Sacred Spaces

Discipline: Architectural History
Instructor: Schrenk
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1425
End: 1540
Field Class: Day 1 - Wednesday, 11 February | Vietnam Download Syllabus

This course explores important spiritual sites from around the world, with a particular focus on sacred places visited on the voyage. We will examine the formal, spatial, structural, aesthetic and symbolic aspects of the sites and consider how they reflect both universal characteristics and the specific conditions and beliefs of the cultures in which they were created. The course’s global perspective allows for comparisons between examples of religious structures from traditional Western and Non-Western civilizations, including Buddhist stupas, Jewish synagogues, Classical temples, Islamic mosques, Shinto shrines, Christian churches, and Hindu temples. We will also explore sacred sites not directly tied to a major organized religion to better understand what makes a place spiritual, such as powerful natural land formations like Kilauea Caldera, Chaco Canyon, and Uluru. As part of this course students will analyze the architectural compositions and characteristics of sacred sites visited while ashore.

Field Class

Country: Vietnam
Day: 1 - Wednesday, 11 February

Our exploration of sacred sites in Ho Chi Minh City will include a mosque, a cathedral, and a number of different temples, including Buddhist, Tao, and Hindu. By visiting these places we will be able to experience them using a variety of our senses, including sight, sound, smell, touch, and even possibly taste, to achieve a richer and deeper understanding of the individual environments and the tenets that define the beliefs of those who built and worship at the sites. After we have completed our visits we will have dinner as a group in central Ho Chi Minh City to relax and discuss our experiences as we enjoy some wonderful Vietnamese cuisine. Upon completion of the field lab, students will write a three- to four-page journal entry comparing two of the sacred sites, including architectural forms (layout of space, ornamentation, etc.), activities taking place at the sites (particularly religious practices), and the student’s own sensory experiences while visiting the sites. The entry should be based on both personal observations and academic research completed while back onboard the ship. Academic Objectives: 1.  To experience different forms of sacred spaces in person (thereby allowing the use of other sense beyond sight to analyze the spaces). 2.  To be able to more fully understand how the design of sacred architecture is used to heighten spiritual experiences. 3. To develop skills and vocabulary used in experiencing, analyzing, and discussing different forms of sacred spaces.