December 10, 2009

Thurman, Robert
[V2607] Buddhism: Indo-Tibetan

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

so i was kind of apprehensive about taking this class, after reading some of the below reviews. but i have to disagree with many of the negative remarks. i think he's gotten a bit more organized in his lectures, and there is indeed a structure to the class. yes, he goes on tangents, and yes, sometimes he's a little boring. but i think the positives outweigh the negatives. i learned a LOT about buddhism, which i knew literally almost nothing about before. additionally, i also learned much about thinking about religion, which i appreciated, not being religious myself. i enjoyed taking a class with such an academic celebrity (it's quite something when your professor talks about his personal conversations with the dalai lama; which he's quite pleased with, but irregardless...). thurman can be incredibly funny in class (intentionally or not) and has some funny stories to tell (but because he is self-proclaimed "senile" he often repeats them). i enjoyed his lectures, learned a lot, and would recommend taking this course with him. my only real complaint was that he didn't write some sanskrit terms on the board, and often talked fast about some things without pausing to let us catch up.

and he didn't miss all that many classes, only four i think. it's understandable that he has obligations, and because there were four TAs for the class, it seemed like it was also an opportunity for them to practice lecture. i've had professors who skipped more than that, so some of the reviews about his checking out because he thinks he's above lecturing undergrads, whatever, isn't all that accurate (at least anymore).

Workload:

you can't possibly do ALL of the readings. i mainly read the primary sources, thurman's book inner revolution (if i had time), and the intro book. weekly course postings that you either need to spend time on or not depending on the TA, a midterm that required more time than given (and graded either easy or hard again depending on the TA), and a final research paper on a topic of your own choice. all doable.