Erik C. Braun

Associate Professor
Unit: College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Department of Religious Studies
Office location and address
Gibson Hall, S-436
1540 Jefferson Park Ave
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
BA, University of Georgia
PhD in Religious Studies, Committee for the Study of Religion at Harvard University

My main area of study is Burmese (Myanmar) Buddhism. I have been especially interested in Burmese traditions of meditation and, following from that, in the transformations of meditative practices (and the understandings of reality they convey explicitly and implicitly) as they spread around the world. My first book, The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw (Chicago, 2013), explores the origins of mass insight meditation in Burma in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  It was a winner of the Toshihide Numata book prize in Buddhism in 2014. Currently, I am at work on a book project, tentatively titled A Great Awakening, that explores the role of insight practice in contemporary reformulations of notions about the self and society within the globalized insight meditation scene.  I am also co-editing a volume with David McMahan, now under contract with Oxford University Press, that explores meditation and science from the perspective of humanistic scholarship.

COLA 1500: College Advising Seminars
Credits: 1
COLA courses are 1-credit seminars capped at 18 first-year students, all of whom are assigned to the instructor as advisees. They are topically focused on an area identified by the faculty member; they also include a significant advising component centered on undergraduate issues (e.g., choosing a major, study abroad opportunities, undergraduate research, etc.). For detailed descriptions see http://college.as.virginia.edu/COLA
RELB 2100: Buddhism
Credits: 3
Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana Buddhist developments in India.
RELB 2900: Buddhist Meditation Traditions
Credits: 3
The goal of this course will be to examine different conceptions of Buddhist meditation and how these different conceptions affect the nature of practice and the understanding of the ideal life within a variety of Buddhist traditions. Thus, the study of Buddhist meditation traditions reveals not just intricate forms of practice, but reveals the nature of the good life and how one lives it.
RELB 3495: Early Buddhism in South Asia
Credits: 3
This course explores the origins and development of Buddhism in South Asia. It assumes students have no prior knowledge of Buddhism. The goal is to understand the complex of teachings, practices, and relationships that would become known later as Buddhism and, simultaneously, how such a complex has developed within specific cultural contexts.
RELB 3655: Buddhism in America
Credits: 3
This course is a seminar that examines the development of Buddhism in America going from its earliest appearance to contemporary developments.
RELG 4900: Distinguished Major Thesis
Credits: 3
Students write a thesis, directed by a member of the department, focusing on a specific problem in the theoretical, historical or philosophical study of religion or a specific religious tradition. The thesis grows out of the project proposal and annotated bibliography developed in the Research Methods seminar. Prerequisite: Selection by faculty for Distinguished Major Program and completion of RELG 4800.
RELS 4995: Independent Research
Credits: 1–6
Systematic readings in a selected topic under detailed supervision. Prerequisite: Permission of departmental advisor and instructor.
RELB 5559: New Course in Buddhism
Credits: 1–4
This course provides the opportunity to offer a new course in the subject of Buddhism.
RELB 5655: Buddhism in America
Credits: 3
Over the fourteen weeks of the semester, we will explore the following question: How did we go from Buddhism as a highly marginal and even overtly marginalized phenomenon at the end of WWII to a highly influential and culturally powerful force? We will move toward one part of the answer by looking at the genealogy of insight meditation in America.
RELG 7360: Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
Credits: 3
Given the multidisciplinary character of religious studies, it is imperative for new scholars to gain a basic sense of theoretical and methodological options in the field. By way of an examination of landmark texts, this course surveys the formation of religious studies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and considers some important contemporary approaches.
RELB 7559: New Course in Buddhism
Credits: 1–4
This course provides the opportunity to offer a new course in the subject of Buddhism.
RELS 8500: Topics for Supervised Study and Research
Credits: 1–6
This topical course provides Master's and Doctoral students in Religious Studies an opportunity for advanced coursework in selected, established areas of the department's curriculum.
RELB 8728: Tutorial in Theravada Buddhism
Credits: 3
This tutorial explores key recent works on the Buddhism of South and Southeast Asia. It includes the study of pre-modern and modern forms of what comes to be called Theravada Buddhism.
RELB 8735: Tutorial - Pali Reading
Credits: 3
In this course students will read a selection of Pali canonical and commentarial texts.
RELS 8998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.
RELS 8999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.
RELS 9998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.
RELS 9999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.