RELB 101 Literary and Spoken Tibetan I (First Year Tibetan)
This course offers an introduction to literary and spoken Tibetan and is designed with special attention to undergraduates. Students will study classical and modern grammar systematically with examples drawn from a wide variety of literature, and with a native speaker use new digital instructional materials to develop proficiency in spoken Tibetan. This sequence of courses can count towards fulfilling the University requirement of two years of foreign language study. Prerequisites: Tibetan I. Requirements: Class attendance and participation, three exams, four translation assignments.
RELG 104 Intro to Eastern Religions
This course provides an historical and thematic overview to the major religious traditions of "the East" (i.e., Asia), focusing particularly upon those of India, Tibet, and China. Through careful examination of a variety of primary and secondary sources, we will consider the many ways in which South Asian Hindus, Tibetan Buddhists, and Chinese Confucians have attempted to understand the nature of the world, human society, and the individual person's place therein. In examining religious traditions that for many may seem wholly foreign or "other," our emphasis will be on the internal logic of each, on the resources that each provides for the construction of meaning, value, and moral vision. Requirements: weekly readings, participation in discussion section, three one-hour examinations. Fulfills: Non-Western Perspectives Requirement
RELJ 112 Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
This course continues RELJ111. It will feature more advanced topics in Hebrew grammar and syntax as well as the translation of biblical narratives such as Jonah and Ruth.
RELC 122 Early Christianity & the New Testament
This course surveys the origins and early history of Christianity on the basis of a historical and analytical study of early Christian writings belonging to the "New Testament." Topics covered include the origins of Christianity in Judaism; the activity and significance of Jesus; the formation, beliefs and practices of early Christian communities; the varieties of Christianity in the first century; and the progressive distinction of Christianity from Judaism. Requirements: Two quizzes and a final examination, and occasional short papers in connection with discussion sections. Regular attendance at discussion sections is mandatory.
RELC 206 History of Christianity II 1054-1800
Survey of Western Christianity from the 12th to the 19th century. Attention will be given to spirituality and forms of piety, worship, development of theology, and the institutional history of the Christian Church. Special focus will be placed on the High Medieval Church, the Crisis of the Protestant Reformation, and the early modern background of contemporary Christianity, including Eastern Orthodoxy. Readings from original sources. Three short papers, in-class mid-term and final.
RELI 208 Islam in the Modern Age
RELI 208 will study the Muslim societies in the modern times to assess their success/failure in remolding their political/religious culture in order to become fully integrated in the international order that is founded upon secularism and modernism. The course will undertake to explore a public role for religion in general, and Islam in particular, in fostering democratic values that can accommodate a pluralistic nature of the religious and political societies in the Islamic world. That which characterizes the Muslim community is their devotion to the classical faith, Islam, with its legacy of rich past. The call for reformation of this classical heritage has been in the air for over a century. Yet, the beginning or the end of reformation is singularly difficult to observe in terms of a "new" political theology or a "fresh" pluralistic interpretation of Islam to have capacity for the changes that are sweeping Muslim societies. Islam and its people continue to grapple with the fact of Western hegemony through economic globalization and the support the West lends to their autocratic governments in suppressing their political and human rights. The course will evaluate political goals of Muslim governments in countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iran, and whether these goals are congruent with the development of democratic institutions to further basic human rights.
RELG 216 Religion in America Since 1865
An historical survey of religion in America from the Civil War to the present. The course includes study of theological change in Protestantism, the emergence of three kinds of Judaism, controversy and change in American Catholicism, the origins of fundamentalism and Pentecostalism, and various expressions of African-American faith. It attends to the effects of immigration, urbanization, politics, and other social and cultural changes on American religious life. This course fulfills the Second Writing Requirement. Requirements: Three papers (6-7 pages each), a mid-term exam, and a final exam.
RELG 219 Religion & Modern Fiction
We will explore ways in which modern literature asks persistent questions that are intrinsically religious in character: questions concerning the relation between human spirit and human nature, the fact of evil and suffering, the desire for personal and communal wholeness or fulfillment, and whether human beings need to be rooted in a symbolic order of meaning. Some of the authors we will consider (such as Elie Wiesel, Flannery O'Connor, or Susaku Endo) write fictions that are intended to reflect explicitly their religious traditions. Others (such as N. Scott Momaday, Seamus Heaney, Annie Dillard, or E. L. Doctorow) employ a variety of religious and cultural traditions to create more idiosyncratic religious interpretations. And others (such as Joseph Conrad, Milan Kundera or Tony Morrison) create secular narratives that nonetheless raise philosopohical and moral questions that have religious implications. In addition, the course will consider other authors and interpreters of religion.
