REL 407/507 Winter 2014 CRN 27241/3
Instructor: Mark T. Unno, Office: SCH 334, Tel. 346-4973, Email: munno (at) uoregon (dot) edu
TU 2:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m., SCH 358; Office Hours: Tues & Thurs 12:00-12:50 p.m. SCH 334
Through selected readings in religious and philosophical thought East and West, as well as through films, this course examines the manner in which narratives of selfhood are constructed and presented. Questions explored include: What is the role and character of narrative in defining selfhood? How do fractures and fissures in this narrative occur? Can a self exist without any significant narrative? What is the relation between memory, time, and space in the narrative self? In delving into these questions, we will examine 1) different versions of the narrative self, 2) models of selfhood that call into question various narratives (narrative and counter-narrative), and 3) models and theories of self that call into question the very nature of a narratively defined self. Readings include selected narratives from a Pure Land Buddhist, Taoist, and a Jewish diarist as well as secondary theoretical and methodological works. Format is lecture-discussion combination including student presentations. Assignments include three shorter papers and one longer final paper. Additional readings and a longer final paper will be required for students enrolled in REL 507.
1. Attendance: Required. Students can have one unexcused absence without penalty. Each class missed thereafter without prior permission will result in 1-2 grade penalty for the course grade.
2. Short exams: There will be two short, in-class exams, based on materials from the readings, lectures, and course web site.
3. Medium papers: There will be two medium-length papers (2-4 pages) based on topics that will be provided by the instructor.
4. Presentation: Students will make a presentation on the readings for one of the section meetings. The presenter should not summarize the reading but should use the presentation to discuss why the selected ideas-passages in question are important for understanding the reading and proceed to explain as well as raise questions about these ideas-passages.
The primary purpose of these presentations is to launch the discussion, not to demonstrate breadth of knowledge or to lead the discussion. Each presenter will prepare a handout with 2 questions and brief, corresponding quotations from the readings. More detailed instructions will be provided on the course web site.
5. Final paper: Each student will hand in a final paper of 7-9 pages double-spaced (A longer final paper of 11-13 pages will be required for those who have registered for REL507. Suggested topics will be provided. Students may choose to create their own topics with the consent of the instructor. In the case of the latter, a one-paragraph description of the topic must be submitted by email to the instructor four days prior to the due date for the peer review draft.
6. Late policy on written assignments: Three grace days total will be allotted excluding the final paper for which no extensions will be given. For the short papers, a cumulative total of three late days will be allowed without penalty. Thereafter, each late day will result in a two-point deduction from the course grade. Weekends are not counted against the grace days.
this course students will:
A. Develop their paper writing skills through regular feedback on papers and an exam containing questions regarding the process and elements of writing university essays.B. Develop a sophisticated understanding of how diverse religions and philosophies define the dark or problematic dimensions of human existence.
C. Acquire tools for the study of comparative religion through the examination of narrative construction of the self concept as characterized by diverse strands of religious and philosophical thinking, through the use of primary sources and secondary scholarly literature.
D. Learn to identify and analyze thematic presentations of the narrative self concerning diverse factors of human culture such as gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity , and class.
E. have the above areas assessed through exams, papers, and class discussion.
Short exam I 5%
Short exam II 5% Final paper 35%
Short paper I 15% Presentation 10%
Short paper II 20% Discussion 10%
Shinmon Aoki, Coffinman (Anaheim, CA: Buddhist Education Center, 2004).
Joan Frances Casey, The Flock (NY: Ballantine Books, 1992).
Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life + Letters from Westerbork (NY: Owl Books, 1996).
Bruce Rubin, Jacob's Ladder (NY: Applause Books, 2000) (optional text).
Burton Watson, Zhuangzi: Basic Writings (NY: Columbia University Press, 2003).
Course Reader REL 407-507 Narrative Selves East and West, 539 E 13th St, Eugene, OR 97401 TEL 541 485 6253.