Spring 2021 Course Highlight: Religion and Art

Prof. Thomas Dale’s “AH 103: Religion and Art” will be taught online Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:20–2:10pm CST. This course has no prerequisites, first-year students are welcome, and counts toward the Religious Studies Certificate.
Why do Catholics and Buddhists burn incense in the presence of statues of the Virgin Mary or the Buddha, while other religious groups including Muslims and Protestant Christian condemn the veneration of figural images as idolatrous? Why do still other religious groups make a point of destroying images? Why do indigenous peoples commemorate their ancestors with burial mounds or totem polls? And why do individual religious groups hold certain places to be sacred? This course will explore the answers to these questions, starting from the premise that religion is grounded in embodied experience, often supported by material images, ritual objects, and buildings. We will explore sacred narratives and calligraphy; concepts of sacred place and space; relics and pilgrimage; icon worship and destruction; death and the afterlife and commemorative monuments across a variety of religious traditions.