Fall 2014 Courses

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African Religions

RELA 2750 African Religions  
Hoehler-Fatton,Cynthia
An introductory survey of African religions. The course concentrates on African indigenous religions, but Islam and Christianity are also discussed. Topics include African mythologies and cosmologies, as well as rituals, artistic traditions and spiritualities. We consider the colonial impact on African religious cultures and the dynamics of ongoing religious change in the sub-Sahara.

RELA 3559 New Course: Religious Themes in African Literature and Film
Hoehler-Fatton,Cynthia
An exploration of the ways in which religious concepts, practices and issues are addressed in African literature and film.  Literary genres include novels, short stories and poetry; Cinematographic genres include commercial "Nollywood" movies, as well as "Christian video films"   We will examine how various directors and authors interweave aspects of Muslim, Christian and/or traditional religious cultures into the stories they tell.

Buddhism

RELB 2100 Buddhism  
 Lang,Karen C
This course is an introduction to Buddhism, beginning with its origins in India, its spread throughout Asia to the West. The course will examine the historical and cultural contexts in which Buddhist beliefs and practices developed and are still developing. We will explore a wide variety of sources to understand the many ways in which Buddhists speak about the Buddha, what he and his followers say about karma and rebirth, the practice of meditation and the pursuit of enlightenment. We will also examine the views of contemporary Buddhist teachers and on the challenges Buddhism faces in the modern world.

RELB 2770 Daoism  
Hudson II,William Clarke
While early classics of Daoist wisdom are well-known nowadays, the Daoist religion--with its celestial gods and disease demons, communal rituals and private meditations--is relatively little-known. This course will cover the whole spectrum of Daoism in China, including early classics, religious history, practices, ideas, and ways of life. Through readings, lectures, discussions, and writing assignments, students will gain a general understanding of this ancient and vital tradition.

RELB 3190 Buddhist Nirvana  
Lang,Karen C
This seminar will examine what Buddhists mean when they talk about Nirvana. We'll begin with how the concept of Nirvana develops in the culture in which Sakyamuni Buddha lived and taught, explore how different forms of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Japan, and in the west developed new ideas about what Nirvana is and how it can be experienced. We'll read classic sutras on the topic, as well as books and essays by Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, other contemporary Zen masters, and western Buddhist pratitioners and scholars.

RELB 3408 Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy  
Campbell,John R.B.
 

RELB 5470 Literary Tibetan V  
TBA

RELB 5520 Seminar in Daoism  
Hudson II,William Clarke
Topics on the history, scripture, thought, and practice of religious Daoism, with an emphasis on the formative period (2nd-10th c.).

RELB 5559 New Course: Buddhist Meditation
Schaeffer,Kurtis R
In this seminar we will survey recent scholarly research on the history, literature, and practices of Buddhist meditation in Asia, with a focus on Tibet. We will read traditional works on meditation, studies of meditation, as well as books and articles on a host of related issues, including consciousness, self, and experience.

RELB 5800 Literary Tibetan VII  
TBA

RELB 8230 Adv Literary & Spoken Tibetan  
Germano,David F

RELB 8559 Advanced Pali
Karen Lang
Reading course in Pali suttas

Christianity

RELC 1210 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament  
Halvorson-Taylor,Martien A
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. Using methods of modern biblical scholarship, 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 Rise of Christianity  
Shuve,Karl Evan
How did a movement that began as a Jewish sect become the official religion of the Roman Empire and forever change the world? In this course, we will trace Christianity’s improbable rise to religious and cultural dominance in the Mediterranean world during the first millennium of the Common Era. We will examine archaeological remains, artistic creations and many different kinds of writings—including personal letters, stories of martyrs and saints, works of philosophy and theology, and even gospels that were rejected for their allegedly heretical content—as we reimagine and reconstruct the lives and struggles of early and medieval Christians. Our goal will be to understand the development of Christian thought, the evolution of the Church as an institution, and how Christianity was lived out and practiced by its adherents.

RELC 2215 Mormonism and American Culture  
Flake,Kathleen
An introduction to who the Mormons are, their beliefs and religious practices, this seminar will explore issues raised by Mormonism’s move toward the American mainstream while retaining its religious identity and cultural distinctiveness.

RELC 2360 Elements of Christian Thought  
Jones,Paul Dafydd
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. Authors considered include Anselm of Canterbury, John Calvin, Karl Barth, Elizabeth Johnson, and many others. The course is suitable for those seeking an academic introduction to Christian theology and those wishing to deepen their understanding of this religious tradition. No previous knowledge of Christian thought is required.

