Course description: This course is designed to give a comprehensive understanding of major religious culture regions in the former Eastern bloc countries. In the post-socialist period some of these societies are experiencing religious revival and others display high degrees of secularization. The course will focus on the analysis of such processes, including religious revival in the former Soviet republics, political and historical roots of divergence of Christian denominations in Central and Eastern Europe, Russian protestant movements like Old Believers and Dukhobors, traditional Islam in the Balkans and North Caucasus, Lamaist Buddhist traditions among Buryats and Tuvans of Siberia, and resurfacing of neo-paganistic and neo-shamanistic practices.
This course will discuss the most important features of these religious regions, such as religious art and architecture, most important beliefs and rituals, political and cultural reverberations of such practices for people, residing in these regions.
Global Cultures Flag:
This course carries the Global Cultures flag. Global Cultures courses are designed to increase your familiarity with cultural groups outside the United States. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of at least one non-U.S. cultural group, past or present.
Basis for the grade:
- Students must take 2 exams, each worth 25% of the totals grade. Exams will contain Multiple Choice questions, short questions, a take-home essay and a map question. The exams will be of the same format.
- Students will write a term paper, worth 30% of the final grade. The paper must be 10-12 pages long, double-spaced, typed in 12-point font. The bibliography should contain scholarly publications, including books and articles from peer-reviewed journals. Worth 30% of the final grade.
- Working in a team of 2 or 3, students will prepare an oral presentation on a topic related to the term paper and approved by the instructor. The presentation’s length should not exceed 15 minutes. 20% of the grade.
Course materials: course package, media sources, video clips, films
Examples of topics for discussion:
1) The Great Schism of 1054 and Resulting Religious Regions in Europe
2) Reformation and Protestant groups in Eastern Europe
3) The Legacies of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires
4) The Shatter Zone: Balkan Religious and Ethnic Identities
5) The Great Schism of 1667 and Major Splinter Groups: Old Believers, Dukhobors,
Molokane, Kristovery and other Russian Protestants
6) Eastern Orthodox Church in Armenia and Georgia
7) Vestiges of Paganism in the Baltic Countries
8) Religious Revival in Post-Soviet Russia
9) Religious Identities in Contemporary Russia
10) Major Muslim Peoples of Russia: Tradition and Innovation
11) Islam in the North Caucasus and Dagestanization of the Volga region
12) Lamaist Buddhist Ethnic Republics of the Russian Federation
13) Siberian Shamanism: Introduction to Theory and Practice
14) Siberian Shamanism: the Flight of the Sacred
15) Religious Art, Philosophy and Literature
16) Leo Tolstoy and Fedor Dostoevsky on Christianity
17) Religious Architecture and Sacred Spaces
18) Religious Festivals and Pilgrimages
19) Religious Revival portrayed in Russian Cinema
20) Russian Orthodox Church Portrayal in Zvyagintsev ‘Leviathan’