Courses

Fall 2019 COURSES

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

Fall 2019

African Religions

RELA 2850 | Afro- Creole Religions in the Americas

Julie Jenkins

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

Buddhism

RELB 2054 | Tibetan Buddhism Introduction

Kali Cape knc8mh

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

Erik Braun

Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana Buddhist developments in India.

RELB 2900 | Buddhist Meditation Traditions

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

RELB 3150 | Seminar in Buddhism and Gender

Kali Cape knc8mh

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 5055 | Buddhist Philosophy

Sonam Kachru

Course Topic: Attention Norms in Analytic, Empirically Informed, and Indian Philosophy
Professors: Zac Irving (Philosophy) and Sonam Kachru (Religious Studies)

Can we be responsible for our attention? Can certain patterns of attention be good or bad? Our task tackles these under-explored questions, asking whether there are distinctive norms that govern attention. Our class will take an interdisciplinary approach. We will discuss works in philosophy of mind and cognitive science, which contain rich descriptive theories of what attention is. Yet this literature has largely neglect normative questions about how we should direct, cultivate, and train our attention (though we will discuss some emerging work on this topic in analytic ethics and epistemology). We will complement this work with historical sources in Indian and Buddhist Philosophy, which contain normative theories of the role of attention in human flourishing. These sources conceptualize habitual patterns of attention as a profound source of human suffering, and suggest contemplative attention training (meditation) as a route to flourishing. We will analyze these texts through a philosophical lens, and in light of recent work on the cognitive science of meditation. 

Prerequisites: Instructor Permission required 

RELB 5470 | Literary Tibetan V

Steven Weinberger

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

Steven Weinberger

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 1210 | Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

TBA

Studies the history, literature, and religion of ancient Israel in the light of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Emphasizes methods of contemporary biblical criticism. Cross listed as RELJ 1210.

RELC 2050 | The Rise of Christianity

Rebecca Falcasantos

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 2245 | Global Christianity

James Daryn Henry

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

Paul Jones

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 3040 | Paul: Letters and Theology

Greg Given

Intensive study of the theological ideas and arguments of the Apostle Paul in relation to their historical and epistolary contexts.

RELC 3056 | In Defense of Sin

John Portmann

Exploration of transgression in Judaism and Christianity with a focus on the Ten Commandments and the seven deadly sins. Reflection on who determines what is sinful and why. Close reading of texts challenging the wrongfulness of acts and attitudes long considered sinful, with critical attention to the persuasiveness of religious rules.

RELC 3559 | New Course in Christianity: Bible in Fiction and Film

Ashley Tate

This course will explore biblical texts in their historical and literary contexts, while also exploring how it has been reinterpreted, reincorporated, and reimagined in both ancient and contemporary fiction, poetry, and film.

RELC 4044 | Religion and the American Courts

John Portmann
What is the nature of religion and its role in American society? This seminar will explore the limits of spiritual convictions in a liberal democracy which guarantees religious freedom. This course will examine: 1) the First Amendment; 2) legal methodology; and 3) the contemporary debate over whether citizens and public officials have a duty to refrain from making political and legal decisions on the basis of their religious beliefs.

RELC 5445 | The Atonement in Christian Thought

Paul Jones
This course engages landmark Christian statements about atonement. For about two-thirds of the semester, we read classic texts by Anselm of Canterbury, Julian of Norwich, Martin Luther, G. W. F. Hegel, and others. In the remaining third of the course we consider contemporary statements, with an especial focus on liberationist perspectives that examine the possible connections between Christian doctrines, violence, and discrimination. Prerequisite: The course is open to graduate students in Religious Studies and undergraduates who have taken at least three academic classes on Christian thought at the university/college level.