RELC 2401 Hist of American Catholicism  
Fogarty,Gerald P
Catholicism in the United States has often been in a dilemma. On the one hand, its spiritual loyalty to Rome and its growth through immigration made it appear "foreign" to most Americans. On the other, the American Catholic support for religious liberty drew suspicion from Rome. In 1960, the election of John Kennedy seemed to signal the acceptance of Catholics as Americans. In 1965, the Second Vatican Council seemed to ratify what had long been a cherished American Catholic tradition. To understand the significance of these events of the 1960s, the course will treat the following themes: the early Spanish and French settlements, the beginning of English-speaking Catholicism in Maryland, with its espousal of religious liberty, the establishment of the hierarchy under John Carroll and its early development of a strong sense of episcopal collegiality, immigration and nativism, American Catholic support of religious liberty and conflict with the Vatican at the end of the 19th century, and the American Catholic contribution to Vatican II (1962-1965). The course will conclude with an analysis of social, political, and theological developments in the American Catholic Church since the end of the council. Course requirements: 1) a mid-term and final exam; 2) an analysis of an historical document selected from collections on reserve.

RELC 3030 Jesus and the Gospels (formerly known as the Historical Jesus)
Janet Spittler
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 – though not our only – ancient sources of information on Jesus are the four canonical Gospels, and so much of the course will involve reading and attempting to understand these texts.  To that end, we will discuss the special problems involved in the interpretation of ancient texts, as well as the various methods used by contemporary scholars in response to these problems.  We will also discuss the complex relationship of literary works and historical persons they depict.  Ultimately, we will attempt to reconstruct at least the broad outlines of Jesus’ activity and teachings, while also attempting to define the limits of our sources.

RELC 3043 Themes in Eastern Orthodoxy  
Guroian,Vigen
Rather than a broad historical overview of Orthodox Christianity, this course is an introduction to the thematic core of the Orthodox Christian tradition. We will first review the major elements of the Orthodox faith that developed over the course of the Byzantine era. Then we will examine some themes to which Orthodox theologians have given considerable thought. These include: scripture and tradition, liturgy and sacrament, the meaning and role of icons, faith and spirituality, the nature of the church, Christian ecumenism, and Christianity and culture.

RELC 3045 History of Bible  
Gamble,Harry Y
This course is not being offered. See RELC 3559 for replacement.

RELC 3056 In Defense of Sin  
Portmann,John Edward
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. 

Does religious practice remain focused on pleasing God, or does it now principally fulfill familial / ethnic obligation?  Or has it perhaps become simply a personal quest with indeterminate goals?  What does sin have to do with the modern world? 

COURSE OBJECTIVES: 

  • to hone critical thinking skills
  • to learn to manage ideas
  • to appreciate intellectually the difficulty of following rules
  • to clarify the limits of morality
  • to articulate what the world loses by leaving sin behind

RELC 3447 History of Christian Ethics  
Mohrmann,Margaret
This course surveys the development of Christian ethical thought and teaching from its beginnings through the Reformation era. Major ethical themes are traced through the centuries, as the church’s scripture, evolving doctrine, and emerging tradition interact— in thought, word, and deed—with secular society, politics, and philosophy. Readings are taken mostly from primary texts, such as the Bible and the writings of selected Christian thinkers, but also include an online text that provides historical and theological background ethical issues in historical context, and selected secondary works that examine particular ethical issues in historical context. Class sessions are a combination of lecture and discussion.

RELC 3559  Apocryphal Christian Literature
Janet Spittler
This course offers a survey of “apocryphal” Christian literature of the second to fourth centuries CE, that is, gospels, acts, apocalypses and letters that were not included in the New Testament.  Some of these texts seem to have been intended to supplement the canonical literature; others represent substantially different, often contrary, views.  We will read a selection of texts, including the Gospel of Thomas, the Infancy Gospel of James, the Gospel of Judas, the Acts of John, the Apocalypse of Paul, the correspondence of Paul and Seneca, and the Acts of Andrew and Matthias in the City of the Cannibals.  Our close reading of these highly interesting, highly entertaining primary sources (in English translation) will reveal the remarkable diversity of early Christianities.  

RELC 5077 Pius XII, Hitler the US &WW II  
Fogarty,Gerald P
Since Rolf Hochhuth’s play, “The Deputy” was first performed in Germany in 1963, controversy has swirled around Pius XII, the wartime pope.  Hochhuth [portrayed the pope as anti-Semitic--and hence silent in regard to the Holocaust--and pro-Hitler, partly out of fear of communism.  Since then the pope and the Vatican have had defenders and attackers.  The literature on both sides of the question has been more heated than historical.  The course will investigate that controversy through the lens of American relations with the Vatican. After general reading on both sides of the question of the role of the pope, including several recent books that rely on the recently opened Vatican Archives up to 1939, the students will choose a topic in consultation with the professor on which to write a major paper. Course requirements: 1) attendance at class and discussion; 2) short weekly papers on the readings: and 3) a major paper of 20 pages on a topic approved by the professor.

RELC 5158 History of Christian Ethics  
Mohrmann,Margaret
This course is designed to provide a solid understanding of the historical roots, from the New Testament period to the Reformation, of Christian ethics, experience in working with historical source materials, and familiarity with some important interpreters of this history. In seminar discussions, we will primarily explore primary materials, but also consider the work of interpreters such as Ernst Troeltsch and Peter Brown.

