Course Detail

195:318: Post Modern Approaches to Sacred Literature

An examination of some significant aspects of postmodern literary, psychological and cinematic approaches to religion through the close analysis of a few select texts. The course does not deal primarily with the theological or historical interpretation of canonic sacred texts, but rather is designed to highlight the literary daring and the sometimes even outrageous postmodern freedom of authors who, through a process of bricolage, and via reference to a canonical sacred text, create statements of religious orientation and personal declarations of faith. By means of the elaboration of a creative and original literary, cinematic and/or psychological response, these authors come to terms personally with the ongoing power of the sacred text to captivate modern minds. Their own texts, when put into juxtaposition with the original sacred texts, may be taken to some degree as personal confessions in terms of their particular sensibilité religieuse. The course will analyze key texts by such original postmodern interpreters as Sigmund Freud (Moses and Monotheism/the Biblical story of Moses), D.H. Lawrence (Apocalypse/ John of Patmos’ Apocalypse), C.G. Jung (Answer to Job/The Book of Job), and Marcel Proust (Time Regained/the ritual of the Tridentine Mass). The analysis will also include films of two modern directors (Peter Weir’s The Last Wave/apocalyptic themes) and Haifaa al- Mansour’s Wadjda (secret messages), and my own literary contextualization of the Bhagavad Gita (based initially on van Buitenen’s The Gita in the Mahabharata). These analyses will provide material for the study of such postmodern religious themes as the antinomy of Good and Evil, apocalypse as a myth of both world and individual transformation, and the feminine side of God. Course Cross-listing: 840:362

Required Texts:
Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism
Marcel Proust, Time Regained (translated by Andreas Mayor and Terence Kilmartin
Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God (translated by Christopher Isherwood and Swami Prabhavananda)
The Book of Job (translated by S. Mitchell)
Answer To Job
The Apocalypse (translated by Willis Barnstone)

Grading and Requirements:
The course will require two examinations, two short response papers, and one long course paper.
Grading: attendance/participation 15% (3 unexcused absences without penalty), midterm 25%, final exam 30%, final paper/response papers 30%