Current Courses

FALL 2017 COURSES

 

Courses in African Religions

RELA 2850 Afro Creole Relg in Americas
Schmidt,Jalane Dawn
A survey course which familiarizes students with African-derived religions of the Caribbean and Latin America

RELA 3900 Islam in Africa
Hoehler-Fatton,Cynthia Heyden
This course offers an historical and topical introduction to Islam in Africa.  After a brief overview of the central features of the Muslim faith, our chronological survey begins with the introduction of Islam to North Africa in the 7th century.  We will trace the transmission of Islam via traders and clerics to West Africa and learn about the medieval Muslim kingdoms of the Sub-Sahara.  We will also consider the development of Islamic scholarship and the reform tradition, the growth of Sufi brotherhoods, and the impact of colonization, de-colonization and globalization upon Islam.

Readings and classroom discussions provide a more in-depth exploration of topics encountered in our historical survey.  Through the use of ethnographic and literary materials, we will explore questions such as the translation and transmission of the Qur'an, indigenization and religious pluralism; the role of women in Islamic movements, traditions and practice, and African Muslim spirituality. This course meets the Historical Studies requirement, as well as the Non-Western Perspectives requirement.

RELA 5620 Ritual & Remembrance
Schmidt,Jalane Dawn
By reading ethnographic accounts of ritual performances in West Africa and its Atlantic diaspora, the seminar considers theories of ritual, discursive and non-discursive forms of remembrance, and the production, malleability and politics of memory amidst the particular challenges that the histories of slavery, colonialism, and collective trauma pose to the development of collective identities in the Afro-Atlantic World.

 

Courses in Buddhist Religions

RELB 2054 Tibetan Buddhism Introduction
TBA
A systematic introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, including aspects of its history, iconography, philosophy, ethics, monasticism, rituals, practices, and social milieu. Special attention will be paid to the various strands of Indo-Tibetan culture that have intertwined to produce the immensely rich tradition we see today, though we will also spend a good bit of time examining the uniquely Tibetan tantric technologies that evolved from this process. Previous knowledge of Buddhism is not necessary, but would be helpful for certain segments of the course.

RELB 2900 Buddhist Meditation Traditions
Braun,Erik C
The goal of this course will be to examine different conceptions of Buddhist meditation and how these different conceptions affect the nature of practice and the understanding of the ideal life within a variety of Buddhist traditions.  Thus, the study of Buddhist meditation traditions reveals not just intricate forms of practice, but reveals the nature of the good life and how one lives it.

RELB 3559 Contemporary Chinese Religions
Heller,Natasha L
This course explores religion in contemporary China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.  Topics include the revival and reimagination of traditional Buddhist and Daoist practices , the growth of Christianity, the role of Islam, and the emergence of new religious groups.  Course materials will include primary sources in translation, journalistic account, and documentary films.  

RELB 3655 Buddhism in America
Braun,Erik C
This course is a seminar that examines the development of Buddhism in America going from its earliest appearance to contemporary developments.

RELB 5470 Literary Tibetan V
TBA
Advanced study in the philosophical and spiritual language of Tibet, past and present. Prerequisite: RELB 5000, 5010, 5350, 5360, or equivalent.

RELB 5490 Religious History of Tibet
Germano,David F
Surveys political, social, religious, and intellectual issues in Tibetan history from the fifth to fifteenth centuries, emphasizing the formation of the classical categories, practices, and ideals of Tibetan Buddhism.

RELB 5800 Literary Tibetan VII
TBA
Investigates the techniques and presuppositions involved in the methods used to study Buddhism, including textual, historical, philosophical, and social scientific methods.

RELB 8230 Adv Literary & Spoken Tibetan
Germano,David F
Readings in various genres, including philosophy, poetry, ritual, narrative, and so forth.

 

Courses in Christian Religions

RELC 1210 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
Halvorson-Taylor,Martien A
This course provides an introduction to the Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as the Tanakh and the Torah and to Christians as the Old Testament. We will read, for example, the narratives about Abraham & Sarah, Jacob, Rachel & Leah, Joseph, David, Solomon, Esther, Daniel, Job and the prophecies of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Amos. This course also provides an introduction to methods of modern biblical scholarship; using these methods, 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.

RELC 2050 Rise of Christianity
Shuve,Karl Evan
How did a movement that began as a Jewish sect become the official religion of the Roman Empire and forever change the world? In this course, we will trace Christianity’s improbable rise to religious and cultural dominance in the Mediterranean world during the first millennium of the Common Era. We will examine archaeological remains, artistic creations and many different kinds of writings—including personal letters, stories of martyrs and saints, works of philosophy and theology, and even gospels that were rejected for their allegedly heretical content—as we reimagine and reconstruct the lives and struggles of early and medieval Christians. Our goal will be to understand the development of Christian thought, the evolution of the Church as an institution, and how Christianity was lived out and practiced by its adherents.

RELC 2215 Mormonism and American Culture
Flake,Kathleen 
This course is designed to add substantive depth to a general understanding of American religious pluralism and insight into the socio-historical context of American religion through the study of Mormonism. In addition to introducing Mormonism's basic beliefs and practices, the course will explore issues raised by Mormonism's move toward the American mainstream while retaining its religious identity and cultural distinctiveness.

RELC 2360 Elements of Christian Thought
Jones,Paul Dafydd
This course considers the complex world of Christian thought by examining various perspectives on the nature of faith, the being and action of God, the identity of Jesus of Nazareth, the role of the Bible in theological reflection, and the relationship between Christian thought and social justice. Students will read various important works of Christian theology and become acquainted with a range of theological approaches and ideas. Authors considered include Anselm of Canterbury, John Calvin, Karl Barth, Elizabeth Johnson, and many others. The course is suitable for those seeking an academic introduction to Christian theology and those wishing to deepen their understanding of this religious tradition. No previous knowledge of Christian thought is required.

