Pilgrimage/Comparative Perspective

Course Description :

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.

Course Objectives:

Course Goals :

  1. to acquaint you with the dynamics of pilgrimage across several religions
  2. to examine several specific pilgrimage phenomena
  3. to help you think critically about the differences between different pilgrimage traditions
  4. to expose you to some of the key debates and disputes within the study of pilgrimage

Course Objectives :

  1. You will gain a broad understanding of the phenomenon of pilgrimage in religions
  2. You will learn about the commonalities and differences between different pilgrimage traditions
  3. You will learn about the social and political dimensions of pilgrimage
  4. You will be exposed to the ways in which pilgrimage forms both personal and social identities

Course Requirements:

Students are expected to complete all readings before class; all assignments must be turned in on time; in order to receive a passing grade in this course, students must complete all assignments . Attendance is mandatory; more than 2 absences will have a significant impact on the final grade. All readings are expected to be completed before class.

Grades will be based on: 1. One optional essay of approximately 1500 words (25%, or 0%); 2. Active participation in all aspects of the course (75%, or 100%), including timely, thoughtful postings and participation during Gathering Days. Participation Grades will be based on the quality and consistency of your posts; this includes both your initial substantive post, and your responses to your peers.

Late posts will not be counted: seriously, this course depends on timely posts and timely responses. If you miss a week, you will not be able to go back and make it up.

By the end of Week Eight, you will submit a 1000 word (maximum) Evaluation of your postings for the course, along with 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.

If you are not satisfied with your grade (or my evaluation of your evaluation), you have the option to write the  essay of 1500 words, which will be due on 24 May.

Incompletes and Pass/Fail are not offered for this course

Discussion Guidelines

Required Readings

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.

Mar 28, 2019ThuWeek One: Introductionsdue by 05:59AM
Apr 04, 2019ThuWeek Two: The Phenomenon of Pilgrimagedue by 05:59AM
Apr 11, 2019ThuWeek Three: The Concept of Tirtha in Indiadue by 05:59AM
Apr 18, 2019ThuWeek Four: On Pilgrimage in Indiadue by 05:59AM
Apr 27, 2019SatWeeks Five and Six: Gathering Days: Varieties of Buddhist Pilgrimagedue by 05:59AM
May 02, 2019ThuWeek Seven: Pilgrimage, Exile, and Ritual Spacedue by 05:59AM
May 09, 2019ThuWeek Eight: Pilgrimage and the Spread of Christianitydue by 05:59AM
May 16, 2019ThuWeek Nine: A Personal Christian Pilgrimagedue by 05:59AM
May 18, 2019SatSelf Evaluationdue by 05:59AM
May 23, 2019ThuWeek Ten: Mecca as Ideal and Realitydue by 05:59AM