Core Texts
and Motifs

About course

Weird Wild Web

Other Courses


The outline for the course has had to be altered at the last minute to suit the unusual character of the class this year. As a result, there have been some changes in the books to be ordered and read, and this schedule is a work in progress.

Introduction to the Seminar

Week 1 General discussion of the course and how to make the most of it, as well as identification and discussion of student interests, and assignment of responsibilities.

South Asia

Week 2
Introduction and Background to Hinduism
In general: Smith, "Hinduism" (chapter 2)
Indo-Aryan Pantheon, the Vedas, and the Upanishads
On the Vedas: Radhakrishnan, pp. 3-36
On the Upanishads: Radhakrishnan, pp. 37-77 (optional: pp. 77-96)

Week 3
Ancient Pantheons and the Nature of Mythology
On Greek and Germanic-Norse pantheons: Hamilton, all
On Near-Eastern pantheons: Pritchard, Ancient Near-Eastern Texts, selections (STH)

Week 4
Introduction and Background to Budddhism
In general: Smith, "Buddhism" (chapter 3)
Basic Buddhist Teachings
On the Buddha’s teaching: Walpola, all

Week 5
The Bhagavad-gita
On the Epics: Radhakrishnan, pp. 99-100, 164-171 (optional: 172-223)
The Gita: Radhakrishnan, pp. 101-163; if you have it, read Stoler Miller’s translation.

Week 6
Theravada Buddhism
On Early Buddhism and Theravada: Radhakrishnan, 272-328
Concentrate on the Dhammapada

Week 7
Women in Hinduism and Buddhism
Both of the Sharma volumes, chapters on Hinduism and Buddhism

Week 8
The Schools of Mahayana Philosophy in India: Madhyamaka (Nagarjuna) and Yogacara (Vasubandu)
On Nagarjuna: Radhakrishnan, 338-346
On Vasubandu: Radhakrishnan, 328-337

Week 9
Six Orthodox Schools of Hinduism
Radhakrishnan, selections from 349-572, TBA

Week 10
Saivism (Abhinavagupta)
Muller-Ortega, all


West Asia

Week 11
Introduction and Background to Judaism
In general: Smith, "Judaism" (chapter 7)

Hebrew Bible

Week 12
Rabbinic Judaism, Mishnah, and Talmud

Week 13
Introduction and Background to Christianity
In general: Smith, "Christianity" (chapter 8)
Origins of Christianity (New Testament)

Week 14
Christian Councils and Controversies (Trinity and Christology)

Week 1
Introduction and Background to Islam
In general: Smith, "Islam" (chapter 6)
Origins and early Development of Islam (Qur’an)

Week 2
Women in West Asian Religion

Week 3
Mysticism (Sufism)

Week 4
Mysticism (Kabbalah)

Week 5
Mysticism (Christian)

Week 6
Medieval Entanglements (Al-Ghazali, Maimonides, Thomas)


East Asia

Weeks 7-13 (to be determined)

The information on this page is copyright 1994-2010, Wesley Wildman (basic information here), unless otherwise noted. If you want to use ideas that you find here, please be careful to acknowledge this site as your source, and remember also to credit the original author of what you use, where that is applicable. If you want to use text or stories from these pages, please contact me at the feedback address for permission.