For the two week module on Images we’re going to look at how people in three major world religions used images to organize their messages. I’ve posted three articles for your background reading, which will be the basis for your quiz.
PLEASE NOTE: All together the articles are 90 pages, which is too much reading. I’ve designated either specific pages or specific sections to read.
These pages and sections are the only parts of the articles that I will quiz you on.
As we work with the history of religion, please consider these prefatory remarks:
People who practice a religion are interested with the message of a religion. Historians are not interested in the message so much as how
the message was organized into institutions. Thus, I’m having you read
more passages about the development of Christianity as an organized
religion than about the message of its originator.
For historians (and this class) there are no timeless elements of
religion. We always want to know what religion meant to people based on
the cultural issues of their day.
We’re focusing on Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam because these
three religions are the most important in understanding religion in the
period 1400–1900. Hinduism has many practitioners, but it never moves
out of India. Similarly, minor religions such as Shintoism or Judaism
are important to the history of religion, but not as world-changing
As we compare the imagery of religions in our discussions the next two
weeks, please continue to use the supportive, constructive, and
respectful tone that has worked so well on our discussion boards. How a
class talks about religion, I’ve found, demonstrates how much trust
exists among the students.
When we use images, we want to apply the same criteria we do to texts. We apply the same W questions: who created it, what is it (or what is it depicting), where was it produced, why was it produced, and – most importantly – what is the historical significance of the image. Or, briefly, who - what - where - when - why - how and historical significance.
We are going to be using religion as our theme this week. Religions offer rich symbolism, yet also claims to timeless values through that symbolism. Historians don’t find anything timeless, so religion is both a wonderful and challenging subject.
For this discussion, you need to find a credible cultural institution (museum, college collection, government collection) that contains an image collection (more than 10 images) related to all three of our world religions in our period 1400–1914 (Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam).
Next, summarize the types of images on the site (paintings, sculpture, mixed media, others) in a couple of sentences. Consider the “W” questions posed above as you summarize the site.
Finally, evaluate the usefulness of the institution for an scholarly book on the history of religion. Could your collection be the base for an entire book, or is it only good for a small chapter or part of a chapter? What details does your institutions cover (descriptions, colors) and what does your institutions leave out?
Your paragraphs should be 250–350 words. Post your completed paragraph, saved as a .txt file, in the Images I Assignment Discussion Folder.