Fall 2005

RELG 101 Introduction to Western Religions

Heather Warren

An historical survey of the origins and development of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Subjects include the origins of monotheism, the rise of Israel as a nation, early Christianity, the rise of Islam in the Middle Ages, the Protestant Reformation, Christianity during the Enlightenment, and the influence of modern science and industrialism on 19th and 20th century religious life. Requirements: Weekly readings, a mid-term, and a final.

RELJ 111 Introduction to Biblical Hebrew

Martien Halvorson-Taylor

This course and its sequel (RELJ 112) will introduce students to the basics of Biblical Hebrew vocabulary and grammar, for the express purpose of reading the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in its original language. An inductive approach, employing biblical verses to illustrate grammatical points, will allow exposure to the canonical writings themselves from the start. Midway through the semester, we will begin reading longer prose passages directly from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. There will also be discussion of important Hebrew terms and concepts from the biblical readings.

RELC 121/ RELJ 121 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

Martien Halvorson-Taylor

This course provides an introduction to the Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as the Tahakh and to Christians as the Old Testament. Using methods of modern biblical scholarship, we will examine the Hebrew Bible in its original ancient Near Eastern context to learn about the major phases in the history and religion of ancient Israel. We will consider the diverse genres and theological themes found in the Hebrew Bible and the literary artistry of its whole. Finally, we will read Jewish and Christian interpretations of the text in order to understand the complex process by which the text was formulated, transmitted and interpreted by subsequent religious communities. Requirements: A midterm test, a final examination, and brief writing assignments for section discussion.

INST 200 Ethics and Integrity in Contemporary Life

Jim Childress

RELJ 203 Introduction to Judaic Tradition

Elizabeth Alexander

An introduction to Judaism as it is practiced as a living tradition. We will survey the central Jewish beliefs that undergird the Jewish tradition and examine the ritual context in which these beliefs are manifest: sacred text study, prayer, holy day practices and life cycle passages (e.g. birth, marriage, death). We will explore the ancient sources from which so much of the Jewish tradition derives and observe the ever-changing ways tradition is manifest in contemporary Jewish life. We will draw on film, sacred text study and anthropological observation of Jewish life in Charlottesville today.

RELC 205 History of Christianity I

Robert Wilken

How did Christianity evolve from a small Jewish sect in Palestine into a church that embraced the Mediterranean world, Europe, the middle East, Byzantium and the Slavic peoples? How did the teachings of Jesus and the events of his life become the foundation for a complex system of belief (e.g. Trinity), ethics (e.g. marriage), worship? What was the origin and development of Christian institutions and practices, e.g. bishops and clergy, the papacy, monasticism, Baptism, Communion, et al. How did the Bible take its present form? How was this faith understood and explained in rational terms? These are the broader questions addressed in a survey of the first thousand years of Christian history.

RELI 207 Classical Islam

Timothy Gianotti

Following an historical approach, we will trace the rise and development of the Islamic religious tradition from its formal beginnings in the 7 th century to the present day. Special attention will be given to the “Abrahamic” foundations of Islam, the pre-Islamic culture and economy of Arabia, the life of the Prophet Muhammad, the gradual revelation (nuzūl) of the Qur’ān, major themes of the Qur’ān, the early Muslim community (umma), the basic practices or “pillars” of the Islamic religion (al-islām), the foundational beliefs shared by all Muslims (al-īmān), Islamic piety, ethics, and spirituality (al-ihsān), the social and theological developments following the death of the Prophet in 632 CE, the emergence of the Sunnī-Shī‘ī divide and other religio-political developments, the development and codification of the Islamic religious sciences, incl. Jurisprudence (al-fiqh), dogmatic theology (al-kalām), and mystical spirituality (al-tasawwuf), the educational and social institutions of classical Islam, the scientific and philosophical achievements of classical Islamic civilization, reform and renewal movements up to and including the 14 th century, C.E.

RELH 209 Introduction to Hinduism

John Nemec

This course serves as a general introduction to Hinduism in its classical, medieval, and early-modern forms. By reading primary texts in translation, taking note of the cultural, historical, political, and material contexts in which they were composed, we will explore Hinduism from its earliest forms to those that developed following the advent of Islam in India. In other words, we will take a sweeping look at the religious and cultural life of the Indian sub-continent from the second millennium B.C. (B.C.E.) to the eighteenth century. An emphasis will be placed on reading the literature of Hinduism in translation, so that we can discover what Hindus had to say for themselves about their religion, society, mystical tradition, and ritual. There are no pre-requisites for this course.

RELB 210 Introduction to Buddhism

Karen Lang (klang@virginia.edu)

This course is an introduction to Buddhism, beginning with its origins in India, its spread throughout Asia to the West. The course will examine the historical and cultural contexts in which Buddhist beliefs and practices developed and are still developing. We will explore a wide variety of sources to understand the many ways in which Buddhists have attempted to understand who the Buddha is, what he and his followers have to say about karma and rebirth, the practice of meditation and the pursuit of enlightenment. We will also examine the views of contemporary Buddhist teachers on these issues and on the challenges Buddhism faces in the modern world. Two hourly examinations and a final.

