RELI 235: Religion and Literature

RELI 235-007: Religion and Literature
(Fall 2021)

10:30 AM to 11:45 AM MW

Innovation Hall 135

Section Information for Fall 2021

RELI 235 - 007: Religion and Literature

500 years ago—in August 1521—the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés landed a definitive defeat of the Mexica Triple Alliance (aka Aztec Empire). European projects of colonization of the Americas accompanied efforts to convert Indigenous Americans to a newly introduced religion, Christianity. However, as many Indigenous Americans still say to this day: "We may have been defeated but we were never 'conquered.'" Soon after the arrival of the first missionaries Native elites of Mesoamerica secretly wrote down their ancient religious stories into a book called the Popol Vuh or "Book of the Council." To the present-day the Popol Vuh remains one of the most important sources of ancient Indigenous American religion originally written any Native American peoples. Rediscovered centuries later, the Popol Vuh influenced modern literature, such as magical realism by non-Native authors and post-colonialism by Native writers.

This course will center on a close reading of the Popol Vuh in light of the wider literary and religious traditions of the Maya of Mexico and Central America. From this understanding and comparison with other Maya and Aztec myths, two modern novels will explore the continued influence of the Popol Vuh in later fiction: Men of Maize by Miguel Ángel Asturias (the second Nobel laureate in literature from Latin America) and Time Commences in Xibalbá by Luis de Lión (the first Maya author to write a novel).

NOTE: Each section of Religion and Literature focuses on different readings. This is the only one that focuses primarily on religious literature by and about a Native American people.

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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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