Week 1

Week 1: The Early Spread of the Teachings during the Great Tibetan Empire & Historiography


This seminar will look at four consecutive periods of Tibetan history: the Empire, the Dark Period, the Renaissance, and the Big Business of what we might call the age of "Classical consolidation". At this point we will be drawing in broad sketches, as from this point onwards we will pursuing more specific inquires within this historical landscape. We will begin with the formation and pre-history of the Tibetan Empire right on through its breakup, resulting in the so-called "Dark Period". This will include an initial discussion of the very notion of "history" and alternative historiographical traditions across culture and time.

Required Readings

Blue Annals Fragment #1: A Section on the Root of Religious Histories – the Royal Genealogies and The Early Spread of the Teachings; Dum bu #1 (TR 1-62, PRC 1-86): chos 'byung gi rtsa ba, rgyal rabs, bstan pa sngar dar gyi skabs

Davidson, Tibetan Renaissance:

  1. Introduction (1-26)
  2. Chapter 1: Early Medieval India and the Esoteric Rhapsody (27-71)

Kapstein, Matthew (2000). The Tibetan Assimilation of Buddhism: Conversion, Contestation and Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  1. Ch. 1 Introduction – Death, Literacy, and Tibet’s Buddhist Elite (3-20)
  2. Ch. 2 The Chinese Mother of Tibet’s Dharma-King: The Testament of Ba and the Beginnings of Tibetan Buddhist Historiography (23-37)
  3. Ch. 4 Plague, Power and Reason – The Royal Conversion to Buddhism Reconsidered (51-65)

Jenkins, Keith (2003). Re-Thinking History. Routledge, London and New York. 2nd Ed. (1991). A brief introduction to the study of history. A postmodernist perspective. 84 pages. has a nice forward and interview in the new version. Just download the three “jenkinshistoriography" PDF files:

external link: JenkinsHistoriography01.pdf

external link: JenkinsHistoriography02.pdf

external link: JenkinsHistoriography03.pdf

  1. Introduction (1-5)
  2. What history is (6-32)
  3. On some questions and some answers (33-69)
  4. Doing history in the post-modern world (70-84).

Hunt, Lynn, Ed. (1989). The New Cultural History. Influential recent collection of essays on cultural history. At UVa, go to Virgo, and then under “ebooks” on the left, do a search on “Lynn Hunt” and you will find the e-book. READ ONLY THE INTRODUCTION.

  1. Introduction: History, Culture, and Text by Lynn Hunt (1-24)
  2. Chapter 1. Michel Foucault’s History of culture by Patricia O’Brien (25-46)
  3. Chapter 2. Crowds, Community, and Ritual in the Work of E. P. Thompson and Natalie Davis by Suzanne Desan (47-71)
  4. Chapter 3. Local Knowledge, Local History: Geertz and Beyond by Aletta Biersack (72-96)
  5. Chapter 4. Literature, Criticism, and Historical Imagination: The Literary Challenge of Hayden White and Dominick LaCapra by Lloyd S. Kramer (97-130)
  6. Chapter 5. The American Parade: Representations of the Nineteenth-Century Social Order by Mary Ryan (131-)
  7. Chapter 6. Texts, Printings, Readings (154-175)
  8. Chapter 7. Bodies, Details, and the Humanitarian Narrative by Thomas W. Laqueur (176-204)
  9. Chapter 8. Seeing Culture in a Room for a Renaissance Prince by Randolph Starn (205-232)

Additional Bibliographical Resources

  1. Tibetan/Buddhist Studies Bibliography - Week 1
  2. Theoretical Bibliography - Week 1

Weekly Student Generated Content


Discussion Questions