REL190-001: Fresh Sem: Religion

Topic: Violence & Nonviolence

January 10, 2017 - April 24, 2017
DaysTimeLocationInstructorGERCreditOPUS #
10:00am - 11:15am
Woodruff Library 874
Gough, Ellen
Appropriate for First Year students.

Dynamics of inquiry on a focused research topic. Will include discussion, debate, oral and written presentations. Topic varies.

Special Evidence-Focused Seminar. For more information:

This seminar examines how members of the three religions of classical India – Jains, Buddhists, and Hindus – have embraced and rejected violence, and how practitioners of other faiths have interpreted these teachings.

We will use the teachings of Jainism, which requires absolute nonviolence to all living beings in mind, speech, and body, as a theoretic framework for the entire course. What does it mean to be nonviolent with one’s mind? With one’s speech? Can violent actions ever be nonviolent? We will use these questions to analyze the politics, theology, and ethics of Tibetan Buddhism. Our readings will historicize the Dalai Lama’s modern branding Buddhism as a religion of nonviolence. We will then move to our case study within Hinduism, which will look at the important Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gīta?, which posits war as a means of liberation. We will ask how Mahatma Gandhi interpreted this scripture in his nonviolent resistance of the British occupation of India. Finally, we will look at how Martin Luther King Jr. integrated Christian theology with Gandhi’s teachings in his nonviolent struggle for civil rights.

Through these case studies, we will tackle important questions about the societal, real-world implications of placing prescriptions of violence and nonviolence in the mouth of God.

Required texts:

  • Barbara Miller, The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna's Counsel in Time of War. New York: Bantam Dell, 2004.
  • Jacob P. Dalton, The Taming of the Demons: Violence and Liberation in Tibetan Buddhism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.
  • James H. Cone, Martin & Malcom & America: A Dream or Nightmare.

The schedule of courses on O.P.U.S. is the official listing of courses, including days and times they meet and the General Education Requirements they satisfy. Students should use course descriptions as general guidelines. Course requirements, grading details, book lists, and syllabi are subject to change.