RELC 220 The Catholic Novel
This course will study the rise of the modern Catholic novel from its inception in the works of Alessandro Manzoni to its last great practitioners, Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy. Of special interest will be such topics as 1) the relationship between Catholicism as a faith and the novel as an art form, 2) the political and social causes behind the phenomenon of the Catholic novel, and 3) the reasons for its sudden decline. Authors we will read: Manzoni, Bernanos, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Caroline Gordon, Endo, O'Connor, Percy. Midterm test, 7-10pp essay, take-home final. Seminar format
GREE 224 New Testament Greek (Intermediate Greek)
This course is not offered by the department, but may be of interest to religious studies students
The aims of this course are to solidify your knowledge of Hellenistic Greek grammar and vocabulary and to gain speed and proficiency in reading and translating the Greek New Testament. We will read passages from I Corinthians and Romans, as well as some passages from the Acts of the Apostles. We will also consider some of the principles of New Testament textual criticism. Prerequisite: Greek 101-102 or permission of the instructor. Graduate students should consult instructor about registration. This course is offered by the Department of Classics.
RELG 230 Religious Ethics and Moral Problems
This course examines several contemporary moral issues from the standpoint of the ethical insights of Western religious traditions (especially Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish, but with some attention to Islamic positions) as well as from a broadly humanistic perspective. We will consider a variety of moral issues including (but not limited to) marriage, friendship, truthfulness, capital punishment, warfare, and the meaning of work, career, and vocation. We will also examine the relationship between religious convictions, morality, and the law. Particular attention will be paid to what selected authorities and thinkers in the above traditions say about these issues, how they reach their conclusions, and how their theological or philosophical convictions influence their moral judgements.
RELG 237 Spiritual Ecology and Gender
The continual destruction of human life, species in the animal kingdom and nature through wars, technology and natural disasters on planet Earth today presents a serious challenge to anyone trying to promote peace, harmony and the preservation of the eco-system. This course allows students to open minds to questions about the meaning of "the image of God in man," the place of humanity in creation and the concept of life as sacred and something to preserve. Lessons are drawn from religious philosophies of the past that situate human beings in the eco-system, not above it. It is time to face up to the demands of one of the most topical questions of the day by tracing together the signs of the renewal of an old spirituality. (Those who have taken courses on Gender in African Religions with Bella must consult BEFORE joining this class).
RELB 245 Zen
This course is a study of the development and history of the thought, practices, goals, and institutions of Zen Buddhism as it has evolved in India, China, Japan, and America. Among the topics discussed are meditation, enlightenment, the role of Zen in the arts, life in a Zen monastery, and the rhetoric used in Zen. The course focuses on Zen, but developments in other forms of Buddhism are also considered and contrasted with Zen.
RELC 246 Aspects of the Catholic Tradition
This course serves as an introduction into Catholic doctrine as it has developed from post-Apostolic times. The principal texts for the course are the Documents of Vatican II, supplemented by documents from earlier councils and readings from some more recent theologians and biblical scholars.
RELB 255 Buddhist Meditation
An introduction to Buddhism by way of exploring meditative techniques and practices used for attaining enlightenment. Meditation manuals from Tibetan traditions will be examined and compared, providing a survey of Buddhist techniques for non-attachment, love, compassion, and insight into the nature of reality. The emphasis will be on yogic transformation of the mind through reflective, stabilizing, and analytical meditation. Buddhist attitudes about the basic human condition, altruism, and the conflict between appearance and reality will be discussed.
RELJ 257 Jewish Spirituality Through Midrash
This course will expose students to classical rabbinic literature, mysticism, art, and film, all examined as imaginative response to concerns generated by engaged reading of Biblical text. By examining both the imaginative responses and the textual concerns, students will approach the spiritual core of Judaism. They will gain an understanding of the evolution of Jewish theology and appreciation for the values that animate Jewish spirituality. Possible texts include: Sefer Ha-Aggadah: Legends from Talmud and Midrash edited by Bialik and Ravnitzky, The Tanakh, and Studies in Ancient Midrash by James Kugel. Possible films include The Ten Commandments, The Prince of Egypt, and East of Eden.
