NES 4557

NES 4557

Course information provided by the Courses of Study 2019-2020.

How and why do landscapes come to inspire the religious imagination?   And why do religious practices, rituals, traditions, and beliefs take place in particular landscapes? This seminar treats these questions by focusing on the desert, both imagined and real, as it has shaped religious ascetic practice, especially the development of Christian monasticism in the Middle East.  We will read widely from monastic literatures, mostly from late ancient Egypt, to explore both the historical development of monasticism in Christianity and examine why the monastic impulse seems so closely tied to the "desert." In addition to reading saints lives and the stories of hermits, we will read early monastic rules, the desert fathers, and we will draw from archaeological sources to examine the varieties of ascetic practices in the deserts of late ancient Egypt, Gaza, Sinai, Palestine, and Syria. Throughout the course we will explore ancient and modern ideas about "wilderness" and we will explore parallels between ancient Near Eastern literatures and their nineteenth- and twentieth-century parallels in the American frontier and environmental literatures.

When Offered Fall.

Breadth Requirement (GHB)
Distribution Category (CA-AS)
Course Subfield (RS)
Course Attribute (CU-ITL)

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Syllabi: none
  • 16320 NES 4557   SEM 101