Course Code


Course Name

Chinese Philosophical and Religious Traditions


Thu 10:30AM - 1:15PM


Prof. Xiaoxuan Wang

Teaching Assistant

Yang Pu

Course Description

This course introduces Chinese religious traditions with a focus on contemporary China. Religion has been building blocks and biding forces of Chinese society in the past and present. As religious traditions are imbedded in the fabric of society, they provide us with a lens through which to observe many of the complex issues that challenge China and the world at large, for instance, issues related to the economy, environment, gender and sexuality as well as politics. In this vein, the course explores religions not only as faith and philosophical theory but equally importantly as practices that shape individual and communal lives and society as a whole. In exploring religions in China, we will go beyond the conventional approach focusing on individual traditions (Confucianism, Daoism, or Buddhism etc.). We will instead adopt a thematic approach in discussing the shifting roles of religion in twentieth and twenty-first century China, from mainland China to overseas Chinese communities, from urban to rural areas, from religions of Han Chinese to religions of ethnic minorities and from body politics to cosmology.

Course Outline

Week 1. China as a Religious Society
September 8

Week 2. Spirituality in Modern Chinese Life
September 15

Week 3.The Religious Life of Ethnic Minority Communities
September 22

Week 4. Modalities of Doing Religion
September 29(Quiz/writing exercises)

Week 5. The Body: Health, Nation, and Transcendence
October 6

Week 6. Gender and Sexuality
October 13

Week 7. Cosmology and Environment
October 20(Quiz/writing exercises)

Week 8. In-class Midterm
October 27

Week 9. Religion in Chinese Social and Political History
November 3

Week 10. Religious Communities and Networks
November 10(Quiz/writing exercises)

Week 11. Contemporary State-Religion Relations
November 17

Week 12. Market Economy and the Revival of Religions
November 24

Week 13. The Globalization of Chinese Religions and Traditions
December 1(Quiz/writing exercises)

Final Exam: due on December 7

Assessment & Assignments

  1. Class participation counts for 20% of your Students are required to attend all meetings of the class. Unexcused absences will result in a reduction of the final grade. Reading the assigned texts and active participation in class discussions are also expected. Students will be assessed based on class attendance and contribution to class discussions.
  2. Midterm examination, which consists of 25% of final grade, will be given in class on October 27. The midterm includes identification questions, short answers, etc.
  3. In-class quizzes or short writing exercises: 20% of final grade. We will have a total of four (each 5%) either simple in-class quizzes or short writing exercises related to lectures and assigned readings. Forms of exercises are to be determined.
  4. The final exam counts for 35% of your This will consist of a take-home paper based on the course readings and lectures. It is due on December 7. Guidelines will be posted in advance on Blackboard. No late work will be accepted for the final exam.


Honesty in Academic Work

We encourage students to exchange ideas and share resources on assignments for this course. But you have to make sure that any written work you submit is the result of your own research and writing, reflecting your own understanding and thinking about a topic. The University adopts a policy of zero tolerance on academic dishonesty. “Any related offence will lead to disciplinary action including termination of studies at the University.” All students need to be familiar with the University’s policy on academic honesty, which can be found at: