Methoden in der Religionswissenschaft. Ed. Stefan Kurth and Karsten Lehmann. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, 2011. 199–218.
  • Was ist das Kanonische am Pāli-Kanon?” [What Makes the Pāli Canon Canonical?] In Kanonisierung und Kanonbildung in der asiatischen Religionsgeschichte. Ed. Max Deeg, Oliver Freiberger, Christoph Kleine. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, 2011. 209–232.
  • “How the Buddha Dealt with Non-Buddhists.” In Religion and Identity in South Asia and Beyond: Essays in Honor of Patrick Olivelle. Ed. Steven E. Lindquist. London: Anthem Press, 2011. 185–195.
  • Die Gründung des Saṅgha in buddhistischer Historiographie und Hagiographie.” [The Foundation of the Saṅgha in Buddhist Historiography and Hagiography.] In Geschichten und Geschichte: Historiographie und Hagiographie in der asiatischen Religionsgeschichte. Ed. Peter Schalk, Max Deeg, Oliver Freiberger, Christoph Kleine, Astrid van Nahl. Uppsala: Uppsala University Press, 2010. 329–356. Online: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-121402
  • Locating the Ascetic’s Habitat: Toward a Micro-Comparison of Religious Discourses.” History of Religions 50.2 (2010): 162–192.
  • Negative Campaigning: Polemics against Brahmins in a Buddhist Sutta.” Religions of South Asia 3.1 (2009): 61–76.
  • The Disciplines of Buddhist Studies: Notes on Religious Commitment as Boundary-Marker.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 30 (2007) [2009]: 299–318.
  • “Prestige als Plage: Vergleichende Untersuchungen zu einem asketischen Dilemma.” [Prestige as Worriment: Comparative Studies of an Ascetic Dilemma.] Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft 16 (2008): 83–103.
  • “Akademische Kanonisierung? Zur Erstellung von Anthologien buddhistischer Texte.” [Academic Canonization? On the Compilation of Anthologies of Buddhist Texts.] In Jaina-Itihāsa-Ratna: Studies in Honour of Gustav Roth on the Occasion of his 90th Birthday. Ed. Ute Hüsken, Petra Kieffer-Pülz, Anne Peters. Swisttal-Odendorf: Indica et Tibetica Verlag, 2006. 193–207.
  • “Introduction: The Criticism of Asceticism in Comparative Perspective.” In Asceticism and Its Critics: Historical Accounts and Comparative Perspectives. Ed. Oliver Freiberger. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 3–21.
  • “Early Buddhism, Asceticism, and the Politics of the Middle Way.” In Asceticism and Its Critics: Historical Accounts and Comparative Perspectives. Ed. Oliver Freiberger. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 235–258.
  • “’Ein Vinaya für Hausbewohner’? Norm und Praxis der Laienanhänger im frühen Buddhismus.” [‘A Vinaya for Householders’? Norm and Practice of Lay Adherents in Early Buddhism.] In Im Dickicht der Gebote: Studien zur Dialektik von Norm und Praxis in der Buddhismusgeschichte Asiens. Editor-in-chief: Peter Schalk; Co-editors: Max Deeg, Oliver Freiberger, Christoph Kleine, Astrid van Nahl. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Historia Religionum, 26. Uppsala: Uppsala University Press, 2005. 225–252.
  • Resurrection from the Dead? The Brāhmaṇical Rite of Renunciation and Its Irreversibility.” In Words and Deeds: Hindu and Buddhist Rituals in South Asia. Ed. Jörg Gengnagel, Ute Hüsken, Srilata Raman. Ethno-Indology: Heidelberg Series on South Asian Ritual, 1. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2005. 235–256.
  • “The Buddhist Canon and the Canon of Buddhist Studies.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 27 (2004): 261–283.
  • “Religion in Mirrors: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and Asian Religions.” Journal of Global Buddhism 4 (2003): 9–17 (online: http://www.globalbuddhism.org).
