Religious Studies | Cross-Cultural Topics
R602 | 10088 | Brakke

Topic: Religious Asceticism

This seminar will examine asceticism as a religious practice and as
a theoretical concept in religious studies.  In the first part of
the course we will consider in dialogue with one another two kinds
of readings: (1) texts that have been classically
considered “ascetic,” drawn from late ancient Christianity and from
the Hindu traditions of India; and (2) modern theoretical
explorations of asceticism (e.g., Weber, Foucault, performance
theory [Valantansis]).  The second part of the course will be given
to student presentations on ascetic texts and/or practices from the
religious traditions and historical periods of their interests.
Brief weekly response papers and a research paper and presentation.

Textbooks include Max Weber, The Prostestant Ethic and the Spirit of
Capitalism; Michel Foucault, Religion and Culture; Owen Chadwick,
Western Asceticism; Athanasius of Alexandria, The Life of Antony;
Patrick Olivelle, Samnyasa Upanisads; Vincent Wimbush and Richard
Valantasis, Asceticism.