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Douglas M. Gildow

Sheng Yen Postdoctoral Associate in Chinese Buddhist Studies

Departmental Area: History and Ethnography of Religions
Research Areas : Modern Chinese Buddhism; Monasticism; Religion and the State

Address: Department of Religion
641 University Way / P.O. Box 3061520
The Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1520
Office: 128D DIF
Email: dgildow@fsu.edu
Office Hours: Tuesdays 9-10am and by appointment

Curriculum Vitae


Douglas M. Gildow will join the department as the new Sheng Yen Postdoctoral Associate in Religion. A native of Ohio, he comes to Florida State University after having completed a PhD in religion from Princeton University. While at FSU during the 2016-17 year, Gildow will offer an introductory undergraduate course on Buddhism and a graduate course on Chinese Buddhism.

Gildow's research on modern Chinese Buddhist monasticism draws on both ethnographic and documentary sources. His dissertation focuses on institutional change in monasticism and describes the education of monks and nuns in Buddhist seminaries. Underlying questions include the relationship between institutional and doctrinal change and the impact on Buddhism of Communist state regulation and secular academic authority. Related research has described the ritual activities of contemporary Chinese monastics and how such activities provide funding but allegedly detract from doctrinal studies. Earlier publications described Taiwanese mortuary practices such as the mummification and enshrinement of religious leaders. Current research will extend his dissertation project and examine how people become monastics in China today through ordination sessions that incorporate both traditional rituals and modern schooling.

Recent Courses

Spring 2017

REL4304-2 / RLG5305-2 SEM: Buddhist Monasticism
This course examines the tradition of Buddhist monasticism, arguably the central institution of Buddhism throughout history, from its origins to its contemporary forms. Also to be analyzed are monasticism as a general category in religious studies and related social theory on institutions.

Fall 2016

REL 3935       Buddhist Scripture and Popular Literature
A scripture is a text that some community considers sacred and authoritative. Popular Buddhist literature includes fictional stories with elements drawn from Buddhism. This course provides an introduction to both Buddhist scriptures and popular Buddhist literature. The focus is on scriptures in early Indian Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism, including Theravada Pali suttas and the Mahayana Lotus Sutra. In addition to critically reading texts, we will study how texts both reflect and influence the cultures in which they are embedded. Toward the end of the course, we examine how Buddhist ideas have been diffused and transformed in popular Buddhist literature, including the Chinese novel Journey to the West.
Part one of the course provides a brief introduction to Buddhism and Buddhist scriptures. In parts two and three, course readings alternate between Buddhist texts and secondary scholarly literature. The class format includes both lectures and short discussion. Meets Liberal Studies: Cultural Practice (LS-CUL) and Diversity in cross cultural studies (DIV-XCC) requirements.