  • “Religion und Globalisierung im Lichte von Orientalismus und Okzidenta­lis­mus.” [Religion and Globalization in the Light of Orientalism and Occidentalism.] In Religion im Spiegel­kabinett: Asiatische Religionsgeschichte im Spannungsfeld zwischen Orientalismus und Okzidentalismus. Editor-in-chief: Peter Schalk; Co-editors: Max Deeg, Oliver Freiberger, Christoph Kleine. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Historia Religionum, 22. Uppsala: Uppsala University Press, 2003. 63–89.
  • “Salvation for the Laity? Soteriological Concepts in Early and Modern Theravāda Buddhism.” Stvdia Asiatica (Bukarest) 2 (2001): 29–38.
  • “The Meeting of Traditions: Inter-Buddhist and Inter-Religious Relations in the West.” Journal of Global Buddhism 2 (2001): 59–71 (online: http://www.globalbuddhism.org).
  • “Die Bedeutung des Ordens für den Weg zur Erlösung in frühen buddhisti­schen Texten.” [The Meaning of the Monastic Order for the Path to Liberation in Early Buddhist Texts.] In Akten des 27. Deut­schen Orien­tali­stentages (Bonn, 28.9.–2.10.1998) – Norm und Abweichung. Ed. Stefan Wild, Hartmut Schild. Würzburg: Ergon, 2001. 181–191.
  • “Staatsreligion, Reichsreligion oder Nationalreligion? Überlegungen zur Terminologie.” [State Religion, Imperial Religion, or National Religion? Reflections on Terminology.] In Zwischen Säkularismus und Hierokratie: Studien zum Verhältnis von Religion und Staat in Süd- und Ostasien. Editor-in-chief: Peter Schalk; Co-editors: Max Deeg, Oliver Freiberger, Christoph Kleine. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Historia Religionum, 17. Uppsala: Uppsala University Press, 2001. 19–36.
  • “Ist Wertung Theologie? Beobachtungen zur Unterscheidung von Religions­wissenschaft und Theologie.” [Is Making Value Judgments Theology? Observations on Distinguishing Religious Studies and Theology.] In Die Identität der Religionswissenschaft: Beiträge zum Verständnis einer unbekannten Disziplin. Ed. Gebhard Löhr. Frankfurt/M. et al.: Peter Lang, 2000. 97–121.
  • “Profiling the Sangha: Institutional and Non-Institutional Tendencies in Early Buddhist Teachings.” Mar­burg Journal of Religion 5 (2000): 1–12 (online: http://web.uni-marburg.de/religionswissenschaft/journal/mjr/freiberger.html).
  • “The Ideal Sacrifice: Patterns of Reinterpreting Brahmin Sacrifice in Early Buddhism.” Bulletin d'Études Indiennes 16 (1998): 39–49.
  • “Zur Verwendungsweise der Bezeichnung paribbājaka im Pāli-Kanon.” [On the Use of the Term paribbājaka in the Pāli Canon.] In Untersuchun­gen zur buddhisti­schen Literatur II: Gustav Roth zum 80. Geburtstag gewidmet. Ed. Heinz Bechert, Sven Bretfeld, Petra Kieffer-Pülz. Sanskrit-Wörterbuch der buddhistischen Texte aus den Turfan-Funden, Beiheft 8. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1997. 121–130.
  • “Anmerkungen zur Begriffsbildung in der Buddhismusforschung.” [Notes on the Formation of Terms in Buddhist Studies.] In Bauddhavidyāsudhākaraḥ: Studies in Honour of Heinz Bechert on the Occasion of His 65th Birth­day. Ed. Petra Kieffer-Pülz, Jens-Uwe Hartmann. Indica et Tibetica 30. Swisttal-Odendorf: I&T, 1997. 137–152.
  •  “Zur Interpretation der Brahmadaṇḍa-Strafe im buddhistischen Ordensrecht.” [On the Interpretation of the brahmadaṇḍa Penalty in Buddhist Monastic Law.] Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgen­ländischen Gesellschaft 146 (1996): 456–491.
  • “Zum Vergleich zwischen buddhistischem und christlichem Ordenswesen.” [On the Comparison of Buddhist and Christian Monasticism.] Zeitschrift für Religions­wissenschaft 4 (1996): 83–104.
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