Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023

Course Description

In this course we will examine religious experience and expression in Hindu India with special emphasis on the contemporary persistence of traditional values and practices. Relevant historical background material will be surveyed to help assess continuity and change in learned and vernacular Hindu religious practices with particular attention to the values that both influence and are displayed in them.

Student Outcomes

Departmental Learning Goal 1: Religious Literacy Student Outcome: Understand how religion has shaped—and has been shaped in turn by— historical-cultural contexts. Student Outcome: Acknowledge the importance of religion in the human search for meaning and purpose, and for the force of this meaning to shape individuals, communities, societies, and nations. Student Outcome: Gain an appreciation of the relationship between religion, the human imagination, and artistic creations. • Students will be able to articulate how/why history matters when studying Hinduism. • Students will examine the way Hinduism has evolved over time. • Students will be able to evaluate the implications of historical-critical study on the academic approach to Hinduism. • Students will examine how Hindu traditions inform individual, communal, social, and national identity. • Students will be able to analyze the idea of the sacred, the cosmos, and the unknown in the Hindu search for meaning. • Students will be able to identify the intersections of human creative expression and the Hindu arts. • Students will be able to describe the role of art in expressing Hindu religious ideas and fostering Hindu religious traditions. • Students will be able to identify examples of Hindu art. • Students will be able to compare examples of Hindu art across traditions. Student Outcome: Recognize the Internal diversity within religious traditions. • Students will be able to describe how/why Hinduism has separated into sectarian divisions over time. • Students will be able to evaluate the importance of “pluralism” and “tolerance” when assessing the diversity within Hinduism. Departmental Learning Goal 2: Global/Intercultural Competence Student Outcome: Cultivate a greater global and cultural awareness of self and other by engaging empathetically with Hindu peoples and cultures from around the globe. • Students will be able to identify key concepts emerging from Hindu discourses. • Students will be able to demonstrate a capacity to work open-mindedly in the classroom with students from all backgrounds, cultures, and religions when studying Hinduism. • Students will be able to discuss the relationship between the study of religion and an increased awareness of global and intercultural diversity within the context of the study of Hinduism. Student Outcome: Develop robust and responsible ways to think comparatively about religious similarities and differences. Student Outcome: Gain familiarity with non-western religious traditions and cultures through a comparative approach and deepening knowledge of non-western religions and socio-historical contexts. Student Outcome: Strengthen empathetic (non-judgmental, open and curious) engagement with the diversity of religious worldviews and the cultures from which they emerge. • Students will be able to write essays and theses using cross-culturally framed and informed research questions. • Students will be able to compare and contrast major texts, ideas, and practices of different religious traditions. • Students will demonstrate command of a comparative conceptual vocabulary that enables an academic approach to the study of religions. • Students will be able to describe how Hindu traditions have been a significant socio-cultural force in South Asian and world history. • Students will be able to demonstrate a familiarity with the peoples and cultures from which the Hinduism has emerged. • Students will be able to define what Hinduism is and how it functions within the context of a robust consideration of various Hindu traditions. • Students will be able to identify how the diversity of Hindu worldviews represents national, socioeconomic, sociocultural, and other kinds of difference manifest in human societies. • Students will be able to apply this strengthened empathetic attitude regarding religion to their daily interactions with their peers and community members during and beyond their time at DePauw. Departmental Learning Goal 3: Reading, Speaking and Writing Student Outcome: Read, understand, and critically analyze religious texts, artifacts and traditions from a number of different genres, registers, regions, epochs, languages, and cultural practices. Student Outcome: Write clearly and cogently about religion as a mode of cultural production • Students will be able to articulate the meanings of Hindu texts using the vocabulary of (comparative) religious studies. • Students will be able to engage in analytical discussion about Hindu religious texts. • Students will be able to clearly assess and describe how Hinduism and South Asian culture intersect. • Students will be able to identify and state clearly how studying (and writing about) Hinduism is just like studying any other form of cultural productivity [exploring how physical environments, political landscapes, historical institutions, social contexts, material remains, and physiological or psychological forces shape (and are shaped by) the diverse range of ideas and practices embodied in religious texts, traditions, and artifacts]. • Students will be able to perform a written analysis of how cultural (and social, political, and economic) factors are represented in Hindu ideas and practices. Student Outcome: Model academically informed civil discourse in the discussion of sensitive and controversial topics • Students will gain experience in discussion (by listening/responding to and empathizing) with others around Hindu texts, traditions, and artifacts. • Students will be able to demonstrate a sense of empathy with the human experiences represented in Hindu texts, traditions, and artifacts while recognizing the limitations and implications of their own identities and experiences. • Students will develop an understanding of their own subject positions as (cross-cultural) consumers of Hindu texts, traditions, and artifacts. University Learning Goals for GL Course Global Learning (GL) Goals: 1. Engagement with cultural difference: Gain a critical understanding of perspectives and voices of specific people and places outside of the U.S. 2. Historical/structural analysis: Understand and analyze the complex historical relationships between cultures and identities in a globalized framework. 3. Recognition and development of cross-cultural skills: Develop a self-reflective sensibility towards cultural difference through the critical understanding of your globally-situated identities and responsibilities.