RELC 3056 In Defense of Sin
Portmann,John Edward
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 practice remain focused on pleasing God, or does it now principally fulfill 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?

RELC 3231 Reformation Europe
Lambert,Erin M
Surveys the development of religious reform movements in continental Europe from c. 1450 to c. 1650 and their impact on politics, social life, science, and conceptions of the self. Cross-listed as HIEU 3231.

RELC 3675 Women in Ancient Christianity
Shuve,Karl Evan
Why were women excluded from the priestly hierarchy of the church? How did male clerics subsequently circumscribe women's roles in the church? And how did women respond? These are the questions that we will explore in this course on the intersection between gender and power in pre-modern Christianity.

RELC 4044 Religion and the American Courts
Portmann,John Edward
What is the legal expanse of religion in American society?  This seminar will explore the limits of spiritual convictions in a liberal democracy which guarantees religious freedom. This course will examine:  1) the First Amendment; 2) legal methodology; and 3) the contemporary debate over whether citizens and public officials have a duty to refrain from making political and legal decisions on the basis of their religious beliefs. After surveying the theoretical literature, we will turn to specific legal issues involving the practice of religion in the United States.  The Supreme Court’s understanding of the Religion Clauses changed substantially in the twentieth century, and so we will focus on the second half of the last century. Requirements:  1) oral presentation; 2) final fifteen-page paper; 3) regular class participation; and 4) three short exams.

RELC 5009 Bonhoeffer, Niebuhr and King
Marsh Jr.,Charles Robert
The course has four goals: (1) to understand the theologies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Martin Luther King Jr.; (2) to explore the themes of resistance and reconciliation in their writings and actions; (3) to examine their ambivalent relationships with academic theology; and (4) to consider the promise of lived theology for contemporary religious thought.

RELC 7515 Reformation to the Present
Jones,Paul Dafydd
This seminar acquaints graduate students with landmark works in Christian thought. In addition to functioning as a survey of major thinkers, it also provides the requisite background for comprehensive examinations in Christian thought. What are the major debates and concepts that have informed Christian thought? What styles of reasoning and deliberation have been employed, and to what ends? Authors considered may include: Martin Luther, John Calvin, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Barth, Sergius Bulgakov, H. Richard Niebuhr, Karl Rahner, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Mary Daly, James Cone, Rosemary Radford Ruether, and Sarah Coakley.

 

Courses in General Religions

RELG 1010 Intro Western Religious Trads
Warren,Heather A
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, two tests and a final

RELG 1040 Intro Eastern Religious Trads
Allen,Michael S
Introduces various aspects of the religious traditions of India, China, and Japan.

RELG 1500 Intro Sem Religious Studies: Religion in America
Mathewes,Charles T
Analysis of different modes of reflecting on religion in America, in ways that throw light on those modes of inquiry, on the category of "religion," and the idea of America.

RELG 1500 Intro Sem Religious Studies: Polytheism
Kachru,Sonam 
This is a course which considers what the study of religion might look like when we do not take Monotheism(s) as  paradigmatic of the meaning of religion. This course explores polytheism as far as possible on its own terms, and not as a foil for monotheism. We shall look to Ancient Greece, Rome and India, and consider the prospect of the return of the gods in European Modernity.

RELG 2210 Religion Ethics & Environment
Jenkins,Willis Jackson
Where do ideas of nature come from, and what cultural and political consequences do they carry?  This course interprets humanity’s changing ecological relationships through religious and philosophical traditions. It takes up ethical questions presented by environmental problems, introduces frameworks for making sense of them, considers relations between imagination and behavior, and argues over the implications for personal commitments and public policy. Online discussion sections. 

RELG 2650 Theological Bioethics
Flores,Nichole M
“What is the relationship between bodies, beliefs, and power? This course analyzes challenging ethical issues in religion and health care from Christian (Catholic and Protestant), Jewish, and Islamic theological perspectives. We begin by exploring various bioethical frameworks (narrative, virtue, principles) before applying these methods to a range of practical issues: end of life care, maternal-fetal relations, transplantation ethics, genetics, research ethics, health care, and global health.  In addition to theology and philosophy, the course readings, lectures, and discussions engage the disciplines of politics, law, and public policy.”

RELG 2820 Jerusalem
Andruss, Jessica
This course traces the history of Jerusalem with a focus on its significance in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. How have these communities experienced and inhabited Jerusalem? How have they imagined the city and interpreted its meaning? How have Jews, Christians, and Muslims expressed their attachments to this contested space from antiquity to modern times? Our exploration will be rooted in primary texts--literary and documentary sources, and visual images--and informed by historical and cultural context, as well as scholarly approaches to sacred space.

RELG 3255 Ethics, Literature & Religion
Bouchard,Larry D
Geddes,Jennifer Leslie
Explores how ethical issues in religious traditions and cultural narratives are addressed in literature, scripture, essay, and memoir. How do stories inquire into “the good life”? How may moral principles and virtues be “tested” by fiction? How does narrative shape identity, mediate universality and particularity, reflect beliefs and values in conflict, and depict suffering?

RELG 3559 Religion on Fire
Ochs,Peter W
The course examine “religion” as an element of socio-political activity in major conflicts in the past two decades: examining the global phenomenon of irremediable, religion-related violent conflict, recent efforts to diagnose religion-specific sources of both violence and peacebuilding, and prospects for cooperative peacebuilding efforts among governmental, civil society, and religious agencies. Admission by application to pwo3v.

RELG 4023 Bioethics Internship Seminar
Marshall,Mary Faith
The course enables students to spend time in medical settings as 'participant-observers,' in order to gain first-hand experience of the subject matter that is the focus of the theory, teaching, and practice of bioethics. Prerequisites: Bioethics Major/Minor

RELG 4220 Amer Religious Autobiography
Warren,Heather 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.

