Courses

SPRING 2019 COURSES

For more information, please contact the course instructor or consult the public, unofficial course directory on Lou's List

Spring 2019

African Religions

RELA 3000 | Women and Religion in Africa

Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia

This course examines women's religious activities, traditions and spirituality in a number of different African contexts. Drawing on ethnographic, historical, literary, and religious studies scholarship, we will explore a variety of themes and debates that have emerged in the study of gender and religion in Africa. Topics will include gendered images of sacred power; the construction of gender through ritual; sexuality and fertility; and women.

Buddhism

RELB 2054 | Tibetan Buddhism

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

Kachru, Sonam

Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana Buddhist developments in India.

RELB 3408 | Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy

Liang, Jue

Tibet possesses one of the great Buddhist philosophical traditions in the world. Tibetan Buddhist thinkers composed comprehensive and philosophically rigorous works on human growth according to classical Buddhism, works that surveyed ethics, meditation practice, the nature of personal identity, and enlightenment itself. In this seminar we will read and discuss famous Tibetan overviews of Buddhist philosophy. Pre-Requisites: One prior course in religion or philosophy recommended.

RELB 3495 | Early Buddhism

Braun, Erik

This course explores the origins and development of Buddhism in South Asia.  It assumes students have no prior knowledge of Buddhism.  The goal is to understand the complex of teachings, practices, and relationships that would become known later as Buddhism and, simultaneously, how such a complex has developed within specific cultural contexts. 

RELB 3655 | Buddhism in America

This course is a seminar that examines the development of Buddhism in America going from its earliest appearance to contemporary developments.

RELB 5480 | Literary Tibetan VI

Weinberger, Steven

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

RELB 5810 | Literary Tibetan VIII

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

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 3030 | Jesus and the Gospels

Tate,Ashley

This course focuses on Jesus of Nazareth as an historical figure, that is, as he is accessible to the historian by means of historical methods. Our most important sources of information on Jesus are the canonical Gospels, and so much of the course will involve reading and attempting to understand these texts. We will attempt to reconstruct at least the broad outlines of Jesus activity and teachings, keeping in mind the limits of our sources.

RELC 3043 | Themes in Eastern Orthodoxy: An Introduction

Henry,James Daryn

This course is an introduction to the thematic core of the Orthodox Christian tradition. There is first reviewed the major elements of the Orthodox faith, its theology and doctrine, that developed over the course of the Byzantine era, This study is followed by an examination of writings on scripture and tradition, iconography. liturgy and sacrament, as well as the relationship of Orthodox Christianity to the culture.

RELC 3090 | Israelite Prophecy

Goering,Gregory Wayne Schmidt

This course examines 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). Each primary text will be considered in its historical, cultural, and political contexts.

RELC 3230 | Reformation Europe

Lambert,Erin

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 3559 | New Course in Christianity: Evangelicalism

Henry,James Daryn

From the revivals of George Whitefield to the antebellum abolitionists to the unexpected rise of Donald Trump, Evangelicals have played a vital and contested role in American society. Evangelicalism has also burgeoned into a truly global faith tradition, with an estimated 600 million+ adherents around the world. This course presents an multidisciplinary and polyperspectival introduction to this religious movement in World Christianity.

RELC 3625 | Christ

Hart, Kevin

This course is an introduction to Christology, that part of Theology concerned with the claim that Jesus is the Christ. How is this doctrine built up from Scripture, Church Councils, and the Fathers? What roles do heresies and creeds play in the construction? What events in the life and death of Jesus are most relevant to Christological claims? Particular attention is given to Jesus's preaching of the Kingdom of God.This course is an introduction to Christology, that part of Theology concerned with the claim that Jesus is the Christ. How is this doctrine built up from Scripture, Church Councils, and the Fathers? What roles do heresies and creeds play in the construction? What events in the life and death of Jesus are most relevant to Christological claims? Particular attention is given to Jesus's preaching of the Kingdom of God.

