Courses

SPRING 2018 COURSES

Scroll down for Fall 2018 courses. For more information, please contact the course instructor or consult the public, unofficial course directory on Lou's List

Spring 2018

Buddhism

RELB 2054 | Tibetan Buddhism

This introductory course of Tibetan Buddhism provides a practical and accessible, and at the same time profound and thought provoking overview of the most important (Tibetan) Buddhist concepts.

The main source of discussion and inspiration is The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva (rgyal sras lag len so bdun ma) by the 13th century master Tokmé Zangpo (thogs med bzang po) and various contemporary and ancient commentaries. In these 37 verses, the author gives a complete and yet concise explanation on the whole Buddhist path – starting from the reflection on the precious human life all the way up to nature of reality.

Due to its simplicity – and yet profundity and complexity – this short text is still among the most taught, studied and practiced Tibetan Buddhist texts nowadays.

The overall aim of the course is to invite you to thoroughly reflect upon these profound and pervasive Buddhist concepts such as impermanence, interdependence, karma cause and effect, the perfections of generosity, patience, meditative concentration, etc.

In order for your learning process to be practical, you are also encouraged to not contemplate these topics only on a theoretical level but to also analyse their relevance and resonance in your own personal life and way of thinking.

Needless to say that the aim of this course is not to convince or convert anybody to anything – rather the opposite; it provides a basis for critical analysis, reflection and discussion following the unique Buddhist principle emphasised by the Buddha himself in the Sutras:

“Monks and learned ones,

Just as gold is burnt, cut and rubbed,

Examine my words carefully,

Do not accept them simply out of respect.”

            To encourage and illustrate an open-minded approach to Buddhist concepts, we’ll start this course by discussing readings by contemporary masters, such as His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama on Secular Ethics, “Beyond Religion”, and the popular “What makes you not a Buddhist” by the Sakya master Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.

            Drawing from my own experience of having lived, worked (and travelled) in the Tibetan Buddhist community in Nepal and India for the past eleven years, the thorough explanation of this text by Tokmé Zangpo will be enriched and illustrated by relevant stories, examples, anecdotes of sacred beings and blessed places whom I’ve had the opprtunity to meet and visit.

RELB 2100 | Buddhism

Kachru,Sonam
Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana Buddhist developments in India.

RELB 2120 | Buddhist Literature

Kachru,Sonam
Introduces Buddhist literature in translation, from India, Tibet, and East and South East Asia.

RELB 2135 | Chinese Buddhism

Heller, Natasha

This course introduces the major teachings and practices of Buddhism in China through careful reading of key scriptures and related materials. We will investigate how Buddhist texts and doctrines were interpreted in both words and images, and survey new genres of religious literature and new forms of Buddhist practice.                 

RELB 2252 | Buddhism in Film

Oliveira Lopes, Ana Cristina
This course is an introduction to Buddhism and an exploration of the place of Buddhism within contemporary Asian, European, and North American cultures through film. The goals are 1) to identify longstanding Buddhist narrative themes in contemporary films, 2) to consider how Buddhism is employed in films to address contemporary issues, and 3) to gain through film a vivid sense of Buddhism as a complex social and cultural phenomenon.

RELB 2559 | Art of Tibet and the Himalayas

Maki, Ariana

This course focuses on Tibetan Buddhist art, its forerunners in India and Nepal, its later integration of Chinese elements, as well as how Tibetans developed their own distinctive visual arts traditions. As we explore artistic style, we will also study the philosophy and iconography of Tibetan Buddhism to discern the meanings behind these works and how they were employed in public performances and ritual practices. Then, we will investigate how contemporary artists rewrote the rules, often repurposing traditional imagery to respond to lived political and social realities, and to provide commentary on the impacts of globalism and commercialism on Tibetan

RELB 3030 | Mindfulness and Compassion: Living Fully Personally and Professionally

Juliet Trail
This course provides an in-depth experience in contemplative practices to prepare students to live more fully, be more engaged & compassionate citizens & professionals, & navigate life's stressors with greater clarity, peace of mind, & healthy behaviors. Besides mindfulness training, this course will also foster the cultivation of compassion and prosocial qualities.

For more info and how to apply see https://pages.shanti.virginia.edu/MindfulnessCompassion2018/

RELB 3422 | Anthropology of Global Buddhism

Lopes, Ana Christina Oliveira

This course examines social and cultural dynamics of Buddhism as a global religion drawing upon anthropological theory on globalization, and ethnographic and historical studies on the dissemination and re-signification of this religious tradition in both Asian and non-Asian contexts.