General Religious Studies

RELG 3559 | Scriptural Reasoning in the Abrahamic Traditions

Benjamin Maton

An introduction to shared scriptural study among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Practiced worldwide and seeking richer understanding and better disagreement across boundaries, “Scriptural Reasoning” (SR) guides shared study of sacred texts from each tradition in dialogue with the others. Students will practice SR, reflect on its effects, and takes field trips to religious communities. Readings in scripture and medieval to modern interpretation.

RELG 1010 | Introduction to Western Religious Traditions

Heather Warren

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

RELG 1400 | The Art and Science of Human Flourishing

Leslie Hubbard

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 1500 | Introductory Seminar in Religious Studies: Religion Race and Democracy

Larycia Hawkins

These seminars introduce first- and second-year students to the academic study of religion through a close study of a particular theme or topic. Students will engage with material from a variety of methodological perspectives, and they will learn how to critically analyze sources and communicate their findings. The seminars allow for intensive reading and discussion of material. Not more than two Intro Seminars may count towards the Major.

RELG 2190 | Religion and Modern Fiction

Larry Bouchard

Studies religious meanings in modern literature, emphasizing faith and doubt, evil and absurdity, and wholeness and transcendence in both secular fiction and fiction written from traditional religious perspectives.

RELG 2559-001 | New Course in Religious Studies: Material Worlds and Religions

Carolyn Howarter

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 2559-002 | New Course in Religious Studies: Love, Romance and Religion

Carolyn Howarter

In this course we will investigate the intersection between religion, romance, and love in particular to parse out how and why communities privilege certain marriage configurations over others. Through readings, film, and research exercises, we will explore how different religious communities encourage (or discourage) romantic affections, the ideal practices for choosing a spouse, and how the breakdown of relationships is handled.

RELG 2650 | Theological Bioethics

Eric Hilker

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 2820 | Jerusalem

Jessica Andruss

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 3559-001 | New Course in Religious Studies: Intro to Black and Womanist Religious Thought

Ashon Crawley

RELG 3559-002 | New Course in Religious Studies: Religion & War in Modern America

Samuel Spencer Wells

RELG 3559-003 | New Course in Religious Studies: Religion and the Black Freedom Struggle

Kai Parker

This course will examine how religion impacted the politics, popular culture, and intellectual history of the black freedom struggle in the United States from the ascent of Jim Crow segregation, through the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power, and on to Black Lives Matter.

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

Jerry White

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

TBA

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

Mary Faith Marshall

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

Heather Warren

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 | Major's Seminar: Telling Stories in Religious Studies

Natasha Heller

Learning to understand and analyze religious traditions is at the heart of the academic study of religion, but conveying knowledge about religion is equally important. In this course we will explore different ways of telling stories in religious studies, and the scholarly and creative potential of various modes of communication. We will look at examples of memoirs, fiction, videos, podcasts, museum exhibits, literary journalism, apps, etc., and explore how we might use these formats ourselves.

RELG 4800 | Crafting a Research Project in Religious Studies

Elizabeth Alexander

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 5195 | Blackness and Mysticism

Ashon Crawley

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 5320 | Research Seminar in Religion, Conflict, and Peace

Peter Ochs

Advanced research on religion, politics and conflict for students of "religion-on-religion" conflict/conflict resolution. Research methods drawn from religious studies, politics, anthropology and linguistics, history, sociology, nursing, philosophy, systems analysis and data science. Topics recommended by current work in the Global Covenant of Religions, the UVA Initiative on Religion in Conflict, and other professional work in the field.

RELG 5321 | Proseminar in Religion, Politics & Conflict

Peter Ochs

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 5559-001 | New Course in Religion: Blackness and Mysticism

Ashon Crawley

RELG 5559-002 | New Course in Religion:Cultural Specificity of Religious Freedom

Kathleen Flake, Natasha Heller

RELG 5630 | Seminar: Issues in the Study of Religion and Literature

Larry Bouchard

Analyzes, in terms of fundamental theory, the purposes, problems, and possibilities of interdisciplinary work in religion and literary criticism.

