RELI 109 Sex &
the Body in Religious Studies
Love is another country.
|The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. If you knew when you began a book what you were going to say at the end, do you think you would have the courage to write it? What is true for writing and for love relationships, is also true for life. The game is worthwhile insofar as we do not know what will be the end. -Michel Foucault|
This class focuses on two things.
One is sex/body/religion. The other is theory: what it is, how to use
it, why bother? Theory is for seeing with. What we will be trying to
learn how to see is the force of sexuality and the body in this
phenomenon we call religion. We often think religion is about soul,
spirit -- anything but the body! (And certainly not sex!) Yet religions
are centrally concerned with the body and with sex/ sexuality/ intimacy/
belonging -- one might even say they are about nothing but sex and the
This course is designed to introduce you to the major theoretical moves which contemporary scholars use to help them think well about sex, the body and religion. But being introduced to theory does you no good unless you also learn how to use it for yourself! Thus throughout the semester we will dip into Daoist meditation practices as a case study with which we will practice using the lenses we are learning.
As we learn these theoretical moves for thinking about religion, you
will be engaged with
departmental learning goal #2: to demonstrate different
approaches to religion and to be able to distinguish precisely between
approaches, assessing their pros and cons. As we think about the role of sexuality and the
body in religion, you will be engaged with questioning the very category
of religion (also goal #2) as well as with analyzing the social
implications of religion (departmental goal #3). As you learn to apply these theories
to Daoist meditation texts, you will be learning how to interpret
religious texts from an academic rather than a devotional perspective (departmental goal #4).
But this course also meets distribution requirements! You will meet college goal #1. We will focus particularly on accurately summarizing facts, presumptions, viewpoints and values' critically analyzing your own thinking by identifying your own facts, presumptions, viewpoints and values as well as problems and paradoxes; as well as conceiving alternative hypotheses and viewpoints. We will also meet college goal #3 concerning proficiency in written communication, with focus on: using various sentence forms to modulate style and tone; compose a paragraph that develops a point; summarizing, quoting and responding to a text.
|M Jan 25||Introduction to studying
religion -- via the body!
Also: Introduction to key terms used in the reading for next class
|W Jan 27 & M Feb 1||
|W Feb 3||
Intro to Daoism
1) Selections from the Dao de Ching
|Feb 10 -- snow day!|
|Feb 17||Foucault, Abnormal, chapter 7.|
Foucault, Abnormal, chapter 8.
|Feb 24||Foucault, Abnormal, chapter 9.|
Two. Sex, Power, Knowledge
|W Mar 3||
Quiz on Section One thru Abnormal
|M Mar 8|| Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality, p. 17-35.
|M Mar 10||Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality, 36-73.
|Mar 15||Foucault, History of Sexuality, 81-102.|
Foucault, History of Sexuality, 135-159.
Discussion of Paper One.
|Mar 22||Bokenkamp, "Xiang'er Commentary to the Laozi" in Early Daoist Scriptures, 78-102.|
|Mar 24||Bokenkamp, "Xiang'er Commentary to the Laozi" in Early Daoist Scriptures, 113-117, 119-126, 134-142.|
|Apr 5||No class!!|
Gender as something we do, not are
|Apr 7||David Halperin, Saint Foucault (NY: Oxford, 1995), 62-112 and 120-125.|
Freud, "On Narcissism" in The Freud Reader, edited by Peter Gay (NY: Norton, 1989), 545-562. CP
Paper One is due today!
1) Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (NY: Routledge, 1999), Prefaces, vii-xxix. CP
Discussion of Paper #2 choices.
|Apr 19||1) Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (NY: Routledge, 1999), 163-180. CP|
Butler, "Melancholy Gender/ Refused Identification" from The Judith Butler Reader, 243-257.
We will spend part of class discussing your papers. Possible extra credit!
|Apr 26||Bokenkamp, The Upper Scripture of Purple Texts, 307-331 and then skip to pages 289 - 302 which come from Bokenkamp's intro that describe the two last sections (we are only reading Bokenkamp's summary, not the original text). .|
Bokenkamp, "Declarations of the Perfected," chapter 11 in Religions of China in Practice, ed. Don Lopez (Princeton: Princeton Univ, 1996), 166-179. Ereserve -- pdf sent in email.
|May 5||Quiz on theory and Daoism.
|May 12 1:30-3:30||Final paper
If you want to receive my comments in the mail, please include an addressed envelope.
Absence Policy: There is no one textbook that holds
this class together. As a result, attendance in class and in
your discussion sections is crucial. You simply cannot do well
if you do not attend and participate. To reflect this, 20% of your grade will come from your
participation. You are expected
to 1) attend ALL classes, 2) have read and prepared ALL
assignments before coming to class and 3) DISCUSS relevant
issues. If you are someone who rarely speaks, then this
will be an opportunity for you to work with me to find ways
to help you feel more comfortable speaking in class. If you
are someone who tends to speak too much in class, then this will be an
opportunity for you to learn how to
limit your contributions so
that others have a chance to jump in.
Again, because there is no one textbook that holds this class together, absences in this class work like karma. You have two days to be absent without consequences. On your third day of absence, you lose all benefit of the doubt when it comes to your final grade. For every absence thereafter, you lose 1/3 of a letter grade from your FINAL grade. (This does not mean that you have two cuts. If you cut class twice in the beginning of the semester, and then become sick at the end, karma happens).
When you are absent, YOU are responsible to find out from another student what went on in class and for making up the work that you missed. MAKE FRIENDS. If you are absent on a day when we are scheduled to take a test, see my policy on late work.
|Late Work Policy: In order to return your writing promptly with detailed and constructive feedback, I do not accept late work. You will earn an F and forfeit your right to feedback. If there is an emergency or a tragedy in your life and you need an exception, you must communicate with me BEFORE the due-date. This includes tests: if you are too sick to attend class on a day when we are scheduled to take a test, you must call and let me know BEFORE class begins that you will not be able to take the test and arrange time for a make-up.|
Grading Policies: Studying religion is both an academic and a
personal exercise. In your written assignments you will be graded
on thinking and argumentation. I will not grade your personal
beliefs or non-belief. Nor will I grade or the particular
position you take. I will grade
Academic Dishonesty: Plagiarism is a serious ethical and professional infraction. Hofstra’s policy on academic honesty reads: “The academic community assumes that work of any kind [...] is done, entirely, and without assistance, by and only for the individual(s) whose name(s) it bears.” Please refer to the “Procedure for Handling Violations of Academic Honesty by Undergraduate Students at Hofstra University” for details about what constitutes plagiarism, and Hofstra’s procedures for handling violations.
This course is dedicated to helping you develop your own thinking. Thus I regard plagiarism as a serious violation of the academic compact, because it involves passing off someone else's thought as your own. This can happen by copying someone else's words or re-phrasing someone else's ideas in your words. Neither is your own thought.
-- You handed in an assignment that was not your own.
If you believe you need accommodations for a disability, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities(SSD). In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, qualified individuals with disabilities will not be discriminated against in any programs, or services available at Hofstra University. Individuals with disabilities are entitled to accommodations designed to facilitate full access to all programs and services. SSD is responsible for coordinating disability-related accommodations and will provide students with documented disabilities accommodation letters, as appropriate. Since accommodations may require early planning and are not retroactive, please contact SSD as soon as possible. All students are responsible for providing accommodation letters to each instructor and for discussing with him or her the specific accommodations needed and how they can be best implemented in each course.
For more information on services provided by the university and for submission of documentation, please contact the Services for Students with Disabilities, 212 Memorial Hall, 516-463-7075.
|Page written by Ann Burlein||December 22 2009|
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