The nineteenth century marks the first movement of the dissemination of Buddhism outside of Asia. Since early times, however, this tradition has shown signs of what could be termed a “transcultural propensity.” Buddhism could arguably be considered the first world religion. Indeed, only a few centuries after the death of its founding figure, Buddha Shakyamuni, this tradition crossed linguistic, cultural and ethnic boundaries, expanding well beyond the general area where it emerged. Through the exploration of the continuities and discontinuities between earlier and later processes of dissemination and re-signification, this course discusses some of the dynamics inherent to Buddhism that made possible its rapid and recent transmutation into a “global religion.”

Topics to be addressed include, among others, processes of transmission and adaptation to new local environments, encounters with modernity, western “dialogues,” and the role of mass migration and electronic media in the “transnationalization” of Buddhist traditions.

Christianity

RELC 1220 | Early Christianity and the New Testament

Lillis, Julia

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 2559 | Global Evangelicalism

Henry, James Daryn

From the colonial 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, leaving an indelible impact on our culture. During the 20th and into the 21st century, Evangelicalism has also burgeoned into a truly global faith tradition. With an estimated 600 million+ adherents transforming societies from China to Nepal to Kenya to Brazil, Evangelicalism has been at the vanguard of the surge of Christianity in the Global South. This course engages in an multidisciplinary and polyperspectival introduction to this religious movement within World Christianity.

RELC 3009 | Protestant Theology

Jones,Paul Dafydd

This course examines the writings of important Protestant theologians from the 1500s to the present day. Beginning with key texts by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and writers from the radical reformation, we then engage major eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth-century thinkers such as John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Karl Barth. We also examine recent work in liberationist, process, and feminist theology. Topics considered include the role of the Bible in theological reflection, the nature of God, Christology, sin and salvation, and Christian ethics.

Some familiarity with the academic study of Christian thought is useful but not required.

RELC 3559 | Experiencing God

Henry,James Daryn

The Christian experience of God has often been described as a personal engagement with or in the "spirit." This course examines Christian beliefs, practices, and spiritualities of the Holy Spirit. Exploration involves scriptural, historical, and contemporary sources, including interpretation of formal doctrinal treatises, devotional literature, spiritual practices, and liturgical imagery. Special attention will be given to the rise of charismatic forms of Christianity this past century & corresponding controversies about the experience of the divine.        

RELC 3559 | Gender and Sexuality in the Bible

Tate,Ashley Marie

What does the Bible have to say about gender and sexuality? How is it that one interpreter can read it as a champion of gender equality, and another as misogynistic? Is the biblical picture of gender and sexuality more complex and complicated than first meets the eye? Or maybe not? Throughout the term, we will explore these and other questions as we delve into the stories of an array of biblical figures and scholarly approaches to the Bible.

RELC 3559 | History of Bible Interpretation

Griffin, David

This seminar will explore the changing questions, concerns, and methods that have been brought to bear on interpreting the Bible, in Jewish and Christian contexts as well as in modern literature. We will aim to appreciate how interpretive approaches have developed over time and how present-day interpretation is part of that history.             

RELC 3559 | Muslim-Christian Polemics

Schaffner,Ryan Pierce

This course examines Muslim-Christian relations from the Qur’ān up through the medieval period, focusing on polemical texts. We will examine  Muslim and Christian attempts to explain and attack the beliefs and the practices of the other while defending their own beliefs and practices.

RELC 3625 | Christ

Hart, Kevin John

This lecture course explores the part of systematic theology known as “Christology”: the consideration of what it means to say that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ or Messiah. We will discuss candidates for the proper starting point of systematic theology, including the claim that Jesus is the Christ. How is the doctrine of Jesus as the Christ built up from biblical witnesses, the Church Fathers, and Church councils? What roles do heresies play in this construction? What differences are there between the “Jesus of history” and the “Christ of faith,” and should we accept this distinction? What are the functions of creeds? What is “revelation”? More particularly, what events in the life of Jesus are central to Christological claims? Sustained attention is given to the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus; and particular attention is given to the preaching of Jesus, especially his teaching of the Kingdom of God. 

RELC 3645 | God and the Mystery of the World

Marsh, Charles

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”?  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?

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 selected legal decisions in minting sexual mores, as well as to art, film, and the media in challenging values.

