The Religious Aspects of Cultural Heritage

Course Description: 

This course offers an introduction to religious controversies, destruction and conversion of religious monuments from the fourth to the twenty-first century. The first part of the course offers theoretical models, with a focus on pagan-Christian, Christian-Muslim, inter-Christian (Byzantine and Proestant iconoclasm), Communist-Christian continuity, opposition, violence, and destruction. The second part of the course offers actual examples of survival, conversion, desacralization and decay of religious sites in present-day Hungary, from Buda Castle to the Jewish Quarter, from the Gazi Khasim djami in Pécs to the Regnum Marianum, from pre-Christian sacred sites in the Pilis to the Cathedral of Pécs. A 2-day weekend excursion to Pécs is planned during the term.

Learning Outcomes: 

Familiarity with key texts of religious controversy and destruction of religious monuments over a long time-span. Hands-on, on-the-spot observation of religious practice and religion-motivated preservation or non-preservation of cultural heritage in various confessions (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, revival paganisms). Ability to understand the religious meaning of monuments, objects, liturgies, observation and to contextualize the discourse on religious monument preservation. Ability to formulate research questions and develop arguments within the discipline and to engage in group discussions.


Assessment type 1 Final paper (45 % of the final grade) The final paper is a  2500-word long critical assessments on topics chosen from the course syllabus due on Week 12.

Assessment type 2: Oral presentation (30% of the final grade) Oral presentations are 20-minutes long analytical surveys using Power Point, taking place in class. Each student is required to make one individual presentation showing his/her critical reflection and focusing on the issues and scholarly debates of the readings assigned each week.

Assessment type 3 Class participation (25% of the final grade). Students are required to actively participate and reflect on the presentations, asking questions. Every student will be in charge of leading the discussions at least once during the semester. Students will be evaluated on their ability to stimulate and sustain an intellectual conversation with their peers and professor. Every student is expected to actively participate in the class discussions. Any unexcused absence will result in an automatic decrease of the final grade by half a letter grade. Students are required to arrive on time to the class, and are not allowed to surf on-line during class.