RELG 4500 Religion and Children
Heller,Natasha L
his seminar will focus on children and religion, examining the topic from several theoretical vantage points (e.g. sociological, historical, psychological, ethnographical).  We will draw on different religious traditions to consider ideas about the spiritual development of children, what children represent in religious literature, and materials designed to instruct children in a faith.

RELG 4500 Pilgrimage
Ochs,Vanessa L
Majors’ seminars give in Religious Studies give you an opportunity to step back and consider what you have been studying and how you have been studying it, and hopefully, to better clarify why you have devoted yourself to the study of religion.  One goal, then, of the seminar is to recall that religions are studied through diverse lenses—for example, through the methodologies of different disciplines (for example: anthropology, sociology, history psychology, and material culture) and through the eyes of particular theorists).  The methodologies and theories shape the way we approach, understand and interpret religion. Majors’ seminars also have a distinct focus, and ours will be studying the phenomenon of pilgrimage, emphasizing the diverse ways in which it has been experienced (actually and virtually), described and theorized.

RELG 4800 Research Methods in RS
Hoehler-Fatton,Cynthia Heyden
Designed for students in the Distinguished Majors Program (DMP), this course offers third- and fourth-years the resources they need for conceiving and executing a substantial research project.  Participants will practice essential scholarly skills including: 1) critical and analytical reading; (2) formulating a research topic and questions; (3) crafting an evidence-based argument, and (4) developing a professional voice in non-fiction prose. The course also surveys religious studies arguments constructed from different types of data, sources and evidence so that students get a sense of the range of the field. The class assignments culminate in a prospectus (12-15 pages) and an annotated bibliography (15-20 sources) that will serve as the foundation for the student’s eventual thesis. 

As a follow-up to this course, DMP students are expected to enroll in RELG 4900 (“Distinguished Major Thesis”), which affords them an opportunity to write the thesis they have conceived.  But whether one plans to write a thesis or not, RELG 4800 offers an accessible introduction to the craft of advanced research in religious studies and the humanities more broadly. DMP students from other departments have successfully participated in this course in the past; all researchers are welcome!

The class is conducted as a workshop in which students submit work-in-progress to their peers for feedback and discussion.  An additional aspect of the course, then, entails initiation into the culture of advanced research wherein constructive feedback is given and received in a generous spirit. 

RELG 4810 Poetry and Theology
Hart,Kevin John
This seminar focuses on the writings of two important poets, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Geoffrey Hill. The one is Catholic, and the other questions religion at every level while also remaining open to the possibility of faith. Each poet raises major theological issues: belief, doubt, ecstasy, martyrdom, revelation, transcendence, and theodicy, among them. We will read, as closely as possible, some poems and prose writings by each poet, consider their theological contexts, and examine the ways in which theological issues are folded in their poems. Students will write two essays, one on each poet.  This is not a Majors seminar.

RELG 5559 Theology and Culture
Bouchard,Larry D
fewer):Theological assessments of culture, considered as the human-made environment comprising: language and patterns of living; structures of belief, norms, and practices; and forms of work, thought, and expression. Topics include cultures as contexts for identity, secular experience and secularization, critiques of religion as an aspect of culture, cultural conflict and religious plurality, and theological interpretations of culture and nature.

RELG 5775 Religion on Fire
Ochs,Peter W
The course examine “religion” as an element of socio-political activity in major conflicts in the past two decades: examining the global phenomenon of irremediable, religion-related violent conflict, recent efforts to diagnose religion-specific sources of both violence and peacebuilding, and prospects for cooperative peacebuilding efforts among governmental, civil society, and religious agencies.    .

RELG 7360 Study of Religion
Jenkins,Willis Jackson
Kachru,Sonam 
Given the multidisciplinary character of religious studies, it is imperative for new scholars to gain a basic sense of theoretical and methodological options in the field. By way of an examination of landmark texts, this course surveys the formation of religious studies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and considers some important contemporary approaches.

RELG 7559 TEC Proseminar
Mathewes,Charles T
Flores,Nichole M
A Proseminar introducing students to the various methods and approaches of inquiry in theological, ethical, and philosophical/cultural dimensions of resaerch

RELG 8350 Proseminar in SIP
Ochs,Peter W
This one credit seminar introduces students the Scriptural Interpretation and Practice (SIP) program to recent approaches to the comparative study of scriptural sources and scriptural traditions.

RELG 8400 Historiography Amer Religion
Hedstrom,Matthew Sigurd
This course provides advanced training in the study of American religious history through a careful analysis of important recent and classic scholarship in the field. It is designed to accommodate graduate students whose primary work is in religious history, as well as students from a variety of fields—history, theology, religious studies, politics, literature, anthropology, art history, law, and others—who might benefit from a thorough grounding in the religious history and historiography of the United States.

 

 

Courses in Hindu Religions

RELH 2090 Hinduism
Nemec,John William
This course offers a comprehensive survey of the history of the religion from its earliest days up to the time of the British presence in India.  No previous exposure to Hinduism or Indian religions more generally is required of students who wish to enroll in this course.

RELH 5559 Aesthetics
Nemec,John William
This course will pursue a detailed and technical understanding of Indian aesthetic theory; it will, that is, pursue a comprehensive study of the Alaṃkāraśāstra, in particular the Kashmiri contributions to the same.  Knowledge of Sanskrit is not required but is a plus; significant knowledge of Hinduism/Indian Religions is required of all who want to enroll in this course.

RELH 5559 Sanskrit
Nemec,John William
This is a Sanskrit reading course at the advanced level.  At least 2 years of formal study in Sanskrit is required of all students who wish to enroll in this course.

