Spring 2016 Courses

AFRICAN RELIGIONS

RELA      3559       Magic and Witchcraft
Schmidt,Jalane
Contact professor directly

RELA      3900       Islam in Africa
Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia
This course offers an historical and topical introduction to Islam in Africa.  After a brief overview of the central tenets and rituals 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.  We will consider the medieval Muslim kingdoms; the development of Islamic scholarship and the reform tradition; the growth of Sufi brotherhoods; and the impact of European colonization and de-colonization upon African Muslims. We will also consider distinctive aspects of Islam in East Africa, such as the flowering of Swahili devotional literature, and the tradition of saint veneration. Readings and classroom discussions provide a more in-depth exploration of topics and themes encountered in our historical survey.  Through the use of ethnographic and literary materials, we will explore issues such as the translation and transmission of the Qur'an, indigenization and religious pluralism; the role of women in African Islam; and African Islamic spirituality. This course meets the Historical Studies requirement, as well as the Non-Western Perspectives requirement.  One prior course on Islam or African religions is recommended.

RELA      4085       Christian Missions in Contemporary Africa
Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia
This seminar examines Christian missions in Africa in the 21st Century.  Through a variety of disciplinary lenses, we examine faith-based initiatives in Africa—those launched from abroad, as well as those initiated by Africans themselves.  What does it mean to be a missionary in Africa today? How are evangelizing efforts being transformed in response to democratization, globalization and a growing awareness of human rights?  What is the relationship between evangelism and economic development, proselytism and humanitarian aid, and mission and education today? This seminar is intended for advanced undergraduates with a serious interest—and preferably some experience—in Africa.  At least one prior course on Christianity and/or Africa is recommended.

BUDDHISM

RELB      2054       Tibetan Buddhism Introduction
Schaeffer, Kurtis
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      2165       Buddhist Meditation and the Modern World
Trautz, Nicholas
This course offers a survey of Buddhist meditation traditions in India and Tibet, an introduction to the ways that meditation is adapted and used today throughout many areas of life, and a chance to practice secular meditation techniques in a contemplative lab. In class meetings are experimentally based.

RELB      2559       Buddhist Meditation Traditions
Braun, EriK
Contact professor directly

RELB      3030       Mindfulness and Compassion
Bach, Dorthea
Bauer-Wu, Susan
This elective course provides an in-depth and rich experience in contemplative practices, namely secular mindfulness and compassion practices. It is designed to prepare students to live more fully, be more engaged and compassionate citizens and professionals, and navigate life’s stressors with greater clarity, peace of mind, and healthy behaviors. It’s based on Buddhist principles and the secular, evidence-based Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, yet expanded upon and modified specifically for college students. Pedagogical approaches will include regular in-class and homework guided meditations, rich interactive class discussions, and readings and discussions on the burgeoning research evidence in contemplative sciences. We will explore a variety of secular contemplative practices that foster self-awareness, emotional regulation, mental stability, and prosocial mental qualities, like empathy, compassion, generosity and gratitude. In addition to structured meditations, we will engage with a variety of informal practices to facilitate mindful awareness of everyday activities.

RELB      3190       Buddhist Nirvana
Kachru, Sonam
This course explores the history and contested formulations of the Buddhist ideal of felicity, nirvana. We will explore the metaphors and concepts developed to think about nirvana, attending to Buddhist systematic, lyrical and narrative thought. Attention will be paid to the reception of the term in nineteenth century Europe, and the specter of nihilism which once shadowed the study of Buddhism, while sensitizing ourselves to much earlier criticisms of the idea of nirvana available in South Asia, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist. There are no prerequisites. This class should interest: students of Buddhism, Hinduism, South Asia, Theology, Literature and Religion, Philosophy, Anthropology, and students of the History of Religion with an interest in methodological issues involved in the study of religion.

