World Literatures/World Religions

This multidisciplinary and interdepartmental concentration offers postgraduate study in world religious literature applying literary theory to religious studies and applying the study of religion to literary studies.

Students are invited to study any of the religions and literatures covered by courses in the program. They are also asked to undertake more comprehensive work within a language-specific area of literature or in two language-specific literatures from single historical period and region. If they lack advanced preparation in a requisite language, then students may choose to pursue their language-specific area in translation. They are also asked to undertake more comprehensive work within a single religious tradition. Course offerings are currently in the language areas of English, Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Spanish, French, and German; but prospective students may inquire into studies in any other language area taught by UVA faculty.

Program offerings are currently in the religious traditions of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism; prospective students may inquire into the possibility of studies in an additional religious tradition or denomination. In addition to exploring both a broad range of courses and these more specialized areas of competence, WRWL students also share in an introductory course and a monthly proseminar/discussion provided exclusively for participants in this program. Students are instructed by members of the UVA faculty in Religious Studies and in English, MESALC, Spanish, French, and German.

 Program requirements:

  • Two  foundational courses are required.
    1. A WR/WL proseminar: One credit per term, taken 3 terms.
    2. An introductory course: team taught by one specialist in literature, one in religion.
  • 30 credit hours, 10 courses.
  • Students will typically complete their course of study with a final exam/comp.
  • Distribution requirements 
  1. Tradition: two classes devoted to studies within a single religious tradition
  2. Literary continuity: 
    1. two classes devoted to literature from a single language-community and period
    2. OR …from a single language-community and contiguous periods
    3. OR from the same period and two language-communities whose literatures strongly cross-fertilized each other during that period
  3. Scripture: At least one class primarily dedicated to the reading of scriptural texts
  • Language study

i. On approval, students may choose to specialize in non-English language texts and literatures (for example, in Qur’anic and modern Arabic or also Farsi or Urdu commentaries; or in Old English literature, or medieval French literature, and so on). On matriculation, such students must demonstrate preparation for graduate-level study in their language of choice.

H.     Brief sample of course topics appropriate to the MA: 

Ancient Fiction: Christian Literature; Book of Genesis; Islam in Africa; Spiritual Writing; Pilgrimage; Poetry and Theology; Germans and Jews; Rabbinic Literature; Muhammad and the Qur'an; Hinduism through its Narratives; Medieval European Literature in Translation; Lyric Poetry; Old English; Chaucer; Renaissance Poetry; Arabic of the Quran and Hadith; Language and Culture in the Middle East; The Bhagavadgita; Sanskrit Religious Texts; Drama, Integrity, and Performance; Introduction to Literary Theory [English; or German, etc.); Vergil; Greek Tragedy.