 

Courses in Islamic Religions

RELI 2085 Modern Islam
Nair,Shankar Ayillath
Surveys Islamic history from the "age of the great empires" (Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal) to the colonial period and up to the present day, including Islam in America. Islamic life and thought will be examined from multiple angles -- including popular piety and spirituality, philosophy and theology, law, gender, art, architecture, and literature -- with particular attention paid to the rise of modern Islamic "fundamentalist" movements.

RELI 3120 Sufism
Nair,Shankar Ayillath
This course will be a historical and topical survey of the development of Sufism from the classical Islamic period through the modern age, paying special attention to the interaction of ideas and the social and political contexts surrounding them.

RELI 3559 Prophecy in Islam and Judaism
Andruss,Jessica H
Prophecy provides the theme for our comparative inquiry into two sacred scriptures (the Qurʾan and the Hebrew Bible) alongside the rich traditions of Muslim and Jewish interpretive literature. We will consider narratives about specific prophets, medieval debates between and within Muslim and Jewish communities about the status and function of prophecy within their traditions, and modern theoretical approaches to prophecy.

RELI 3900 Islam in Africa
Hoehler-Fatton,Cynthia Heyden
This course offers an historical and topical introduction to Islam in Africa.  After a brief overview of the central features of the Muslim faith, our chronological survey begins with the introduction of Islam to North Africa in the 7th century.  We will trace the transmission of Islam via traders and clerics to West Africa and learn about the medieval Muslim kingdoms of the Sub-Sahara.  We will also consider the development of Islamic scholarship and the reform tradition, the growth of Sufi brotherhoods, and the impact of colonization, de-colonization and globalization upon Islam.

Readings and classroom discussions provide a more in-depth exploration of topics encountered in our historical survey.  Through the use of ethnographic and literary materials, we will explore questions such as the translation and transmission of the Qur'an, indigenization and religious pluralism; the role of women in Islamic movements, traditions and practice, and African Muslim spirituality. This course meets the Historical Studies requirement, as well as the Non-Western Perspectives requirement.

 

Courses in Judaic Religions

RELJ 1210 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
Halvorson-Taylor,Martien A
This course provides an introduction to the Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as the Tanakh and the Torah and to Christians as the Old Testament. We will read, for example, the narratives about Abraham & Sarah, Jacob, Rachel & Leah, Joseph, David, Solomon, Esther, Daniel, Job and the prophecies of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Amos. This course also provides an introduction to methods of modern biblical scholarship; using these methods, 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.

RELJ 1410 Elementary Classical Hebrew I
Goering,Gregory Wayne Schmidt
Learning a new language can be extremely challenging and immensely fun. This course promises to be both. In this course (in combination with its sequel, HEBR/RELJ 1420) students will develop a basic grasp of classical (biblical) Hebrew grammar and syntax. By the end of the spring semester, students will be able to read and translate narrative prose from the Hebrew Bible. Being able to read the Hebrew Bible in its original language provides a better window into the life and thought of the ancient Israelites, as well as a foundation for interpretation of the Jewish Bible and the Christian Old Testament. Students who successfully complete this course and its sequel will be able to continue study of classical Hebrew at the intermediate level.

RELJ 2030 Introduction to Judaism
Alexander,Elizabeth S
This course introduces students to the academic study of Judaism.  We will use historical methods to observe change and development in Jewish beliefs and practices over time, we will analyze Jewish texts to learn about Jewish beliefs and practices, and we will observe contemporary Jews engaged in Jewish practice to gain insight into Judaism as lived religion.  Among the topics covered are:  sacred text study, prayer, rituals of daily life, holy day practices and life cycle passages.

RELJ 2410 Intermed Classical Hebrew I
Goering,Gregory Wayne Schmidt
In this course, which continues and builds upon HEBR/RELJ 1420, students will develop facility in the reading, comprehension, and translation of biblical Hebrew. Students will review basic grammar, learn to analyze syntax, and build their working vocabulary. As a secondary objective of the course, students will learn to interpret biblical prose. By the end of the course, students will be able to read and translate from Hebrew to English moderately difficult prose passages.
 

RELJ 3052 Responses to the Holocaust
Geddes,Jennifer Leslie
Responses to the Holocaust

RELJ 3170 Modern Jewish Thought
Biemann,Asher D
This course introduces the medieval Jewish intellectual tradition (9th-13th centuries) in its cultural and historical context. We will explore key themes such as the nature of God, prophecy, exile, the status of Scripture, the history of religions, and the quest for spiritual perfection. Readings will be drawn from philosophical, theological, exegetical, pietistic and mystical texts, including works from Saadia Gaon, Judah Halevi, and Maimonides.

RELJ 3559 Prophecy in Islam and Judaism
Andruss,Jessica H
Prophecy provides the theme for our comparative inquiry into two sacred scriptures (the Qurʾan and the Hebrew Bible) alongside the rich traditions of Muslim and Jewish interpretive literature. We will consider narratives about specific prophets, medieval debates between and within Muslim and Jewish communities about the status and function of prophecy within their traditions, and modern theoretical approaches to prophecy.

RELJ 3559 Contemporary Jewish Fiction
Ochs,Vanessa L

RELJ 5105 Religion and Culture of Rabbis
Alexander,Elizabeth S
An examination of religion and culture of the rabbinic movement (c. 70-600 CE) in the social and cultural contexts of Greco-Roman antiquity.  Among the issues to be examined: 1) rituals and institutions of the rabbis, 2) social organization within the rabbinic movement and 3) rabbinic engagement with other sectors of Jewish and non-Jewish society.

RELJ 5559 Hermann Cohen
Biemann,Asher D
The  Jewish philosopher Hermann Cohen was one of the most influential thinkers of 20th-century religious thought. The seminar traces Cohen's neo-Kanian legacy in Europe and the United States. Apart from Cohen's work, we will cover select topics in Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, Ernst Cassirer, Ernst Bloch, Leo Strauss, Mordecai Kaplan, and Steven Schwarzschild.

