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ENG 380 Missionaries in Literature (S. Early): Home

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Elizabeth Parang's picture
Elizabeth Parang
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Pepperdine University Libraries
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Malibu, CA 90263
310-506-4046

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Course Description

Perhaps the most historically significant Biblical command is found at the end of the book of Matthew, in which Jesus exhorts His followers to go forth to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). In response to this, Christians have traveled the globe, spreading not only the word of Christ but also their cultural values and practices. While Western Christians have typically imagined themselves in the role of the missionary, this class will explore how authors represent the incursion of foreign missionaries into indigenous cultures. The texts we will study make connections between missionary activity and imperialism, drawing attention to power dynamics and forcing readers to acknowledge both the beneficial and detrimental effects missionaries can have. In response to our authors, we’ll wrestle with difficult questions about the ethics of influencing other cultures and intervening in established religious and social practices, while also considering the humanitarian aid that missionary organizations provide. Drawing on literary texts from around the world, we will come to a deeper understanding of the impact of missionaries both historically and in the present, with the hope of helping to shape better practices moving forward.