College of Arts and Sciences | Sacred Places
E103 | 7747 | Gruber
1:25 PM - 2:15 PM TR
See the Schedule of Classes for discussion section times.
In most parts of the world, religious activity is linked to specific
places which have ritual, mythical, or historical significance.
These "sacred spaces" become the focus of ritual activity,
pilgrimage, and symbolism, and are usually endowed with buildings
and art that celebrate the sanctity of the place, create a sense of
awe, and accommodate the activities and people who travel to visit
them. This course offers an introduction to a representative sample
of significant sacred sites and shrines throughout the world. These
holy places will be examined in terms of the festivals and religions
with which they are associated: Egyptian, Greek, and Mesoamerican
religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and
We will look at why the selected sites became holy to certain
peoples or civilizations, how the sites and structures convey a
sense of transcendence and awe, how the structures were planned to
accommodate assembled groups of persons and the attendant festivals
and rituals, the nature of the processions of the faithful to them,
the symbolic meaning of these sites, and whether their functions and
significance have survived to the present day unaltered or in a
Course requirements include five short (1-2 page) papers, a midterm,
a final exam, and a final written project.