Religion 298. Experimental Courses
Demons, Melancholy and Madness
This course treats the complex connections between religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices, and formulations of human psychology in the western tradition through a historical reckoning with demonology. Looking at demonology through religious, philosophical, and literary texts provides a particularly compelling way to navigate historical understandings of the human psyche. We will consider the way demons are represented from semi-corporeal beings to unconscious psychological mechanisms by looking at accounts in both the pre-modern and modern periods, focusing genealogically on the Latin west. This development suggests fascinating changes in the way the human person has been understood throughout this history. The relationship between psychology and physiology—as integrated or at odds—will be of particular interest, as we think about how the body, emotions, and the mind relate in the human person.
Conflict and Scared Space: Archaeology, Politics and Religion
This course will explore the complex interplay between history, politics, religion and archaeology by drawing on a number of pertinent themes in archaeological studies today, among them: cultural erasure, ethics, identity theory, and international and national approaches to archaeological heritage management. From the sack of the Temple in Jerusalem in the first century CE, to the recent events in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, archaeology (both secular and religious) has had a complex interrelationship with the political sphere. Landscapes, architecture and material culture have often served as indicators of the relative strength or weakness of regimes, religious traditions or of changing ideological narratives.
Archaeology has also been put to political and religious use with interested stakeholders exploiting convenient associations with the past in order to authorize their particular visions of society. Who owns history? What role do archaeology and archaeological artifacts play in the political arena and religious life? We will answer these and other questions as we investigate the ways in which material culture and politics are and have been mutually sustaining and contested fields from antiquity to the present.