RELB 213 Taoism and Confucianism

Paul Groner

This course focuses on native Chinese religious traditions and is divided into three distinct parts. In the first, some of the classical Chinese texts that determine the parameters of religious discourse are examined. Among them are the Analects, Mencius, Tao te ching, and Chuang tzu. In the second part, we will explore the teachings and practices of religious Taoism. Among the topics discussed are the quest for physical immortality, Taoist views of the body and its relation to cosmology, Taoist religious organizations, and millenarian rebellions. In the final section of the course, popular Chinese religion will be discussed. Among the topics surveyed will be ancestor worship, the roles of gods and ghosts, and spirit possession. Three examinations.

GREE 223 New Testament Greek (Intermediate Greek)

Judith Kovacs

The aims of this course are to solidify the student's knowledge of Greek grammar and vocabulary and give practice in reading and translating the Greek New Testament. Texts read come from the gospels, primarily Luke and John. There is also consideration of the principles of New Testament exegesis.
Prerequisite Greek 101-102 or equivalent (one year of basic Greek).
Requirements: regular quizzes, midterm, and final examination.
Course may be counted towards the major in Religious Studies.

RELC 233 History of Christian Ethics

Margaret Mohrmann

This course will survey the development of Christian ethical thought and teaching from its beginnings through the Reformation era. Major ethical themes will be traced through the centuries, as the church's scripture, evolving doctrine, and emerging tradition interact - in thought, word, and deed - with secular society, politics, and philosophy. Readings will be taken mostly from primary texts, such as the Bible and the writings of selected Christian thinkers, but will also include relevant historical and ethical analyses of the developing church and its social milieu. Each class session will include lecture and discussion.

RELC 236 Elements of Christian Thought

Justin Holcomb

Everything you always wanted to know about Christianity but were afraid to ask. This course investigates the overall coherence of Christianity considering such critical questions as the following: How do we study Christianity in Religious Studies? How do human beings search for God? How do Christians say God searches for human beings? Does God make choices (predestination)? Who is in control of salvation (grace and free will)? What is the trinity about? How do Christians explain how Jesus saves? How does Christianity relate to Judaism? Why does a good and almighty God permit evil? What is the body for? What is salvation, anyway? Readings are arranged topically and come from the greatest hits of the Christian tradition and present rival views on most questions. Authors include Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, and secular thinkers, such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Jefferson, C.S. Lewis, and Karl Barth. Requirements: There are two options, both of which require regular participation in a class newsgroup. The exam version requires two non-cumulative tests. The writing version, which fulfills the Second Writing Requirement, requires two papers and no tests.

RELG 238 Faith and Doubt in the Modern Age

Jamie Ferreira

Is belief in God based on wishful thinking; is it a neurotic response to lie? How are fear and guilt related to it? Is it a primitive stage in human intellectual development? Is it inherently immoral? Can one be rational and a believer at the same time? In this course we will consider questions like these by looking at historically important examples of such criticisms. We will study both the 'faith' which inspired these critiques and the implications of such critiques for believers.

RELC 240 History of American Catholicism (cross listed with HIEU 240)

Gerald Fogarty

The election of John Kennedy signified, on one level, the acceptance of Catholics as Americans. The document of religious liberty of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) seemed to ratify what had long been a cherished American Catholic tradition. Proving to be loyal to the Catholicism of Rome and the democracy of the United States had been the dilemma of American Catholics. To understand this dilemma, the course will treat the following themes: the early Spanish and French settlements; the beginning of English-speaking Catholicism in Maryland; the establishment of the hierarchy under John Carroll and its early development; immigration and nativism; American Catholic support of religious liberty and conflict with the Vatican at the end of the 19th century; and the American Catholic contribution to Vatican II (1962-1965).

RELB 254 Tibetan Buddhist Culture

Yaroslav Komarovski

This course surveys Tibetan Buddhist religious culture in terms of its history, biographical traditions, religious communities, cultural patterns, ritual life, contemplative traditions, and philosophical discourses. The focus will be on how tantric Buddhism has historically functioned in Tibet to relate these different dimensions together as an identifiable cultural zone of vast geographical terrain, despite never achieving any form of political unity. These range from controversies over antinomian practices pertaining to sexuality and violence, to Tibet¹s religo-political solution to tantra¹s decentralized paradigm of religious leaders understood to be Buddhas with local mandalas of absolute authority. We will look into the rise of the institution of reincarnate lamas that culminated in the Dalai Lama, and address the theory that Tibet¹s lack of centralization led to the importance of so-called "shamanic" trends of Buddhism. Finally we will also examine at great depth Tibetan innovations in Buddhist philosophy, ritual and yoga.