General Religious Studies

RELG 1500 | Zen and Popular Culture

Heller, Natasha L

In the U.S., “Zen” is used to described sports, interior design, sushi, and many aspirational lifestyle products.  Why is Zen used in this way, and how might it relate to the Buddhist tradition by this name as it appears in China, Japan, and Korea?  This seminar will explore Zen’s connection to popular culture in Asia and the West, ranging from 13th c cooking instructions to contemporary tweets.              

RELG 2155 | Whiteness and Religion

Schmidt, Jalane

RELG 2160 | Religion in America Since 1865

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

RELG 2190 | Religion and Modern Fiction

Bouchard,Larry D

Are there intrinsically “religious” or “spiritual” questions?  Modern fiction—in the 20th and 21st centuries—often creates questions that appear religious, spiritual, or ethical in character.  Fiction may ask about the “human spirit” and “human nature,” evil and suffering, identity and community, reason and revelation, grace and transformation. This course will explore writers who have pursued such questions, and how they have imagined traces of sacred or transcendent concerns through the distinctive language, forms, imagery, and experiences of their works.      

How does one pursue such questions?  Some writers (Scott Momaday, Elie Wiesel, Shusaku Endo, and Marilynne Robinson) create fiction that explicitly reflects historic religious traditions.  Others (Hermann Hesse, E. M. Forster) construct apparently “secular” narratives that nonetheless have religious or ethical implications or “dimensions.”  Still others (Toni Morrison, Yann Martel, and director Terrence Malick) employ a variety of artistic and spiritual traditions to disclose new and distinctive religious visions.  With theorists such as Martin Buber, Paul Tillich, Wendy Doniger, J.Z. Smith, and John Caputo we can try out different vocabularies for assessing such visions.  (The writers selected may change.)      

The course will be taught through lecture and discussion, each T/Th lecture-discussion running 60 minutes, plus a 50 minute discussion section.  There will be two guided essays with flexible prompts on assigned material (about 2000 words each), short quizzes, and a short paper on assigned material (about 8 pages, 2400 words) in lieu of a final exam.  The course can meet the 2nd writing requirement, upon request.

RELG 2630 | Business Ethics and Society

Cox, Kendall
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 Sigurd
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 3200 | Martin, Malcolm and America

Hadley,Mark Andrew

 An intensive examination of African-American social criticism centered upon, but not limited to, the life and thought of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.  We will come to grips with the American legacy of racial hatred and oppression systematized in the institutions of antebellum chattel slavery and post-bellum racial segregation and we will analyze the array of critical responses to, and social struggles against, this legacy.  We will pay particular attention to the religious dimensions of these various types of social criticism.   

RELG 3450 | The Emotions

Portmann,John Edward

How does what we feel color what we “know,” what we believe?  Will prejudice and passion rule our thinking?
Philosophers, psychiatrists, religious thinkers and neurologists disagree on what human emotions are and why we have them. Focusing on William James's --The Varieties of Religious Experience-- and Joshua Greene's --Moral Tribes--, we will analyze the emotions in depth.  We will pay special attention to love, ambition, racism, religious violence and music.       

RELG 3559 | Theology and Identity    

Daniels, Brandy 

What do theological studies have to say about what identity is, about the factors that make up one’s identity, and, especially, about how identities are formed and function in the contemporary US? This course explores these questions and more from the perspective of and in conversation with Christian traditions, examining the ways theology both shapes and is shaped by sites of difference, accounts of identity, and processes of social formation. This course will place theological inquiry in conversation with key developments and topics in critical identity scholarship in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Disability and Crip Studies.           

RELG 3559 | Religion Race and Belonging

Mohrman, Katherine

This course examines race and religion as co-constitutive formations that have played a fundamental part in determining the boundaries of belonging in the US. Issues addressed include religious freedom, whiteness, marriage, and immigration. The course pays special attention to the intersection between religious narratives of race and national narratives of inclusion.

RELG 3559 | The Aesthetics of Solidarity

Flores, Nichole M

This course explores the role of religion and aesthetics on various social movements. It begins by exploring approaches to religious and theological aesthetics before examining the influence of media (i.e., music, literature, and poetry), as well as religious liturgies and scriptures, on select social movements. The course will discuss movements for worker justice, racial justice, and health care reform, among others.

