Spring 2023

PHIL 479 Topics in Comparative Religions [CRN 17869]

Overview of Course

Focus: Sacred Journeys and Pilgrimage
This seminar is designed to provide an opportunity for deep reflection on the human act of traveling. You are about to embark on a global journey. Why do people travel to distant lands? What about journeys that are religiously motivated? What are the specific aims and nature of sacred journeys, commonly labeled “pilgrimage”? Pilgrims are often in search of something that promises to provide something missing in their lives, and the possibility of fulfillment lures them out onto the road where a quest begins. What is it they seek and how do they go about it? Students in this course will examine a variety of religious journeys, many of which take place in the countries we will be visiting during our voyage. This course will also be an occasion to engage in the comparative enterprise and examine several theoretical approaches to the study of pilgrimage. Considering the great variability of sacred journeys found in the religious traditions of the world, what is it that might allow us to call these all “pilgrimages”? Can we justifiably do so? Are there common features to such journeys? If so, what are they? And what is to be learned from taking differences seriously?