Asian Religions

The Asian Religions subfield emphasizes the study of Asian religions in their historical, intellectual, and cultural contexts. Students normally specialize in one cultural area (e.g., India, Tibet, China, or Japan), but are still expected to gain a general knowledge of all major Asian traditions.

The current strengths of the program are based on faculty specializations. Jonathan C. Gold specializes in Buddhist philosophical traditions in India and Tibet, including medieval Tibetan scholasticism and classical Indian Yogācāra. Jacqueline I. Stone works on Japanese religions, with particular focus on Buddhism in the medieval and modern periods. Stephen F. Teiser works on Chinese religion, with special emphasis on Buddhism during the medieval period and popular religion.

A typical General Examination in Asian Religions consists of four parts:
1) a major field (e.g., religions of India, Tibet, China, or Japan)
2) a minor field covering religion in other cultural area(s) in Asia
3) an outside field in another subfield within the department or another discipline
4) a more specialized essay laying the groundwork for a dissertation proposal

Students in this subfield work closely with faculty in other departments, including Anthropology (Isabelle Clark-Deces), Art and Archaeology (Robert Bagley, Jerome Silbergeld, Andrew Watsky), Comparative Literature (Thomas Hare), East Asian Studies (Amy Borovoy, Thomas Conlan, Benjamin Elman, Martin Kern, Federico Marcon, Willard Peterson, Brian Steininger, Everett Zhang) and History (Janet Chen, Sheldon Garon, Bhavani Raman).

Course work and research using advanced language skills (Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, or Japanese) are essential beginning in the first year of study. Before entering the program most applicants have completed at least two years of formal study, usually more, of their primary language. Various units of the university (Program in East Asian Studies, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, etc.) offer financial support for summer language study and research beyond that available from the Graduate School.