RELG 3559 | God, Money, and Terror

This course will address the intersection of religion and economics with special attention paid to the violent ends of charitable giving. Students will be introduced to foundational concepts in the new field of religion and economics, will analyze historical case studies, and examine current examples of religiously informed economic activity. A focus throughout will be on how religiously motivated charity can be subverted to support violence. Taught by Jonathan Teubner

RELG 3605 | Religion Violence and Strategy

White, Gerard B

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 3820 | Global Ethics and Climate Change

Jenkins, Willis Jackson
This seminar takes up questions of responsibility and fairness posed by climate change as ways into a search for shared ground across moral traditions. It investigates the ethical dimensions of climate change as a way to consider broad frameworks for developing responsibilities across national, cultural, and religious borders.

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 | Majors Seminar: Evil and Suffering

Geddes, Jennifer Leslie

This seminar for Religious Studies majors focuses on the topics of evil and suffering in the study of religion, and introduces students to religion as an interdisciplinary subject and to the range of methods used to study religion .  Limited to twenty religious studies majors.

RELG 4500 | Majors Seminar: Religion and the Self

Braun, Erik C

This course explores ways that we "make up" ourselves using religion. We will read about the origins of the values we take as authentic and timeless, mystical states often felt to be the truest parts of religious life, why something counts as a religion, and studies of meditation that depend on powerful ideas about the mind and brain. The aim is to understand how religion play a powerful role, past and present, in making us who we think we are.

RELG 5375 | Aesthetics and Ethics

Flores, Nichole M
What is the relationship between ethics and aesthetics? Specifically, how might theological and philosophical aesthetics inform approaches to religious engagement in plural socio-political contexts? This graduate seminar explores contemporary aesthetic theory, especially in relation to conceptions of justice and emotion.

RELG 5485 | US 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 5559 | Blackness and Mysticism

Crawley, Ashon Thomas

This course considers the radicalism internal to a European Mystical Tradition but also its delimitation, particularly with how it gets cognized in western thought. We will then investigate a Black Radical Mystical Tradition that cannot be, as Robinson might say, "understood within the particular context of it genesis." It is a lived and living tradition, a tradition against religion, a tradition against western thought and modern Man.

RELG 5559 | Evil Suffering & the Sacred

Geddes, Jennifer Leslie

This course will explore the interrelations between evil, suffering, and the sacred in the works of  20th- and 21st- century European and American thinkers, theologians, and theorists, as well as literary authors and artists, with particular attention to the Holocaust and American slavery.

RELG 5559 | Religion and Sexuality

Mohrman, Katherine

This graduate seminar explores intersecting discourses of religion and sexuality in the modern era. Students will consider the ways in which religions have both constructed notions of sexuality and influenced sexual practice over time. Course will also examine how religious conceptions of normative sex and sexuality have shaped culture and politics in the modern era.

RELG 5820 | Intro to World Religions, World Literatures

Ochs, Peter
An interdisciplinary course that includes the following elements: studies in the textual traditions of particular religions; studies in literary theory; studies in literary traditions; the application of literary theory to studies in religious text traditions; and the application of the history of religions to the study of literary canons.

RELG 5821 | Pro Seminar in World Religions and 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 5850 | Narrative in Ethics & Theology

Bouchard, Larry D

Since the mid twentieth century, the literary terms “narrative,” and “drama”—with related categories such as story, performance, ritual, and embodiment—have remained important categories in religious studies, including theology, ethics, histories of religions, as well as in philosophy, anthropology, and medicine.  Why have such different interests looked to narrative and drama in diverse ways?    

This seminar will assess claims about narrative and drama put forward in ethics, theology, and philosophy of religion, with attention to other areas as well.  It will especially examine differences in how narrated stories (as understood by, e.g., Frei, MacIntyre, Auerbach, Stout, Nussbaum, Metz, Bakhtin, Riceour, A.Z. Newton) and performed drama (as theorized by, e.g., Stanislavsky, Brecht, Brook, Shechner, V. and E. Turner, Driver, von Balthasar, J. Butler) probe into aspects of life and inform ethical and theological reflection and argument.  Emphases will include: relations between narrative and identity-in-community; performance and virtues such as integrity, sincerity, and authenticity; moral dilemmas and conflicts in practical settings; and how narrative and drama interact with the “varieties of religious experience.”  Narratives—such as proses fiction, memoirs, and scripture—and dramatic works and performances will receive attention as well as discursive theory.  Particular attention will be given to how “stories of our lives” (a la H.R. Niebuhr) themselves reflect, revealingly and critically, upon the storied and performative dimensions of life together.