RELC 3665 | Gender and Sexuality in the Bible

Draughon, Rebecca

This course will interrogate the complex and diverse picture of gender and sexuality presented in the Bible.  Students will read stories focusing on key biblical figures generating their own analysis on the dynamics of gender at play, while also considering ancient and modern interpretations and methodological approaches.  Throughout, students will be exposed to the cultural and historical milieu that produced these texts.

RELC 5559 | Histories and Fiction

Halvorson-Taylor,Martien, Spittler,Janet

In this seminar we will read a selection of ancient prose narrative texts, all of which raise the question "is
this history or fiction?" Texts to be discussed include Hebrew Bible narrative, Jewish novellas and
testaments, early Christian narratives, Greek novels, etc. Our primary goal will be a deeper and more
nuanced understanding of ancient prose narratives, with particular attention to the complicated interplay of truth and fiction. 

General Religious Studies

RELG 1500 | Introductory Seminar in Religion: What is Religion

Alexander, Elizabeth

This course introduces first-year students to the academic study of religion in an intimate seminar setting.  It examines diverse ways of defining religion, exposes the assumptions that underlie them and asks what is at stake in adopting any one of them.  

RELG 1500 | Introductory Seminar in Religion: Religion, Race and Democracy

Hawkins,Larycia

This introductory seminar considers how religion has been a force in the development and promotion of democracy, as well as its most persistent critic, both here and abroad; how race paired with the religion has been a powerful tool of social differentiation and political stratification; and how these three concepts—religion, race, and democracy—have organized, maintained, and riven societies in multiple ways

RELG 1500 | Introductory Seminar in Religion: Religion and Protest

Jones,Paul

An entry-level examination of the relationship between religion and protest, intended primarily (but not exclusively) for first year students. The class approaches protest in broad terms as a contestation of a certain state of affairs (political, religious, philosophical, social, cultural, artistic, etc.). It uses this category as a prism to engage diverse religious traditions in diverse contexts.

RELG 2160 | Religion in American Life and Thought from 1865 to the Present

Warren,Heather

Includes American religious pluralism, religious responses to social issues, and the character of contemporary American religious life.

RELG 2210 | Religion, Ethics, & Global Environment

Jenkins,Willis

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.

RELG 2559 | New Course in Religion: Religion and American Politics

Denninghoff,Mark

Pick up any newspaper and you are likely to see a story on the intersection of religion and American politics. Until recently, you were much less likely to see an scholarly article examining marginalized religions as factors shaping the American political landscape.  This course seeks to put the subject of marginalized religions more prominently into the fields of Religious Studies and Political Science. 

RELG 2630 | Business Ethics and Society

Cox,Kendall Walser

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 2650 | Theological Bioethics

Flores,Nichole M

Analyzes various moral problems in medicine, health care, and global health from Christian (Catholic and Protestant), Jewish, and Islamic theological perspectives with reference to salient philosophical influences.

RELG 2660 | "Spiritual But Not Religious": Spirituality in America

Hedstrom,Matthew

This course asks: what does "spiritual but not religious" mean, and why has it become such a pervasive idea in modern America? We'll study everything from AA to yoga to Zen meditation, with stops in Christian rock, Beat poetry, Abstract Expressionist painting and more. In the end, we'll come to see spirituality in America as a complex intermingling of the great world religions, modern psychology, and a crassly commercialized culture industry.

RELG 3255 | Ethics, Literature, and 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 | New Course in Religion: American War, American Religion

Wells,Samuel Spencer

American Religion, American War, 1776-1864, examines the transformative effect of war on American religious experience, both individually, and denominationally, from the American Revolution through the Civil War. The course also looks at how religion itself proved instrumental to the ways in which Americans debated war and the questions of citizenship, wartime ethics, and belonging which martial conflict--both at home and abroad--raised. 

RELG 3559 | New Course in Religion: Religion, Citizenship, Secular

Becker, Elisabeth

This course examines the intersection of religion, citizenship and the secular in contemporary society. By demonstrating the multiplicity of faith identity options and experiences, we will grapple  questions of what religion means in “secular” states; how religious individuals and groups express belonging to nation-states as well as local urban environments; and what sociopolitical conflicts occur in relation to religion as a lived  identity.

