Original web document: http://www.chass.utoronto.ca:8080/~kderry/

Religion and Literature
RLG 230Y (Winter 1997)

Course Description
Texts and Readings
Requirements and Evaluation
Course Outline (First Term)
Course Outline (Second Term)
Handouts Only
Miscellaneous Information

updated as of October 14, 1997

I. Instructor - Ken Derry

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II. Course Description

This course will examine religious themes in a variety of literary forms, including those of myth, history, parable, short story, essay, oral narrative, children's literature, poem, and novel. The stories chosen reflect a variety of cultural backgrounds so that, among other things, we may consider how meaning may be affected by changes in worldview. The course will also provide an introduction to theories in the interdisciplinary field of religion and literature.

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III. Texts and Readings

  1. Two reading packages, one per term.
  2. Albert Camus, The Outsider, trans. Joseph Laredo (Penguin, $8.99). PQ2605A373
  3. Thomas King, Green Grass, Running Water (HarperCollins, $18.00). PS8571I6
  4. J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey (Bantam). PS3537A4
  5. Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye (Bantam, $8.99). PS8501T8
  6. Chaim Potok, My Name is Asher Lev (Fawcett, $14.95). PS3566O6
  7. T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets (Faber, $12.99). PS3509L4

All of the above have been placed on 2-day short term loan at Sigmund Samuel Library. The reading packages are available from Krishna Copy, located at 180 Bloor St. West (across from the ROM). The texts are available from the Bob Miller Book Room, also at 180 Bloor St. West.

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IV. Requirements and Evaluation

  1. Tutorial participation 10% (click here for Tutorial Outline)
  2. Two end-of-term tests (10% each) 20%
  3. Six critical responses (5% each) 30%
  4. Two essays (15% and 25%) 40%

Generally, the marking scheme is intended to emphasize ongoing engagment with the course material. There is a late penalty of 1% per day for the essays, but the critical responses will NOT be accepted later than the day they are due (see below). I am always willing to discuss any test or assignment ahead of time, which includes commenting on essay drafts. If you are having any difficulties with the course at all, please feel free to contact me outside of class.

Critical Responses

These assignments are short (2-3 page) written responses to each of the six texts in this course. I am not expecting anything really formal for them; I am looking instead for how clearly you express yourself, and how much you've reflected on the topics which I will be handing out in class. It might help to imagine these projects as journals or letters addressed to a very specific issue, and read by a relatively complete stranger.

Each response should not be longer than about 1000 words (maximum 3 pages double-spaced), and should contain no references to any secondary research material . The point is to express your thoughts, unclouded as much as possible by outside influences. Such influences include class discussions, which is why I can't accept these papers once we've begun studying the texts.


Due: Nov 11, Feb 10

First Essay (15%) - approximately 1700 words (maximum 6 pages double-spaced)

Second Essay (25%) - approximately 2500 words (maximum 8 pages double-spaced)

I will hand out the essay topics at the beginning of each term. These papers should be more rigidly structured than the critical responses, following standard essay form. This involves having, among other things, an introduction, conclusion, and a well-defended thesis. However, I am still asking that you refrain from referring to any secondary research materials that are not included in the reading packages for this course. In other words, the point once again will be for you to engage the material directly yourself.

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V. Course Outline (First Term)

1. Interpretations  
Sept 9, 11 Introduction

Click here for the handout.
Sept 16
  • Paul Ricoeur, "World of the Text, World of the Reader"
  • Rupert Ross, "Seeing Through the Rules"

    Click here for the handout.
Sept 18 Genesis 1:1-3:24

Click here for the handout.
Sept 23 C.J.L. Culpepper, "O Felix Culpa! The Sacramental Meaning of Winnie- the-Pooh," in Frederick Crews' The Pooh Perplex
Sept 25 Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh, x-xii, 1-21
Sept 30 Albert Camus, The Outsider (until Oct 9)

Click here for the Sept. 30 handout, here for the Oct. 7 handout, and here for the Oct. 9 handout on Camus.

