The Full Story
Upcoming courses at the Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto
Spirituality, Religion and the Environment
RLG105H1 | Fall 2023 | Wed 6:00-8:00pm
In diverse cultures and throughout history, people have felt a deep connection to their environments. This search for a feeling of connection, or oneness, with nature has led humans into canyons and caves, up mountains and rock faces, and across deserts and oceans. Sometimes nature spirituality occurs within religious traditions, sometimes outside of them, and sometimes even in opposition to ‘religion.’ This course explores the phenomenon of nature spirituality, and the wonder often associated with it. Readings will engage mystics and mountaineers, poets and painters, and farmers and foresters, all exploring nature connection, often in the context of environmental crisis.
Religion & Traditional Ecological Knowledge
RLG218H1 | Winter 2025 | TBD
In modern history, sacred and sacramental understandings of nature have often been marginalised and criticized as primitive and superstitious. Today, these beliefs and practices increasingly present themselves as sources of overlooked ecological knowledge, and resources in our search for a sustainable human-nature relationship. This course focuses upon efforts to recover, reclaim and relegitimise alternative understandings of nature and traditional ecologies in the context of the contemporary environmental crisis. Students will deploy course readings as resources for considering a particular contemporary environmental challenge through field work culminating in a creative environmental project.
Advanced Topics: Mysticism & Poetics
RLG411H1 | Fall 2023 | Wed 11am-1pm
This course will consider some of the consummate poet-mystics in Western Christianity, including Iacopone, Dante, Mechthild, Hadewijch, Silesius, Traherne, and Blake. It will examine how the recording of mystical experience in poetic form allows the mystical writer to achieve a result not otherwise possible in regular forms of communication. Readings will explore how, through the practice of mystical poetry, language becomes approximate and playful, capable of giving presence to absence, materiality to the immaterial, and lexicon to the non-lexical.
Sacred & Secular Nature
RLG318H1 | Fall 2023 | Wed 6-8pm
How did we get to where we are now? How did humans come to be so alienated from nature? This course will examine how religion, particularly that of the Latin West, has shaped the understanding of, and interaction with, nature on a global level. It examines the complex shift from understanding nature as sacred and revelatory, to its conceptualisation as a commodity and resource. Students will explore the ethical and cultural consequences of this shift for the human-nature relationship, and contemporary attempts to recover a notion of sacred nature in the context of the environmental crisis.