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 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 | Major's Seminar: American Religious Innovation

Flake,Kathleen

Study of the origins and evolution of three religious traditions: Mormonism, Nation of Islam and Scientology.

RELG 5070 | Interpretation Theory

Bouchard,Larry

Analyzes existentialist, phenomenological, structuralist, literary, historical, and psychological approaches to the interpretation of texts, especially narrative religious texts; and the interactions of language, history, and understanding.

RELG 5170 | Seminar in History of Religions

Nemec,John; Hoehler-Fatton,Cindy
Introduces the basic thinkers in the field of history of religions and to fundamental problems in the study of religious sociology, mythology, and ritual.

RELG 5395 | Religion and the Common Good

Flores,Nichole

How is a religiously pluralistic society to pursue a societal common good? This graduate seminar explores responses to this question within religious ethics at local, national, and global levels. Readings will address major contributions to this topic within political philosophy before pivoting to responses in religious and theological ethics, including broadly Augustinian, Thomistic, and critical theological approaches. 

RELG 5485 | History of American Religion and Social Reform

Warren,Heather

American Religion and Social Reform examines the history of the interplay between theology, morality, and politics in American history. Topics covered include temperance and prohibition, labor, civil rights, the peace movement, and environmentalism. Weekly reading, class presentation, and original research will be important components of the class. Open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates.

RELG 7460 | Religion, Theory, Theology, and Modernity

Jones, Paul; Mathewes, Charles

The purpose of this interdisciplinary class is to acquaint graduate students with landmark texts that consider the place, significance, and purpose of religion in the modern world. Focusing on works written over the last few decades, which have seen a blossoming of interest in this issue, we will draw on multiple genres of study: philosophy, anthropology, social science, religious studies, and Christian thought.

RELG 8350 | Proseminar in Scripture Interpretation and Practice (1.00)

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 2090 | Hinduism

Allen,Michael

Surveys the Hindu religious heritage from pre-history to the 17th century; includes the Jain and Sikh protestant movements.

RELH 3740 | Hinduism Through its Narrative Literatures

Nemec,John William

Examines a major genre of Hindu religious narrative. Genre varies but may include the epics; the mythology of the Puranas; the 'didactic' Kathasaritsagara and Pancatantra; the hagiographies of the great Hindu saints; and the modern novel. Prerequisite: RELG 1040, RELH 2090, RELH 2110, or instructor permission.

RELH 5450 | Hindu-Buddhist Debates

Kachru,Sonam, Allen,Michael S

This course examines philosophical debates of Hindu and Buddhist authors from the time of the founding of Buddhism to the medieval period. Primary sources in translation and secondary, scholarly sources are examined in this course. Prerequisite: Significant prior exposure to Hinduism and/or Buddhism.

Islam

RELI 2024 | Jewish-Muslim Relations

Andruss,Jessica

Jewish and Muslim communities share a complex history of interaction, spanning from seventh-century Arabia to the present day, and including instances of collaboration as well as moments of violence. Our course examines this dynamic relationship through documentary and literary sources. We focus on points of contact between Muslims and Jews in contexts ranging from battlefields to universities, from religious discourse to international politics.

RELI 2080 | Global Islam

Stafford,Samuel

Global Islam traces the development of political Islamic thought from Napoleons invasion of Egypt in 1798 to the Arab Spring in 2010 and its aftermath in the Middle East.

RELI 3120 | Sufism: Islamic Mysticism

Mikkelson,Jane

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 | Islamic Moral Philosophy

Topkara, Ufuk

We will engage in this seminar with the work of Miskawayh (d. 1030), a formative Islamic Philosopher in the 11th century, who is acknowledged to be the founder of Islamic Moral Philosophy. Miskawayh is believed to be the first who wrote a systematic-philosophical treatise on the refinement of character, drawing from both ancient Greek philosophical tradition and Islamic theological tradition. 