RELB      3559       Buddhist Tantra
Campbell, John
Contact professor directly

RELB      5055       Buddhist Philosophy
Kachru, Sonam
This is a course introducing the subject of Buddhist Philosophy as it developed in Classical India from roughly 200 C.E.-1300 C.E in conversation with multiple traditions of reasoning--that is, as a discipline involving (as a minimum) conceptual analysis and the give and take of reasons and arguments, and worthy of being engaged with philosophically today. Topics of concern for Buddhist philosophers introduced in this course include: reductionism about personal identity; mereology; skepticism with respect to identity criteria for things (in the broadest possible sense) and non-realism with respect to truth more generally; the relationship between conventions and theories of the world; the distinction between conceptual and non-conceptual content; the prospect of a nominalist semantics and the prospects for solipsism as a metaphysical, epistemological and methodological claim. This course has no prerequisites, but an introduction to philosophy and / or an introduction to Buddhism will be particularly helpful. This course should be of interest to students of Buddhism, Philosophy (Ancient and Contemporary), Hinduism, South Asia, Theology, and all those interested in the place of reasons in any life worth living.

RELB      5480       Literary Tibetan VI
Advanced study in the philosophical and spiritual language of Tibet, past and present. Prerequisite: RELB 5000, 5010, 5350, 5360, or equivalent.

RELB      5559       Buddhist Modernities
Braun, EriK    
Contact professor directly

RELB      5810       Literary Tibetan VIII
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

CHRISTIANITY

RELC      1220       New Testament and Early Christianity
Spittler, Janet  
Studies the history, literature, and theology of earliest Christianity in light of the New Testament. Emphasizes the cultural milieu and methods of contemporary biblical criticism.

RELC      2060       The Reform and Global Expansion of Christianity
Shuve, Karl
How did Christianity become a global religion with hundreds of denominations and nearly two billion adherents? In this course, we will explore the reform and expansion of Christianity in the second millennium of the Common Era, from the high Middle Ages to the present day.

RELC      2155       Whiteness and Religion
Schmidt, Jalane  
Contact professor directly

RELC      2460       Spirit of Catholicism: Its Creeds and Customs
Fogarty, Gerald  
The course will trace the origins and development of Roman Catholic doctrine in light of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The following topics will be treated: the nature and person of Christ as examined in the first ecumenical councils from Nicaea (325) to Chalcedon (451); the nature of the Church and its authority vested in bishops and the pope; original sin, grace, and justification; the rise of hte Reformation in western Christianity.

RELC      3090       Israelite Prophecy
Goering, Gregory
In this course, we will examine the phenomenon of prophecy in ancient Israel. We will read in translation most of the stories from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament about prophets (Moses, Deborah, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha), as well as the books attributed to prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and The Twelve). We will locate each primary text in its historical, cultural, and political contexts, compare Israelite prophecy to similar phenomena in the neighboring cultures of the ancient Near East, and consider modern anthropological studies of shamanism. At the end of the course, we will examine the transformation of prophecy in the Second Temple period and the emergence of apocalypticism.

RELC      3150       Salem Witch Trials
Ray, Benjamin
The course will explore the historical scholarship, fictional literature, and primary source materials relating to the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692. How did the  accusations begin? Why did they spread far and wide? Serious theories and wild  speculations abound, both in 1692 and today. Who were the female and male  heroes, victims, and villains of this tragic episode? The most gripping personal  stories are to be found in the court records and in the literary portrayals by  Nathaniel Hawthorne and Arthur Miller. The course will draw upon parts of the  following historical works: Entertaining Satan by John Demos, Satan and Salem  by Benjamin Ray,  and The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff, in addition to  selected journal articles, as well as Arthur Miller's classic play The Crucible. All  discussion sections will be online, and students will write three two page essays  on the reading materials.  The  class will make extensive use of the online  "Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive” <http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/> which  contains all the original court documents and contemporary accounts.

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 continue 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.  This course fulfills the College’s Second Writing Requirement.

RELC      3245       Religious Liberty
Flake, Kathleen
Contact professor directly

RELC      3559       Christian Discipleship and Martyrdom
Flores, Nichole  
What defines Christian martyrdom? How does it relate to the broader demands of Christian discipleship? How does it relate to the ethical themes of love and justice? This course will engage readings in Christian theology and ethics to pursue these questions. The seminar emphasizes martyrdom in Christian tradition, but comparative religious research can be incorporated into student projects. 