First Critical Response Due
here for First Term Writing Assignments)

2. Definitions  
Oct 14 William Paden, Interpreting the Sacred, ix-xi, 1-14

Click here for the handout.
Oct 16 Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction, vii-vii, 1-16
Oct 21
  • Gen 9:20-27, 11:1-9; Num 22:22-30; Judg 1:18-19, 19:22-20:11; 1 Sam 16:14-23; Ps 137; Acts 5:1-11; 2 Thess 1:6-8; 1 Tim 2:11-15
  • Gospel Parallels #'s 196, 250, 253
  • "The Infancy Story of Thomas"
Oct 23
  • Jerome Rothenberg, Pre-Face to Shaking the Pumpkin
  • Basil Johnston, Ojibway Heritage, 17-20 (story of Nanabush)
  • Basil Johnston, The Manitous, 58-69
Oct 28 Thomas King, Green Grass, Running Water (until Nov 11)
Nov 11 First Essay Due
here for First Term Writing Assignments)
3. Ultimate Concern  
Nov 13 Paul Tillich, Dynamics of Faith, 1-4, 41-54
Nov 18 Yasunari Kawabata, selected stories
Nov 25 J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey (until Dec 4)

Third Critical Response Due
(click here for First Term Writing Assignments)
TBA First Term Test

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Course Outline (Second Term)

4. Materialism and Idealism  
Jan 6 Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States, 1-11
Jan 8
  • David Hesla, "Religion and Literature: The Second Stage"
  • Arun Mukherjee, Oppositional Aesthetics, 3-8
Jan 13
  • Michel Desjardins, Peace, Violence and the New Testament, 83-92
  • Northrop Frye, The Great Code, 135-138
Jan 15 Alice Munro, "Epilogue: The Photographer"
Jan 20 Chaim Potok, My Name is Asher Lev (until Feb 3)

Fourth Critical Response Due
(Second Term Writing Assignments COMING SOON)
5. Myth and Parable  
Feb 5 John Dominic Crossan, The Dark Interval, 47-62
Feb 10 Gospel Parallels #'s 90-101, 190, 203-205

Second Essay Due
(Second Term Writing Assignments COMING SOON)
Feb 12 Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, 17-35
Feb 13 Last day to drop Y courses without academic penalty
Feb 24
  • Woody Allen, "The Scrolls"
  • Robert Fulgham, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, 11-23
Feb 26 Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye (until Mar 12)

Fifth Critical Response Due
(Second Term Writing Assignments COMING SOON)
6. Meaning and
Mar 17 Shiga Naoya, selected stories
Mar 19 Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, 228-246
Mar 24 Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, 246-264
Mar 26 T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets (until Apr 9)

Sixth Critical Response Due
(Second Term Writing Assignments COMING SOON)
TBA Second Term Test

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Handouts Only

Click on the date you want to go to the handout (sorry, no cartoons on the web version.....).

Sept. 11   Sept. 16   Sept. 18   Sept. 30   Oct. 7    Oct. 9   Oct. 14

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VI. Miscellaneous Information


Although this particular class is in the mornings, some of you may still be interested in knowing about WALKsafer, which provides security for students walking alone at night.

phone: 978-SAFE
e-mail: walksafer@campuslife.utoronto.ca
website: http://www.campuslife.utoronto.ca/services/police


E-mail accounts can be obtained at no charge from the Information Commons in Robarts Library. As the course gets underway I will establish a class list of e-mail addresses, in the hope that we might be able to generate some out-of-class discussions.

Writing Labs

These labs are offered by all colleges on campus at no charge, and can be a great help for students who are struggling with their writing. I do not have the training to help you too much in this regard myself, but I will be discussing a few writing guidelines in the near future. At some point I may also suggest that some of you take advantage of the writing labs; please keep in mind that I do not make such suggestions lightly. Information on individual labs can be obtained from your college registrar's office, or by contacting the Co-ordinator of Writing Support:

Phone: 978-8109
e-mail: procter@chass.utoronto.ca
website: http://www.library.utoronto.ca/www/writing