HDS 2490

Back Roads to Far Places: Literature of Journey and Quest

William A. Graham and Stephanie A. Paulsell


This course will explore the pervasive themes of journey and quest in world literature with particular attention to their religious dimensions. Through direct encounter with imaginative literary works from a variety of contexts and genres, we will consider the relationship between interior journeys and journeys through an external landscape, home and exile, and the religious and literary dimensions of literature itself. The course will focus on primary texts, with little required reading of secondary materials except in the preparation of a final paper. The lectures will explore important themes as well as supply contextual location for each week's text, discuss issues of genre, style, reception history, and key literary questions and concepts (e.g., myth, legend, epic, the novel, the Doppelgänger, allegories, composite narrative, oral formulaic composition, symbolism, scripture, Bildungsroman, haiku, classic models). Emphasis throughout will be placed upon careful reading of the texts, which will include Tolkien's Hobbit, Gilgamesh, the Bible, Dante's Inferno, Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, Life of the Buddha, Hesse's Siddhartha, Basho's Narrow Road to the Deep North, Endo's Deep River, McCarthy's The Road, and others. Note: Course has additional hour to be arranged.

Enrollment Limited: No
Open to BTI Students: Yes
Jointly offered as Culture and Belief 32


0.50 credits
Spring 2014
Mon Wed 10am-11am
FAS CGIS South Room S020

Relationship to Program Requirements

Program Requirement Area / Category / Art / Designation
MTS Area(s) of Focus
  • Comparative Studies
  • Religion, Literature, and Culture
MDiv Distribution Category/ies
  • Comparative
MDiv Art(s) of Ministry
  • Religious Education and Spiritual Development
Language Course Designation(s) None