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 2715 | Chinese Religions

Liang, Jue

This course serves as an introductory survey of religious life in China, with emphasis on everyday religious practice over doctrine. Through primary texts (in translation), we will explore key figures and texts, core concepts, and ritual traditions with reference to the cultural, historical, political and material contexts in which they were conceived and expressed.

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

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 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. “Undergraduates should have completed RELC/J 1210 and RELC 1220 or their equivalents before enrolling for this advanced seminar.”

General Religious Studies

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 4500 | Majors Seminar: Comparative Scriptures

Alexander, Elizabeth

This course offers third and fourth-year students majoring in Religious Studies an opportunity to step back and reflect on the study of religion in a general way. Presuming you have already begun to develop familiarity with one or more religious traditions, the course is intended to stimulate thinking on questions such as: What is religion? How is it studied? Why study it? 

 

We will explore these questions by focusing on a single religious phenomenon: scripture. The course is organized around three basic questions one can ask about scripture: Where do scriptural texts come from? Why are scriptural texts authoritative or compelling? And how is scripture encountered? In keeping with the methodological diversity that characterizes the study of religion, we will employ a variety of methodological lens (historical, literary, theological, social-scientific, feminist, comparative and oralist) to shed light on our topic. Bringing a variety of approaches to the study of our topic will enable you to see how different disciplines shape the study of religion according to their own particular assumptions about the multi-faceted phenomenon we call “religion.” The course will also give you an opportunity to reflect on the many different aspects of scripture as a religious phenomenon.

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 is a survey of Sufism (Islamic mysticism) from its origins, through the classical and early modern periods, and into modernity. We will encounter Sufi thought in a wide variety of genres, including systematic texts (prose treatises and lectures), biographies of exemplary Sufis, narrative allegories, lyric poetry, and highly compressed forms of expression (aphorisms, ecstatic utterances).

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

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 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 | Judaism, Roots and Rebellion

Alexander,Elizabeth

What does it mean to construct one’s identity in dialogue with ancient texts and traditions?  Can the gap between ancient and contemporary be bridged?  Or must texts and traditions born of a remote time and place remain hopelessly irrelevant to contemporary life?  This course explores these questions by examining the myriad ways that contemporary Jews balance the complexities of modern life with the demands of an ancient heritage.

RELJ 2420 | Intermediate Classical Hebrew II

French,Blaire

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.

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 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.