RELC 5685 Orthodoxy and Heresy  
Shuve,Karl Evan
This seminar traces the making of Christian 'orthodoxy¿ in Late Antiquity. Our focus will be debates concerning the doctrines of God and Christ, which we will place in their historical, philosophical and exegetical contexts. Our study is informed by the move in modern scholarship towards anti-essentialist notions of orthodoxy and heresy, and so we will be attentive to the myriad ways in which early Christians sought to authorize their own views.

RELC 5830 Love & Justice Christian Ethic  
Childress,James F
An examination of various conceptions of neighbor-love (agape) and justice and their relations (e.g., identity and opposition) in Protestant and some Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox literature (mainly from the 20th and early 21st centuries).  The principles of agape and justice will be considered in the context of interpretations of human nature (e.g., the locus and power of sin), theological convictions (e.g., God as creator, preserver, and redeemer), and approaches to moral reasoning.  In addition, attention will be devoted to the distinction and relations between agape and other modes of love, particularly philia and eros.  Finally, in passing, the seminar will also examine the implications of different interpretations of agape (and its relations to justice) for selected practical areas, such as friendship, forgiveness, punishment, war, and allocation of resources.

General Religion

RELG 1010 Intro Western Religious Trads  
Warren,Heather A
An historical survey of the origins and development of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Subjects include the origins of monotheism, the rise of Israel as a nation, early Christianity, the rise of Islam in the Middle Ages, the Protestant Reformation, Christianity during the Enlightenment, and the influence of modern science and industrialism on 19th and 20th century religious life. Requirements: Weekly readings, two tests and a final

RELG 2559 New Course: Theories of Religion
Hudson II,William Clarke
An introduction to classic twentieth-century theories about religion from the social sciences and the human sciences.

RELG 2630 Business Ethics and Society 
TBA
This course will be taught by advanced graduate students. 
This course aims to acquaint students with a variety of philosophical and religious frameworks for interpreting and evaluating human activity in the marketplace. The first half of the semester will focus on Adam Smith, Max Weber, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, and Ayn Rand. The second half of the semester will examine some contemporary issues within the marketplace that deserve additional scrutiny, such as private property, freedom of contract, and the distribution of goods. In addition, we will attend to specific issues in corporate ethics. Requirements will include both a midterm and final exam, as well as writing requirements to be determined.

RELG 2650 Theology, Ethics and Medicine  
Childress,James F
This course examines the ethical principles that commonly guide decisions in health care. It focuses on ethical principles accepted by many Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and humanistic traditions, and embedded in a liberal, pluralistic society, and it examines debates about the implications of these principles for suicide and assisted suicide; terminating life-sustaining treatment; abortion and maternal-fetal relations; artificial reproduction, including human cloning; using human subjects in research; genetic counseling, screening, and engineering; health-care reform; allocating life-saving medical resources; obtaining and distributing organs for transplantation; and public health issues surrounding AIDS, pandemic influenza, and bioterrorism. We will use numerous actual and hypothetical cases to highlight moral issues.

RELG 2700 Festivals of the Americas 
Schmidt, Jalane Dawn
By reading case studies of various religious festivals in locations throughout the Caribbean and South, Central and North America, as well as theoretical literature drawn from social anthropology and religious studies, students will become familiar with significant features of contemporary religious life in the Americas, as well as with scholarly accounts of religious and cultural change. Students will become more critical readers of ethnographic and historical sources, as well as theories from the Study of Religion (Jonathan Z. Smith, Ronald Grimes, Lawrence Sullivan), and will increase their ability to theorize about ritual, festivity, sacred time, ritual space and ethnicity.RELG 3200 Martin, Malcom, and America  
Hadley,Mark Andrew

RELG 3200 Martin, Malcolm, and America
Mark Hadley
An analysis 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 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 3360 Religions in the New World 
Schmidt, Jalane Dawn
A history course which examines Latin American and Caribbean religions from the 1400s through the 1830s. We will proceed topically (in rough chronological order), studying religious encounters during the pre-Columbian era, the Spanish conquest and colonial eras, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Latin American independence (1820s), and slave emancipation in the anglophone Caribbean (1830s). The class will focus primarily upon the signature religious episodes, devotions, personalities and institutions of indigenous, African, Afro-creole, and mestizo communities, since these "gente de color" constituted the majority population in the New World during this historical epoch. We will consider issues of historiography?specifically, the problem of interpreting (sometimes hostile) extant archival sources and the use of such primary material in the writing of secondary literature. Students will develop their abilities to evaluate primary sources (in translation), and to identify the interpretive choices which scholars make in the crafting of historical narratives.