RELC      3559       Catholic Experience
Fogarty, Gerald  
Contact professor directly

RELC      3559       God, Love & Sin Middle Ages
Hawthorne, Laura
This course explores Western Christian thought during the Middle Ages, beginning with Augustine at the end of late antiquity through the early fifteenth century. We will examine the theological works and historical context of authors throughout the period, paying particular attention to their ideas about divine love, human sin, and gender. In addition to Augustine, we will read works by Anselm of Canterbury, Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter Abelard, Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, and Julian of Norwich. The course will encourage you to develop your skills as a scholarly thinker, researcher, and writer. The readings and discussions will be challenging, but the instructor will provide guidance and encourage student interaction and collaboration. Students of all years and majors are encouraged to enroll. Contact the instructor to discuss the class.

RELC      3620       Modern Theology
Hart, Kevin  
Who are the great modern Christian theologians? What do they have to say to us? What do they argue about? Who did they offend and why? In this seminar we shall read major works by four of the truly great modern theologians of the twentieth century. Two are Protestant (Karl Barth and Paul Tillich), and two are Catholic (Karl Rahner and Henri de Lubac).

RELC      4610       Sex and Morality
Portmann, John

How have Jewish and Christian morals shaped sexual experience in the West?  What do contemporary Americans mean by “family values”?  Focusing on the United States today, we will analyze pre-marital sex, the sexual revolution, promiscuity, abortion, prostitution, gay marriage, rape, teaching sex education in public schools, and “senior sex.”  We will pay special attention to art, film, and the media in challenging sexual mores.  Please note that no laptops will be permitted in this seminar. What does sexual activity have to do with religious practice?  How will we theorize or understand sexual desires we don’t share?  How appropriate is it for the government to legislate sexuality?  What is the future of sex in America?

RELC      4085       Christian Missions in Contemporary Africa
Hoehler- Fatton,Cynthia
This seminar examines Christian missions in Africa in the 21st Century.  Through a variety of disciplinary lenses, we examine faith-based initiatives in Africa—those launched from abroad, as well as those initiated by Africans themselves.  What does it mean to be a missionary in Africa today? How are evangelizing efforts being transformed in response to democratization, globalization and a growing awareness of human rights?  What is the relationship between evangelism and economic development, proselytism and humanitarian aid, and mission and education today? This seminar is intended for advanced undergraduates with a serious interest—and preferably some experience—in Africa.  At least one prior course on Christianity and/or Africa is recommended

RELC      5559       The Nag Hammadi Library and Gnosticism
Shuve, Karl
Contact professor directly

GENERAL RELIGIONS

RELG      1040       Introduction to Eastern Religious Traditions
Campbell, John  
Introduces various aspects of the religious traditions of India, China, and Japan.

RELG      2160       Religion in America Since 1865
Warren, Heather
Religion in America Since 1865 is an historical examination of the social and cultural change that affected the religious life of Americans over the ensuing 150 years.  The course studies theological change in Protestantism, the emergence of three kinds of Judaism, controversy and change in American Catholicism, the origins of fundamentalism and Pentecostalism, various expressions of African-American faith, the attraction of Asian religions to non-Asians in America in the 1960s and afterwards, and the rise of the religious right.  We also explore the effects of immigration, urbanization, politics, and intellectual change on religions in America.  Readings include Dennis Covington’s Salvation on Sand Mountain about snake handling Pentecostals in Appalachia, Abraham Heschel's The Sabbath, sermons of Martin Luther King, Jr., and an essay by basketball coach Phil Jackson about his practice of Buddhism and the way it influenced his coaching of the championship Chicago Bulls.  Fulfills historical studies and humanities area requirements for the College.

RELG      2210       Religion Ethics & Environment
Jenkins, Willis
Where do ideas of nature come from, and what cultural and political consequences do they carry? In an era of rapid human expansion and uncertain ecological change, cultures everywhere are reexamining their basic orientations to their environments. What stories and values shape the patterns of everyday ecological life? Are they still good ones, or must agents develop new moral resources to meet new moral problems?

