What does it mean to be a woman, a man, someone of the third sex, or none of the above in a Buddhist world? What did the Buddha teach about femininity, masculinity, and personhood?
Join professor of Buddhist Studies, Dr. Jue Liang, and a global cohort of students, for this unique opportunity to explore the rich and multifaceted history of women and Buddhism.
Can a woman find her path to enlightenment in a religion founded by a male teacher and historically mostly led by men?
In seeking answers to these questions, this course brings us to stories, ideas, and practices about and by women in various Buddhist traditions, from its beginnings in the northern Indian subcontinent to its modern emanations across the globe.
How do we study the history of women and Buddhism?
Over the course of four modules, we will examine the women present in the Buddha’s life story and songs by the first Buddhist women, composed close to the Buddha’s time. Then, we will move on through time and explore some of the critical debates in Buddhist texts and practices regarding women: can women become enlightened? Do female monastics enjoy the same status as their male counterparts? Are the tantric Buddhist principles empowering or exploiting women? In the end, we will conclude with some responses from contemporary Buddhist women that shed new light on these ongoing issues.
Module 1 — Women in Buddhism? Women and Buddhism? – The Beginnings
Module 2 — Is Enlightenment Gendered? – A Persistent Problem
Module 3 — A New Dilemma for Buddhist Women in Tantric Buddhism
Module 4 — Contemporary Movements and the Changing Status of Buddhist Women
Students enrolled in this course will receive:
4 pre-recorded video lectures + audio recordings (90 min each)
4 recordings of Zoom Q&A sessions + audio recordings (90 min each)
4 BSO Credits
Course Syllabus (PDF)
Weekly Readings (PDF)
4 Weekly Handouts (PDF)
4 Weekly Quizzes
Access to private Community forum
Certificate of Completion (PDF)
Dr. Jue Liang
Current Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at Denison University, incoming Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Wittenberg University in Fall 2022
Dr. Jue Liang is a scholar of Tibetan Buddhist literature, history, and culture. She received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. Her dissertation, Conceiving the Mother of Tibet: The Life, Lives, and Afterlife of the Buddhist Saint Yeshe Tsogyel, examines the literary tradition surrounding the matron saint of Tibet, Yeshe Tsogyel, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It also presents the blossoming of this literary tradition in tandem with the efforts to trace their religious pedigree and define what counts as authentic Buddhism by Nyingma Tibetan Buddhists.
She is currently working on a second book project titled Who Is a Buddhist Feminist: Theorizing Gender and Religion in Contemporary Tibet. It is a study on the history, discourse, and social effects of the khenmo program, a gender-equality initiative that has been taking place at Tibetan Buddhist institutions in China for the past three decades. Jue is also an active participant in discussions on Buddhism in both academic and public forums.
"I am very grateful to Dr. Jue Liang for her great lecture content and her own insights and feeling about the text. It gives me a new angle to think about the world and my own life. I hope to meet Dr. Liang again in another online course."
— Jiang Zhoulin (Ningbo, China)
"Thank you for offering such an informative and comprehensive course. It broadens my horizon on the situation of women in Buddhist traditions. Dr. Jue Liang is very knowledgeable and helpful. I am impressed by how she approached such a challenging topic, and I greatly appreciate her instruction."
— BSO 105 Student
"I was very impressed with Dr. Liang’s knowledge and passion of how women or humans in a female body can approach Buddhist history and doctrine."
— BSO 105 Student
"I enjoyed the subject matter and the way the instructor faced the sexual elements straight on. Dr. Liang is very knowledgeable in the subject matter, especially concerning Tibetan Buddhism. She is an excellent instructor, and the course was very organized and constructed with great skill."
— BSO 105 Student
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