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Dr. Martha Selby, Chair 120 INNER CAMPUS DR STOP G9300 WCH 4.134 78712-1251 • 512-471-5811

Fall 2006

ANS 301M • Death and Dying in Indian Religions

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
30980 MWF
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
RAS 215

Course Description

Death is a central concern for all religious systems. Peter Berger (1967), a sociologist who has done a great deal of work on religion, says: Witnessing the death of others (notably, of course, of significant others) and anticipating his own death, the individual is strongly propelled to question the ad hoc cognitive and normative operating procedure of his (Enormal, life in society. Death presents society with a formidable problem not only because of its obvious threat to the continuity of human relationships, but because it threatens the basic assumptions of order on which society rests.) fear of death more specifically the fear of the senselessness that death implies, Berger suggests, requires tragedies to make sense of this experience.

This course will examine the variety of ways that Indian religions approach death, dying, and death related issues. We will primarily look at historical attitudes toward death as expressed in religious literature. Additionally, we will examine archaeological material to glean more information about how Indians memorialize, remember, and dispose of the dead. We will take an interdisciplinary approach, examining the issues around death from many angles: religious, social, cultural, philisophical, ethical, and medical. Throughout this course we will use Berger's notion that religion gives meaning to our experiences, Death in particular, to frame our discussions. How does religion make sense of Death? How does particular religious ritual, narrative, doctrine, or experience restore the order that Berger suggests is undermined by the conception of death, one's own and of our significant others? Does approaching religious responses to Death with Berger's question efface other important issues?

Grading Policy

Attendance and Class participation 10% 2 short quizzes 10% ea. 2 Essays (1st=10%, 2nd=20%) Midterm and Final exam 20% ea.


All readings will be included in a course packet available at Paradigm Copy Center and are available on the blackboard page for this class.


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