Poetry, Desire & Religion

Studies the use of love poetry genres to transform theological traditions in India, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity circa 600-1500 CE; studies ongoing exploration of intersections of the sacred, desire, and expressive language in post-Enlightenment poetry; explores poetry and, more generally, the arts as a performative mode by which a theological relation is posed and enacted in one’s life; introduces students to basic problems, readings, and ideas related to language, hermeneutics and desire; specific authors include: Mirabi, Kabir, Rumi, San Juan de la Cruz, Dickinson, Rilke, H.D., and C

Religion and Film

A study of the relationship between motion pictures and religion. Focus on the comparative portrayal of organized religions; expressions of religious life; and religious topics, such as God, evil and morality, in both Western and non-Western films in which contemporary artists and intellectuals explore the challenges of modernity. One course.

Medieval Christianity in Film and Fiction

Exploration of modern popular fictional representations of Christianity in the Middle Ages, including novels and films. Comparison with original medieval sources to understand relationship between present-day interpretations and actual medieval practice, and what this reveals about both cultures. Of particular concern: ethical issues concerning Christianity and violence, wealth, power and notions of democracy and modernity. One course.

Religion and the Novel in Modern India

The novel has not only come of age in modern India but has also innovated on the form, indigenized it, and influenced world literature. Course examines how the Indian novel explores lived religious experience in all its staggering diversity. Taking novels written in English and translated from Indian languages, literary theory and film, course asks: How are human experiences, memories, and imagination of “the sacred” evoked in novels written during the twilight of British colonial rule in South Asia, the Partition and independence and the ongoing globalizing postcolonial era?

Hip-Hop and Religion

For many people, hip-hop and religion are incompatible. Hip-hop seems to be defined by materialism, arrogance, violence, misogyny, and a general rejection of sacred ideals and values. In this course, we will challenge these assumptions by exploring the intersections between hip-hop and religion, while questioning what these terms mean and signify. We will examine aspects of hip-hop (rap lyrics, video images, cultural rituals, films) that explicitly or implicitly express religious commitments and sensibilities. One course.