04 October 2010

RLS320 Literature & Theology, Fall 2010

Literature & Theology                                                                                     Autumn 2010
RLS320                                                                                                           Professor Mead

            30        M         The Book of Job
             1         W         The Book of Job
             3         F          The Book of Job
             6         M         Student Reports on Dimensions of Job
             8         W         Student Reports on Dimensions of Job
            10        F          NO CLASS
            13        M         The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
            15        W         The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
            17        F          The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
            20        M         The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
            22        W         The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
            24        F          The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
            27        M         Burnt-out Case. 
            29        W         Burnt-out Case
             1         F          Burnt-out Case
             4         M         Burnt-out Case. Paper #1 Due.
             6         W         Burnt-out Case
             8         F          Burnt-out Case
            11        M         Brideshead Revisited
            13        W         Brideshead Revisited
            15        F          NO CLASS
            18        M         NO CLASS
            20        W         Brideshead Revisited
            22        F          Brideshead Revisited
            25        M         Brideshead Revisited
            27        W         Brideshead Revisited
            29        F          “The River,” Flannery O’Connor
             1         M         “Greenleaf”
             3         W         “A Temple of the Holy Ghost”
             5         F          “The Artificial Nigger”
             8         M         Poetry
            10        W         Poetry
            12        F          “Letter From  Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King
            15        M         Silence, Paper #2 Due.
            17        W         Silence
            19        F          Silence
            22        M         Silence
            24        W         Silence
            26        F          NO CLASS
            29        M         Silence
             1         W         Silence
             3         F          Edit Session
             6         M         Edit Session
             8         W         Evaluations. Research Paper Due.
            13        M         Research Paper Due. 10:00AM OM369


                                                Course Goals
This section of RLS320 is designed to explore how issues of theological import are played out in literary constructions.  In other words, literature offers the student of religion an avenue for uncovering how religious ideas can be expressed, negotiated, and understood outside of canonical texts.  One might say that all of literature is our Apocrypha.
To give focus to this section, I have chosen the idea of Suffering as a religious practice (or human inevitability) and specifically how the Book of Job presents its audience with images of patience, faith, and the likelihood of justice in this world.  We will spend the first part of the semester reading and talking about Job, then turn our attention to four twentieth-century novels and a few other texts, not simply to compare these texts with “Job,” but to enrich our reading of the modern texts by using “Job” as a lens through which to view the books.
We will begin by reading “Job” first as the original conversation between an impatient man and three other people; then as the responsive additions by a fourth person and God; then with the Prologue and Epilogue as a final level of redactive meaning.  Then, students will prepare presentations of two articles from a single section of The Dimensions of Job. The rest of the semester will be devoted to close and critical readings of our modern texts.
Ours is a small class, so your active and thoughtful participation is essential for its success.  Each student will have to shoulder the responsibility of arriving on time and prepared for pithy discussions.  You may miss up to three classes without penalty, but all classes missed after that will lower your final grade.  Class participation will constitute 20% of the final grade.
Papers #1 and #2 will be brief (1500-2500 word) essays that analyze significant sections of the literary texts through the lens of either your reading of “Job” or that of one of the scholars in The Dimensions of Job.  The research paper—which you should begin thinking about today—must be a serious interpretive essay using at least ten scholarly, peer-reviewed sources (3000-4000 words).  You may choose to write an interpretation of the Hebrew Scripture text(s); you may interpret a literary work through the lens of “Job;” you might even try your hand at writing a modern instance of this ancient story, provided this attempt has a sound and articulated critical foundation.  We can talk about this assignment.
Grades:                        Paper #1         10%
                                    Paper #2         10%
                                    Presentation    20%
                                    Participation    20%
                                    Research          40%
Required Texts:   

The Dimensions of Job:  A Study and Selected Readings. Nahum N. Glatzer, ed.
New York:  Schocken, 1975
                               Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh.  New York:  Black
                                                Bay Books, 2008.
                                    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.  Muriel Spark.  New York:
                                                Harper, 2009.
                                    A Burnt-Out Case. Graham Greene. New York:  Penguin, 1975.
                                    Silence. Shusaku Endo.  Marlboro, NJ: Taplinger Publishing, 1980.
Recommended Text:   Job:  The Victim of Hid People. Rene Girard. Trans. Yvonne
                                                Freccero.  Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1987.
Supplied Texts:                        Poetry by Vassar Miller and Lucia Perillo,
                                                 Prose by Rev. Martin Luther King,
                                                Short Fiction by Flannery O’Connor.

Students who require special treatment must see the instructor as soon as possible, and he will make all reasonable accommodations.
Students must complete all work to pass the class.  Late papers are occasionally accepted, but only when arrangements are made prior to the original due date.  Students who plagiarize will fail the class.  Please see my plagiarism policy on my web page.

Office Hours:  MWF  10-11, TR 8:30-9:30, 10-1*
                        AND BY APPOINTEMENT.
                        OM 369, tel. 360-438-4336
* I sometimes have meetings during part of these hours (10-1).  You may leave me a voice or emessage, but I cannot promise to respond before the next class meeting.

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