 

FALL 2016 COURSES

LIsted below are courses offered during the current semester, grouped by specialization: African ReligionsBuddhismChristianityGeneral Religious StudiesHinduismIslam, and Judaism. For more information, please contact the course instructor or consult the public unofficial course directory on Lou's List

Fall 2018

Fall

RELA 2850 | Afro Creole Relg in Americas

Schmidt,Jalane Dawn

A survey course which familiarizes students with African-derived religions of the Caribbean and Latin America

RELA 3730 | Religious Themes in African Literature and Film

Hoehler-Fatton,Cynthia

An exploration of religious concepts, practices and issues as addressed in African literature and film. We will examine how various African authors and filmmakers weave aspects of Muslim, Christian and/or traditional religious cultures into the stories they tell. Course materials will be drawn from novels, memoirs, short stories, creation myths, poetry, feature-length movies, documentaries and short films.

RELA 3890 | Christianity in Africa

Hoehler-Fatton,Cynthia

An historical and topical survey of Christianity in Africa from the 2nd Century CE to the present. We will cover medieval Ethiopian Orthodoxy and Kongolese Christianity, European colonial missions, indigenous churches, contemporary Pentecostal mega-churches, and African theologies. Themes and topics will include: colonialism and evangelism, translation and inculturation of the Gospel, and healing and prophecy.  In exploring models of religious change, we will position the Christian movement within the wider context of African religious history and attempt to understand Africa's place in the larger course of Christian history. Cross listed with RELC 3890.

This course meets the following Gen. Ed. requirements:  Historical Studies/Historical Perspectives; Non-Western Perspectives/Cultures and Societies of the World.

RELB 2054 | Tibetan Buddhism Introduction

Oertle, Franziska

Provides a systematic introduction to Tibetan Buddhism with a strong emphasis on tantric traditions of Buddhism - philosophy, contemplation, ritual, monastic life, pilgrimage, deities & demons, ethics, society, history, and art. The course aims to understand how these various aspects of Tibetan religious life mutually shape each other to form the unique religious traditions that have pertained on the Tibetan plateau for over a thousand years.

RELB 2100 | Buddhism

Braun, Erik

Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana Buddhist developments in India.

RELB 3150 | Gender and Buddhism

Liang, Jue

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 is gender and Buddhism, exploring historical, textual and social questions relevant to the status of women and men in the Buddhist world from its origins to the present day.

RELB 5470 | Literary Tibetan V

Weinberger, Steven

Advanced study in the philosophical and spiritual language of Tibet, past and present. Prerequisite: RELB 5000, 5010, 5350, 5360, or equivalent.

RELB 5800 | Literary Tibetan VII

Weinberger, Steven

Examines the Yogachara-Svatantrika system as presented in Jang-kya's Presentation of Tenets, oral debate, and exercises in spoken Tibetan. Prerequisite: RELB 5000, 5010, 5350, 5360, 5470, 5480 or equivalent.

RELB 8230 | Advanced Literary and Spoken Tibetan

Weinberger, Steven

Readings in various genres, including philosophy, poetry, ritual, narrative, and so forth.

RELC 1220 | Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

Halvorson-Taylor, Martien

This course provides an introduction to the Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as the Tanakh and the Torah and to Christians as the Old Testament. We will read, for example, the narratives about Abraham & Sarah, Jacob, Rachel & Leah, Joseph, David, Solomon, Esther, Daniel, Job and the prophecies of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Amos. This course also provides an introduction to methods of modern biblical scholarship; using these methods, 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.

RELC 2050 | The Rise of Christianity

Shuve, Karl

This course traces the rise of Christianity in the first millennium of the Common Era, covering the development of doctrine, the evolution of its institutional structures, and its impact on the cultures in which it flourished. Students will become acquainted with the key figures, issues, and events from this formative period, when Christianity evolved from marginal Jewish sect to the dominant religion in the Roman Empire.

RELC 2215 | Mormonism and American Culture

Flake, Kathleen

This course is designed to add substantive depth to a general understanding of American religious pluralism and insight into the socio-historical context of American religion through the study of Mormonism. In addition to introducing Mormonism's basic beliefs and practices, the course will explore issues raised by Mormonism's move toward the American mainstream while retaining its religious identity and cultural distinctiveness.

RELC 2245 | Global Christianity

TBA

The story of Christianity's emergence in the Middle East and its migration into Europe and then North America is just one aspect of Christian history, which also has a rich and long history in Africa, Asia and other parts of the global South. This course looks at the shape Christianity is taking in non-Western parts of the world and how this growth impacts Christianity in the West.

RELC 2360 | Elements of Christian Thought

Jones, Paul

This course considers the complex world of Christian thought, examining various perspectives on the nature of faith, the being and action of God, the identity of Jesus of Nazareth, the role of the Bible in theological reflection, and the relationship between Christian thought and social justice. Students will read various important works of Christian theology and become acquainted with a range of theological approaches and ideas.

RELC 3222 | From Jefferson to King

Hadley, Mark

A seminar focused upon some of the most significant philosophical and religious thinkers that have shaped and continued to shape American religious thought and culture from the founding of the Republic to the Civil Rights Movement, including Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jane Addams, William James, Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Luther King, Jr. We will explore how their thought influenced the social and cultural currents of their time.

RELC 3559-001 | Biblical Outsiders

Morris, Peter

This class considers the idenity and boundaries of religious communities as they are articulated in the Hebrew Bible , the New Testament, and other ancient religious literature. It will ask about what places a person or group outside of the people of God as imagined in biblical literature. Specific issues will include the excluded ethnicitities, gender, and the rhetoric of universalism.

RELC 3559-002 | Jesus in Film

Sellick, Jeannie

This course offers a fresh look at the life of Jesus from the perspective of both ancient and modern sources. We will examine the canonical gospels, apocryphal literature, and modern films to understand how the story of Jesus’ birth, life, and death has been shaped by ancient and modern imaginations.

