Religious Studies | Majors Seminar in Religion: Religion and Literature
R389 | 27819 | C. Furey


Above class for Religious Studies majors only
Above class requires authorization from Religious Studies Advisor
Above class carries COLL Intensive Writing credit
What can we learn about religion by reading literature? In this
seminar we will explore the relation of religious ideas to visionary
literature, including novels, poems, and memoirs. In particular, we
will focus on the question of relationships and relationality.
Religion itself is a relationship--between practitioners and
believers and the supernatural beings or transcendent forces that
orient their lives. And relationships are often the dramatic focus
of literary texts. It seems, moreover, that religious literature
presents relationality in especially intense and interesting ways
because the inclusion of all-powerful or supernatural beings as
protagonists or idealized actors involves claims of transcendence,
salvation, and damnation, and thus heightens both the positive and
negative dynamics and consequences of relationships. Thus the study
of relationships in religious literature will enable us to reflect
not only on some of the most important elements in the literary
texts themselves, but on crucial theoretical questions about
religion and relationships. Our readings will include theoretical
readings by Durkheim, Ricoeur, Kristeva, and Derrida, and literary
texts including the Song of Songs and works by Augustine, George
Herbert, Tolstoy, Flannery O'Connor, Simone Weil, Chaim Potok and
Salman Rushdie.

Course requirements: several short reflection papers (1-2 pages) and
a final paper (12-15 pages). Work on this final essay will involve
writing a paper proposal; submitting and critiquing a draft; and
substantially revising the draft.