|Assistant Professor of Religion
Departmental Area: History and Ethnography of Religions
Kristina Buhrman (PhD, University of Southern California) is a historian of Japanese religions, specializing in the pre-modern period (before 1600). Her current research focuses on Onmyōdō, a collection of ritual and divinatory techniques that became popular in Japan during the Heian Period (794 - 1192). She also works on astrology and math in esoteric Buddhism, and maintains an interest in the intersection of religion and disaster and memory. Her teaching interests include the representation of religion and the supernatural in Japanese popular culture.
- Religion and science in East Asia
- Manuscript and book cultures and intellectual exchange
- Fate and divination
- Esoteric Buddhisms
REL3351 Japanese Religions
This course investigates the influence of Japanese religious traditions on Japanese life, culture, and history; as well as the influence of history on modern Japanese religiosity and perceptions of religion. Many aspects of Japanese culture or national character are credited to (or blamed on) Japanese religions. Despite this, on national surveys the majority of the Japanese regularly claim to have no religion. This course introduces major aspects of Japanese religious traditions and examines this paradox in light of the history of religion in Japan, and Japanese definitions of religion, practice, and belief. Meets the Liberal Studies- Cultural Practice and Cross-cultural (x) requirements.
REL3936 Special Topics in Religion: The Way of the Samurai
The samurai has become the symbol of Japanese masculinity, and the "way of the samurai" (bushid?) singled out as a primary ethical guide for Japanese business, sports, politics, and (before the war) military culture. But what was the historical "way of the samurai"? How did this ethos change over time? Who were the samurai, and where did they come from? This course looks at the historical factors and religious (chiefly Buddhist and Confucian) influences that went into defining the samurai and models that served for their behavior using historical studies and primary texts.
REL4359/ RLG5354 Readings in Classical Japanese
An introduction to the grammar of Classical Japanese and instruction in how to do research in primary historical sources. Proficiency in modern Japanese language is required.
REL3936 Special Topics in Religion: Japanese Religions
The influence of Japanese religions can be seen in a variety of areas—in contemporary life and customs, in popular culture (including movies and video games), and even in international affairs, as the persistent international friction generated by politicians' visits to the Yasukuni war shrine. This course introduces students to the religious traditions of Japan, and shows how these traditions can be found in traditional Japanese arts, popular media, and everyday life in modern Japan; as well as how religion has shaped and been shaped by politics and Japanese history. We will also examine how Japanese religious traditions undermine many common assumptions about the definition of religion. Questions? Contact Dr. Buhrman at firstname.lastname@example.org
REL4359/RLG5354 Special Topics in Asian Religion: Japanese Ghosts and Monsters
Japanese folklore and culture is famous for an abundance of monsters and ghosts (sometimes known as youkai), some of which have become known to American audiences through video games and children's tv shows. This seminar will look at the history of the study of ghosts and monsters in Japan, and introduce students to some of the deeper history of and influence of Buddhist doctrine on the received image of these creatures. We will also look at depictions of traditional youkai in modern film, and how these might relate to changes in human-animal relations and environmental consciousness in Japan.