RELC 3890 | Christianity in Africa

Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia

An historical and topical survey of Christianity in Africa from the 2nd Century CE to the present. We will cover medieval Ethiopian Orthodoxy and Kongolese Christianity, European colonial missions, indigenous churches, contemporary Pentecostal mega-churches, and African theologies. Themes and topics will include: colonialism and evangelism, translation and inculturation of the Gospel, and healing and prophecy.  In exploring models of religious change, we will position the Christian movement within the wider context of African religious history and attempt to understand Africa's place in the larger course of Christian history. Cross listed with RELA 3890.

This course meets the following Gen. Ed. requirements:  Historical Studies/Historical Perspectives; Non-Western Perspectives/Cultures and Societies of the World.

RELC 5559 | Schleiermacher and Tillich

A comparative engagement with key works by F. D. E. Schleiermacher and Paul Tillich, two of the most important protestant thinkers of the last two hundred years. The course will pay particular attention to both authors'  attitudes to the category of "religion," the meaning of cultural production, and the nature of experience. It will also engage both authors' perspectives on central issues in the field of Christian thought.

RELG 1010 | Introduction to Western Religions

Warren, Heather

Studies the major religious traditions of the Western world; Judaism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam.

RELG 1040 | Introduction to Eastern Religious Traditions

Nemec, John

Introduces various aspects of the religious traditions of India, China, and Japan.

RELG 1400 | The Art and Science of Human Flourishing

Trail, Juliet, Hubbard, Leslie

This course explores human flourishing, well-being, and resiliency across academic, personal, and professional spheres. The course presents a balance of theory and practice, organized into five domains: self-awareness, well-being, connection, wisdom, and integration. Each week explores a single quality of flourishing through scientific research, humanistic reflection, and artistic expression, as well as a detailed set of contemplative practices.

RELG 2820 | Jerusalem

Andruss, Jessica

This course traces the history of Jerusalem with a focus on its significance in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. How has Jerusalem been experienced and interpreted as sacred within these religious communities? How have they expressed their attachments to this contested space from antiquity to modern times? Discussion will be rooted in primary texts from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources, with attention to their historical context.

RELG 3325 | Civil Rights

Marsh, Charles

The seminar considers the American Civil Rights Movement, its supporters and opponents, in religious and theological perspective.  While interdisciplinary in scope, the seminar will explore the religious motivations and theological sources in their dynamic particularity; and ask how images of God shaped conceptions of personal identity, social existence, race and nation in the campaigns and crusades for equal rights under the law.

RELG 3360 | Conquests and Religions in the Americas, 1400s-1830s

Schmidt, Jalane

Beginning with Islamic-ruled Spain and the Aztec and Incan empires, the course examines historical changes in the religious practices of indigenous peoples, enslaved Africans and European settlers in Latin America and the Caribbean under European colonization and the transatlantic slave trade. Topics include: religious violence, human sacrifice, the Inquisition; missions; race, gender and sexuality; slavery, revolts, revolutions, nationalism.

RELG 3559-001 | Latino Religions

Lamas, Carmen

This course interrogates the role of religion in shaping, directing and influencing the political inclinations and the self-definitions of Latinos. We will ask: How do Protestantism, Catholicism and other religious practices speak to the place of Latinos in public life? All readings, writing and discussions will be in English.

RELG 3559-003 | Sustainability and Asceticism

Allen, Michael

To what extent does the pursuit of sustainability require restraining or retraining our desires?
How can people be encouraged to consume less, or in less destructive ways, when cultures of
consumption prove resistant to change? This seminar will explore these questions from the
perspective of South Asian traditions (Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain). We will consider classical
sources as well as contemporary debates about sustainable development.

RELG 3559-005 | Gods, Humans, Robots

Heller, Natasha

The growing role of robots in society presents new challenges, but many of the ethical and philosophical issues raised by robots are not new. This course will examine golems, automatons, and cyborgs alongside robots to consider what distinguishes humans, what it means to be embodied, and what relationships we should have with the nonhuman. Readings will range across different cultural traditions, including both scholarly and popular sources.

RELG 3600 | Religion and Modern Theatre

Bouchard, Larry

What relationships does religion have with the theatrical arts? Performance plays a major role in religious ritual, and the story of contemporary theatre in America can map a trajectory from Greek tragedy through medieval pageantry to modern and avant-garde dramas all the way to Broadway’s The Book of Mormon. This course will examine how drama and performance are linked with religious traditions and experience, sacred themes, and with some secular and theological perspectives on religion.   Modern theatre has often sought to revitalize its historical and thematic relations with ritual and sacred stories, and it has also probed the ethical and performed dimensions of selves and communities—as seen against the presence (or absence) of either a transcendent, divine horizon or an immanent sense of the sacred. Theatre also presses boundaries of moral and theological acceptability by staging questions about truth and illusion, obscenity and frivolity, and what sorts of stories we should tell. What differences do such relations make in our enjoyment, understanding, and criticism of theatrical drama? How can theatre expand and nuance the study of religion and culture?

            We will encounter a number of classical dramas (e.g., Greek tragedy, “mystery” plays, Shakespeare) and plays by modern-or-contemporary dramatists (such as Peter Shaffer), who bring new takes to ancient themes.  Some dramatists have explicitly explored religious themes or subjects (such as Denys Arcand's film-about-a-performance, Jesus of Montreal; the Scholem Aleichem story turned into Fiddler on the Roof; Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Schwartz’s Mass; and Wole Soyinka’s exploration of Yoruba religion and European theatrical traditions in Death and the King’s Horsemen).  We will also look at ostensibly secular plays and musicals (such as Jonathan Larson’s musical, Rent, or T.S. Eliot’s The Cocktail Party) that nonetheless take up questions of religion, spirituality, and political life (more examples: plays by Samuel Beckett, Brian Friel, Caryl Churchill, Tony Kushner, John Patrick Shanley, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Mary Zimmerman).  And we will sample ritual theory, performance theory, and religious/theological views of drama and theatrical performance.  The syllabus is always changing and will be available soon.

