ENGL 5349: Studies in Religion: Religion, Texts, and Contexts: Controversies Surrounding Sacred Images and Books in 19th and 20th Century Literature
Dr. Roger McNamara
Fridays 9:00-11:50 AM (HYBR)
One of the major global controversies today is over religion. While religious practices and faith have been integral to peoples lives in past centuries, recently religion's validity and role in informing individual and communal identities, as well as ethics, has been questioned in a world that is becoming increasingly secular. Critics remind us that religion is responsible for some of the recent atrocities across the world, be it Christian fundamentalism in the United States, Hindu and Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism in South Asia, and Islamic extremism across the globe. At the same time, millions of people who practice Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam would be hard pressed to recognize a world in which religion has no place, for religious ethics, values, and sensibilities have been crucial in shaping individual and communal identities.
This course examines some of the reasons for these extreme reactions to religion—either in opposition or in endorsement. First, we will trace how these responses are shaped by the rise of secularism, first in Europe and then across the globe as the perception of "religion" shifted from something that imbued many, if not all, aspects of life to an ideology that could be practiced exclusively in the private sphere and propagated in the public sphere. Second, we will pay specific attention to how literary texts represent religion. Specifically, we will examine the textual and iconic representations of Hindu nationalism in 19th century India as it challenged the British colonial state (and how this later would inform Hindu nationalism in the 20th century) and of Islam in Europe with regard to The Satanic Verses in the 1980s and the Danish Cartoons in 2005 that brought into focus different conceptions of religion, free speech, and blasphemy. Finally, we will examine literary texts that attempt to sidestep these controversies by exploring alternative conceptions of religion.
Requirements fulfilled: CLGT; Genre requirement (Fiction); Book History and Digital Humanities Certificate
ENGL 5355: Studies in Comparative Literature: Theories, Methods, and Issues
Dr. Yuan Shu
Thursdays 6:00-8:50 PM (ONST)
This course investigates comparative literature not only as a discipline but also as a methodology and critical theory. We begin by examining the history and the changing definitions of comparative literature in relation to area studies and American studies in the U.S. context on the one hand, and by focusing on the paradigm shifts from the European and American models to the multicultural and postcolonial ones during the past three decades on the other. Specifically, we explore the debate on comparative literature as world literature, the connection between comparative literature and globalization studies, and the new critical role that translation theory has played in informing and reshaping the discipline. We conclude by rethinking comparativism in relation to new modes of reading that vary from "surface reading" to "distant reading" and by reimagining our humanity and post-humanity against the background of the rise of the rest and the post-American world.
Requirements fulfilled: CLGT; Genre requirement (Non-fiction); Methods