RELG 3375/ENWR Spiritual Writing
Ochs, Vanessa L
This course concerns the  quest for meaning, purpose and direction and explores individual encounters with the sacred.  Half of the class is devoted to the study of contemporary spiritual writing from diverse religious and spiritual traditions in fiction, memoir, diaries, and creative non-fiction.The other half of the class is a writing workshop. Students will write about matters of the spirit (as they understand the term) in various genres and will share their work with classmates. This course fulfills the Second Writing Requirement.

RELG 3380 Feasting, Fasting, Faith
 Ochs,Vanessa L
Through reading, studying films and eating, we will learn how preparing food, consuming it, and abstaining from it have been made sacred and ethical  in Jewish and Christian Practices. This course will be especially relevant to people with an ardent interest in foods (foodies).

RELG 3420 First Amendment Limits  
Flake,Kathleen
Far from absolute, the liberties described in the First Amendment have always been subject to a variety of restraints by federal and local governments. This course will focus on the cultural experience of these restraints; not only how they were devised by courts and implemented by regulatory agencies, but also how they are understood in the popular imagination and, finally, what influence they have had on the shape of religion in America.

RELG 3485 Moral Leadership
 Portmann,John Edward
Exploration of moral ways of inspiring and influencing other people.  Special attention to the thought of Machiavelli, Nietzsche, Al Gore, and Oprah; styles of leading; the role of the so-called global elite in contemporary world affairs; the media; censorship; the Internet; plagiarism; globalization; and going to war.  What is the definition of leadership?  What does traditional religious observance have to do with the definition?  What is the role of judgment in moral leadership?  Requirements:  informed class participation; three brief exams; final 8-12-page paper. Please note that no laptops will be allowed in this seminar.

RELG 3559 New Course: Civil Rights
Marsh Jr.,Charles Robert
The seminar considers the American civil rights movement as theological drama.  The goal is to analyze and understand the movement, its participants and opponents, in religious and theological perspective.  While interdisciplinary in scope, the seminar will probe the details of religious convictions in their dynamic particularity and ask how images of God shape conceptions of race, community and nation and modes of practical engagements.  Readings include four seminal studies of the period, writings by movement and anti-movement activists, and documents archived at http://archives.livedtheology.org/, in the digital history titled, "The Civil Rights Movement as Theological Drama".  Course requirements include active participation in class discussions, one 20-30 presentation, weekly reading summaries (250-300 words), one research paper (10-12 pages, or 3000-3400 words), and a take-home final.

RELG 3559 New Course: Spirtual Writing
Ochs,Vanessa L
This course concerns the  quest for meaning, purpose and direction and explores individual encounters with the sacred within the context of religious traditions.  Students will study examples of contemporary spiritual writing from diverse traditions in fiction, memoir, and creative non-fiction and will be required to write about matters of the spirit in various genres. Intructor permission required.

RELG 3780 Faulkner and the Bible  
Wilson, William
Go Down Moses, If I forget Thee Jerusalem, Absalom, Absalom!...These and many other novels by William Faulkner indicate that this author was deeply influenced by biblical narrative and verse. This course will explore this influence. The primary goal is simply to see how a critical knowledge of the Bible can help us better understand Faulkner's complex and very challenging writing. However, the course will also be deeply concerned to understand why the Bible became a vital tradition in the development of American letters, and how biblical themes were employed in the struggle over race relations and regional identity, and especially in the South, Faulkner's homeland.

RELG 3820 Global Ethics & Climate Change  
Jenkins, Willis
Addressing planet-wide problems seems to require a global ethic, but is a global ethic possible in a world of many moral cultures and religious traditions? This seminar takes up the ethical questions posed by climate change as ways into the search for shared grounds of cooperation across human difference. We examine political, philosophical, and religious arguments about justice amidst inequality, fairness across borders, harm across generations, and duties to other species. We also explore relations of science, ethics, and culture in developing practical responsibilities for global environmental change.

RELG 4023 Bioethics Internship Seminar 
Mohrmann, Margaret Elizabeth
This course is designed to provide students with experience in discerning and analyzing ethical issues as they arise in particular clinical settings. Each student spends approximately four hours each week in a clinic, hospital unit, or other health care- related venue (the same one throughout the semester), under the mentorship of a health care professional engaged in that setting. Seminar time focuses primarily on student experiences and observations in their placements, plus discussion of readings that explore selected ethical issues common to clinical medicine and the role of the ethicist/observer. During the second half of the semester, each student presents for class critique an analysis of an ethical issue or question that arises in his or her setting, and that will form the basis of the student's final paper for the class. Students must have some background knowledge of bioethics' methods and common questions. Admittance to the course is by application only; for details, see the Undergraduate Bioethics Program Website at http://bioethics.virginia.edu/internships.html.

RELG 4220 Amer Religious Autobiography  
Warren,Heather A
A multidisciplinary examination of religious self-perception in relation to the dominant values of American life. The course also examines the question, What is religion?  Readings represent a variety of spiritual traditions and autobiographical forms, among them Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, Ari Goldman's The Search for God at Harvard, Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies, and Henri Nouwen's Genesee Diary. Fulfills the majors seminar requirement. Prerequisites: Courses in religious studies, American history, or American literature. Requirements: reading, weekly short autobiographical papers (2pp.), 1 paper 8-12 pages, and an autobiography (20 pp.).

