This course is an expansive survey of the religious traditions that inspired the civilizations that we will visit. Like the voyage itself, in addition to being a learning experience about other worlds, it will also be a journey of self-discovery. In terms of insight, we will make a special effort to deepen our critical self-consciousness through looking at ourselves as interpreters of radically different visions of reality, and questioning the history of our own culture’s often tragi-comic encounters with other worlds. The course aspires to transform your vision of your own reality and your ability to read into the realities of others. In terms of knowledge, this course is a broad multidimensional introduction to the diverse religious traditions of the worlds we will encounter from Asia to Europe, and will be supported by direct experience of the living traditions. We will attend not only to classical traditions and origins, but also to topical issues and current responses to the challenge of modernity in each of our voyage’s destinations.
Field WorkCountry: India
Date: February 29, 2020
We will visit contrasting sacred sites of Jews, Christians and Hindus, and attend a Kathakali dance performance. Cochin has been a place where East meets West since Roman times. Jews arrived in the first century and early Christians claim a lineage to the Apostle Thomas. Since then, nearly one in five Keralans is Christian. Our sites include the oldest synagogue in India, a Christian cathedral, and Hindu Temples to the Goddess and Vishnu. The program ends with a Kathkali dance performance of Hindu myths. Learning Objectives: 1. Appreciate temples and churches as spatial maps of the cultural and psychological "imaginaire" 2. Learn to understand how sacred images, both Hindu and Christian, function as "visual scriptures" 3. Appreciate how ritual practices facilitate connections with sacred values 4. Through Kathakali dance, witness and understand how Hindu deities come to life through the presence of the performers expressing classical Hindu myths