RLG 205 Introduction to South Asian Religions

RLG 205 Introduction to South Asian Religions Winter 2013 -­‐-­‐ESSAY ASSIGNMENT-­‐-­‐ VALUE: 20%

LENGTH: 5-­‐6 pages, or about 1400-­‐1600 words, double-­‐spaced with 1” margins, and in a legible 12 point font Please make note of the following:

• To receive an evaluation, your paper must be submitted through turnitin.com (instructions will be posted on BlackBoard).

• A hard copy must be submitted in class on the due date.

• Lateness without valid documentation will be penalized at 2% per day of lateness. TOPICS: 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. If you want to discuss South Asian Christianity, Judaism, or Zoroastrianism, please check with me, as additional research and preparation may be required. 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. 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 or Chicago style. All in-­‐text references to ideas other than your own, both direct and indirect, need to be cited correctly, according to one of these style guides. For help with writing, please consult http://www.utm.utoronto.ca/asc/Students/tips.htm *Primary and secondary sources are defined in this way: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/education/008-­‐3010-­‐e.html CRITERIA FOR ASSESSMENT:
Content and comprehension: Does the work demonstrate comprehension of key concepts in the course material? Does your work show a strong grasp of the texts you’ve chosen? Does your use of the material substantiate your claims?
Argumentation and development: Does your work have a thesis or clear theme? Did you carry your thesis through your work? Does the body of your work bear out your thesis with the use of evidence drawn from the texts (quotations, paraphrases, examples)?
Style and structure: Does your essay/project have a consistent and organized style? Are your sentences and paragraphs coherent and well structured? Are ideas organized in a way that makes the essay understandable to the reader?
Presentation: Is your presentation polished and professional? Did you proofread your work for punctuation, spelling and grammatical errors? Does the work show forethought, planning and care?
Originality: Does your work show evidence of critical, creative thinking? Are you demonstrating your own ideas and thoughts about the topic and text?

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