RELG 4500 Majors Seminar God Politics and War
Mathewes,Charles T
Once upon a time, we lived under kings, who were great warriors and high priests.  Now we largely don't have kings, our rulers are not soldiers, and neither rulers nor soldiers are perceived to possess special theological mojo, whose votaries are elsewhere.  How did this change happen?  Our class will study how humans have come to distinguish activities they describe as "politics" from "religion," and how they have differentiated both from the use of violence in war.  We will watch films, read plays, various scriptures, and philosophical, political, sociological and theological texts in pursuit of answers to our questions: how did humans come to distinguish religion, politics, and war, and in what ways do they remain, perhaps despite our best efforts, intertwined?

RELG 4500 Majors Seminar Religion and Psychology
Portmann, John
Exploration of religious emotions such as fascination, terror, guilt, wholeheartedness, and ecstasy. What motivates religious conversion?  What keeps someone loyal to the religion of his parents?  What impulse prompts a believer to commit acts of hatred or terrible violence in the name of God?  How does contemporary psychiatry compete with or complement pastoral counseling? What does religious fervor have to do with the sex drive?  Emphasis on Nietzsche, James, Freud, Kierkegaard, and Richard Dawkins.  Requirements: 1) regular and substantive class participation; 2) two brief exams; 3) a class presentation; and 4) a final 14-20-page paper

RELG 4500 Majors Seminar Death and the Afterlife 
Ray, Benjamin C
The goal of this seminar is to develop an informed and critical perspective on the study of religion through the study of myths, rituals, theology, medical ethics, and fictional literature concerning death and afterlife in a variety of religious traditions. The seminar does not intend to make the case for any single definition of religion or to take a particular theological perspective on death, but rather to have participants develop critical skills necessary for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a number of scholarly approaches to the subject. Requirements: Six short papers, approximately one every other week. No mid-term and no final exam.

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

RELG 4500 Majors Seminar: Modern American Marriage
Flake, Kathleen
Using a variety of approaches and methods, this course will examine the modern history of Christian marriage and family construction in its cultural context. Equal emphasis will be given to early modern and contemporary American marriage, including gay marriage and polyfidelity. Particular attention will be paid to such issues as the gendered ideologies and practices of marriage, especially in relation to the shift from patriarchal to companionate marriage; the connection between marriage, citizenship and civil rights; and the significance of sex, as the root symbol of marriage. We will trace these issues through the evolution of marriage rites and American law and consider contemporary practical challenges posed to specific religious communities    

RELG 4500 Majors Seminar  Book Culture in Religions
 Al-Rahim,Ahmed

RELG 4500 Majors Seminar  Secularism and Religion
 Nemec,John William
Does religion belong in the public square? Does it have a legitimate role in public
life, despite a lack of unanimity in the religious beliefs of the public? Can religion be separated from public and political life?   This course examines these and related questions and queries the ways in which religion shapes, challenges, and clashes with the modern nation-state. It further examines the degree to which religion has served to shape—and to challenge—contemporary societies in the context of the modern nation-state, all while examining why religion has historically found a role for itself in political life.

RELG 4500 Majors Seminar  Evil and Suffering
 Geddes,Jennifer Leslie

RELG 4500 Death and the After Life
 Ray,Benjamin C
The subject of death and dying in ancient and modern literature, contemporary Christian theology, Jewish, and Buddhist traditions, medical ethics, the American civil war, and public monuments.

RELG 4559 Bioethics Internship: Health Policy Administration
 Mohrmann,Margaret Elizabeth
Also listed as PHSE 4500/7500 The Bioethics Internship: Health Policy and Administration is designed for fourth-year undergraduate students who have declared a minor or interdisciplinary major in bioethics or have significant course background in bioethics, as well as for graduate students in any discipline who are pursuing studies in or relevant to health policy and/or administration. It is designed to provide students with experience in discerning and analyzing ethical issues as they arise in healthcare institutions in regard to policy making and implementation and to other organizational issues. Each student spends several hours a week in the UVA medical center under the mentorship of an administrator engaged in some facet of the institution’s operation. Seminar time focuses on the students’ observations and analyses of particular ethical issues that arise in their placements. Each student chooses an observed ethical issue to analyze for a final project, which is presented to the class and written up as the term paper. Admittance is by instructor permission, based on an emailed request detailing relevant courses taken (and grades) plus reasons for wishing to take the course, including how it may fit into the student's future academic and career trajectory; send enrollment requests electronically to Prof. Mohrmann (mem7e) and the course co-leader, Prof. Lois Shepherd (lls4b).  Instructor permission

