Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gene Smith's Rules for Studying Tibetan Literature


The following points derived from Gene Smith’s Among Tibetan Texts by Kurtis Schaeffer were shared at Columbia University’s panel discussion on the future of Tibetan studies after Gene Smith.
  • Know the breadth and depth of Tibetan history
  • Read single works for depth
  • Read collected works for breadth
     
  • Collect all available works on a topic
  • List all unavailable works on that topic
  • Find those unavailable works
  • Make those works available
     
  • Collect, describe, and compare all editions of a given work
  • Know which edition you are reading and why
  • Know the material context of the text
  • Know the social context of the word
     
  • Know the author’s biography
  • Know the author’s teachers, students, friends’ and enemies’ biographies
  • Know the author’s collected works
  • Know the author’s teachers, students, friends, and enemies’ collected works
     
  • Do not trust the text to be that of the author
  • Trust the text to reveal something interesting about the context
  • Trust the work to reveal something interesting about the author
  • Rely on the context to discern what is interesting about the author
     
  • Study the breadth of Tibetan tradition
  • Study the depth of Tibetan history
  • Read single works with breadth
  • Read collected works with depth

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