Spring 2011

Religion in Contemporary Fiction

Listed in: Religion, as RELI-15


Jody A. Shapiro (Section 01)


Religion has always been grounded in storytelling.  As myth, as folktale, as allegory, as parable, as speculation, the story form allows writer and reader to draw persuasive connections—and distinctions—between internal experience, the social world, the natural world, and a moral or cosmic order.  As both religion and culture evolve, story remains fertile ground for setting and contesting their foundations.  This course examines how a range of contemporary novelists speak to and through religion to engage the deep and incendiary matters of our times:  cross-cultural tensions; science and health; sex and gender relations; global and local politics; war and the weapons of war; modernity vs. traditionalism; the fate of the earth; and of course the meaning of life and death. Texts address a variety of traditions and perspectives, including:  modern monastic Roman Catholicism, mainline and fundamentalist Protestantisms, Hindu and tribal India, Sufism and Pakistani Islam, Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, Biblical and contemporary Judaism, Japanese folk religion, and American neopaganism.

Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Shapiro.


2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2011