RELG 4800 Research Methods in RS
Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia 
   This course offers third- and fourth-year Religious Studies majors resources for conceiving and executing a major research project.  As a follow-up to this course, students usually take RELG 4900, “Distinguished Major Thesis,” which affords them an opportunity to write the research project that they have conceived in this course.  Whether students plan to write a thesis or not, this course offers an accessible introduction to the craft of advanced research in Religious Studies.
   The course surveys the skills needed for advanced research in Religious Studies: critical and analytic reading, formulating a research problem, crafting an evidence-based argument, and developing a professional voice in non-fiction prose. The course also exposes students to religious studies arguments constructed from different kinds of data, evidence and sources so that students grasp the field’s range.  
   The course is conducted as a workshop in which students submit work-in-progress to their peers for feedback and discussion. They are thus initiated into the culture of advanced research wherein constructive feedback is given and received in a generous spirit.

RELG 4810 Poetry and Theology  
Hart,Kevin John
This seminar focuses on the writings of two important poets, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Geoffrey Hill. The one is Catholic, and the other questions religion at every level while also remaining open to the possibility of faith. Each poet raises major theological issues: belief, doubt, ecstasy, martyrdom, revelation, transcendence, and theodicy, among them. We will read, as closely as possible, some poems and prose writings by each poet, consider their theological contexts, and examine the ways in which theological issues are folded in their poems. Students will write two essays, one on each poet.

RELG 5088 (pending) Dostoevsky and Eliot
Guroian,Vigen
The title of this course is not mere word play.  Dostoevesky and Eliot present penetrating diagnoses of modernity, especially the failure of faith and love among its inhabitants. We will read Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground, The Idiot, and The Brothers Karamazov and Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Wasteland, Four Quartets, and other poems.

RELG 5070 Interpretation Theory  
Bouchard,Larry D
We will explore various approaches to interpretation theory, with emphasis on the nature and problems of interpretive activity in aesthetics, religion, and ethics. We will take up hermeneutical considerations of figuralism (e.g. Erich Auerbach), truth and understanding in encounters with texts and others (e.g., Schleiermacher, Gadamer, Ricoeur, Adam Zachary Newton), and reconsiderations of the hermeneutical model in such figures as Bahktin, Nussbaum, and Vattimo. Special attention may be given this time to postmodern views of religious discourse (e.g., in Derrida and some of his sympathizers and critics). Requirements: Class participation of assigned materials, a midterm take-home examination, and either a paper or an essay final. Undergraduates not yet enrolled in this course need to obtain permission of the instructor and may be placed on a waiting list kept by Prof. Bouchard.

RELG 5320 / RELG 3559 Research Seminar in Religion, Conflict, and Peace 
Ochs, Peter
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 5485 American Relig &Social Reform
 Warren,Heather A
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      5541       Just War
Childress, James  
Contact professor directly

RELG 5541 Seminar in  Social & Political Thought: Public Health Ethics
Childress, James F
This course will explore both ends and means in public health ethics. On the one hand, it will examine the broad goal of public health and reduction of the social burden of disease and injury. It will consider how this goal, which is grounded in a commitment to social welfare and social justice/equity, can be specified for purposes of guiding both policy and practice. On the other hand, public health’s population-based perspective poses a challenge to the traditional individual-centered, autonomy-driven perspectives in the U.S.’s public philosophy. This course will consider when, in a liberal democracy, the broad and specific goals of public health justify overriding liberty, privacy, confidentiality, etc., all of which establish presumptive (but non-absolute) constraints against certain societal and governmental interventions. It will examine the tension between giving priority to voluntary actions by members of the public and employing effective public health interventions, in such contexts as testing and screening, surveillance, quarantine/isolation, vaccination, and allocation of resources. 

RELG 5559 Reason and Love in Thought  
Biemann,Asher D
Starting with three modern Jewish thinkers, Spinoza, Hermann Cohen, and Franz Rosezweig, this seminar will explore the paradoxical theme of love as a commandment rooted in reason and revelation in modern Jewish and Christian thought. Selections from Kant, Feuerbach, Schleiermacher, Kierkegaard, and others will provide a broader picture of modern religious thought. The concept of religious love will thus also emerge as a polemical term.     

RELG 5559 New Course:  Atheism and Literature
Hart,Kevin John
This seminar proposes a close reading of major narrative and critical writings by one of the foremost atheists of the twentieth century: Maurice Blanchot. We shall read several of his demanding fictional works, including *Death Sentence* and *Thomas the Obscure*, which concern themselves with a strange atheistic mysticism, and attend to his equally intense critical writings on literature and the nature of writing. Attention will be given to Blanchot's debts to philosophers, especially Martin Heidegger, and to writings about Blanchot by Jacques Derrida and others. Students may read Blanchot's writings in either French or English translation.

