Leo Tolstoy wrote that every age has a "religious perception" through which art and life are imagined, and that if our age appears not to have one, it is "only because we do not want to see it." The separation of church and state speaks to the difficulties of negotiating religious difference in plural societies, particularly when groups claim that others are wicked or worse. Do religion and justice reciprocate? What role does faith play in politics, science, and art? How are these issues explored in literature? In this first-year seminar, we begin our investigation into modern secularity by considering its nineteenth-century foundations before moving into the twentieth. We might consider, for instance, how British colonialism in India exhibits the importance of race and empire in conceptions of pluralism. And we can look to Aldous Huxley's "The Devils of Loudun" to query the metaphysical stakes of secularity's boundaries. Authors will likely include Charlotte Brontë, Aldous Huxley, Charles Taylor, Talal Asad, Toru Dutt, John Henry Newman, Leo Tolstoy, Dorothy Day, and W.E.B. DuBois. Student projects may focus on an event, text, or institution from any period, from "coexist" bumper stickers, to medieval translations of sacred texts, to imagined religions in fictions such as HBO's "The Leftovers."
Course Attributes: EN H; FYS; BU Hum; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM