The history of Buddhism in China (particularly how Indian Buddhism becomes Chinese Buddhism). Engage relevant contextualizing historical and social information from F&G Chapter 3 (on the Sui & Tang), from Sommer’s framing info on the Six Dynasties and Sui & Tang Dynasties, and from Watts on Zen origins. Additionally provide a concise synopsis of two of the following texts: “The Buddhist Pure Land”, “The Lotus Sutra”, “Emptiness is Form,” “The Holy Teachings of Vimalakirti,” ”Meditations on the Body,” “The Poetry of Cold Mountain,” “The Mind-to-Mind Transmission of the Dharma,” or “Nailing a Stick into Empty Space,” choosing two key quotes from each (4 lines, indented, single-spaced). If you like, you can choose to focus either on Pure Land (and potentially bring in references to the film “To the Land of Bliss”) or on Ch’an/ Zen.
GUIDELINES ON WRITING A CRITICAL ESSAY/ PAPER:
1) Make sure your paper is well-organized, and aim to write clearly and concisely. Don’t forget to number your pages!
2) Develop either a thesis or an argument. State this in your opening paragraph in one or two sentences. Additionally, briefly outline (in two or three sentences) how you will develop your thesis or argument throughout the body of the essay in order to give the reader a sort of “road map.” Make sure that you have a title, and that it reflects your thesis!
3) Write a unified essay. That is, make sure that the thesis or argument serves as the central thread connecting the various parts of your essay. This entails having a strong introduction, a strong “body” (that you can divide up into subsections if you like), and a strong conclusion. Make sure you have good transitions between paragraphs and between any subsections.
4) Use the body of your paper to develop your key supporting arguments and analyses, and to present your supporting examples (where relevant). Review each paragraph to make sure you have a good lead topic sentence, and that you have illustrated your arguments and analyses clearly throughout the paragraph.
5) Aside from the quotes of original text that this paper project requires, you should generally use quotes from secondary sources only when the author you are quoting says something in such a profound or eloquent way that you want to capture their sentiment. Otherwise, paraphrase! (Though of course this still entails citing the author in question.) Regardless of whether your quotes are primary texts or secondary sources, you always need to set them up—i.e., establishing a transition from your voice to the voice of the quote, and then back to your voice again. Remember to single-space and indent any quotes longer than four lines.
6) You should be consistent with the style of citation you choose—i.e., whether MLA or APA (and vis-à-vis referencing within your paper or compiling your bibliography). Be sure to attach a bibliography at the end of your paper!
7) It is critical that you adhere to standards of academic honesty in your paper–i.e., be sure that you cite the work of others both when you are quoting them directly and when you are paraphrasing their ideas; additionally, of course, the work you turn in should be your own. Please refer to CLA and Temple policies on academic honesty on the respective webpages. Any form of plagiarism or cheating will result in a failing grade for the course. Please do not hesitate to ask me if you would like any help in the art of citation.
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