Pilgrimage is one of the most important aspects of religious life; indeed, in a very real sense, life itself can considered to be a pilgrimage. This course explores the dynamics of pilgrimage across several different religious traditions. The heart of this course will be a close look at several key pilgrimage sites and the actual pilgrims who visit these sites; we will thus approach pilgrimage from a number of different angles (theoretical, doctrinal, ritual, social) and we will utilize a variety of sources (including classical, ethnographic studies of actual pilgrimages, and focused studies of particular pilgrimage places) with the goal of gaining a thorough understanding of the phenomena of pilgrimage in all of its complexity.
- to acquaint you with the dynamics of pilgrimage across several religions
- to examine several specific pilgrimage phenomena
- to help you think critically about the differences between different pilgrimage traditions
- to expose you to some of the key debates and disputes within the study of pilgrimage
- You will gain a broad understanding of the phenomenon of pilgrimage in religions
- You will learn about the commonalities and differences between different pilgrimage traditions
- You will learn about the social and political dimensions of pilgrimage
- You will be exposed to the ways in which pilgrimage forms both personal and social identities
Grades will be based on: 1. Two essays of approximately 1500 words (50%); 2. Active participation in all aspects of the course (50%).
By the end of Week Eight, you will submit a 1000 word (maximum) Evaluation of your participation in the course and the grade you believe you deserve. Although I will reserve the final decision in this matter, I will very heavily weigh your own evaluation of your written participation in the course in assigning you a final grade.
Incompletes and Pass/Fail are not offered for this course
Books: Conrad Rudolph, Pilgrimage to the End of the World: The Road to Santiago de Compostela (Chicago)
Additional readings will be made available by the instructor.
29 March: Introduction to the Course
Please watch the film "The Way" before class.
Reading: 1) 2) 3)
5 April: The Concept of Tirtha in India
Reading: 1) 2)
12 April: On Pilgrimage in India
Readings: 2) 3)
19 April: Varieties of Buddhist Pilgrimage
Reading: 1) John Huntington, “Sowing the Seeds of the Lotus: A Journey to the Great Pilgrimage Sites of Buddhism,” 3)
First Essay Due
26: Pilgrimage in a Secular Context
3 May: Pilgrimage, Exile, and Ritual Space
Reading: 1) “Exodus”; Simon Coleman and John Elsner, “Jewish Pilgrimage,” Pilgrimage: Past and Present in the World Religions, pp. 34-51; 2) Gideon Bar, "Reconstructing the Past: The Creation of Jewish Sacred Space in the State of Israel,1948–1967," Israel Studies, Vol. 13, No. 3, Israeli Secular-Religious Dialectics (Fall, 2008), pp. 1-21; 3) Jackie Feldman, "Constructing a Shared Bible Land: Jewish Israeli Guiding Performances for Protestant Pilgrims," American Ethnologist, Vol. 34, No. 2 (May, 2007), pp. 351-374.
10 May: Pilgrimage and the Spread of Christianity
Reading: 1) Simon Coleman and John Elsner, “The Gospels Embodied: Christian Pilgrimage to the Holy Land and “Geographies of Sainthood: Christian Pilgrimage from the Middle Ages to the Present Day,” Pilgrimage: Past and Present in the World Religions, pp. 78-135; 2) Robert Markus, “How on Earth Could Places Become Holy? Origins of the Christian Idea of Holy Places,” Journal of Early Christian Studies, pp. 257-71.
17 May: A Personal Christian Pilgrimage
Reading: 1) Conrad Rudolph, Pilgrimage to the End of the World: The Road to Santiago Compostela, pp. 1-131.
24 May: Mecca as Ideal and Reality
Reading: 1) Simon Coleman and John Elsner, “Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca,” Pilgrimage: Past and Present in the World Religions, pp. 52-73; 2) C. Delaney, “The Hajj: Sacred and Secular,” American Ethnologist 17.3 (1990): 513-30; 3) ; 4) Haley, Autobiography of Malcom X, pp. 325-48.
Second Essay Due
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