RELIGION 209 - Death, Immortality, and Afterlife
Section: 001
Term: FA 2019
Subject: Religion (RELIGION)
Department: LSA Studies in Religion
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

“What makes us human?” We may think that it is our ability to use language, or our capacity for abstract thinking, making history, crafting art, and developing religions, or is it our cognitive facility to conceptualize ‘death’ and ultimately seek immortality? This course aims to answer these questions by exploring the ‘deep history’ of death from prehistory to the present bringing approaches from history, cultural anthropology, archaeology, paleontology, developmental psychology, and comparative religions to explore the universal human search for the meaning of death and seeking immortality. Cultural practices around death and immortality, like burial and mortuary rituals and telling stories about the afterlife, have marked human history. This course maps such practices to probe into the uniqueness of human beings compared to our closest hominid ancestors. We then turn to the beginnings of the religious expression in prehistory leading to the foundations of the world’s major religions. Finally, we end by exploring how past and present communities imagine, negotiate, and ritualize the deaths of the living and the lives of the dead. This course includes two museum visits, an observation of a religious ritual, and watching documentary films. The final assessment is based on a project that scholars will develop throughout the semester. An approved credit for STS—Science, Technology and Society major and Religion Minor. This course is co-developed and co-taught simultaneously with Dr. Ramy Aly at the American University in Cairo (AUC). It is a pilot project that is part of the Michigan-AUC partnership on the Andrew Mellon Foundation project ‘Global Humanities in Egypt and the Global South’.

Course Requirements:

2 essays, response papers, and a final project.

RELIGION 209 - Death, Immortality, and Afterlife
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
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