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