RELG 263 Environmental Choices
This course will explore the complex choices in environmental policy and management by examining and integrating three relevant perspectives: environmental science, ethics and business. Environmental science provides a basic understanding of the impacts of human activities on the )environment. Business focuses on the relevant benefits and costs. Ethics addresses the conflicts of values involved in decisions about the environment. It is the balancing of environmental and economic costs and benefits, coupled with human beliefs about what is "right" or "wrong," that is at the heart of the environmental decision-making process. The process is complex because it involves a diverse set of stakeholders with differing perspectives and objectives. A case study approach will be used to examine the wide range of scientific, historical, cultural, ethical and legal dimensions of environmental issues. The course will be team-taught by three instructors: Thomas Smith, Department of Environmental Sciences; Mark White, McIntire School of Commerce; and James F. Childress, Department of Religious Studies. A number of guest lecturers will provide additional background from other disciplines, such as law, history and literature.
RELA 275 Introduction to African Religions
An introductory survey of African religions. The course concentrates on African traditional religions but Islam and Christianity are also discussed. Topics include indigenous mythologies and cosmologies, sacrifice, initiation, witchcraft, artistic traditions and African religions in the New World. Readings include: Ray, African Religions; Stoller & Olkes, In Sorcery's Shadow; Soyinka, Death and the King's Horseman; Ijimere, The Imprisonment of Obatala; Salih, The Wedding of Zein; and a packet of readings. Requirements: regular attendance and participation in discussion, two in-class exams, and a cumulative final exam.
RELJ 310 History of Literature of the Second Temple Period
This course examines the Second Temple Period (515BCE-70CE), the formative period in the development of Judaism. Topics to be covered include: the beginnings of a Jewish identity in Palestine and the Diaspora, the development of the biblical canon, the beginnings of biblical interpretation, the practices surrounding the Temple, the sectarian forms of Judaism, the question of coexistence with imperial authorities. All of these topics will be treated via select reading of both primary sources and secondary sources. Requirements: 2 4-5 page papers, some discussion leadership, midterm, final.
RELI 312 Islamic Mysticism
RELI 312 is a historical and topical survey of the origins and development of Islamic mysticism, known as Sufism. The course is primarily concerned with the growth of mystical tradition in Islam, the rise of asceticism, the early Sufis, the development of Sufi orders, the systematization of Sufi teaching and the evolution of theosophical dimension of mysticism, and finally, the contribution of Sufism in the Islamic art and literature. In doing so, we will attempt to study the lives and teachings of the prominent Sufi teachers as Rabi'a, Hallaj, Rumi, Gazali and others. Multimedia Component of RELI 312: The course will include multimedia component to explore Spiritual Dimensions of Islamic Art and Architecture to underscore the Sufi influence in the material cultures of Muslims. The multimedia component will provide students opportunity to experience and articulate psychological and spiritual dimensions of the available text, sound, and image resources collected and compiled for the course database.
RELH 313 Religion, Culture and Art in South Asia
This course examines the influence of religious ideology on artistic practice in specific cultural traditions in South and Southeast Asia, including Tibetan Tanka painting, North Indian classical music, South Indian Mudiyettu dance, Nepalese temple architecture, Balinese Shadow Puppetry, and folk medicinal arts. In each case, we will seek to understand art as a medium for embodying the theological, social, and cultural values distinct to the peoples and histories of the region in which it is practiced. The course includes an interactive workshop component structured into selected classes.
RELB 315 Seminar on Buddhism and Gender
This seminar takes as its point of departure Carolyn Bynum's statements: "No scholar studying religion, no participant in ritual, is ever neuter. Religious experience is the experience of men and women, and in no known society is this experience the same." The unifying theme of this seminar is gender and Buddhism. We will explore historical, textual and social questions relevant to the status of women in the Buddhist world of India and Tibet from the time of Buddhism's origins to the present day. We will locate feminine voices in patriarchal religious texts and consider the issue of gender in relation to Buddhist views on selflessness, duality and sexuality. We will also discuss the application of western feminist analysis to Buddhist texts and the efforts of contemporary western Buddhists to establish a post-patriarchal Buddhism.
RELC 320 Medieval Church Law
This course focuses on the law of the medieval Church or the "canon law" in its classical period, 1140-1348. During this period most of the principles that underlie modern western law, including that of the United States, were first elaborated. We will study canon and Roman law texts in translation: including the first treatise on legal theory, forms of procedure, the laws on marriage and sorcery, and actual court cases. Format: Introductory historical lectures, followed by "Socratic analysis" of legal texts--as was done in medieval law schools and in still today in many modern law schools. Graduate students and law students taking the course for credit should see me during office hours in first week of course.