RELJ 260 Judaism Between Modernity and Secularization

Asher Biemann

Modernity not only redefined the boundaries of Judaism from outside and from within, but also called for a Jewish response to the process of secularization. Over the course of two semesters, this course will explore the variety of Jewish responses and adjustments to the modern world and their implications for present day Judaism in its many forms, ranging from Neo-Orthodoxy to Secular Judaism. The objective will be to introduce students to Judaism as a complex body of simultaneous cultures, societies, and histories. Requirements: Two quizzes and a final exam.

RELG 262 Business and Society: Ethical Issues

Jim Childress

Description forthcoming

RELG 265 Theology, Ethics & Medicine

Jim Childress

An analysis of the ethical principles that should undergird decisions in science, medicine, and health care. The lectures readings, and discussions will focus on ethical principles developed within different ethical traditions (such as Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, and Humanism) and on their implications for cases in abortion, death and dying, research involving human subjects, artificial reproduction, genetic engineering, cloning, and allocating resources. Several films, videotapes, and cases will be used. Requirements: Midterm, final examination, 4 brief papers (2 pages) and participation in discussion.

RELA 276 African Religions in the Americas

Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton

This course explores the African religious heritage of the Americas. We will concentrate on African-derived religions in Latin America and the Caribbean, such as Cuban Santeria, Haitian Vodou, and the Jamaican Rastafari movement. North American slave religion, the black church, and African-American Islam will also be considered. We will seek to identify their shared religio-cultural "core" while developing an appreciation for the distinctive characteristics and historical contexts of each "New World" tradition. We will address topics such as ideas of God and Spirit; the significance of ritual sacrifice, divination, and initiation; the centrality of trance, ecstatic experience and mediumship; and the role of religion in the struggle for liberation and social justice. Final, Midterm, periodic quizzes on the readings, participation in discussion.

RELG 280 African American Religious History

Valerie Cooper

This course will explore African American religious history by combining an examination of current scholarship, worship and praxis. This course will investigate the religious life and religious institutions of African Americans from their African antecedents to contemporary figures and movements in the US. While the course will emphasize the growth and spread of Evangelical Christianity among African Americans, it will also consider some non-Christian influences upon black churches and black communities. In examining the wide variety, popularity, economic strength, and ubiquity of religious institutions in the African American community, we will ask what role religion plays for black people, and what role African American religious life plays in the broader scheme of American life.

RELC 304 Paul: Letters and Thoughts

Harry Gamble

This course examines the activity and thought of Paul of Tarsus, the best known and most influential thinker of the Christian tradition. We will treat the basic problems of Pauline biography and chronology, the nature of Paul's authentic letters, and the leading element of Paul's interpretation of Christianity. Each meeting will consist of both lecture and discussion.

RELC 306 The Ethics of Black Power

Corey Walker

In his now classic text Blood in My Eye, George Jackson writes, “All revolution should be love inspired.” This lecture course will plumb the depths of Jackson’s remark by critically interrogating the ethical dimensions of the Black Power concept and the cultural, ideological, and political interventions influenced by this conceptual revolution. We will explore the ethics of Black Power in relation to the revolutionary exploits of artists, activists, and intellectuals in their tremendous efforts to challenge and transform the capitalist, racist, and sexist hegemony of the United States and the Western world in the second half of the twentieth century. To this end, we will revisit the work of a number of thinkers, movements, and cultural and political formations, including Albert Cleage, Angela Davis, Vicki Garvin, Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Larry Neal, Malcolm X, Amiri Baraka, February 1st Movement, SOBU/YOBU, African Liberation Support Committee, Black Arts Movement, Malcolm X Liberation University, Institute of the Black World, and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. We will also assess the ethical parameters of the various ideological tendencies that influenced the conceptual formulation and political articulation of Black Power including Black Nationalism, Feminism, Liberalism, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and Pan-Africanism.

RELB 315 Seminar in Buddhism and Gender

Karen Lang

This seminar takes as its point of departure Carolyn Bynum's statement: "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 328 Eastern Christianity: A.D. 530 to the Present

Augustine Thompson

This course surveys the history of "Eastern" Christianity from late antiquity (age of the emperor Justinian) until the present day. The focus will be on the formation three characteristic components of Eastern Orthodox Christianity: institutions, liturgy and piety, and mysticism and theology. Our principle geographic focus will be on Christianity in the Slavic lands, but Greek and Arab Christianity will also be considered. Mid-term, final, term paper.

RELG 340 Women and American Religion

Pam Cochran

Historian Ann Braude has argued that women's history is American religious history. This course is an overview of women in American religion, not just mainstream Protestant or Catholic Christianity, but from a variety of religious perspectives, including Jewish, Native American, African American, alternative religions, and women's spirituality among others. A sub-theme of the course will be the question of power. Do women wield power in American religion and, if so, in what ways? Has their often marginal status strengthened or weakened women's influence? What has been women's impact on religion and American culture? Considering the breadth and depth of women's role in American religion will help reveal whether women's history is, indeed, the history of religion in America.

