Mar 1st 2015

Spirituality and Sensuality: Sacred Objects in Religious Life (edX)

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Religions are deeply, stubbornly physical and sensual. This course aims to re-imagine our understanding of religion by grounding traditions in physical encounters between human bodies and sensual objects.

Playing drums, telling stories, touching stones, creating wildly colorful altars, dancing, eating and drinking special substances are all basic religious activities. Examples will range across Native American, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Jewish rituals and symbols, and materials will traverse fields from art history to anthropology, philosophy to poetry, science to religious studies. We will toggle between broad theories of religions and specific case studies.

An introductory week will be followed by a week on each of the five senses, and a concluding week. Each week we will incorporate lectures, readings, podcasts, images, and videos, and students will be challenged to spend a little time "offline" and taking notice of the sensual-spiritual elements that make up our cultural life.