Spirituality and Sensuality: Sacred Objects in Religious Life

Religions are deeply, stubbornly physical and sensual. This course aims to re-imagine our understanding of religion by grounding traditions in physical encounters between human bodies and sensual objects.

This course is archived
Estimated 4 weeks
3–4 hours per week
Instructor-paced
Instructor-led on a course schedule

About this course

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Playing drums, telling stories, touching stones, creating wildly colorful altars, dancing, eating and drinking special substances are all basic religious activities. Examples will range across Native American, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Jewish rituals and symbols, and materials will traverse fields from art history to anthropology, philosophy to poetry, science to religious studies. We will toggle between broad theories of religions and specific case studies.

An introductory week will be followed by a week on each of the five senses, and a concluding week. Each week we will incorporate lectures, readings, podcasts, images, and videos, and students will be challenged to spend a little time "offline" and taking notice of the sensual-spiritual elements that make up our cultural life.

At a glance

  • Language: English

What you'll learn

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  • Find ways to critically reflect on religious environments
  • Search for the sensual bases of religious traditions
  • Engage with examples across Native American, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Jewish rituals and symbols

About the instructors