RELI 343 Women in Islamic Tradition

Jacquelene G Brinton

The relationship between Islam and women has been greatly misunderstood. In this class we will study the Islamic religious sources to gain a greater understanding of women in the Islamic tradition. In the process we will also learn how Muslims have utilized these sources both historically and in modern times. The first section of the course will be concerned with the Qur?an and the hadith (the recorded sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammed), the two main sources of the Islamic religion. At the same time we will consider ideas about women in the exegetical tradition (tafsir) and how this has affected Qur?anic readings about women. Next, we will study women in the mystical tradition of Islam (Sufism) and theology. We will also pay close attention to the sources of Islamic law and how it has changed in modern times in regards to women. In the final segment the class will consider the effects of modernity on the religious life of women and the views of some Muslim women today. (Prior classes in Islam, while helpful, are not absolutely necessary. We will begin each segment by trying to understand that aspect of the tradition in a basic way.)

RELC 345 Kingdom of God in America

Charles Marsh

The course examines the influence of theological ideas on social movements in twentieth century America and asks such questions as: How do religious commitments shape the patterns of everyday living, including economic, political, and sexual organization, as well as racial perception? What role do nineteenth century European and American Protestant theologies play in shaping the American search for "beloved community"? How does social existence influence conceptions of God and religious community? Our main historical focus will be the Civil Rights Movement in the South, but we will also look at counter-cultural movements of the late 1960's, as well as the intentional community movement, the faith-based community-development movement and recent organizing community initiatives.

RELC 347 Religion and Science

John Portmann

Christian Europe gave rise to modern science, yet Christianity and science have enjoyed reputations as mutual enemies. Does science undermine religious belief? Exploration of the encounter between these two powerful cultural forces. Study of the intellectual struggle to locate and anchor God in the modern world (specifically Giordano Bruno, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein, and Feynman). Focus on the 20th century: the discovery of radio waves, x-rays, use of the first skyscraper, automobiles, vaccine, psychoanalysis, rise of the quantum theory of the atom, birth control pill, "morning after pill," human genome, and stem cell research. Final ten-page paper, regular class participation, and three-hour final examination

RELC 356 In Defense of Sin

John Portmann

Exploration of transgression in Judaism and Christianity with a focus on the Ten Commandments and the seven deadly sins. Reflection on who determines what is sinful and why. Close reading of texts challenging the wrongfulness of acts and attitudes long considered sinful, with critical attention to the persuasiveness of religious rules. Does religious life remain focused on pleasing God, or is it now principally a matter of familial / ethnic obligation? Or has it perhaps become simply a personal quest with indeterminate goals? What does sin have to do with the modern world? Final ten-page paper, regular class participation, and three-hour final examination.

RELG 360 Religion and Modern Theater

Larry Bouchard

This course will examine how drama and performance is linked with religious traditions, themes, and with some secular and theological perspectives on religion. Modern theater has often sought to revitalize its historical and thematic relations with ritual and sacred stories, and it has also probed the ethical dimensions of selves and communities as seen against the presence and absence of a divine horizon or immanent sense of the sacred. What differences do such relations make in our enjoyment, understanding, and criticism of theatrical drama? We will discuss a number of classical and modern-or-contemporary plays and performances. Some of these have explicitly religious themes or subjects (such as Denys Arcand's film-about-a-performance Jesus of Montreal, Wole Soyinka's uses of Yoruba religion and European theatrical traditions, S. Ansky's Yiddish play The Dybbuk). We will also study ostensibly secular plays that nonetheless take up questions of religion, ethics, and political life (for example, plays by Bertholt Brecht, Samuel Beckett, Peter Shaffer, Caryl Churchill, Tony Kushner, and Mary Zimmerman). The syllabus is always changing and will be available in August. Mode of teaching: some lectures, much discussion, reading plays aloud, perhaps play attendance. Requirements: regular class attendance and participation; two essay exams and one paper; or three short papers for students wishing to complete the 2nd writing requirement.