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, and examines the symbols and narratives that shape imaginations of nature. In lecture and in online discussion sections, we take up relations of belief and behavior in practical problems like climate change and food choices, and we consider their implications for personal commitments and public goals.

Discussion sections for this class happen online. You must sign up for one of the sections, but there are no regular weekly meetings. You will be assigned a teaching assistant who will organize online discussions and be available to meet with you in person.

RELG      2559       Violence, Literature, and the Sacred
Geddes, Jennifer
Contact professor directly

RELG      2630       Business Ethics and Society
TBA
A study of the philosophical and religious frameworks for interpreting and evaluating human activity in the marketplace. This includes major theoretical perspectives, contemporary issues within the marketplace, and corporate ethics.

RELG      2660       Spirituality in America
Hedstrom, Matthew  
What does “spiritual but not religious” mean, and why has it become such a pervasive self-description in contemporary America? This interdisciplinary course surveys spirituality in America, with a particular eye for the relationship between spirituality and formal religion, on the one hand, and secular modes of understanding the self, such as psychology, on the other. Along the way we’ll study everything from AA to yoga to Zen meditation, with stops in rock and jazz, Beat poetry, Abstract Expressionist painting, spirit photography, the feminist movement, environmentalism, and recent film. The study of spirituality forces us to confront many of the central concerns of modern American life: psychology, self-help, and therapeutic culture; global religious and cultural encounters; gender and sexuality; and consumerism and mass culture. In the end, we’ll come to see spirituality in America as a complex intermingling of the great world religions, modern therapeutic psychology, the politics of movements for social change, and a crassly commercialized, billion-dollar culture industry. Is this the fate of religion in a modern, capitalist, globalized society?

RELG      3215       American Religious Innovation
Flake, Kathleen
Contact professor directly

RELG      3559       Religion and Foreign Affairs
Ochs, Peter  
Approaches  in “religion-on-religion” conflict resolution. Special attention to two approaches developed at UVA (“Hearth to Hearth Conflict Resolution” and “Scriptural Reasoning) and to “Global Covenant of Religions,” an NGO whose research is planned at UVA. Students join research teams comprised of majors in Religious Studies, Systems Analysis, Politics, and Anthropology (and ethno-linguistics). Admission by application to pwo3v@virginia.edu.

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; three prompt-directed essays (meeting the 2nd writing requirement for those who desire it) and/or a creative project in lieu of the third essay.

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      4500       Pilgrimage
Ochs, Vanessa
The Majors’ seminar in Religious Studies gives you an opportunity to step back and consider what you have been studying and how you have been studying it.  Hopefully, this will clarify why you have devoted yourself to the study of religion. One goal of the seminar is to recall that religions are studied through diverse lenses—for example, through the methodologies of different disciplines and through the eyes of particular theorists; these shape the way religion is approached, understood and interpreted. religion. The focus of this seminar is the pilgrimage, emphasizing the diverse ways in which this complex ritual has been experienced, described and understood in diverse traditions. Contemporary pilgrimages we will discuss include the Hajj to Mecca, Israel Birthright, the Camino (to Santiago de Compostella, Spain), and the Rolling Thunder Run to the Wall (via motorcycle, to the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall in DC).

RELG      4500       Religion and Psychology
Portmann, John
Exploration of the will to believe, with attention to religious emotions such as fascination, terror, guilt, wholeheartedness, and ecstasy. What motivates religious conversion?  What keeps someone loyal to the religion of his parents?  What impulse prompts a believer to commit acts of hatred or terrible violence in the name of God?  How does contemporary psychiatry compete with or complement pastoral counseling?  Emphasis on Nietzsche, James, Freud, and Daniel Kahneman.  Requirements: 1) regular and substantive class participation; 2) two brief exams; 3) a class presentation; and 4) a final 15-20-page paper

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      5541       Just War
Childress, James  
Contact professor directly

