Associate Professor of Religion
Departmental Area: History and Ethnography of Religion
Kathleen M. Erndl (Ph.D. '87, University of Wisconsin, South Asian Language and Literature: Religions of South Asia) teaches in the field of South Asian religions, especially Hinduism, as well as gender and religion, popular Hindi cinema, and Sanskrit. Professor Erndl's publications include Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth, Ritual and Symbol (Oxford, 1993), a co-edited collection of essays entitled Is the Goddess a Feminist? The Politics of South Asian Goddesses (New York University Press and Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), and articles on Sakta traditions, spirit possession, women's religious expressions, methodology, gender issues in Hinduism, and religion in Indian Cinema. She is currently writing a book entitled The Play of the Mother: Women, Goddess Possession, and Power in Hinduism. Other research interests include interactions among Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists in India, cross-cultural appropriations of Indian goddesses in North America, Hinduism in the Caribbean, and Bollywood. Professor Erndl has been the recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright-Hayes, and the American Institute of Indian Studies.
Erndl, Kathleen M. (2013) "Woman Becomes Goddess in Bollywood: Justice, Violence, and the Feminine in Popular Hindi Film," Journal of Religion & Film: Vol. 17: Iss. 2, Article 1. Available at: http://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/jrf/vol17/iss2/1
Erndl, Kathleen M. (forthcoming) “Religious and National Identity in My Name is Khan.” Journal of Religion and Film, Special Issue. Turkish language translation to be published by Centre for Values Education, Istanbul.
IFS3050 India Through Bollywood (Bryan Hall students only)
How is India “imagined” through popular cinema? India is the world’s largest democracy, one of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations, and also has the world’s largest film industry. In this course, we examine Indian identity, cultural, and religious values as expressed in film. The popular cinema produced in Bombay (now Mumbai), dubbed “Bollywood,” will predominate, spanning the period from Indian and Pakistani Independence (1947) to the 21stcentury. Topics for discussion will include love and separation, gender roles, relationships between divine and human, sensuality and renunciation, caste and class identity, the state, diaspora, the quest for ultimate truth….and, of course, music, dance, and stardom! Films will be screened weekly in Hindi with English subtitles. No previous knowledge of Indian culture or cinema is assumed. Attendance is required at the weekly film screening as well as the lecture/discussion class. Meets the new Liberal Studies-Cultural Practice, E-Series, and cross-cultural (X) requirements.
RLG5035 Introduction to the Study of Religion
This seminar explores the theoretical and methodological foundations of the academic study of religion. We will examine arguments and evidence on which scholars ground the assumption that religion exists (or not) as an object of study and that, as a result, religious studies exists (or not) as a viable academic discipline. Our approach will be critical. We will examine religion as a heuristic category and religious studies as a form of interdisciplinary research in which authors have explored ritual and symbolic concerns as much as themes just as easily labeled economic, historical, political, or social.
RLG5915 Sanskrit Texts
Readings in Sanskrit at intermediate and advanced levels, for continuing Sanskrit students. May be repeated for credit.
REL2315 Religions of South Asia (Online)
Overview of religions in the South Asian cultural region, emphasizing Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Islam. The history and cultural contexts of these traditions will be explored with particular attention to sacred stories, holy people, religious leadership, and gender issues. This course also serves as an introduction to the academic study of religion. No previous background is required. Students will gain familiarity with the basic concepts of the religious traditions of South Asia, will develop interpretive skills in the academic study of religion, and will have the opportunity to develop research and writing skills by exploring a topic of special interest. Meets Liberal Studies Humanities and Multicultural X requirements. (Online)
RLG6298 Text and Interpretation: Mahabharata
“Whatever is here is found elsewhere. But whatever is not here is nowhere else.” Thus, the Mahabharata describes itself. This semester we explore India’s great epic, often called the “world’s longest poem,” with its textual variants, regional versions, interpretations, performance traditions, and cultural influence on India and beyond. This course is run on a seminar format with students taking turns leading weekly discussions and presenting original research orally and in writing. Permission of instructor is required.