RELC 369 The Gospel and Revelation to John

Judith Kovacs

This course focuses on two New Testament books attributed by Christian tradition to the apostle John and considers literary, historical, and theological questions through a close reading of the texts. Our study of Revelation will also emphasize reception history, that is how this book has been interpreted through the ages and how it has influenced theology, literature, politics, and art. Some specific issues the course addresses are: What is distinctive about the portrayal of Jesus in the Gospel of John, and why was this gospel so important in the development of Christian theology? How does the gospel use irony and other literary techniques? What clues are there in the text for imagining the specific historical situation in which the gospel was written? What are the reasons for, and implications of its portrayal of "the Jews"? How do ancient Jewish works called "apocalypses" help us understand the Revelation to John? How can one make sense of the bewildering array of symbols and images this book contains? What is its primary message--does it advocate vengeance, social justice, or a worldwide Christian mission? Why has Revelation been particularly beloved by artists, poets, and prophets? Requirements: midterm, final and one paper

RELC 376 Wisdom

John Portmann

An investigation of wisdom as an all-important moral and spiritual project for individuals. Is the path to God also an expedient way to personal happiness? We will plumb biblical and secular sources to find wisdom: Proverbs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Maimonides, Macchiavelli, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Pascal, La Rochefoucauld, Bacon, and modern advice manuals. We will study the art of seduction and how to succeed in business without really trying, how to win friends and influence people, how to have your cake and eat it too. Why does wisdom seem to fly out the door as soon as we find ourselves in crisis? What does it mean to say that the highest wisdom, like the greatest happiness, comes in submission to God?

RELC 378 Medieval Heresy and Dissent

Augustine Thompson

Students in this seminar will read and discuss the sources for Christian dissenting movements during the period 10001400. Focus will be on "popular" heresies: Cathars, Waldensians, Joachites, Fraticelli, Dolcinites, Free Spirits, witches etc. We shall also examine how Orthodoxy responded to dissent: persuasion, coercion, repression, and inquisition. Weekly individual presentations, term paper.

RELG 386 Human Bodies and Parts as Property

Jim Childress

An analysis and assessment of different historical and contemporary theological, philosophical and legal interpretations of "rights holders" (e.g. individuals while alive, their families after death, and the society) and the "rights held" (e.g. to transfer, to donate, or to sell) in the living and dead human body, with particular attention to current disputes about the use of human body parts in organ and tissue transplantation and new reproductive technologies. Permission of instructor required.

RELG 388 Environmental Ethics

Willis Jenkins

This seminar offers an overview of the central issues in environmental ethics and introduces some of the theoretical frameworks for addressing them. Working from specific cases each week, it also functions as a workshop in the attempt to develop practical reasoning adequate to the uniqueness and complexity of environmental problems. Topics include intrinsic value for nature, obligations to animals, questions about the meaning of nature, ecofeminism, deep ecology, bioregionalism, and environmental justice.

RELB 392 Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Tantra: History, Thought, and Practice

Yaroslav Komarovski

This course concentrates on doctrinal teachings, meditative techniques, and ritual practices of Tantric Buddhism. We start with a brief discussion of such fundamental Buddhist themes as the nature of cyclic existence and nirvana, emptiness and great compassion, paths to enlightenment, etc., and then proceed to a detailed analysis of historical development, doctrinal views, meditative techniques, and rituals of the Buddhist Tantra in the context of Indian and Himalayan cultures. Topics of this course include, but are not limited to the Buddhist pantheon, development of tantric mandalas, tantric views on death and dying, Creation and Completion Stages of the Highest Yoga Tantra, tantric ritual, and tantric visionaries

RELJ 397 Prayer, Spirit, Reason in Judaism

Peter Ochs

A study of prayer, mysticism, and philosophy in Jewish tradition. The focus will be on drawing disciplined modes of reasoning from out the practices of everyday prayer and not so everyday spiritual contemplation. Readings in Bible, Talmudic literature, the rabbinic prayerbook, medieval Jewish philosophy and mysticism, and some recent logics and philosophies. Biweekly short papers and two longer papers.

RELG 400a Majors Seminar: Death and the Afterlife

Ben Ray

Restricted to 3rd and 4th year Religious Studies Majors
The goal of this seminar is to develop an informed and critical perspective on the study of religion through the study of myths, rituals, and literature concerning death and afterlife. The seminar does not intend to make the case for any single definition of religion or to take a particular theological perspective on death, but rather to have participants develop critical skills necessary for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a number of scholarly approaches to the subject. Requirements: Six short papers, approximately one every other week. No mid-term and no final exam.

RELG 400b Religious Imagination

Justin Holcomb

Restricted to 3rd and 4th year Religious Studies Majors
In this course we will explore something called "the religious imagination." The term "religion" has an ancient lineage in the West going back to Cicero and St. Augustine but its meaning has not remained static. What we will call "the religious imagination" has evolved over time and this course will be devoted to tracking those changes in meaning especially over the last 300 years when religion became a true problem for Western culture. Through close readings we will see how key thinkers have articulated the problem of religion in relation to the European wars of religion, the rise of science and the scientific worldview, the impact of literacy, the discovery of the Americas, the plurality of world cultures, capitalism, and globalization. We will focus special attention on religious discourse in the popular media post September 11th especially the use of concepts such as "fundamentalism" and "modernity."