RELC 329 Christianity and Islam
RELI 329 Christianity and Islam
Course deals with the history of Christianity in the middle east after the Muslim conquest and relations between Muslims and Christians. Some topics to be considered: Christian-Muslim controversies, Bible and Koran, Muslim and Christian spiritual writers, mysticism, law, Muslim views of Jesus, the Crusades, Christianity under Ottomans, Christians in the middle east today, Christian and Muslim perceptions of one another.
RELG 332 Doubt as a Spiritual Practice
This class studies the topic of doubt, skepticism and associated epistemological states (such as wonder) within the framework of thinking about "contemplative practices." The class is intended to enable students to reflect upon both the value (the necessity, the urgency, and the usefulness) of doubting commitments, and also the perils of such practices, when misused. It will not simply discuss theoretical (philosophical and theological) reflections on doubt and faith, but seeks to create a space within which students could begin to develop ways to appropriate the concept of "critical doubt" as a practical tool, and, in proper terms, a spiritual practice, in their lives. To do this, students will be included in the responsibilities of "teaching" the class, by dividing the class into small writing groups which would be responsible for reading and critiquing one another's written work over the course of the term. Requirements for the class will include substantial reading (of philosophy, theology, and literature), writing, possibly attendance at several films (shown on weekday evenings), and a deep commitment to the common project. Prerequisites for the class are at least two classes in religious studies, or permission of the instructor.
RELI 333 South Asian Islam
This course is an investigation into Islam in South Asia. As more Muslims live in South Asia than in any other region of the world, we will encounter a wide range of Islamic cultures and histories. The course is arranged both historically and thematically. Thus, we begin in 7th Century Arabia with the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. After briefly reviewing pre-Muslim South Asia, we will proceed by addressing simultaneously the birth and progress of Islam in its Middle Eastern and South Asian contexts. In this course, rather than characterizing the Middle East as representative of pure of orthodox Islam and South Asia as syncretic or heterodox, we will allow the South Asian experience of Islam to speak for itself, drawing on the voices of South Asian Muslims from our earliest records to the present day. We will trace ideas and institutions tin multiple times and places, such as the Hajj as one of the central rituals of Islam and also how it has been undertaken by South Asians throughout history, or Sufism in the Middle East and South Asia from the medieval to the modern period. No prior knowledge of Islam or Indian history is required.
RELJ 338 Judaism in America: Topics in Cultural History
RELG 339 Liberation in Third World Theologies
This course aims to assist students to see the connection between trends in modern theology in the First World and Liberation Theologies of Latin America, Africa and Asia. If you enjoy controversies about the injustices of capitalism, racism, poverty, sexism and the relevance of the gospel in the promotion of justice in the Kingdom of God on Earth, you might find this course stimulating. Come and learn about interpreting the gospel among the poor and oppressed.
RELA 345 African Art
Each student will design an exhibition of African art for presentation on the Web that will incorporate the results of the student's study of African art. The exhibitions will contain an introductory explanation of the exhibit's theme, images of selected African art objects, relevant field-context images, descriptive labels, and other explanatory textual materials. The images of African art will be taken from collections at the Bayly Museum of the University of Virginia, the Fowler Museum of Cultural History, the Hampton University Museum, and The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and are used with copyright permission. The course includes the following curricular components: a brief history of African art studies; African ritual and cosmology; analysis of African art exhibition catalogues; library research on selected art objects; the exhibition of African art in museum contexts; training in Web skills and image processing. The aim of the course is to create exhibitions of African art that attempt to be true to the objects themselves while placing them in an educational environment of value to the exhibitor and the viewer alike.
RELC 345 The Kingdom of God in America
This course interprets the American search for the "beloved community" as theological drama. The course also examines the influence of religion on social movements in twentieth century America and asks such questions as: How do we theologically interpret lived social experience? How are theological commitments displayed, professed or embodied in observed social contexts? How do theological commitments shape the patterns of everyday living, including economic, political, and sexual organization, as well as racial perception? How is the inheritance of nineteenth century European theology enacted and contested in the American search for beloved community? Our historical focus will be the Civil Rights Movement in the South, but we will also look at the intentional community movement—particularly intentional interracial communities—as well as the recent "faith-based" community-development movement. The requirements are two exams, a 8-10 essay and weekly summaries of reading.
