WGS 352 Women's Religious Narratives East & West CRN25830 471 MCK M 2:00-6:50

Instructor: Mark T. Unno, Office: PLC 812, Tel. 346-4973, Email: munno@uoregon.edu
Unno Home Page: http://www.uoregon.edu/~munno/
Office Hours: Wednesdays 2-4:30 p.m., PLC 812

This course examines theory and narrative in the study of women’s lives in cross-cultural and comparative context. We will begin by reading scholarly literature dealing with issues of feminist and gender theory in general as well as regarding eastern or Asian materials. After this, we will focus on narrative accounts of women’ religions and spiritual traditions as found in journals, autobiographies, and fiction. The theoretical readings at the beginning of the course provide analytical tools for digesting and examining the narrative accounts, and the narratives provide test cases for the theories we will have covered earlier.

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 exam: There will be two short, in-class exams, based on materials from the readings, lectures, and course web site.

3. Short papers:
There will be three shorter papers (2-3 pages, 3-4 pages) based on topics that will be provided by the instructor.

4. Presentation:
Students will make a presentation on one of the readings for one of the section meetings. Each presenter will prepare a one-page handout with 1 or 2 questions and brief, corresponding quotations from the readings. 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 the presentations is to launch the discussion, not to demonstrate breadth of knowledge or to lead the discussion. More detailed instructions will be provided on the course web site.

5. Final paper: Each student will hand in a final paper of 6-8 pages double-spaced. 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 one week prior to the final paper due date.

6. Late policy on written assignments: Three grace days total will be allotted excluding the final paper and summaries for which no extensions will be given. For all other written assignments, 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.

7. Discussion: Contribution to discussion will be 10% of your grade. You do not necessarily have to speak up all of the time to make your contribution to discussion. In fact, attentive listening can be as or more effective in cultivating a learning environment as speaking up in class, and in this course, your ability to deeply listen to what others are trying to say will be weighed heavily.

Note: You must complete all assignments in order to receive course credit.
Even if you are too late for an assignment to receive a passing grade, you must hand it in.

Short exam A: 10%; Short exam B: 10%
Short paper I: 10%; Short paper II: 10%; Short paper III:15%
Final paper: 25%
Presentation 10%; Discussion 10%



Required Texts
Required Texts

  1. Joan Frances Casey, The Flock (NY: Ballantine, 1992).
  2. Broughton Coburn, Aama in America (NY: Anchor, 1996).
  3. Mary Crow Dog, Lakota Woman (NY: Harper Perennial, 1988).
  4. Maura Soshin O'Halloran, Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind, (NY: Riverhead Books, 1995).
  5. Shinobu Matsuura, Higan-Compassionate Vow (privately published).*
  6. Kathleen Norris, Dakota-A Spiritual Geography (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993).
  7. Judith Plaskow and Carol Christ, Weaving the Visions (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989).
  8. Rosemarie Tong, Feminine and Feminist Ethics (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 1993).**
  9. Alice Walker, The Color Purple (NY: Miramax, 2002).

*Shinobu Matsuura, Higan-Compassionate Vow is available at the Copy Shop, 539 E. 13th Street, Eugene, OR 97401, TEL 485 6253.
**Rosemarie Tong, Feminine and Feminist Ethics. This work is out of print, but I have placed four copies on reserve at Knight Library.

Weekly Schedule-WGS352 Women's Religious Narratives East & West

(Readings are all required texts, except for individual articles from Weaving the Visions, denoted by "WV")

Week 1: Jan 5 - Course Introduction

Syllabus, student self-introduction, and introduction to theories and methods in the cross-cultural study of women and religion.

Week 2: Jan 12 - Feminist Theory on Ethics and Religion

Rosemarie Tong, Feminine and Feminist Ethics. Plaskow & Christ, "Introduction," WV, 1-14; Ruether, "Sexism and God-Language," WV, 151-163.

Paper 1 due in class.

Week 3: Jan 19 - Kathleen Norris: A Christian Feminist's Religious Roots in Dakota

Kathleen Norris, Dakota-A Spiritual Geography. Fiorenza, "In Search," WV, 29-38; Christ, "Rethinking Theology and Nature," WV, 314-325; McFague, "God as Mother," 139-150.

Week 4: Jan 26 - Mary Crow Dog: A Lakota Woman

Mary Crow Dog, Lakota Woman. Gloria Anzaldua, "Naming the Serpent," WV, 77-86; Yahoo, "Renewing the Sacred Hoop," WV, 274-280.

Exam A in class.

Week 5: Feb 2 - Aama: A Nepali Woman Goes on Pilgrimage Across America

Broughton Coburn, Aama in America.

Paper 2 due in class.

Week 6: Feb 9 - Shinobu Matsuura: A Japanese Buddhist "Temple-Keeper" Comes to America

Shinobu Matsuura, Higan-Compassionate Vow. Nakashima Brock, "On Mirrors, Mists, & Murmurs," 235-243.

Week 7: Feb 16 - Maura Soshin O'Halloran: Irish American Woman in a Japanese Zen Monastery

Maura Soshin O'Halloran, Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind.

Paper 3 due in class.

Week 8: Feb 23 - Joan Frances Casey: Multiple Journeys.

Joan Frances Casey, The Flock ; Keller, "Feminism and the Ethic of Inseparability," WV, 256-266.

Week 9: March 2 - The Color Purple: The Spiritual Hue of African American Women

Alice Walker, The Color Purple; Dolores Williams, "Womanist Theology," WV, 179-186; Mary Daly, "Be-Friending," WV, 199-207; Audre Lorde, "Uses of the Erotic," WV, 208-213; Thistlewaite, "Every Two Minutes," WV, 302-313.

Exam B in class.

Week 10: March 9 - Final Papers due in class.

Viewing and discussion of Steven Spielberg's film adaptation, The Color Purple.