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Choose one of the topics below. Each topic will ask you to discuss two South Asian religious traditions: in most cases, these will be Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, or Islam. In your essay, you will need to work with at least two course readings and one or two primary or secondary* sources found through your own research.
1. Devotionalism (the emphasis on a personal relationship with God rather than reliance on institutions or orthodoxies) develops in medieval South Asia, and continues to be a characteristic of religious practice today. How has devotionalism affected the practice of South Asian religions, especially with regard to gender? Choose two religious traditions to discuss. Your essay should make reference to at least two course readings and one or two research sources.
2. How do different South Asian religious traditions approach ideas about karma (action, consequence) and the understanding of our role in the material world? Choose two religious traditions to discuss. Your essay should make reference to at least two course readings and one or two research sources.
3. The practice of caste has had an enormous impact on all aspects of South Asian society and pervades Hindu and non-Hindu communities. What are some of the impacts of caste on the practice of South Asian religions, and what are its effects on everyday people? Choose two religious traditions to discuss. Your essay should make reference to at least two course readings and one or two research sources.
4. We have looked at a range of ideas and attitudes around gender and the status of women in the history of South Asian religions. How do religious ideas about gender impact the status of women in South Asian culture? Choose two religious traditions to discuss. Your
essay should make reference to at least two course readings and one or two research sources.
Course Readings includes "Religion in India" textbook by Fred Clothey.
More course readings are available if needed.
PREPARING FOR THE ESSAY:
Ideally, you should begin by selecting a topic of interest to you, and then reviewing the course outline and your notes. Identify at least two course readings that are relevant to your topic, and reread them carefully. Identify concepts that you’ve learned in the course that might be connected with your topic.
Next, you should identify 1-2 primary or secondary* sources from outside the course that can substantially contribute to your understanding of the topic. Note that only reputable scholarly sources (eg. peer reviewed journals, books from well-reputed publishers of scholarly work, scholarly translations of primary sources) are acceptable for this assignment.
Next, you must formulate a thesis that responds to your chosen topic. Develop an argument to prove your thesis. Your essay should clearly express your position using your chosen sources to support your claims.
All sources, including course material, should be listed in your bibliography using MLA style. All in-text references to ideas other than your own, both direct and indirect, need to be cited correctly, according to style guides.
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