RELG 415 Salem Witch Trials in History and Literature

Ben Ray

Restricted to Majors in Religious Studies, History, and English
This is NOT a majors seminar.
This seminar will explore the rich range of historical scholarship, literary fiction, and primary source materials relating to the infamous witch trials of Salem Village in 1692. How and why did the accusations begin? How and why did they stop? Serious theories and wild speculations abound, both then and now. Who were the heroes and villains of this tragic episode? Some of the most gripping personal stories may be found in the primary sources and literary treatments. Explore the impact of this small-scale, 300 year-old event on the American cultural heritage -- why has "Salem witchcraft" become part of the American cultural imagination? In addition to two major historical studies, Boyer & Nissenbaum, SALEM POSSESSED and Norton, IN THE DEVIL'S SNARE, and a seminal article by Rosenthal on Tituba, we will read literary works by Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown," Longfellow, GILES CORY OF SALEM FARMS, and Miller's THE CRUCIBLE. The course will also make extensive use of the Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive http://etext.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft which contains all the original court documents and contemporary accounts. Using these resouces, students will write original research essays on important people and events related to the witch trials.

RELG 422 American Religious Autobiography

Heather Warren

This is NOT a majors seminar, but it counts as one.
A multidisciplinary examination of religious self-perception in relation to the dominant values of American life. Readings represent a variety of spiritual traditions and autobiographical forms, among them Thomas Merton's The Sign of Jonas; The Autobiography of Malcolm X; Charles Colson's Born Again; and Kathleen Norris' Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. Fulfills the majors seminar requirement. Prerequisites: Courses in religious studies, American history, or American literature. Requirements: Two short papers (5-7 pp. each) and an autobiography (20 pp.). (Note to Religious Studies Majors: This course fulfills the Majors Seminar requirement. )

RELG 423 Bioethics Internship Seminar

Margaret Mohrmann

This is NOT a majors 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 440 Womanist Theology: Religion, Race and Gender in the US

Valerie Cooper

This is NOT a majors seminar.
This course will explore Womanist thought from its origins in the lived experiences of African American women, to its scholarly articulation and artistic expression in the works of theologians, thinkers, authors, musicians and filmmakers. Throughout the course of the semester, we will consider the unique challenges that African American women have faced and the cultural, political and religious life they have produced in the US, using race, class, and gender analysis to differentiate the experiences of black women from those of others. Throughout the course of the semester, we will consider this question: 'Are we really that different, after all?'

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 directed reading in the field of the thesis. Prerequisite: Selection by faculty for Distinguished Major Program.

RELS 497 Fourth Year 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.

Graduate Courses

RELJ 505 Judaism in Antiquity

Elizabeth Alexander

A critical survey of the development of Judaism from Ezra to the Talmud (c. 450 BCE-600 CE). During this period "Jewishness" gradually began to emerge as a form of identity that was different from biblical Israel. We will consider the forces (Hellenism, the development of a diaspora community, the emergence of Christianity) that exerted pressure on the the growth and development of Judaism during this period, leading to this development. We will also examine the manifold ways in which Jewish identity manifested itself (apocalypticism, wisdom tradition, sectarianism and rabbinic Judaism). Finally, we will consider the question of how a normative form of Judaism, today known as Rabbinic Judaism, grew out of the variety of Jewish expressions that characterized the Second Temple period and eventually achieved hegemony.

RELG 518 Philosophical Theology

William Wilson

Description forthcoming

RELB 525 Japanese Buddhism

Paul Groner

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.

RELB 533 Colloquial Tibetan III

Sonam Yangki Wang

A continuation of colloquial portion of Literary and Spoken Tibetan II, this course uses multimedia programs in Colloquial Tibetan to develop verbal fluency, acquire vocabulary, and master advanced topics in spoken Tibetan. Prerequisites: Tibetan II. Requirements: Class attendance, participation, preparation of programs outside of class, multiple exams and quizzes. This is a 2 credit course.

RELB 535 Literary Tibetan III

Yaroslav Komarovski

A continuation of the literary portion of Literary and Spoken Tibetan II, this course is designed to expose students to a variety of styles/genres in Tibetan literature and advanced Tibetan grammar. Prerequisites: Tibetan II. Requirements: Class attendance and participation, three exams, four translation assignments.

RELB 539 Tibetan Buddhist Ritual

Kurtis Schaeffer

Writings on ritual make up a large component of classical Tibetan literature, from short practical manuals to large theoretical treatises. In this seminar we will survey select types of Tibetan Buddhist ritual literature, with an emphasis on the consecration of images and temples, the propitiation of deities, and public festivals such as the Mani Rimdu and the annual rituals of Lhasa. We will also consider theoretical issues in the contemporary study of ritual, such as the relationships between ritual, individual, and institution. Readings include: Catherine Bell, /Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice/; Yael Bentor, /Consecration of Images and Stupas in Indo-Tibetan Tantric Buddhism/; Stephan Beyer, /The Cult of Tara: Magic and Ritual in Tibet/; Samten G. Karmay, /The Arrow and the Spindle: Studies in History, Myths, Rituals and Beliefs in Tibet/; Martin A. Mills, /Identity, Ritual and State in Tibetan Buddhism: The Foundations of Authority in Gelukpa Monasticism/; Hugh Richardson, /Ceremonies of the Lhasa Year/.