RELG 5960 | What is Scripture

Ochs, Peter W
What is Scripture?' That is the defining question for this introductory seminar in Scripture, Interpretation, and Practice - one of three entry courses for the SIP program. While SIP prides itself in not asking 'what is?' questions, this course risks the question but only as a source of context-specific, tradition-based reasonings. The goal is sampling: examining selected passages from each canon to answer the question, what is scripture?

RELG 7460 | Religion and Modernity

Mathewes, Charles, Jones, Paul Dafydd

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.

This class is partially funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. It is part of the “Religion and its Publics” project, which runs from Fall 2016 to Spring 2019, and is co-directed by Professors Jones and Mathewes.

RELG 7460 | Religion and Modernity

Mathewes, Charles, Jones, Paul Dafydd

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.

This class is partially funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. It is part of the “Religion and its Publics” project, which runs from Fall 2016 to Spring 2019, and is co-directed by Professors Jones and Mathewes.

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.

RELG 8559 | Advanced Pedagogy

Halvorson-Taylor,Martien A, Jenkins,Willis Jackson

This is an advanced pedagogy workshop for first and second year Religious Studies PhD students who are currently teaching. Responding specifically to recent campus experiences of sexual violence, racism, and white supremacy, the workshop supports conversations between student teachers and faculty mentors focused on specific techniques for teaching into difficult questions and social crises. Among the questions we will address are: How can we respond in the classroom to UVa's current crises as teachers of religious studies? What teaching models are there for conversations about trauma, violence, racism, and other difficult issues? What do religious studies scholars have to contribute to the current conversations among students, faculty, and administrators? What role do emotions (of students and of teachers) play in the classroom and in response to violence and suffering? What is the connection between the things we teach and the way we teach, particularly in situations that call for an ethically informed response? 

The course awards 1-credit and meets on 7 Monday evenings in the Spring Semester. Attendance at all sessions is expected. Dinner will be provided and students will write a pedagogy statement suitable for their professional portfolio as their only formal assignment. This course is generously supported by grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion.

 

RELG 8559 | Sensory Religion

Goering, Gregory

This course explores religious ways of sensing and sense-making. In recent decades, cultural anthropology, history, sociology, philosophy, literature, and religious studies, among others, have taken a sensory turn, resulting in the emergent field of sensory studies. Students will read and analyze sensory theory, as well as case studies in sensory religion, and contribute original research on a topic of their choice using a sensory approach.

Hinduism

RELH 3105 | Hinduism and Ecology

Allen, Michael

This course will explore Hindu views of the relationship between human, natural, and divine worlds, as well as the work of contemporary environmentalists in India. We will read texts both classical and modern (from the Bhagavad Gita to the writings of Gandhi), and will consider case studies of Hindu responses to issues such as wildlife conservation, pollution, deforestation, and industrial agriculture.

RELH 3559 | Hindu Epics: Ramayana

This course offers a comprehensive engagement with the famed Sanskrit epic, the Rāmāyaṇa.  We shall read the entirety of the epic in English translation, along with selected explanatory works.  Students who enroll in this course are expected to have a strong background in the study of Hinduism and/or Indian Religions.

RELH 5559 | The Rise of Vedanta

Allen, Michael S

This course will explore the intellectual and social history of Vedanta, one of the most influential schools of Indian philosophy. We will trace its rise to prominence from the early classical period, when it was one of several competing schools, to the colonial period, when it came to be identified by many as the essence of Hinduism.

RELH 7045 | Panini & Sanskrit Grammarians

Nemec, John William

This course offers a comprehensive overview and practical introduction to the Sanskrit grammatical system of Pāṇini.  Students will read the Aṣṭādhyāyī with the famed commentary, the Kāśikāvṛtti, this in an endeavor to learn how to interpret Pāṇinian rules and references to the grammar wherever they may appear in Sanskrit literature.  Advanced knowledge of Sanskrit is assumed of students in this course. 

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 3559 | Muslim-Christian Polemics

Schaffner,Ryan Pierce

This course examines Muslim-Christian relations from the Qur’ān up through the medieval period, focusing on polemical texts. We will examine  Muslim and Christian attempts to explain and attack the beliefs and the practices of the other while defending their own beliefs and practices.

