Religious Studies-Buddhism and Nirvana


Paper instructions:
Reading for this assignment: Nirvana: Concept, Imagery, Narrative by Steven Collins.

Guidelines on Syllabus:
The readings assigned for the course are not optional; you’re likely to become completely lost if you don’t do them. And, as noted above, the readings in this course are generally challenging. That is, they require careful attention and thought; you won’t be able to get much out of them if you attempt to read them passively. In order to encourage the habit of reading actively, you will be required to submit a written response in advance of each of the course’s six discussion sessions—one per unit.
There’s no need to panic: I’m not expecting you to generate nuanced research papers for these responses. Instead, the responses should take the form of brief critical engagements with an issue (or issues) raised in the assigned readings. If you’re reading the assigned readings as carefully as you should be, you’ll find that questions, comments, and reflections will arise of their own accord. You simply need to write them down, mull them over, and distill one or more of them into readable form. (Doing so should also help you to pin down topics on which you might want to focus in your final paper.) The length of each response should be approximately 500–750 words. You will not be penalized for writing a lengthier response, but longer is not necessarily better; you should strive for a balance of clarity and succinctness in your writing.
To secure full credit, each response must be substantive. That is, it must deal specifically with issues raised in the assigned reading(s), and must do so in a way that shows you’re actively trying to make sense of claims made in that/those reading(s). You’re welcome to pose questions in these responses, but you will not receive full credit for posing questions that have already been answered in class—nor will you receive full credit for posing questions that could have been answered if you had simply taken a moment to consult the dictionary (or run a quick Google search). You will also not receive full credit for submitting a response that simply agrees with—or contests—a point made in the reading. You’re welcome to state that you agree or disagree with an author’s claims, but you need also to (1) demonstrate that you understand what those claims are, (2) specify your reason(s) for agreeing or disagreeing, and (3) briefly consider how your agreement or disagreement might affect (a) larger point(s) the author is working to make.

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