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Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Fall 2017
Jan 20, 2018
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CATH 156 - Holy Bones & the Catholic Imag
The definitions, roles, and presentations of relics and spiritual pilgrimage in the history and visual culture of the Catholic Imagination are explored throughout lectures and discussions. 
The evolution of Catholic attitudes and values will be considered through the historical, narrative, and visual connectives linking relics and spiritual pilgrimage in the evolution of the throughout the Early Christian/Byzantine, Medieval, Renaissance, Early Modern, and Modern worlds.  Divided into two modules, course lectures and discussions will allow for individual analysis of the distinct cultural values of each historical epoch, its attitude(s) toward relics and spiritual pilgrimage, and the place of the visual and the narrative in the Catholic Imagination.  Among the specialized topics to be considered will be relics related to Jesus Christ such as the Holy Crib; the Holy Grail; his miraculous portraits including the Veil of Veronica, the Mandylion of Edessa, and the Shroud of Turin; the Crown of Thorns, and the Lance of Longinus; and relics related to the Virgin Mary such as her Cincture; her Veil (or Mantle); her Holy Milk; and her miraculous portraits such as the Salus Populi Romani. Students will engage in the relationships between theological decrees and visual narratives; fiction and scripture; and the shifting cultural landscape that identifies or misidentifies the Catholic Imagination.

LEARNING GOALS AND OUTCOME:  This undergraduate course is designed to introduce students to two significant concepts—the importance of relics and spiritual pilgrimage in the history of Christianity, and the Catholic imagination—through inter-disciplinary study. Incorporating high art, theology, liturgy, and literature about relics and spiritual pilgrimage into Catholic popular culture, students come to recognize the permutations and influences of the Catholic imagination on their daily lives. Relics and pilgrimage imagery in theology, music, poetry, literature, devotional texts, and the visual arts will be examined chronologically for the first half of the semester while specific relic motifs will be analyzed in-depth throughout the second half of the course. These variations in materials examined and modes of analyses provide the student with a variety of lenses through which to see and come to understand both relics and spiritual pilgrimage, and the Catholic imagination

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Seminar

Catholic Studies Department

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