RELG      5559       Ethics and Aesthetics
Flores, Nichole  
Contact professor directly

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

RELG      5559       Basic Philosophy Kant +
Ochs, Peter

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

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

RELG 5559 Suffering
 Geddes, Jennifer Leslie

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

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

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

RELG 5780 Wallace Stevens & the Absolute
 Hart,Kevin John
This seminar attempts to develop a close reading of Wallace Stevens's major poems and to evaluate their theological significance. What is the character of the atheism of early poems such as “Sunday Morning”? Is the project of a “supreme fiction” theological or anti-theological or both? In what sense, if any, is “The Auroras of Autumn” a poem concerned with belief? These are some of the questions that will interest us. While reading Stevens we will also be concerned to consider assumptions that structure our reading of poetry that involves religion, whether affirmatively or negatively, and to discover what is involved in developing a rigorous theological reading of modern poetry. What differences are there, if any, between reading canonical biblical poetry and canonical secular poetry that addresses the absolute? Reference will be made to theologians such as Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar, among other theologians, and to literary critics: Harold Bloom, for example.

RELG 5835 Ethnography Study of Religion  
Ochs,Vanessa L

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. We will read primary and secondary texts that investigate religious liberalism, the rise of psychology, secularism and secularization, consumerism, media, and globalization. Students will produce an article-length research paper.

RELG 7360 Study of Religion  
Ben Ray
Jones,Paul Dafydd
Through an examination of landmark texts -- classic and contemporary -- this course introduces new graduate students to important approaches, discussions, and controversies in the field of Religious Studies. Beyond helping students think carefully and critically about the academic study of religion, the course (a) encourages reflection about how particular research agendas relate to the broader field of Religious Studies, (b) explores various theoretical and methodological perspectives, and (c) helps students to formulate introductory syllabi for use in an academic setting. 

This course is mandatory for all first-year Ph.D. candidates in the Religious Studies Department.
 

RELG 7559 New Course in Religion Spirituality in America
Hedstrom,Matthew
AWhat is “spirituality” and why has it become such a pervasive term in US culture? This course examines the category’s development since the early 19th century, considering especially the encounter of religious traditions with the intellectual, economic, and social currents of modernity. We will read primary and secondary texts that investigate religious liberalism, psychology, secularism and secularization, consumerism, and globalization.

RELG 7559 New Course in Religion Method & Inquiry in Rel Eth
Mathewes,Charles T
Jenkins, Willis
This advanced graduate seminar examines the range of possibilities for inquiry within religious ethics.  It considers philosophical, tradition-specific, comparative, and applied works, and focuses on interpreting their methodological variety. We will read and assess a range of major texts composed in recent years, attending not only to their explicit arguments, but the larger strategic choices they make, their intended aims, and the ways that they construct an audience and perhaps a field.

RELG 7559 New Course in Religion Signs of Salvation
Ochs,Peter W
A study of the sources of semiotics and pragmatism from Augustine to Peirce and beyond. The course examines the place of contemporary sign theory (semiotics) and reparative reasoning (pragmatism) in the history of philosophic theology in the west, with particular attention to the Abrahamic (Muslim, Jewish, Christian) scriptural traditions. Careful, detailed textual and formal (logical) studies in philosophy, scriptural interpretation, and theology, including Aristotle; the Stoics; early rabbinic and patristic sources; medieval Muslim, Jewish and Christian philosophies; modern, postmodern, and postliberal theorists.

RELG 8350 Proseminar in SIP  
Ochs,Peter W

Hinduism

RELH 2090 Hinduism  
Nemec,John William
This course serves as a general introduction to Hinduism in its classical, medieval and modern forms.  By reading primary texts in translation (along with key secondary sources), and by taking note of the cultural, historical, political and material contexts in which they were composed, we will explore Hinduism from its earliest forms to the period of the “Hindu Renaissance” in the nineteenth century.  In other words, we will take a sweeping look at the religious and cultural life of the Indian sub-continent from the second millennium B.C. (B.C.E.) to the nineteenth century.

RELH 2195 Theory and Practice of Yoga  
Campbell,John R.B.
 

RELH 5465 Saiva Tantra  
Nemec,John William
The purpose of this course is to provide a comprehensive introduction to Indian tantric Saivism, beginning with the proto-tantric traditions of the "Outer Way" (atimarga) and including the increasingly goddess orientated and increasingly non-dualistic developments evidenced by the myriad traditions of the "Way of Mantras" (mantramarga).  Students who wish to take this course are expected to have a deep familiarity with Hindu traditions.

Islam

RELI 2070 Classical Islam 
Al-Rahim, Ahmed
This course is intended to trace the history and development of the religion of Islam and the Muslim world in the classical period, roughly dating from the 7th to 13th centuries C.E. We will examine through readings of the primary (in translation) and relevant secondary sources: (1) the biography of Muhammad, Islam’s prophet, and the history of his successors, the caliphs, and Islamic dynasties; (2) the history and themes of the Koran, Islam’s scripture, and its exegesis; (3) the hadith, or the sayings attributed to Muhammad, his companions, and his progeny, and the development of Islamic schools of law; (4) the history of Islamic creeds, theology, and philosophy; (5) sectarian history, the Sunni and Shi’a chasm, and Sufism, or Islamic mysticism; and (6) the daily life and rituals of medieval Muslims and their relations with the “People of the Book,” i.e., Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians.