RELG 350 American Feminist Theology
This course analyzes contemporary theological models for American feminists. Christianity is not new to feminism; however, with few exceptions, feminist attempts to reinterpret and recover theology by and for women have arisen only with the advent of contemporary feminism. The primary goal of the course is to understand the various types of Christian feminism that exist in America today and how these theologies contribute to or challenge American feminism. In order to come to this understanding, we will begin by looking at the history of the women's movement and an overview of contemporary feminism in its various manifestations. Questions we will consider include: How does each theological model account for women's situation? How does each model account for and construct traditional theological concepts such as: sin, salvation, the nature of God, anthropology, and biblical authority? How does each read the biblical text? What are their strengths and limitations in making these accountings?
RELJ 352 Responses to the Holocaust
In this course, we will read a wide-range of responses to the Holocaust--historical accounts, survivor testimonies, theological and philosophical works, literary narratives, and poetry--written by Jews, Christians, and atheists. The following questions will guide our reading and discussion: After the Holocaust, how have understandings of human nature, religious belief and practice, good and evil, responsibility and ethical action changed? What responses to this event are possible, important, or necessary now after over half a century?
RELG 357 Existentialism: Its Literary, Philosophical and Religious Expressions
Examination of selected 19th and 20th century representatives of existentialist thought (e.g., Camus, Sartre, Marcel, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard).
RELC 361 Female Saints in the Western Tradition
In this course, we will explore the types of women who have become saints in the various major periods of church history. Do female saints reveal significant features of the experience of women in various historical periods, or are saints fundamentally different? How would a history of Christianity, viewed from the standpoint of female saints, be both like and unlike a history of Christianity viewed from the more usual, that is, largely male, perspective? The course will explore the lives and writings of female saints such as Mary, Perpetua and Felicity, Hildegard of Bingen, Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Siena, Catherine of Genoa, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, and the most recent female American saint, Katharine Drexel. Several short papers required.
RELG 377 Anthropological Approaches to Religion
Religious practices and beliefs are a central component of social and cultural life in most societies, and affect the ways in which individuals and groups relate to each other and to the world around them. Anthropologists have built theories of religion upon a wide cross-cultural basis, taking into account the experience, motivations, functions and aesthetics of religion for those who practice them. In this module we look thematically at different aspects of religion, including ritual, shamanism, witchcraft, religion and gender, religion and environmental values and forms of symbolic classification, using examples from many different types of society in various parts of the world.
RELC 381 Cultural Catholicism
Exploration of Roman Catholic experience outside the official structures of the Holy See: devotions; pilgrimages, shrines, art, fiction, cinema, television. Study of current challenges wrought by women, Jews, and gays. Special attention paid to contemporary intellectuals who criticize John Paul II while fiercely guarding their own Catholic identities (for example, Garry Wills and John Cornwell). PREREQUISITE: At least one previous class in Roman Catholic theology or history. By the first day of class, students are expected to have already viewed the following films: The Bells of Saint Mary's; The Nun's Story; The Trouble with Angels; The Godfather, Parts I and II; The Exorcist; Priest; Dead Man Walking; and Keeping the Faith.
RELG 388 Religious Traditions and Environmental Ethics
This course will explore various religious perspectives on human responsibility toward the environment. We will focus on such Christian views as creation spirituality and biblical and ecofeminist theologies and will also give attention to traditions such as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Native American religions. Student work will include response papers, a final project and participation in class discussion. Some background in religious studies and/or environmental issues would be helpful but not required.
RELG 392 Philosophers and Theologians
This course serves as an introduction to the positive dialogue between philosophy and theology which began in the earliest centuries of Christian thinking and still continues today. We set out with a survey of the religious possibilities of thinking already present in Plato and Aristotle and their constructive influence on patristic and medieval Christianity, specifically the work of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. In the second section we shall consider the critique of traditional faith made by David Hume and Immanuel Kant, leading to new rationalist (John Locke), cognitivist (Schleiermacher) and existential (Kierkegaard) theologies. In the third and final section we shall consider the continuation of these trends within a modern environment, focusing on the work of Pannenberg, Rahner and Bultmann. The dialogue between philosophy and theology in a contemporary, postmodern idiom will be the focus of the final section in which we ask the question: where are we now?