RELG      5559       Ethics and Aesthetics
Flores, Nichole  
Contact professor directly

RELG      5559       Environmental Ethics
Jenkins, Willis  
Jointly led by an ethicist and an environmental lawyer, this seminar introduces students to major figures and frameworks in environmental ethics, including ecocentric and biocentric theories; consequentialism (including economic approaches); rights-based approaches, including environmental justice, the rights of animals, the rights of nature, and the argument among them; virtue ethics; religious perspectives; and relationships among law, philosophy and culture.  We will test the frameworks and theories through engagement with contemporary problems, such as treatment of animals, biodiversity loss, climate change, toxic exposures, and the production and consumption of food. The goals of the course are to familiarize students with the main concepts of the field, to give students experience in applying these concepts to problems in diverse ecological and cultural settings, and to think through the relation of ethics to practical decisions.  

RELG      5559       Basic Philosophy Kant +
Ochs, Peter

fewer):Basic Philosophy for Students of  Religion: Kant and After" introduces students to the primary philosophic contributions of Kant, Reid, Hegel, Husserl, Peirce, Postrmodernism, Recent Philosophies of Language and Logic. Discussion will focus on thesse thinkers' potential significance for contemporary studies in religion and theology For grads and  undergrads.

RELG      5559       Abrahamic Feminisms
Ochs, Vanessa  
Feminists in Christianity, Judaism and Islam have been developing distinct and complex strategies (and abandoned some along the way) as scholars and activists. Sometimes, they have been able to draw upon each other's perspectives to inspire or clarify their own thinking and strategies. This comparative study will consider these contemporary feminist approaches to sacred texts, prayer, ritual practice, leadership, and community.

RELG      5630       Seminar on the Study of Religion & Literature
Bouchard, Larry
This seminar explores possibilities for interdisciplinary study in religion, literary art, and criticism.  Attention is given to three problem-areas in religion and literature: innovation and tradition, aesthetic experience and religious meaning, and what it may mean to engage in "religious," "theological," and "ethical" readings of literary works and their cultural settings.  The seminar is also is designed to direct students to important bibliography in religion and literature.   However, literary texts, not just adjacent criticism and theory, will be the weekly focus.

Issues are structured around important redefinitions of four major literary forms or genres:  epic poetry and its modes of composition, lyric poetry in terms of Romanticism and modern formalism, drama in terms of ritual and local histories, and prose fiction as social and moral inquiry—together with considerations of scripture read "as" literature.  Our focus is on the creative and productive (not just classificatory) functions of genre.  Of special concern will be with how generic relationships can provide an intersection between reading and authoring, productive-of or “giving rise to” religious, ethical, and theological experience and thought.

Requirements include active participation, short weekly response papers, and a journal article length paper on a topic related to the course and to one’s own research interests.

RELG      7360       Study of Religion
Ray, Benjamin
Spittler, Janet
Given the interdisciplinary character of religious studies, it is imperative for entering graduate students to gain a basic grounding in the theoretical and methodological studies in the field. By way of an examination of landmark texts, this course surveys the basic nineteenth and twentieth century approaches, as well as some contemporary methods. The course will facilitate critical engagement with classic concepts in the study of religion by applying them to examples of religious belief and practice.

RELG      8350       Proseminar in SIP
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.

HINDUISM

RELH      3725       Travel Writing and India
Nemec, John
This course examines western encounters with India by reading the fiction and travel writing of Europeans, expatriate Indians, and Americans in India. In reading such works, the course will explore the place of India in the European and American literary and cultural imagination.

RELH      5475       Social Vision in Hinduism
Nemec, John
This course will examine the public and social dimensions of Hinduism. Topics will include the role of religion in shaping social institutions (e.g.: caste, the law), cultural attitudes toward sexual and other personal relationships, and the relationship between religion and government. Put in emic terms, we will explore the nature of the first three of the four Hindu goals of life (purusarthas): dharma, artha, and kama. Prerequisite: Basic Knowledge of Hindu Traditions

ISLAM

RELI        2080       Global Islam (formerly: Islam in the Modern Age)
Al-Rahim, Ahmed
Studies the 19th and 20th centuries in the Arab world, Turkey, and the Sub-Continent of India, emphasizing reform movements, secularization, and social and cultural change.