RELB 542 Colloquial Tibetan V

Sonam Yangki Wang

A continuation of the Colloquial Tibetan IV, this course uses multimedia programs in Colloquial Tibetan to develop verbal fluency, acquire vocabulary, anhd master advanced topics in spoken Tibetan. This is a 2 credit course. Prerequisites: Tibetan IV. Requirements: Class attendance, participation, preparation of programs outside of class, multiple exams and quizzes.

RELB 543 Sanskrit

Karen Lang

We will read in Sanskrit selections from such works as Shantideva's Bodhicaryavatara. Prerequisite: Two years of Sanskrit or instructor permission.

RELB 547 Literary Tibetan V

Kurtis Schaeffer

A continuation of the literary portion of Literary Tibetan IV, this course is designed for training in the literary forms of the Tibetan language. Emphasis is on exposure to a wide variety of styles/genres in Tibetan literature and in-depth knowledge of Tibetan grammar. Prerequisites: RELB 534 or equivalent. Requirements: Class attendance and participation, four exams, midterm, final, translation assignments.

RELJ 549 The History of Jewish History

Asher Biemann

This course will discuss conceptions of Jewish history, memory, and historiography from Biblical times to the present. With the help of recent literature on this subject we will seek to understand the roles of ritual memory, eschatology, historicism, as well as counter- and meta-history in Judaism. Messianism, Modernism, Zionism/Diaspora, and the Holocaust will be among the themes touched upon in our readings, along with competing theories of history. Requirements: Final paper and colloquium.

RELC 552 Themes in American Catholic History

Gerald Fogarty

The theme to be treated this semester is the Vatican and the United States during World War II. Beginning with readings from controversial works interpreting the role of Pope Pius XII and the Vatican, the course will then focus on the interaction between the United States and the Vatican during the period. The general reading will include authors such as Michael Phayer, John Cornwell, and Jose Sanchez and will then turn to some specific works such as the recently published memoirs of Harold H. Tittmann, Jr., the American diplomat who lived in the Vatican during the war. In addition to brief reports on the general reading and participation in the weekly discussions, each student is to prepare a paper on a topic approved by the professor for presentation in class.

RELH 553 Hindu Philosophical Systems

John Nemec

This course constitutes a survey of the major schools of classical Hindu thought. By reading primary sources in translation, we will explore the "six schools" of Indian philosophy. Some secondary sources will also be assigned. Students who wish to take this course should have a solid background in Hinduism.

RELC 558 History of Christian Ethics

Margaret Mohrmann

This class will explore the development of Christian ethical thought from the New Testament period through the Reformation, considering particular themes in depth. The course is intended to provide a solid understanding of the historical roots of contemporary Christian ethics, experience in working with historical source materials, and familiarity with some important interpreters of this history. Students will attend lectures and read assigned materials for RELC 233. In addition, students will do further reading, to include portions of Ernst Troeltsch's The Social Teachings of the Christian Churches and H.R. Niebuhr's Christ and Culture. Course requirements include attendance at both RELC 233 lectures and the course seminar, completion of reading assignments, participation in seminar discussion, and a final paper. Open to advanced undergraduates. Permission of instructor required.

RELG 564 Modern Religious Thought: Catholic Theology Since Vatican II

Robert Jenson

Whatever else the second Vatican Council may have done, it made a revolution in Catholic theology; even to the point where it is now difficult to know what is denoted by the label. Theological initiatives of the time just before the council, until then suspect, became a new mainstream. Aggiornamento, “updating,” opened Catholic theology to many of the same developments that Protestantism had already been through. And in the subsequent decades very different and indeed antagonistic movements contended over the “spirit” and the letter of the council’s texts. We will sample all this, reading some texts together and taken papers by participants for other discussions.

RELC 573 Byzantine Christianity

Robert Wilken

Graduate level survey of the sources and literature on Byzantine Christianity during its formative period, the fourth to the 10th centuries. Topics to be covered include theological developments after the Council of Chalcedon, liturgy, art, iconoclasm, monasticism, rise of Islam, conversion of the Slavs, relations with the west.

RELI 576 Islamic Mystical Texts

Timothy Gianotti

This primary text-based seminar will examine the more experiential, noetic dimensions of Islamic piety and righteousness (al-ihsān ), from the Qur’ānic and Prophetic foundations to the principal thinkers of the medieval Arabic and Persian “Sufi” traditions. By “seminar” is meant a disciplined, studious discussion of the texts-at-hand. Students should thus be prepared to shoulder a heavy reading load (approx. 100 -150 pages per week) and should come to the class prepared to discuss the assigned text(s) with their colleagues and professor, who will serve the seminar as a guiding participant rather than as a regular lecturer. Students will routinely be asked to initiate the discussion by introducing the text and offering their observations and questions.

