This course serves as a thorough introduction to one of the most philosophically profound and historically influential of all Mahayana Buddhist ideas: emptiness. It begins with a review of the psychological models and meditative practices of early Buddhism, providing a foundation for understanding how the word "emptiness" was first understood. It then explores how the concept develops with a close study of the core Mahayana text on the topic, the Heart Sutra, and a thorough examination of the philosophical work of Nagarjuna (c. 150-250) and the Madhyamaka or Middle Way School. We then explore how the concept of emptiness informs the Chan and Zen traditions in East Asia, primarily though the reading of Chinese and Japanese poetry, including in particular the poetry of women. The course concludes with examining various parallels of these Buddhist ideas in the Western intellectual tradition and in contemporary scientific, philosophical, and religious thought.