RELI 5540 | Seminar in Islamic Studies: Introduction, Islamic Studies

Al-Rahim,Ahmed

Topics in Islamic Studies

Judaism

RELJ 1420 | Elementary Classical Hebrew II

Goering,Gregory Wayne Schmidt

Studies the essentials of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. Includes readings of narrative portions of the Hebrew Bible. Prerequisite: HEBR/RELJ 1410 or the equivalent.

RELJ 2024 | Jewish-Muslim Relations

Andruss,Jessica H

Jewish and Muslim communities share a complex history of interaction, spanning from seventh-century Arabia to the present day, and including instances of collaboration as well as moments of violence. Our course examines this dynamic relationship through documentary and literary sources. We focus on points of contact between Muslims and Jews in contexts ranging from battlefields to universities, from religious discourse to international politics

RELJ 2030 | Introduction to Judaism

Alexander,Elizabeth

Introduces the world view and way of life of classical Rabbinic Judaism.

RELJ 2420 | Intermediate Classical Hebrew II

French,Blaire

Readings in the prose narratives and poetry of the Hebrew Bible. Emphasizes grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. Attention to issues of translation and interpretation. Prerequisite: HEBR/RELJ 2410 or the equivalent.

RELJ 3052 | Responses to the Holocaust

Geddes,Jennifer

Responses to the Holocaust

RELJ 3090 | Israelite Prophecy

Goering,Gregory Wayne Schmidt

This course examines 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). Each primary text will be considered in its historical, cultural, and political contexts.

RELJ 3170 | Modern Jewish Thought

Biemann,Asher

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

RELJ 3372 | German Jewish Culture and History

Grossman,Jeffrey A, Finder, Gabriel

This course provides a wide-ranging exploration of the culture, history & thought of German Jewry from 1750 to 1939. It focuses on the Jewish response to modernity in Central Europe and the lasting transformations in Jewish life in Europe and later North America. Readings of such figures as: Moses Mendelssohn, Heinrich Heine, Rahel Varnhagen, Franz Kafka, Gershom Scholem, Martin Buber, Karl Marx, Rosa Luxembourg, Walter Benjamin, and Freud.

RELJ 3665 | Gender and Sexuality in the Bible

Draughon,Rebecca

This course will interrogate the complex and diverse picture of gender and sexuality presented in the Bible.  Students will read stories focusing on key biblical figures generating their own analysis on the dynamics of gender at play, while also considering ancient and modern interpretations and methodological approaches.  Throughout, students will be exposed to the cultural and historical milieu that produced these texts.

RELJ 5365 | 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-Kantian 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.

RELJ 5559 | Histories and Fictions

Halvorson-Taylor,Martien A, Spittler,Janet Elizabeth

In this seminar we will read a selection of ancient prose narrative texts, all of which raise the question "is
this history or fiction?" Texts to be discussed include Hebrew Bible narrative, Jewish novellas and
testaments, early Christian narratives, Greek novels, etc. Our primary goal will be a deeper and more
nuanced understanding of ancient prose narratives, with particular attention to the complicated interplay of truth and fiction. 

Fall 2018

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 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.

Buddhism

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.

Christianity

RELC 1210 | 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.

General Religious Studies

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 4500 | 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.

Hinduism

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.

Islam

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

Islamic oratory is perennially understudied, but it provides a rich source for examining the development of religious ideas, qurʿanic interpretation, Arabic prose and rhetoric, and even political history. It also provides a context for thinking about orality and literacy, and the relationship between theology and popular religion in the pre-modern Islamic world. This seminar surveys public oratory from pre-Islamic Arabia through the time of Muhammad and the early caliphs; the Umayyad, Abbasid, and Fatimid dynasties; and al-Andalus and North Africa. We will read from a variety of primary texts including ritual sermons, words of pious counsel, speeches from military and political leaders, handbooks for preachers, anthologies of exemplary sermons, and medieval tales of the prophets. Secondary sources will provide historical context and explore the religious, literary, and socio-cultural elements of public oratory.

 

Judaism

RELJ 1210 | 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