Spring 2012 Undergraduate English Courses: Special Topics

351:322 Literary Approaches to Sacred Texts

01 MW6 CAC 70310 WALKER SC-206


Sacred texts are texts that have been given canonical status within particular religious traditions, and so are likely to be interpreted in a purely religious framework. However, by examining these texts from a literary perspective it is possible to tease out new and interesting insights about them that can restore to them some of their originally pre-canonical controversial qualities. We will take several texts of this sort, such as the Book of Job, Exodus, and the Bhagavad Gita, and consider how they have been viewed in an unconventional way by Jung (Answer to Job), Freud (Moses and Monotheism) and myself as an unconventional Gita fan. We also will look at how sacred texts have provided subtexts for the modern creative imagination, as in the case of Godard’s film Hail, Mary and D.H. Lawrence’s Apocalypse. The literary approach is meant to enhance the experience of the texts without recourse to any particular faith or set of beliefs.

There will be one course paper of about 15 pages, several short response papers and quizzes, and two examinations.

Grading: attendance and class participation 15% (three unexcused absences without penalty), 2 exams 50%, paper and response papers and quizzes 35%.