RELG 400a Majors Seminar: Non Violence
Restricted to Religious Studies Majors
This course, build around student presentations, seminar discussions, and brief writing assignments, will enhance students powers of written and verbal expression through exploring a broad variety of topics relating to non-violence. These may include (1) themes such as war and peace, terrorism, civil disobedience, social protest, pacifism, vegetarianism, and environmentalism, (2) proponents of non- violence such as Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Theresa, and (3) religious perspectives such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Bahai, Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.
RELG 400b Majors Seminar: Religious Experience
Restricted to Religious Studies Majors
What is religious experience? How do we interpret and analyze something many consider ineffable? Divine inspiration, conversion, mystical knowledge, miracles, epiphanies and revelations are integral to many religious traditions, yet prove difficult to explain. In attempting to come to terms with religious experience in a variety of cultures and traditions from around the world, we will analyze some classic works in the sociology and psychology of religion. We will also consider anthropological, historical and philosophical approaches to this fundamental, but illusive feature of religion. Seminar requirements include active participation in class discussion; four short critiques of the readings; mid-term and final exams.
RELG 400c Majors Seminar: Religion and Reason
Restricted to Religious Studies Majors
Religion and reason or rationality are sometimes presented as being in opposition to one another, or it could be that we think that our religion and way of looking at the world are entirely reasonable, but that alternative positions are logically untenable. Within the discipline of social and cultural anthropology, for instance, some scholars hold that all religions are ultimately false, while others maintain that Christianity, for instance, is coherent as a faith position and as a way of understanding the world, but that an epistemology based on witchcraft or ancestor worship, for example, is not. In this course we tackle some key debates in cross-cultural studies of religion and rationality using a series of articles covering four main areas: (1) Belief and rationality, (2) Language and myth, (3) Religion as a cultural form, and (4) Transformations and globalisation.
RELG 423 Bioethics Internship Seminar
This course is designed to provide students with experience in discerning and analyzing ethical issues as they arise in particular clinical settings. Each student will spend one half-day each week in a clinic or other health-care-related setting (the same setting throughout the semester) under the mentorship of a health care professional engaged in that setting. Seminar time will focus both on the role of the ethicist/observer and on the particular issues that commonly arise in clinical medicine. During the second half of the semester, students will give presentations related to their specific areas of observation. Students are expected to have some background knowledge of bioethics methods and common questions. Admittance to the course is by application; for details, see the Undergraduate Bioethics Program Website at http://www.uva.edu/~bioethic/intern.htm.
RELG 435 Political Theology II: 1700 to the Present Day
For information on this class, please write to John Milbank ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
RELG 460 The Politics of Self Control
Exploration of self-control, and its central importance in social organization, religious devotion, political participation, and personal responsibility. What does it mean to have a self and to abandon or betray it? How do external authorities police the self? What are we not allowed to do with ourselves and why? How do addictions deplete the self? How can we tell when someone is seizing control of himself or losing it?
RELS 495 Independent Research
Instructor: Student's choice
Systematic readings in a selected topic under detailed supervision. Prerequisite: Permission of departmental advisor and instructor
RELS 496 Distinguished Major Thesis
Instructor: Student's choice
Thesis, directed by a member of the department, focusing on a specific problem in the theoretical, historical or philosophical study of religion or a specific religious tradition. The thesis is based in part on at least three hours of directred reading in the field of the thesis. Prerequisite: Selection by faculty for Distinguished Major Program.
RELS 498 Senior Essay
Instructor: Student's choice
Studies selected topic in religious studies under detailed supervision. The writing of an essay constitutes a major portion of the work. Prerequisite: permission of deparmental advisor and instructor.
RELG 500 Environmental Choices
RELJ 506 Early Jewish Narratives
This seminar will examine a fascinating and varied group of texts: narratives from the Second Temple Period. Some of these works are "new" stories, involving characters not seen in the Hebrew Bible (e.g. Tobit), while others expand upon biblical incidents (Pseudo-Philo). Some are held as authoritative in Judaism and Christianity (Daniel), some only by some Christians (Judith), and some never achieved authoritative status (The Letter of Aristeas). These texts do not take the form of explicit instruction, but nevertheless are designed to influence the reader to certain courses of action or to adopt certain beliefs. Thus they bear witness to the formative period of Judaism (both Palestinian and Diaspora) in an indirect yet vital way.
RELG 507 Interpretation Theory
We will explore various approaches to interpretation theory, with emphasis on the nature and problems of interpretive activity in aesthetics, religion, and ethics. We will take up hermeneutical considerations of figuralism (e.g. Erich Auerbach, Nathan Scott) truth and reference (e.g., Schleiermacher, Gadamer, Ricoeur, Derrida), and reconsiderations of the hermeneutical model in such figures as Mikhail Bahktin and Martha Nussbaum. Requirements: Class participation of assigned materials, a midterm take-home examination, and either a paper, or final examination.
