C LIT 250 / ENGL 310
The Bible/ The Qur’an: Stories, Pictures, and the Varieties of Religious Experience
The Abrahamic religions they have been collectively named--Judaism, Christianity and Islam, a.k.a. the “Religions of the Book.” A common treasury includes histories of turbulent relations to the human imagination. What explains a heterogeneity of views of fabricated images? In particular what is the status of a free re-invention of the founding texts themselves, now welcomed, now met with critique that can assumes the form of lethal force? Opinions intersect, and veer to problematize one another.
Is the Unseen--reverenced as such-- alone the beautiful, to be experienced only through a text delivered to the Prophet by the angel Gabriel? Are there sacred writings that allow for distraction from divine grace, distractions shocking the sensibilities of some, providing the comfort of others? Is there such a thing as religion that allows for departure from religion, justifying the secular itself? What is the relation of a now allowed now disallowed image—in time or space--to the element of identification in religious belief? The views of aesthetic phenomena in these faiths—in their vast and to be vastly respected variety!-- will be studied, their roots in the sacred texts themselves with particular reference to the role of differently nuanced versions of the call to Abraham to murder his son.
It would be an understatement to say that the civilizational consequences of this topic have been considerable.