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Fall 2012-2013
* NES 397 / REL 397 (HA)  

Thus Spoke Zarathustra: The Zoroastrian Tradition from Ancient Iran to Contemporary India

Daniel J. Sheffield

In this class we will survey the history of the Zoroastrian religion from its origins in ancient Iran to the present. As the state religion of the Achaemenid and Sasanian Persian empires, Zoroastrian thought had impact on the Classical, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. In later centuries, Iranian and Indian (Parsi) Zoroastrians interacted with the Islamicate and Sanskritic forms of learning around them to re-articulate new forms of religious identity. We will discuss such themes as the transmission of sacred knowledge, the nature of good and evil, the practice of ritual, the impact of colonial modernity, and the effects of diaspora.

Sample reading list:
Skjærvø, Prods Oktor, The Spirit of Zoroastrianism
Rose, Jenny, Zoroastrianism: An Introduction
Shaked, Shaul, Dualism in Transformation: Varieties of Religion in Sasanian
Luhrman, Tanya, The Good Parsi: The Fate of a Colonial Elite in a Postcoloni
Mathur, Ashok, A Little Distillery in Nowgong
Herrenschimdt, Clarisse, "Once Upon a Time, Zoroaster"
See instructor for complete list

Reading/Writing assignments:
100-150 pages of reading per week. Students will be expected to complete a 15-20 page term paper related to a topic of their choice, to be determined in consultation with the instructor.

Requirements/Grading:
Mid Term Exam - 20%
Paper in lieu of Final - 40%
Oral Presentation(s) - 10%
Class/Precept Participation - 30%

Prerequisites and Restrictions:
This course assumes no prior knowledge of Iranian or Indian history. Some familiarity with the study of religion may be helpful, but is not necessary..

Schedule/Classroom assignment:

Class numberSectionTimeDaysRoomEnrollmentStatus
23151 C01 3:00 pm - 4:20 pm T Th   McCosh Hall   60   Enrolled:5 Limit:12