ASIA 212
Envisioning the Sacred: Representation and Religion in Christian and Muslim Cultures Fall 2024
Division I Writing Skills
Cross-listed ARTH 215 / REL 211

Class Details

How did medieval Christians and pre-modern Muslims imagine the sacred and how did they give what they imagined pictorial form? How were these pictures used, both in public and in private life, and why? How did the art of these unique religious traditions forge connections between the visible and invisible worlds? Paying particular attention to the function and experience of works of art within Christian and Islamic cultures, this seminar examines the evolution of devotional visual expression, while also exploring the problems sacred images generated in these distinct yet often overlapping traditions. Through readings and class discussion, the course will investigate, among other topics: the varied attitudes toward the representability of God in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity; the impact of earlier image traditions on the religious art of medieval Christians and pre-modern Muslims; the cult of the devotional image, concerns over idolatry, and the destruction of images; ideas about spiritual versus physical vision and their influence on the making and viewing of pictures; the relationship of sacred images to relics and to various aspects of organized ritual; and the possible roles played by pictures of the sacred in silencing or giving voice to dissent.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 1386
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Participation in class discussion; oral presentation; five 3-4-page papers, and a final 6-page paper
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Sophomores then juniors, but open to all
Unit Notes: This seminar will be team taught, by Murad Mumtaz and Peter Low
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ASIA 212 Division I ARTH 215 Division I REL 211 Division II
WS Notes: In this 200-level seminar, students will develop skills of critical reading and focus on how to craft clear and persuasive arguments of their own. To help them achieve these goals, they will receive timely comments on their written work, especially the five 3-4-page papers they will submit, with suggestions for improvement.
Attributes: ARTH pre-1800

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