South and Southeast Asian 250 Sec 1: Burma: Contested Buddhisms, Sovereignties and Cultures, 1800-1950

Category: Graduate Seminars
Course #: SSEASN 250 Sec 1 [CCN: 27109]
Units: 4
Times and Locations:

W 4-7 pm, remote/online

This graduate seminar examines the history of Burma from the years leading up to the first Anglo Burmese war of 1824 to those following Independence in 1947. The course is structured in three modules. The first explores key movements and figures in Burmese Buddhism, broadly construed, spanning early 19th century sects and schools to the writings of Thingazan Sayadaw in the late 19th century, the mass meditation movements popularized by Ledi Sayadaw through to the resistance movements of U Ottama and U Vissara and the Saya San rebellion.  The second module explores court, kingship, and negotiated sovereignties between the court at Mandalay; Kachin, Shan and other polities, the British, and exiled royals. The third module explores the rise of vernacular literature, focusing on plays and theatre in lower Burma, as well as short stories, poetry and novels. Full engagement in the weekly readings and discussion is required.  The volume of reading is equivalent to a book or equivalent number of articles, per week. Students are required to lead weekly readings and to frame discussion topics, and to complete a series of short assignments culminating in a workshop and final research paper. Our core secondary texts will be in English, with a few supplementary secondary sources in French, and some bilingual texts in Burmese and English. Students are required to conduct research and complete a paper analyzing and interpreting primary sources. A prior grounding in colonial studies and Southeast Asian studies, and knowledge of Burmese is strongly recommended. Graduate students who wish to take the course and have no knowledge of Burmese may complete their research papers and projects in materials from British or French archives, and/or Burmese sermons, tracts and other literature.


Penny Edwards