Overview of Course
Man-made artifacts—the arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture—communicate meaning beyond words, and are integral to major religions around the world. They can make palpable the depths of devotion and emotion people attach to their deeply held beliefs, and through them, we can learn of the stories and symbols expressive of those beliefs.
This course will explore the arts of four world religions—Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism—that students will have the opportunity to encounter at ports of call during this Semester at Sea as we tour from Europe to the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and South and East Asia. Through readings and discussions, we will examine the foundations of each religion, their relationship with political authorities in different regions, and the aesthetic modifications of their related arts as the religion migrated over time to, and encountered indigenous traditions in, far-flung regions remote from their places of origin. Students will acquire visual literacy by learning how religious art spoke (and still speaks) a rich visual language to people, supported regional power structures, and evolved uniquely regional aesthetic qualities.