RELI 235: Religion and Literature

RELI 235-DL3: Religion and Literature
(Spring 2024)


Section Information for Spring 2024

This course employs contemporary literature (novels and memoirs) to explore religious themes. The course is divided into two units. The first unit focuses on the United States, providing in-depth content about a specific nation and tradition, and the second unit provides a more global perspective, providing survey content from various religious traditions. 


The first unit focuses on the subject of American civil religion. Students will be introduced to the concept of civil religion and survey the development of American civil religion through history. The primary works of literature (Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates & The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls) will give students a narrative lens to critically analyze the use and impact of American religion in the experiences of marginalized people. Supporting texts will help students to understand the historical background and landscape of American civil religion. 


The second unit zooms out, exploring the universal human experience of death, as well as the concept of the afterlife through the eyes of a variety of religious traditions around the world, as well as views of death in “secularized” culture. Students will learn about religious ideas, beliefs, and practices surrounding death with various supporting texts. They will then compare and contrast these ideas and practices with the themes of death in John Green’s contemporary best-selling novel, The Fault in Our Stars. 

RELI 235 DL3 is an online asynchronous section.

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Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Explores the relationship between religion and literature in different times and cultures, the influence of religion on literary works, and how literature expresses major religious themes such as death and immortality, divine will and justice, suffering and human destiny, and religion and state. Limited to three attempts.
Mason Core: Literature
Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

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