            Mode of teaching: some lectures, much discussion, reading/performing aloud, perhaps play attendance and film screenings, possibly even class performance.

Requirements: regular class attendance and participation; weekly very short response questions or comments emailed to the instructor, three prompt-directed essays (meeting the 2nd writing requirement for those who desire it) or a creative project in lieu of the third essay.

RELG 3605 | Religion, Violence and Strategy: How to Stop Killing in the Name of God

White, Gerard

This course will teach students to evaluate critically the leadership and strategies of social impact campaigns, and the ways in which governments, religious actors and civil society have tried to reduce violent conflict. Students will be organized into small integrated teams to research the root causes and triggers for religion-related violence across the Middle East and North Africa.

RELG 3630 | Idolatry

Biemann, Asher

Beginning with Biblical sources and concluding with contemporary texts, this course will examine the philosophical framework of casting idolatry as an unspeakable sin: What is an idol, and why is idolatry so objectionable? With an emphasis on Judaism, though not exclusively, we will discuss idolatry in the context of representation, election, otherness, emancipation, nationalism, secularism, religious innovation, and messianism.

RELG 4023 | Bioethics Internship Seminar

Marshall, Mary Faith

The course enables students to spend time in medical settings as 'participant-observers,' in order to gain first-hand experience of the subject matter that is the focus of the theory, teaching, and practice of bioethics. Prerequisites: Bioethics Major/Minor

RELG 4220 | American Religious Autobiography

Warren, Heather

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.

RELG 4550 | Majors Seminar: Sex, Gender and Religion

Shuve, Karl

What do sex and the body have to do with religious thought and practice? That is the primary question we will explore in this seminar, through an analysis of sources deriving a number of religious traditions—especially Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. We will consider topics such as purity and defilement; patriarchy and the subordination of women; the link between sexuality and “spirituality”; and definitions of marriage.

RELG 4559 | MLK, Jr.: Power, Love, Justice

Wallace, Maurice (Dept of African American Studies)

This course will study closely the written and homiletical works of the man widely held to be one of the greatest moral leaders and rhetoricians in modern history: Martin Luther King, Jr.  We will study King’s best-known writings and speeches including “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Strength the Love, and his singular “I Have a Dream” oration with a special emphasis on King's political, ethical and theological vision.

RELG 4800 | Crafting a Research Project in Religious Studies

Alexander, Elizabeth

This course offers third- and fourth-year Religious Studies majors resources for conceiving and executing a major research project. As a follow-up, students usually take RELG 4900 ("Distinguished Major Thesis"), which affords them an opportunity to write the research project they have conceived in this course. Whether you plan to write a thesis or not, RELG 4800 offers an accessible introduction to the craft of research in Religious Studies.

RELG 4810 | Poetry and Theology

Hart, Kevin

This seminar seeks to develop a close reading of major religious poetry by two major religious poets

RELG 5321 | Proseminar in Religion, Politics & Conflict

Ochs, Peter

The Proseminar for MA students in Religion, Politics & Conflict meets monthly each semester to discuss student research, to integrate methods and themes in the field, to facilitate professional development, and to deepen relationships with colleagues.

RELG 5801 | Crafting a Research Project in Religious Studies

Alexander, Elizabeth

This course offers MA students in Religious Studies resources for conceiving and executing a major research project or thesis. By the end of the semester, each participant will have completed a well-organized, detailed prospectus. The prospectus will reflect the guidance of one¿s thesis advisor as well as the scrutiny of the instructor and input from peers. Each student will thus be poised to begin writing his/her thesis the following semester.

RELG 5821 | Proseminar in World Religions, World Literatures

Ochs, Peter

This monthly seminar explores methods and issues vital to the combined study of literatures and religions. It brings all MA students together, under faculty guidance, to attend to the broad range of individual projects and to foster a rich conversation that traverses the emergent field of study.

RELG 5835 | Ethnography and the Study of Religion

Ochs, Vanessa

 

This course studies religious experience and practice from an ethnographic perspective. Readings will include a wide range of ethnographies of religions and reflections on methodology. Students will engage in small ethnographic fieldwork projects, beginning with simple encounters and concluding with  "deep hanging out," a process of spending time over several weeks in local setting where “religion” broadly interpreted, is practiced. We will study ways that people gather field notes and write up their finding and  will be consulting theories and reading ethnographies throughout the semester.

RELG 7130 | American Spirituality

Hedstrom, Matthew

What is "spirituality" and why has it become such a pervasive term in contemporary American culture? This course explores this question through historical interrogation of the category and its development since the early nineteenth century. The encounter of historic religious traditions, especially Protestant Christianity, with the intellectual, cultural, economic, and social currents of modernity will form the larger background for our analysis.

RELG 7360 | Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion

Erik Braun, Jennifer Geddes

Given the multidisciplinary character of religious studies, it is imperative for new scholars to gain a basic sense of theoretical and methodological options in the field. By way of an examination of landmark texts, this course surveys the formation of religious studies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and considers some important contemporary approaches.

RELG 8350 | Proseminar in Scripture Interpretation and Practice

Ochs, Peter

This one credit seminar introduces students the Scriptural Interpretation and Practice (SIP) program to recent approaches to the comparative study of scriptural sources and scriptural traditions.

RELG 8715 | Tutorial: Abrahamic Philosophical Theologies

Ochs, Peter

This seminar provides some philosophic disciplines needed for theological study today: resources in logic, philosophic reasoning, metaphysics, and epistemology, from classic Greek sources through the contemporary period. Students will examine how these resources inform works in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim theology: medieval, modern and contemporary. For 2018, the seminar will focus on sources and uses of claims about the “universal,” the “true.

