Fall 2024

Pilgrimage: Relics, Dirt, and Life in Transit

Listed in: First Year Seminar, as FYSE-134


Rebecca Stephens Falcasantos (Section 01)


The phenomenon of pilgrimage—of making a journey to encounter a particularly significant location—can be found in many cultures. Even today, people regularly travel to long-recognized sacred places like the Holy Sepulcher and Mecca, but also make “secular” pilgrimages to Civil War battlefields and Jim Morrison’s grave. Why do people go on pilgrimage? What makes a place worth visiting? How does the journey change them? And how might the practices of pilgrimage help us understand our own experiences of being in new and unfamiliar places or of being a stranger? Over the course of the semester, we will examine and analyze first-hand accounts of pilgrimages, travel routes, material evidence, and modern examples of religious and secular pilgrimage. Our discussions will consider topics such as the meaning of place, temporality, materiality and embodiment, foreignness, voyeurism, tourism, and relics and souvenirs.

Fall semester. Professor Stephens Falcasantos.

How to handle overenrollment: Dean will handle this.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Close reading and analysis of primary texts in translation and secondary scholarship; visual and spatial analysis. Participation in class discussions and completion of regular writing assignments are essential.

Course Materials


Other years: Offered in Fall 2024