RELI 2732 V - Death and Afterlife

The meaning of death and afterlife in some religious traditions and secular philosophies with emphasis on the Hindu teaching of the immortal soul; the Hebraic idea of collective survival; the Christian doctrine of resurrection of the body; the Buddhist conception of no-soul and nirvana. Precludes additional credit for RELI 2308.

Intellectually, the problem of death has consistently spawned a host of related questions: “Why do people die? Is it possible to know when I’m going to die? What happens to people after death? Can I do anything to save myself? Can anyone save me?” and many more. In this course, we will explore the responses to such questions proposed by the devotees of the world's religious traditions. When confronted with the reality of death, however, a grieving person often cannot find solace in these sorts of overt doctrinal teachings alone. For this reason, we will also consider various other means, such as stories, visual art and rituals that are employed in religious traditions to provide emotional solace and social reintegration to grieving individuals. In general, our approach to this complex material will focus on the problem of death as it is expressed in three key dimensions of religion: 1) religious teachings (doctrines and philosophy); 2) ritual and mortuary practice; and 3) narratives.

CRN for section V: 14767

CRN for section VOD (optional Video On Demand service): 14768

In-class lecture time & location:
Fridays, 8:35am to 11:25am, THB SA

Instructor: Angela Sumegi

Angela Sumegi

About the instructor: I have taught Death and Afterlife in World Religions for some 15 years now, first as a televised course and now online. For me, it remains as fresh and as interesting today as it was the first year I taught it. Perhaps because the questions and issues we study in class - questions of life and death, issues of ethics and judgment - have been of concern to human beings from the beginning of our history; and in each new retelling, there is something to learn. Every year, hundreds of students sign up for this never-ending story.

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