The Story of the Stone (also known as The Dream of the Red Chamber) by Cao Xueqin (1715?-1763) is widely recognized as the masterpiece of Chinese fiction. It is also a portal to Chinese civilization. Encyclopedic in scope, this book both sums up Chinese culture and asks of it difficult questions. Its cult status also accounts for modern popular screen and television adaptations. Through a close examination of this text in conjunction with supplementary readings and visual materials, the seminar will explore a series of topics on Chinese culture, including foundational myths, philosophical and religious systems, the status of fiction, conceptions of art and the artist, ideas about love, desire and sexuality, gender roles, garden aesthetics, family and clan structure, and definitions of socio-political order.
This seminar explores the construction and complexity of identities in the Greek tradition (300-1500). Students will read fascinating narratives, biographies, and autobiographies, and will learn how to analyze them from historical and literary perspectives. Questions for discussion include political, religious, and ethnic identity in late antiquity and Byzantium, the meaning of being "Roman" and "Greek," the plasticity of self-representation, and the interpretation of religion, gender, and class as both social and cultural categories.... Read more about Identity and the Self in the Medieval Greek Tradition
German History loomed like a specter over the twentieth century. In the twenty-first century, Americans have been debating the relevance and legitimacy of comparisons between German history and our contemporary world. How useful is German history for understanding our current moment? How might our present day concerns distort what we see in the past? This course will examine the history of Germans in Europe and elsewhere, starting with the revolutions of 1848 and ending with the separation of Austria, West Germany, and East Germany following the Second World War. Themes will be war, insurrection, and terrorism, revolution and counter-revolution, gender and sexuality, reform, violence, anti-semitism, racial thinking and racism, and migration.... Read more about German History from Bismarck to Hitler
Approaching 20th-century abstract art through the lens of religious studies, this course explores alternatives to twentieth-century narratives of modern art centered on the existential crisis of a heroic-- usually male, Caucasian and secular—individual. In contrast, we will center paths to abstraction in which a departure from or repurposing of the figure emanates from spiritual sources not usually associated with modernity. Locating the artists’ work within their biographies and their communities, the course focuses on abstraction as a vehicle for delving intersections of spirituality with history, race, ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality.... Read more about Spiritual Paths to Abstract Art
This course will examine the history of mystical theology in early and medieval Christianity. Through a close reading of primary texts in translation we will explore the practices through which the mystical life is pursued; the interplay of affirmation (kataphasis) and negation (apophasis) in language and images surrounding mystical reading, prayer, and meditation; varying conceptions of mystical union and annihilation; and the role of gender and what we might call sexuality within texts about the mystical life. Jointly offered in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as Religion 1448.... Read more about Mystical Theology