Fr. Richard Cogill and Dr. Kimberly Vrudny are pairing up to offer “Theological Reflection on AIDS, Apartheid, and the Arts of Resistance” during January Term, 2015. Through analysis of works of artistic resistance, students in this course will examine the interrelationships between two catastrophes of the modern era in South Africa: apartheid and AIDS, especially attentive to the impact of the correlation between the two on the lives of women. Students will approach works of art with theological lenses to explore such themes as lament, imago Dei, prophecy, theodicy, memory, covenant, forgiveness, reconciliation, and hope. Artistic examples will be drawn from the visual arts, music, literature, and film. Students will learn about the arts of resistance through studio tours, guest lectures, and site visits in Johannesburg and Cape Town and their surrounding areas.

While this is a service-learning course, we are not on a mission trip—not as mission trips are typically conceived of, at any rate. We are going in order to encounter South Africans—people who have survived a tragic chapter in history and who are imagining a future that is radically inclusive. We are going to learn something about theology from them, as they apply concepts like forgiveness, reconciliation, and hope in public ways.

When possible along the way, we will be working with our friends at a number of organizations. By cleaning a shelter for homeless people, by giving English language placement exams at a welcome center for refugees, and by shadowing community health workers, we will offer a few hours and a few resources in a gesture of solidarity, in order to live into a different imagination about how to be human in our interdependent world. To follow our journey to the southern tip of Africa, and to consider ways to accompany us, visit our blog: http://ustsouthafrica.wordpress.com.