RELB 580 Literary Tibetan VII

Kurtis Schaeffer

RELA 582 Ritual in African Religions

Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton

Description forthcoming

RELB 587 Colloquial Tibetan VII

Sonam Yangki Wang

A continuation of Colloquial Tibetan VI, this course uses multimedia programs in Colloquial Tibetan to develop verbal fluency, acquire vocabulary, and master advanced topics in spoken Tibetan. Prerequisites: Tibetan VI. Requirements: Class attendance, participation, preparation of programs outside of class, multiple exams and quizzes. This is a 2 credit course.

RELG 589 Readings in Critical Theology

Corey Walker

The question of the seeming permanence of the “theologico-political” is at the forefront of contemporary debates concerning the current state and future possibilities of democracy. The seminar will take up this issue by way of a deliberate consideration of complex relationship between articulations of various forms of critical theology and projects for radical democracy. In so doing, we will critically consider a number of theoretical orientations that seek to navigate this contested terrain and proffer an alternative to the continuance of the “theologico-political” and/or actually existing democracy. The conversations and readings for this seminar will cut across disciplinary boundaries and theoretical orientations. Select texts by Agamben, Badiou, Butler, Derrida, Dussel, Fraser, Habermas, Laclau, Mouffe, Negri, Žižek and others will be considered.\

RELG 594 Kant, Scheiermacher and Anglo-Saxon Epigones: Coleridge, Emerson and Bushnell

Robert Jenson

The history of Neo-Protestantism is generally told as a history of German theology. But the movement enabled by Kant and Schleiermacher had a distinct history in Britain and America. We will read a very little Kant, more of Schleiermacher, and then move to the Anglo-Saxons. Individual participants may linger longer in Britain, or move past the generation of Emerson and Bushnell.

RELB 700 Readings in Japanese Buddhist Texts

Paul Groner

The title says it all.

RELG 705 Narrative Integrity in Drama

Larry Bouchard

This seminar will explore ways in which drama (as literature as well as theatrical performance) may provide a medium for exploring ethical and religious questions involving narrative, character, the self's ethical relations to the "other"(s), etc. It will also explore 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," and "kenotic integrity." A variety of philosophical material (e.g., Emmanuel Levinas, Bernard Williams, Martha Nussbaum, Paul Ricoeur, Margaret Urban Walker) and classical and modern dramatic works will be studied in an effort to critique and re-conceptualize concepts and metaphors of integrity. Along the way, "kenosis" as scriptural and philosophical motif will receive special attention.

RELG 723 Modern Philosophy of Religion

Jamie Ferreira

In this seminar we will examine some 'great books': two fo Soren Kiekegaard's more philosophical texts (Philosophical Fragments and Concluding Unscientific Postscript, authored by Johannes Climacus), as well as Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosphical Investigations. On Certainty, and his small "lecture on religious belief." We will consider the implications of both a 'Wittgensteinian' and a "Kierkegaardian' approach to religion/faith, as well as the import for contemporary religious thought.

RELG 744 Science, Language and God

Peter Ochs

Classical, medieval, and more recent studies in scripture and science, with special emphases on the inter-relations among language, semiotics, the natural world (subatomic and biological), and God. Readings in Bible, some Greek philosophy, Augustine, Maimonides, Bonaventure, Muhammad Iqbal, Peirce, and more recent studies in quantum theory, the logic of science, and their relation to theology (in Polkinghorne, et al).

RELB 826 Topics in Literary Tibetan

David Germano

RELG 837 Environmental Ethics

Willis Jenkins / Jonathan Cannon

Environmental policy is rooted in concepts of the value of nature and our responsibility to protect it. In public debates on the environment and in our individual decisions, environmental values may compete with other values, such as economic well-being or social justice. This seminar focuses on the ethical dimensions of the choices we make, individually and collectively, affecting the environment. Jointly led by an ethicist and an environmental lawyer, it will examine a range of theories and views about the right relationship between us humans and the world in which we find ourselves. These include utilitarian theories (including economic approaches); religious and cultural perspectives; environmental justice; ecocentric and biocentric theories; theories of the rights of animals and nature; deep ecology, ecofeminism, and place-based environmental ethics; and obligations to future generations. We will not only seek to come to terms philosophically with these theories and concepts but also explore how they might apply in actual policy settings. Written Requirement: A substantial research paper.

RELS 895 Research Selected Topics

Instructor: Student's choice

Systematic reading in a select topic under detailed supervision.

RELS 897 Non-Topical Research, Preparation 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.

RELG 899 Pedagogy

TBA

RELS 997 Non-Topical Research, Preparation 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.