Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Course Outline

[Writing Intensive]
Religion: The Prose and Cons

“Quarter of Canadians don't believe in any god, poll says” trumpets a recent headline in that vendor of popular culture, the Toronto Globe and Mail. The inverse, of course, is equally true, yet the headline was not written to show that “Three-Quarter of Canadians believe in a God, poll says!” Newspapers, rather like Mary Poppins, fly the way the wind is blowing, and the negative emphasis in the actual headline indicates that the present cultural climate is experiencing gusts of hot air in an anti-God direction. And this is indeed the case, with a canny crowd of Atheistical writers making small fortunes in the capitalist marketplace from a Being in Whom they disbelieve. Though true, irony this perverse is too implausible for fiction, as this course will demonstrate, using a selection of contemporary novels which have, each in their different way, effected a change in the cultural configuration of religion. At the level of mass fiction, books by two bestselling authors, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and The Road to Cana by Anne Rice, represent opposing stances on Christianity. At a higher literary level, Douglas Coupland’s Hey Nostradamus! revisions evangelical Protestantism using the Lower Mainland as its setting, while Monica Ali’s transgressive Brick Lane bravely and beautifully portrays matriarchy and a Muslim immigrant community in present-day London. And the extended comic book, or graphic novel, Kingdom Come frames modern culture and the superhero cultus within the Biblical Apocrypha. A selection of short online essays dealing with religion -for and against - at the cultural level will be made available both to contextualise the course novels and improve your own religious arguments and understanding.

Coupland, Douglas: Hey Nostradamus!
Rice, Anne: Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana
Waid, Mark: Kingdom Come
Brown, Dan: The Da Vinci Code
Ali, Monica: Brick Lane
Prose Essays: Online and reserved selection.

10% Productive participation
20% Mid-term essay (2000 words)
15% Mid-term essay revision
20% Group polemical project
35% Final examination

To receive credit for this course you must complete all requirements.

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