RELG 8716 | Tutorial: Religion, Politics and Conflict

Ochs, Peter

Advanced research on religion, politics and conflict.  Research methods drawn from religious studies, politics, anthropology and linguistics, history, sociology, nursing, philosophy, systems analysis and data science.  Extensive reading on recent literature in religion and peace building, religion and foreign affairs, conflict analysis, policies and strategies identity-and religion-related conflict.

RELG 8719 | Tutorial: The Frankfurt School

Geddes, Jennifer

This course will focus on key texts of the group of scholars known as the Frankfurt School, including Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin, and Jürgen Habermas.

RELH 3559 | The History of Yoga

Allen, Michael

Yoga is practiced by millions of people across the world and comes in an astonishing variety of forms. Historically, yoga has roots in ancient Indian practices of asceticism and meditation. But how are these practices related to yoga as it practiced today? This seminar will trace the history of yoga from its earliest origins to the present. Readings will include both primary sources (in translation) and works of contemporary scholarship.

RELI 2070 | Classical Islam

Stafford, Samuel

Studies the Irano-Semitic background, Arabia, Muhammad and the Qur'an, the Hadith, law and theology, duties and devotional practices, sectarian developments, and Sufism.

RELI 3110 | Muhammad and the Qur'an

Stafford, Samuel

Systematic reading of the Qur'an in English, with an examination of the prophet's life and work. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.

RELI 3355 | Prophecy in Islam and Judaism (This course has been canceled)

Andruss, Jessica

This course has been canceled. 

RELI 5540 | Seminar in Islamic Studies

Andruss, Jessica

Contact the instructor at jha9s@virginia.edu

RELJ 1220 | Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

Halvorson-Taylor, Martien

This course provides an introduction to the Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as the Tanakh and the Torah and to Christians as the Old Testament. We will read, for example, the narratives about Abraham & Sarah, Jacob, Rachel & Leah, Joseph, David, Solomon, Esther, Daniel, Job and the prophecies of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Amos. This course also provides an introduction to methods of modern biblical scholarship; using these methods, 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.

RELJ 1410 | Elementary Classical Hebrew I

Goering, Gregory

Learning a new language can be extremely challenging and immensely fun. This course promises to be both. In this course (in combination with its sequel, HEBR/RELJ 1420) students will develop a basic grasp of classical (biblical) Hebrew grammar and syntax. By the end of the spring semester, students will be able to read and translate narrative prose from the Hebrew Bible. Being able to read the Hebrew Bible in its original language provides a better window into the life and thought of the ancient Israelites, as well as a foundation for interpretation of the Jewish Bible and the Christian Old Testament. Students who successfully complete this course and its sequel will be able to continue study of classical Hebrew at the intermediate level.

Course Goals

Acquire an understanding of basic Hebrew grammar and syntax.
Master approximately 450 vocabulary words, from Hebrew to English.
Understand and apply rules of Hebrew grammar and syntax to the analysis of Hebrew sentences.
Learn to pronounce classical Hebrew accurately and fluidly.
Translate Hebrew sentences into English.
Memorize and recite a short Hebrew passage.
Discover how much fun it is read Hebrew!

RELJ 2410 | Intermediate Classical Hebrew I

TBA

In this course, which continues and builds upon HEBR/RELJ 1420, students will develop facility in the reading, comprehension, and translation of biblical Hebrew. Students will review basic grammar, learn to analyze syntax, and build their working vocabulary. As a secondary objective of the course, students will learn to interpret biblical prose. By the end of the course, students will be able to read and translate from Hebrew to English moderately difficult prose passages.

Course Goals

Achieve intermediate proficiency in basic Hebrew grammar and syntax.
Master Hebrew vocabulary down to words appearing approximately 100 times or more.
Identify elements of Hebrew syntax.
Apply rules of Hebrew grammar and syntax to the analysis of Hebrew prose.
Develop accuracy and speed in the pronunciation of classical Hebrew.
Translate with the aid of a dictionary prose passages from Hebrew to English.
Memorize and recite a short passage of Hebrew prose.
Discover how much fun it is read Hebrew prose!

RELJ 3170 | Modern Jewish Thought

Biemann, Asher

This course offers an introduction into the major themes of Modern Jewish Thought.

RELJ 3355 | Prophecy in Islam and Judaism (This course has been canceled)

Andruss, Jessica

This course has been canceled

RELJ 3559 | Biblical Outsiders

Morris, Peter

This class considers the idenity and boundaries of religious communities as they are articulated in the Hebrew Bible , the New Testament, and other ancient religious literature. It will ask about what places a person or group outside of the people of God as imagined in biblical literature. Specific issues will include the excluded ethnicitities, gender, and the rhetoric of universalism.

RELJ 5100 | Theology and Ethics of the Rabbis

Alexander, Elizabeth

This course explores theological and ethical themes in classical rabbinic literature (c. 200-600 CE). Focus is on gaining fluency in textual and conceptual analysis. Questions examined include: How is the relationship between God, humans generally and the people Israel specifically, imagined? What is evil and how is it best managed? What is the nature of one's obligation to fellow human beings? How does one cultivate an ideal self?

RELJ 5559 | Holocaust Studies

Geddes, Jennifer

This course will introduce students to major issues in current Holocaust Studies, with discussions of testimonies, theological responses, historical works, and theoretical texts..

RELJ 8714 | Tutorial: Scriptural Reasoning in Judaism

Ochs, Peter

How recent Jewish philosophy and theology has turned back to the study of sacred texts. How that turn has engendered another turn: to intensive dialogue with like-minded Christian and Muslim philosophers and theologians. The course will require considerable reading in scriptural texts and in both classical and contemporary commentaries - philosophic and theological