RELI 5540 | Arabic Philosophical Texts

Nair, Shankar

 

Topics in Islamic Studies
 

Judaism

RELJ 1420 | Elementary Classical Hebrew II

French,Blaire A
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

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 2420 | Intermediate Classical Hebrew II

Goering,Gregory Wayne Schmidt

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 3085 | Haggadah: Service Learning

Ochs,Vanessa L

The text of the Passover Seder, the Haggadah has been transformed to address contemporary issues, including feminism, LGBTQ rights, the plight of refugees, interfaith relations, racial relations ecology, food availability, and mental health.  In class, we will study how the Haggadah came about, and how,  in its newest forms,  it does the work of tikkun olam, repairing the world.  As part of our class, students will reflect on their world-repairing volunteer work (at UVA or in the community); those needing placements will be helped to secure them. Students will design their own Haggadah based on their volunteer work.  As a class, we will create a 2018 Charlottesville Haggadah and hold a model seder in Emancipation Park, inviting community partners.

RELJ 3372 | German Jewish Cult & History

Finder,Gabriel , Grossman,Jeffrey A

This course provides a wide-ranging exploration of the history and culture of German speaking) Jewry from 1750 to 1939 and beyond.  It focuses especially on the Jewish response to modernity in Central Europe, a response that proved highly productive, giving rise to a range of lasting transformations in Jewish life in Europe and later in North America, in particular, and in European society and culture, more generally.

Until the mid-eighteenth century, Jewish self-definition was relatively stable. From that point on, it became increasingly contingent and open-ended.  Before the rise of Nazism in 1933, German Jewish life was characterized by a plethora of emerging possibilities. This course explores the possibilities and the processes of change they unleashed. It traces the emergence of new forms of Jewish experience and shows their unfolding in a series of lively and poignant dramas of tradition and transformation, division and integration, dreams and nightmares. The course seeks to grasp this world through the lenses of history and culture, and to explore the different ways in which these disciplines illuminate the past. We will discuss the process of Jewish emancipation, the entry of Jews into European culture and society, Jewish acculturation (vs. assimilation). We will aslo explore the impact of newly released energies on Jewish and German life, more generally. Topics to be covered are: the “Wissenschaft des Judentums” (the “science” or “academic study” of Judaism), the rise of the reform, conservative and modern Orthodox movements as responses to modernity; the rise of the literary salons in Berlin and Vienna, run by Rahel Levin Varnhagen and Henrietta Herz, among others; the writers Heinrich Heine and Franz Kafka; Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis; the industrialist and writer Walter Rathenau; Weimar Culture; the politics of modernity, and, ultimatly the Jewish response to Nazism and the fate of German and Austrian Jews during the Holocaust. Finally, we will explore the rebuilding of Jewish life in Germany and Austria after the Holocaust.

This course assumes no prior training in German or Jewish culture and history. Class meetings will combine lecture and discussion. Requirements: two short essays and a 10-page term paper. Readings are drawn from central figures in German-speaking Jewry, including Heinrich Heine, Sigmund Freud, Franz Kafka, and Gershom Scholem, as well as critical works like Amos Elon’s history of German Jewry, The Pity of it All.

This course fulfills the second writing requirement.

RELJ 3559 | Gender and Sexuality in the Bible

Tate,Ashley Marie

What does the Bible have to say about gender and sexuality? How is it that one interpreter can read it as a champion of gender equality, and another as misogynistic? Is the biblical picture of gender and sexuality more complex and complicated than first meets the eye? Or maybe not? Throughout the term, we will explore these and other questions as we delve into the stories of an array of biblical figures and scholarly approaches to the Bible.

RELJ 5292 | The Book of Job

Halvorson-Taylor,Martien A

This graduate seminar focuses on the book of Job and its related texts—ancient, medieval, and modern—which allow us to establish the literary and theological traditions out of which Job was composed and the literary and theological legacies that it has engendered.

Our study will begin with a grounding in ancient compositions from Mesopotamia and biblical Wisdom Literature; proceed through the book of Job itself (with accompanying critical scholarship); and then finally turn to interpretations of the book. These interpretations may include, for example, early Jewish and Christian retellings of Job, Kierkegaard, Kafka’s The Trial, J.B. by MacLeish, the writings of later liberation and Jewish theologians, or the etchings of William Blake; students will select and present on these materials based on their research interests.

We will pay particular attention to the ways in which interpretations of Job play off one another in literary form and expression and in their treatment of such themes as divine justice, human piety, the limits of human knowledge, and the nature of the divine-human encounter.

Undergraduates who wish to take this course should have taken RELC/RELJ 1210 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible and should confer with the instructor first (maht@virginia.edu).