RELG 5801 | Crafting a Research Project in Religious Studies

Elizabeth Alexander

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 7360 | Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion

Erik Braun
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

Peter Ochs

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

RELG 8400 | Historiography Seminar in American Religion

Kathleen Flake

RELG 8715 | Philosophic Resources for Abrahamic Theologies

Peter Ochs
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."

Hinduism

RELH 2090 | Hinduism

Adam Newman

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

RELH 3745 | The Hindu Epics

Adam Newman

This course involves the close reading of selected passages of the Hindu Epics, the Ramaya¿a and the Mahabharata. Students will read the primary sources in translation (from one or both epics), along with relevant secondary scholarly works. An advanced knowledge of Indian religions and/or Hinduism is presumed of students wishing to enroll in this course.

Islam

RELI 2070 | Classical Islam

Ahmed al-Rahm

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 3355 | Prophecy in Islam and Judaism

Jessica Andruss

Prophecy provides the theme for our comparative inquiry into two sacred scriptures (the Qur'an and the Hebrew Bible) alongside the rich traditions of Muslim and Jewish interpretive literature. We will consider narratives about specific prophets, medieval debates between and within Muslim and Jewish communities about the status and function of prophecy within their traditions, and modern theoretical approaches to prophecy

RELI 8709 | Islamic Studies Tutorial

Ahmed al-Rahim

Judaism

RELJ 1210 | Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

TBA

Studies the history, literature, and religion of ancient Israel in the light of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Emphasizes methods of contemporary biblical criticism. Cross listed as RELC 1210.

RELJ 1410 | Elementary Biblical Hebrew I

Greg Goering
Studies the essentials of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. Includes readings of narrative portions of the Hebrew Bible.

RELJ 2410 | Intermediate Biblical Hebrew I

Blaire French

Readings in the prose narratives of the Hebrew Bible. Emphasizes grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. Attention to issues of translation and interpretation. Prerequisite: HEBR/RELJ 1420 or the equivalent.

RELJ 3052 | Responses to the Holocaust

Jennifer Geddes
Responses to the Holocaust

RELJ 3170 | Modern Jewish Thought

Asher Biemann

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

RELJ 3355 | Prophecy in Islam and Judaism

Jessica Andruss

Prophecy provides the theme for our comparative inquiry into two sacred scriptures (the Qur'an and the Hebrew Bible) alongside the rich traditions of Muslim and Jewish interpretive literature. We will consider narratives about specific prophets, medieval debates between and within Muslim and Jewish communities about the status and function of prophecy within their traditions, and modern theoretical approaches to prophecy

RELJ 3372 | German Jewish Culture and History

Gabriel Finder, Jeffrey Grossman

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 3490 | Jewish Weddings

Vanessa Ochs

As we study the ritual of the Jewish wedding ceremony from antiquity to the present day, we will see how notions about marriage, gender relations, and the normative family are displayed and challenged. In particular, we will be investigating the establishment of innovations in the contemporary Jewish weddings (traditional, liberal, same-sex and interfaith) in America and Israel.

RELJ 3559-001 | New Course in Judaism: Judaism in Art

Asher Biemann

RELJ 3559-002 | New Course in Judaism: Bible in Fiction and Film

Ashley Tate

This course will explore biblical texts in their historical and literary contexts, while also exploring how it has been reinterpreted, reincorporated, and reimagined in both ancient and contemporary fiction, poetry, and film.

RELJ 5105 | Religion and Culture of the Rabbis

Elizabeth Alexander

An examination of religion and culture of the rabbinic movement (c. 70-600 CE) in the social and cultural contexts of Greco-Roman antiquity. Among the issues to be examined: rituals and institutions of the rabbis, social organizations within the rabbinic movement, engagement with other sectors of Jewish and gentile society.

RELJ 5559-001 | New Course in Judaism: Second Temple Judaism

Greg Goering