FALL 2011 COURSES
* - Course Description for Topics Courses:
RE 330-001 Lost Gospels
A critical survey of an occasionally controversial topic: Modern scholarship has re-discovered ancient texts left out of the New Testament, including gospels linked to Mary Magdalene, Thomas, and even Judas. Through a careful historical investigation of extra-canonical sources such as these, students can explore the very origins of the Christian faith itself, seeing how the early Church came to distinguish its doctrines from those of the Ebionites, the Marcionites, and the secret teachings of the Gnostics. In the course of this fascinating history we will meet martyrs, miracle-workers and end-time prophets. We will read stories about Jesus’ childhood, Paul’s impassioned preaching and Peter’s showdown with the nefarious Simon Magus. We will encounter a cross that talks and a savior who laughs -- all of it more intriguing than a whole stack of Da Vinci Codes!
RE 330-002 God, Beauty, and the Body in Muslim Spain
This course is about religion, bodies, and beauty. Specifically, it focuses on medieval ideas about the human relation to the material world, to the embodied self and to other bodies as a site for human relation to the divine, and aesthetics, or the conditions for appreciating and valuing these relations. We’ll examine Hebrew and Arabic literature of Muslim Spain, because of its emphasis on these themes, because of its importance to the formation of medieval European culture, and to modern conceptions about embodiment and beauty. These attitudes are produced and articulated in three important ways in this time and place: by government and the material conditions it creates (economics and law), by philosophy, and by literature. The system of government ‘produces’ both community and body. Philosophy theorizes human identity in relation to God, to the material world, and to other bodies. Poetry and belletristic literature animate these concepts and set them in motion, experimenting with them by trying them out in imagined situations. This course will focus on the second two categories, philosophy and literature.
The conceptions emerging in the religious literature of Muslim Spain persist in contemporary culture. We will pay attention to the way that these concerns carry over into contemporary discourse on embodiment, sexuality, and beauty in contemporary religious thought. This will be the point of entry for your capstone projects.
CREATIVE THOUGHT MATTERS
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