Tuesday, 22 June 2010

[INDOLOGY] Summer courses in Oxford

A wonderful opportunity for those in/around England this summer. I would definitely attend if I could. Next year...
The Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies and the Society for the Wider
Understanding of the Buddhist Tradition are offering two free courses
in Oxford this summer.

1. Pali Summer School. The Society for the Wider Understanding of the
Buddhist Tradition (So-Wide) offers an intensive Pali course this
summer, 14-26 August inclusive.
Aim. At the end of the course you should be able, using the normal
aids available, i.e. dictionaries, grammars and translations, slowly
to read a Pali canonical text and understand it for yourself.

Is this really possible? I devised the course and have already given
it five times with great success. Pali can be learnt in twelve days
because the aim is only to read it, not to write or speak it – though
you do learn to pronounce it and recite a few chants. There is also
much less emphasis on memorisation than in a traditional course: why
memorise things you can easily look up?

Method. Accordingly, the course is built on learning how to use the
Pali-English Dictionary published by the Pali Text Society (www.palitext.com
). The course begins with learning Pali alphabetical order (it is a
good idea to start on this before arriving) and throughout the course
each pupil is constantly using the Dictionary. Tables of the main
grammatical forms are supplied and, again, students constantly consult
them for themselves, until they become familiar.

You are strongly encouraged to buy your own copy of the Dictionary.
If you live overseas and do not want to carry it to Oxford, you may
ask the Pali Text Society, when you buy it, to post it to you at the
OCBS Office (address below).

Students and teachers sit round a table together
throughout the course. Students are urged to keep asking questions,
and to work in cooperation.

Organisation. The first day, 14 August, is in a sense preliminary.
Mr. Geoffrey Bamford will explain the grammatical terms and principles
you need to understand for the course. Experience has shown us that
unless you have already studied Latin, Greek or Sanskrit you
definitely should attend.

The rest of the course is extremely intensive. It is
cumulative, so that to miss an early lesson is disastrous. The one
rigid rule is that no one may miss a class in the first week. We
shall work out the precise timetable when we meet, but the general
pattern will be that there will be classes each day from 9.30 to 5.30,
with a long lunch break. There will be homework every evening.

The course will end at mid-day on Thursday 26th; I hope
we can then all lunch together.

Content. We shall start to read original texts from the first
Monday. I shall be open to suggestions about texts to read. Besides
the Pali language, the course will discuss the Pali canon and many
questions concerning the Buddha’s teaching and our evidence for it.

Practical Arrangements. The course will take place at the main
(Headington) campus of Oxford Brookes University. Students who do not
live locally will be housed in single rooms in Clive Booth Hall
(formerly Morrell Hall), which is ten minutes easy walk from the main
campus on the Gipsy Lane site, where the classes will be held 
). I am afraid that normally there is no parking available.

There are cooking facilities at Clive Booth Hall, at no extra charge.
There are bar and cafeteria facilities, including breakfast, on the
Gipsy Lane site, except on Sundays, and we shall ourselves maintain a
supply of tea and coffee in the lecture room. The charge for the
bedroom is £25.00 per night, payable in advance for the whole course.

My tuition and course materials are provided free, but we
have to pay for some teaching assistance, the lecture room and some
other expenses. We are therefore charging each student £150.00.
Since this sum will not entirely cover our expenses, any further
donation will be very welcome.

Booking. Please apply to me, Richard Gombrich, at 
, asap. When applying, please supply full contact details, including
telephone, and let me know your highest educational qualification. We
also need to know whether you require accommodation, and if so whether
you want it for the night of Friday 13 August. The closing date for
applications is 14 July and by that date we require payment in
advance. Normally that would be £325 for accommodation (if you are
staying the first Friday night) + £150 fee, total: £475.00. If you
feel you can afford to make that up to or towards £1,000, so much the
better. Please send a sterling cheque payable to the Society for the
Wider Understanding of the Buddhist Tradition. I am afraid it is too
expensive for us to accept payment in a foreign currency. Please
address your payment to OCBS Office attention Hazel Benyon, Wolfson
College, Linton Road, Oxford OX2 6UD.

Admittance will be first come, first served. No more than 14 will
be admitted, so hurry to book a place.

Bookings should be made through me, and all inquiries addressed to me.

Richard Gombrich (Richard.gombrich@balliol.ox.ac.uk)