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RELS428 Life of the Buddha: Text and Iconography (Advanced)

Visual and literary narrative traditions about the life of the Buddha, and the influence of these narratives on Buddhist belief and practice.

This paper is an exploration of the visual and literary narrative traditions about the life of the Buddha and the influence of these narratives on Buddhist belief and practice. Students will read biographical materials from the Tripiß?¡aka, the early Indian biographies of the Buddha, and the vernacular biographical traditions of East and Southeast Asia (in English translation). Students will also work with visual images (sculpture and two-dimensional works) of the Buddha from South, Southeast and East Asia.

Paper title Life of the Buddha: Text and Iconography (Advanced)
Paper code RELS428
Subject Religious Studies
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2018
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,098.05
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,352.87

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One 300-level RELS or RELX paper
RELS 328, RELX 328, RELX 428
May not be credited together with RELS 333 or 458 passed in 2009 or 2011.
Dr Elizabeth Guthrie-Higbee:
Teaching staff
Dr Elizabeth Guthrie-Higbee
Paper Structure
  • Contribution to online tutorials 20%
  • First 4,000-word essay 40%
  • Second 4,000-word essay 40%
  • No final examination
Teaching Arrangements
Campus: Weekly lectures
Distance: Online discussion
A coursebook has been developed for this paper (which includes readings from Buddhist texts, in English translation).
Course outline
View sample course outline for RELS428
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of the paper students should be able to
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the origins and development of scriptural and visual narratives about the life of the Buddha in India during the first centuries CE
  • Be familiar with the modes of transmission of these scriptural and visual narratives to Southeast and East Asia during the first millennium CE
  • Be able to critically analyse scriptural and visual Buddhist narrative using primary sources as well as secondary sources
  • Locate and research this material in academic texts, journals and other media
  • Present research within a peer group in a constructive manner
  • Construct and defend an argument using a variety of methods in writing

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Not offered in 2018

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system