RELG 517 Methodology
An introduction to the basic thinkers in the field of History of Religions and Anthrolology (Otto, van der Leeuw, Eliade, Durkheim, Bellah, Levi-Strauss, Geertz, Turner) and to fundamental problems in the study of religious sociology, anthropology, mythology, and ritual.. Such authors as Edith Turner, Wendy Doniger, and Jonathan Z. Smith. As well as a critical examination of postmodernism and the comparative study of religion One reading critique (4-5 pages), a ritual analysis paper (5-6 pages), a myth analysis paper (5-6 pages), and a postmodernism paper (5-6 pages). Guidelines for all papers will be provided; as many papers as possible will be presented in class Restricted to Graduate students and 4th year Religious Studies majors.
RELI 524 Communal Conflict and Co-operation in South Asian Religions
In this seminar we will explore a range of studies addressing inter-religious relations in the South Asian subcontinent. By examining the question as addressed by a variety of disciplines (history, anthropology, psychology, and political science as well as religious studies) we will be able to evaluate the merits and demerits of each approach in terms of data, theory, and utility for our own work. We will look at works addressing inter-religious relations in general and several that focus on particular periods in history, reading essays regarding South Asias experience with the expansion of Islam, theories of conversion and iconoclasm, the period of British colonialism, the trauma of Partition, questions of Muslim and Sikh separatism, and the ongoing conflicts over Ayodhya. But we will also examine several studies that explore points of convergence and harmony, centered on daily life, ritual practices, literary exchanges, and devotional traditions. As most approaches to inter-religious interactions focus on violence, this will allow us to understand the nature of inter-religious exchanges as well, and to uncover the ways in which the scholarship on South Asia has variously accounted for the causes of communal conflict and the nature of cooperation.
RELB 525 Japanese Religion
This course is a survey of issues in the study of Shinto and Japanese Buddhism, as well as their roles in Japanese culture and society. Among the topics discussed are syncretism between Buddhism and Shinto, the relationship between folk religion and the monastic traditions, the development of uniquely Japanese forms of Zen and Pure Land Buddhism, the development of Nichiren Buddhism, the use of Shinto as a nationalistic ideology, and the survival of magic and exorcism in a modern society. Because the course emphasizes texts that are readily accessible to students, there are no prerequisites; but a basic knowledge of Buddhism or Japanese history is useful.
RELH 531 Hindu Sakta Tantra
By the 9th century, Sakta Tantra (lit., The Power System) had emerged in multiple areas in South Asia (including Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Kashmir, Banaras, Nepal, and Bengal) as a dominant social, political and religious ideology and practice of kings and their citizens. Rooted in a feminine theology of the Goddess as a supreme, multivalent, power, Sakta Tantra promisesd a liberating, blissful empowerment through a yogic and shamanic technology that bound, harnessed, and channeled the energies of the Goddess into the interrelated bodies of the practitioners universe: his own physical body, the shrine that was the object of his worship, the land around him, andespecially in the case of kingsthe sociopolitical sphere that he governed. This course utilizes a comparative historical, textual, and ethnographic analysis of Tantric technologies of empowerment in their distinct geo-political contexts.
RELB 534 Colloquial Tibetan IV
A continuation of Colloquial Tibetan III, this course uses multimedia programs in Colloquial Tibetan to develop verbal fluency, acquire vocabulary, and master advanced topics in spoken Tibetan
RELB 536 Literary Tibetan IV
A continuation of Literary Tibetan III, this course is designed to expose students to a variety of styles/genres in Tibetan literature and advanced Tibetan grammar. Prerequisites: Literary Tibetan III.
RELG 541 Confronting Plagues: Responses to Epidemics
RELB 543 Colloquial Tibetan VI
A continuation of Colloquial Tibetan V, this course uses multimedia programs in Colloquial Tibetan to develop verbal fluency, acquire vocabulary, and master advanced topics in spoken Tibetan. Prerequisites: Tibetan V. Requirements: "Requirements: class attendance, participation, preparation of programs outside of class, multiple exams and quizzes.
RELB 548 Literary Tibetan VI
Continuation of RELB 547 and RELB 820.
