This course will introduce students to the world’s enduring religious traditions through a comparative investigation of their foundational texts, complicated histories and artistic expressions. Although all contemporary world religions are global in practice, this course places an emphasis on those traditions that are historically associated with the countries we are planning to visit during our Atlantic exploration: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, African religions, and indigenous traditions of South America. Several major traditions with historical origins in Asia will also be discussed (such as Hinduism and Buddhism), as well as general methodological issues within the academic study of religion.
Field WorkCountry: Morocco
Day: 1 - Wednesday, 8 October
This Field Lab includes a talk by a world-renowned Moroccan scholar of religion (Prof. Hassan Rachik), a lunch with local university students, and a visit to several sites associated with the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Specifically, we will visit the Hassan II Mosque, the Cathedrale Sacre-Coeur, and the Museum of Moroccan Judaism. With the help of Professor Rachik, we will deepen our understanding of the complex history of Islam in North Africa. Careful attention will be paid both to the way Islam has helped shape the culture of Casablanca, as well as to the ways Islamic practice has adapted to the cultural landscape of Morocco. This will be an opportunity to study the architecture and worship space of these three faiths as well as the history of how they have interacted over the course of the centuries. Academic Objectives: 1. Compare art and architecture of multiple religious traditions. 2. Observe multiple religious traditions “in the field.” 3. Observe the similarities and differences between the three Abrahamic traditions. 4. Develop an appreciation for the way in which religious practices and expressions are shaped by the local cultural environment.