RELST-GA 2475 Body, Performance & Religion Angela Zito
This course takes us beyond text-centered dogma, philosophy, and scriptures toward lived religion in everyday life and practice: The study of bodies in their materiality of corporal performance and physical sensation. We will look at the body in various situations—gendered, sexualized, covered, naked, suffering, disabled, altered, missing, ecstatic, monstrous—and interrogate notions of representations and ideals: from the religious ban on representing the human body to divine anthropomorphism. Post-structuralist writers featured will include Foucault, Bourdieu, Merleau-Ponty, Mascia-Lees, Butler, Donovan, Csordas, Strathern, Klassen, Erzen among many others. A variety of religious archives will be explored.
RELST-GA.1760 Topics: Martyrdom & Media Adam Becker
The idea of voluntarily submitting to death for the sake of righteousness, especially as a form of social protest or bodily resistance, has found fascinating expression in the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions and has its parallels in diverse cultures around the world. Our goal in this course is try to understand how suffering, especially public suffering imposed by what is perceived to be unfair, illegal, and immoral authority, has been idealized in Western religion and to explore how the notion of martyrdom has served as a paradigm for action, understanding, and communal identity. Martyrdom is the mediation of resistance through the body to the point of death. It is both a performance and also a representation of such a performance. One significant focus of the seminar will be on the dissemination of martyrdom through various media and how this corresponds with larger issues in the formation of religious identity. We will also ask how martyrdom has changed in secular modernity and perhaps intensified with the recent development of new forms of media.
Readings will include:
Early Christian Martyr Texts
Brad S. Gregory, Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe (2001)
Nasser Abufarha, The Making of a Human Bomb: An Ethnography of Palestinian Resistance (2009)
Banu Bargu, Starve and Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons (2014)
Talal Asad, On Suicide Bombing (2007)
Elizabeth Castelli, Martyrdom and Memory: Early Christian Culture Making (2004)
Nick Couldry and Andreas Hepp, The Mediated Construction of Reality (2016)
Roxanne Varzi, Warring Souls: Youth, Media, and Martyrdom in Post-Revolution Iran (2006)
Jeremy Cohen, Sanctifying the Name of God: Jewish Martyrs and Jewish Memories of the First Crusade (2006)
Kamran Scot Aghaie, The Martyrs of Karbala: Shi‘i Symbols and Rituals in Modern Iran (2004)
This seminar may be of interest to students in a range of fields, including Classics, Religious Studies, Middle East and Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, and History. Martyrdom is a broad topic and a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds will be welcome in the classroom. Students will be required to write one seminar paper on some topic related to their particular field of interest. Please contact Prof. Becker for any inquiries.
RELST-GA.2476 Topical Seminar: Foucault Ann Pellegrini
Foucault and more Foucault, closely read and critically engaged. But, why Foucault? And, which Foucault? Through close readings of Foucault’s major published works, lectures at the Collège de France, and selected published interviews, we will seek to understand Foucault’s overall project. How did his project shift over time? What was his own understanding, or representation, of it? Along the way, we will be especially interested to track some keywords: truth, power, resistance, discourse, freedom, biopolitics. What do these terms mean within or for Foucault’s project -- or, is that, projects? How might we supplement, critique, reorient, reanimate Foucault in light of our own research interests, political and intellectual commitments, and /or historico-political moment? Throughout the semester, we will ask, with Foucault and against him, what does it mean to practice criticism?
RELST-GA.2467 Topics Seminar: Anthropology of Islam Ismail Alatas
This course is an introduction to anthropological approaches to the study of Islam. It seeks to introduce students to the major debates within the field of the Anthropology of Islam and equip students with a contextualized grasp of key analytic terms that have been used by anthropologists working in different Muslim societies. We examine how scholars, leaders, and ordinary Muslims negotiate varieties of religious concepts, knowledge, and experience in their everyday lives. Each week we read a monograph illustrating ethnographic and historical case studies from different parts of the Muslim world. It examines the different ways in which Muslims have confronted questions such as how one deals with an invisible world, why bad things happen to good people and how can they be undone, what makes life worth living, how to be a good Muslim, who speaks for Islam, how is knowledge transmitted, how can one obtain wealth and health, and how to gain or protect oneself from power. We read works that empirically illuminate in contrasting ways the intersections of Muslim religiosity with modern challenges, developments and transnational issues, including bio-ethics and medical technologies; preaching, media and globalization; and secularism, gender and religious minorities. In addition to delving into specific ethnographic contexts, we will consider how we can think about “Islam” as a historically situated religion, a moral and legal tradition, and an object of academic study In the process of examining these issues, we raise questions about the difficulties involved in studying other people’s most strongly held values and beliefs. The course is concerned with the observable phenomena of Islam as actually practiced, situating them in their social and historical contexts.