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.

Community Media and Social Change in India

How civil society in India is challenging hegemony of mainstream media, providing democratized alternatives to the concentration of media power in a few global conglomerates. Inquiry into ways civil society organizations negotiate religion and secular impulses for social change. Key aspects of grassroots media technologies: contextualization in religion and culture, community participation and ownership and non-profit management. Focus on participatory video and nascent community radio movement through case studies, media theory, and field-level interactions.

Shamanism and Spirit Possession

Anthropological, psychological, and Religious Studies approaches to cross-cultural study of spirit possession and shamanism. Examination of in-depth case studies and comparative works, from both literate civilizations and non-literate cultures. Engage with contemporary concerns with nature and boundaries of personhood and embodiment and their relation to leadership. One course.