REL 285
Haunted: Ghosts in the Study of Religion Spring 2024
Division II

Class Details

Haunting offers a powerful way to speak about forces that affect us profoundly while remaining invisible or elusive. “What is it that holds sway over us like an unconditional prescription? The distance between us and that which commands our moves-or their opposite, our immobility-approaches us: it is a distance that closes in on you at times, it announces a proximity closer than any intimacy or familiarity you have ever known” (Avital Ronell, Dictations: On Haunted Writing [1986] xvi-xvii). The figure of the ghost has been developed by those seeking to grapple with the ongoing effects of modern slavery, colonialism, state-sponsored terrorism, the holocaust, and personal trauma and loss. Building upon the insights about memory, history, and identity that haunting has been used to address, this course will challenge you to explore the study of religion by way of its “seething absences.” We shall ask how the study of religion has endeavored to address loss, trauma, and its persistent effects, what “holds sway” over various approaches to the study of religion, as well as how “religion” constitutes its own ghostly presence, haunting other domains.
The Class: Format: tutorial; tutorial; meeting in pairs, each student will either write and present a paper or respond to their partner's paper
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3722
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: two 1-page papers (written and presented), five 5-page papers, and five oral critiques (based on written notes) of their partner's paper; students will revise two papers
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Religion majors
Distributions: Division II

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