Honors | Women in South Asian Religious Traditions (REL)
R382 | 27724 | Rebecca Manring


TuTh 11:15am-12:30pm

Curious about the religious lives of women in South Asia? Here's a
class where you can investigate women as the creative agents and
participants in the religious expressions of their lives, through
their own voices and those of scholars in the field. Some of the
questions guiding our investigation are:

1. What rituals and roles do women participate in? Are they excluded
from any?

2. What authority and/or power have women held in the tradition, and
how is that expressed and transmitted to others?

3. What influence have women had on the creation and transmission of
knowledge concerning religion?

4. How do women experience their relationship with the sacred, give
voice to it, and describe it?

5. What is religion for women in the tradition under study?

We will ask these questions with three different perspectives in
mind:

1. Descriptive: women’s own voices and their contributions to the
shaping of the various traditions we will study.

2. Critical: women’s subordination, marginalization, and
invisibility in religious history. In South Asia, scholars have
historically worked primarily with texts created by elite males;
where were, and are, the women?  How does religion work on behalf of
cultural and social values, and what is its potential to run counter
to social norms and provide women with arenas for agency?

3. Methodological: how have scholars of religion begun to conduct
their research differently in order to locate the gendered
experience of religion?  In other words, in a field once dominated
by philology, how have some scholars managed to shift their emphasis
to hear the voices that have rarely been recorded, the voices of
women?

Class format will blend lecture and discussion, with students
expected to participate fully in class meetings. Students will be
asked to identify the main issues raised in the week’s assigned
readings and to raise questions for discussion. Practitioners of the
various religions will join us from time to time as guest speakers.
We will also see a number of film presentations, both in and out of
class, and slides, illustrating relevant topics.