RELB 560 Introduction to Pali
RELG 575 Christian and Jewish Hermeneutics
The main focus of this course will be on contemporary hermeneutics but we shall begin with a comparative study of the classical Christian and Jewish tradition, specifically Origen, Augustine, and the early rabbis. We shall study the thought of Schleiermacher and Hamann, Gadamer and Ricoeur, focusing in particular on responses to Ricoeur's work, such as that by Rowan Williams. We shall further analyse the work of Hans Frei and the Yale school and shall conclude with an examination of current debates in Christian and Jewish semiotics under the influence of American pragmatism. Throughout this course we shall seek to situate hermeneutics within the context of more general theological problematics such as the study of scripture, cosmology and the nature and role of reason.
RELB 700 Readings in Japanese Buddhist Texts
RELB 703 Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts
RELC 704 Vatican and the US in the 20th Century
The course will trace two main themes: 1) the relations between the U.S. and the Vatican and 2) relations between the American Catholic Church and the Vatican. The United States emerged as a world power during World War I when all Vatican peace initiatives were rejected. Although the U.S. retreated into isolationism, Vatican officials, notably Eugenio Pacelli, who was elected Pius XII, became increasingly aware that it would hold the balance of power in any forthcoming war which was becoming inevitable by the late 1930s. After World War II, the U.S. remained involved in world affairs, and the Vatican gave increasing attention to the American Church, an attention that paved the war for the Second Vatican Council to adopt the Declaration on Religious Liberty, a document known as the "American schema." Course Requirements: 1) common reading and discussion of works on World War I, selections of the vast literature on the Vatican and World War II, and studies on Vatican II. 2) a presentation in class of a paper (20 pages) on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with the professor.
RELC 705 Myth and Character in Modern Drama
This seminar will explore ways in which drama (as myth and literature as well as performance) may provide a medium for exploring ethical and religious questions involving self, character, persona, etc. It will also explore recent attempts to conceptualize the self and community in relation to contingency and performance, especially through metaphors of "integrity"--as in "moral integrity," "personal integrity," "bodily integrity," "kenotic integrity," etc. A variety of philosophical material (e.g., Bernard Williams, Paul Ricoeur, Margaret Urban Walker) and dramatic works (e.g., Sophocles' Philoctetes, Shakespeare's Hamlet and Measure for Measure, Caryl Churchill's Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, and Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses) will be read in an effort to critique and re-conceptualize integrity. Along the way, "Kenosis" as scriptural and philosophical motif will receive special attention.
RELG 728 Topics in Modern Religious Thought
In this seminar we will consider the question of the relation between reason and religious faith by close investigation of some classic texts. After considering the challenge posed by Hume, in his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, and perhaps The Natural History of Religion, we will examine accounts by Soeren Kierkegaard (Philosophical Fragments, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Vol. I), and John Henry Newman, Essay In Aid of a Grammar of Assent. Seminar participation, close reading of texts, and intelligent writing of essays will all be required.
RELG 810 Clinical Ethics
This course will explore some of the major ethical issues that arise in clinical medicine and provide an introduction to methods that are used in the clinical and research settings to address these issues. We will discuss how the basic principles of biomedical ethics apply in specific clinical situations, and will examine cases that demonstrate commonly encountered dilemmas.
RELC 817 Augustine and Platonism
Close reading of select texts from Augustine that reflect the influence of Platonism on Augustine, e.g. the early dialogues, On True Religion, passages from the Confessions, book 10 of the City of God, et al. Also reading of selections from Plato and from Plotinus. Latin required.
RELB 821 Literary and Spoken Tibetan VIII
Continuation of RELB 547 and RELB 820.
RELB 827 Colloquial Tibetan VII
RELB 828 Colloquial Tibetan VIII
RELB 840 American Religious History
RELG 846 Modern French Theology
RELS 895 Bioethics Directed Research
Instructor: Student's choice
Systematic reding in a select topic under detailed supervision.
RELS 895 Directed Research
Instructor: Student's choice
Systematic reding in a select topic under detailed supervision.
RELS 896 Thesis Research
Instructor: Student's choice
Research on problems leading to a master's thesis.
RELS 897 Non-Topical Research, Peparation for Research
Instructor: Student's choice
For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.
RELS 898 Non Topical Research
Instructor: Student's choice
For master's research, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.
RELS 997 Non-Topical Research, Peparation for Doctoral Research
Instructor: Student's choice
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.
RELS 999 Non Topical Research
Instructor: Student's choice
For dissertation research, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.