RELI        2559       Jewish-Muslim Relations
Andruss, Jessica
Jewish and Muslim communities share a complex history of interaction. It stretches from seventh-century Arabia to the present day and includes instances of collaboration as well as moments of violence. This course presents this history through documentary and literary sources. We will focus on points of contact between Muslims and Jews over time, in contexts ranging from courts and battlefields to sites of scholarly and artistic creativity.

RELI        3110       Muhammad and the Qur'an
Nair, Shankar   
Systematic reading of the Qur'an in English, with an examination of the prophet's life and work. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.

RELI        3900       Islam in Africa
Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia
This course offers an historical and topical introduction to Islam in Africa.  After a brief overview of the central tenets and rituals 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.  We will consider the medieval Muslim kingdoms; the development of Islamic scholarship and the reform tradition; the growth of Sufi brotherhoods; and the impact of European colonization and de-colonization upon African Muslims. We will also consider distinctive aspects of Islam in East Africa, such as the flowering of Swahili devotional literature, and the tradition of saint veneration. 

Readings and classroom discussions provide a more in-depth exploration of topics and themes encountered in our historical survey.  Through the use of ethnographic and literary materials, we will explore issues such as the translation and transmission of the Qur'an, indigenization and religious pluralism; the role of women in African Islam; and African Islamic spirituality. This course meets the Historical Studies requirement, as well as the Non-Western Perspectives requirement.  One prior course on Islam or African religions is recommended.

RELI        5559       Islamic Philosophy and Theology
Al-Rahim, Ahmed
Contact professor directly

JUDAISM

RELJ       1420       Elementary Classical Hebrew II
Goering, Gregory  
In this sequel to HEBR/RELJ 1410, students will learn the derived stems and weak verbs, cardinal and ordinal numbers, Masoretic accents, oath formulas, and parsing. Thus students will complete the study of the verbal system and of basic Hebrew grammar as a whole. In addition, students will learn to use a Hebrew lexicon and read prose passages directly from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. At the completion of the two semester sequence, students will have learned the basic tools required to read longer prose passages from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in the original language.

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, kashrut, holy day practices and life cycle passages.

RELJ       2420       Intermediate Classical Hebrew II
French, Blaire A
In this course, which continues and builds upon HEBR/RELJ 2410, students will develop facility in the reading 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 poetry. To this end, students will learn repetition, acrostic, inclusio, refrain, metaphor, correspondence, elision, compensation, and other poetic devices. By the end of the course, students will grasp the complex phenomenon of poetic parallelism. Cross-listed as HEBR 2420.

RELJ       2559       Jewish-Muslim Relations
Andruss, Jessica
Jewish and Muslim communities share a complex history of interaction. It stretches from seventh-century Arabia to the present day and includes instances of collaboration as well as moments of violence. This course presents this history through documentary and literary sources. We will focus on points of contact between Muslims and Jews over time, in contexts ranging from courts and battlefields to sites of scholarly and artistic creativity.

RELJ       3090       Israelite Prophecy
Goering, Gregory Wayne Schmidt
In this course, we will examine the phenomenon of prophecy in ancient Israel. We will read in translation most of the stories from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament about prophets (Moses, Deborah, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha), as well as the books attributed to prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and The Twelve). We will locate each primary text in its historical, cultural, and political contexts, compare Israelite prophecy to similar phenomena in the neighboring cultures of the ancient Near East, and consider modern anthropological studies of shamanism. At the end of the course, we will examine the transformation of prophecy in the Second Temple period and the emergence of apocalypticism.

RELJ       3100       Medieval Jewish Thought
Andruss, Jessica
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       5559       Germans and Jews
Biemann, Asher D
Contact professor directly

RELJ       5559       Benjamin, Adorno, and Arendt
Geddes, Jennifer  
Contact professor directly