RELI 5559 Virtue and Knowledge in Islam  
Al-Rahim,Ahmed
This seminar explores medieval manuals of virtue ethics in the traditional religious sciences, primarily Islamic law, and philosophy.

Judaism

RELJ 1210 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament  
Halvorson-Taylor,Martien A
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. Using methods of modern biblical scholarship, 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 Schmidt
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.

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

RELJ       2030       Introduction to Judaism
Alexander, Elizabeth S
This course introduces students to the academic study of Judaism.  We will use historical methods to observe change and development in Jewish beliefs and practices over time, we will analyze Jewish texts to learn about Jewish beliefs and practices, and we will observe contemporary Jews engaged in Jewish practice to gain insight into Judaism as lived religion.  Among the topics covered are:  sacred text study, prayer, kashrut, holy day practices and life cycle passages.

RELJ 2410 Intermed Classical Hebrew I  
Goering,Gregory Schmidt
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 moderately difficult prose passages from Hebrew to English.

RELJ       2420       Intermediate Classical Hebrew II
French, Blaire A
In this course, which continues and builds upon HEBR/RELJ 2410, students will develop facility in the reading and translation of biblical Hebrew. Students will review basic grammar, learn to analyze syntax, and build their working vocabulary. As a secondary objective of the course, students will learn to interpret biblical poetry. To this end, students will learn repetition, acrostic, inclusio, refrain, metaphor, correspondence, elision, compensation, and other poetic devices. By the end of the course, students will grasp the complex phenomenon of poetic parallelism. Cross-listed as HEBR 2420.

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

RELJ 3030 Jesus and the Gospels (formerly known as the Historical Jesus)
Janet Spittler
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 – though not our only – ancient sources of information on Jesus are the four canonical Gospels, and so much of the course will involve reading and attempting to understand these texts.  To that end, we will discuss the special problems involved in the interpretation of ancient texts, as well as the various methods used by contemporary scholars in response to these problems.  We will also discuss the complex relationship of literary works and historical persons they depict.  Ultimately, we will attempt to reconstruct at least the broad outlines of Jesus’ activity and teachings, while also attempting to define the limits of our sources.

RELJ 3052 Responses to the Holocaust  
Geddes,Jennifer Leslie

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

RELJ       3100       Medieval Jewish Thought
Andruss, Jessica
This course introduces the medieval Jewish intellectual tradition (9th-13th centuries) in its cultural and historical context. We will explore key themes such as the nature of God, prophecy, exile, the status of Scripture, the history of religions, and the quest for spiritual perfection. Readings will be drawn from philosophical, theological, exegetical, pietistic and mystical texts, including works from Saadia Gaon, Judah Halevi, and Maimonides.

RELJ 3170 Modern Jewish Thought  
Biemann,Asher D
This course is a critical survey of the most significant Jewish responses to the experience of the modern era. Beginning with Spinoza's political and hermeneutic thought, we will explore how Jewish thinkers met the social, cultural, and religious challenges of modernity and, in turn, influenced the transformation of modern Jewry. Jewish Thought is understood in a broader sense to include philosophers, religious reformers, and political leaders. Changing and conflicting perspectives on tradition, education, culture, and religion will be in the center of our interest.

RELJ 3292 Book of Job
 Halvorson-Taylor,Martien A
The biblical figure of Job continues to shape how we conceive of the nature of divine justice, the problem of unjust suffering, the limits of human knowledge, and the possibility of integrity. In this seminar, we will consider first how Job is depicted in the Bible. Then, we will examine how Job has been interpreted and portrayed in early Jewish and Christian interpretations and, finally, how Job serves as a vehicle for articulating profound questions about the nature of human existence in philosophical and literary works of the modern period; we will consider, for example, interpretations of the book of Job by the artist and poet William Blake, the theologian Søren Kierkegaard, the writers Franz Kafka and Cynthia Ozick, and the filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen. 

RELJ 3372 German Jewish Cult & Histor
 Finder,Gabriel & Grossman, Jeffrey

RELJ 3390 Jewish Feminism
 Ochs,Vanessa L
What happened when feminists, female and male, addressed the secondary status of women within traditional Jewish religion? A revolutionary transformation has taken place, and it is still ongoing. This course will be of interest to all who study how contemporary ethical concerns challenge and refine traditional religions.

RELJ 3490 Jewish Weddings
Ochs, Vanessa
What makes a wedding Jewish? Working from an interdisciplinary perspective,  and consulting a variety of resources including sacred texts, historical sources, artifacts, literary sources, music, dance and films, we will study the ritual of the Jewish wedding  from antiquity to modernity. In particular, we will look at challenges to the traditional Jewish wedding in contemporary times that are raised by interfaith couples,  Orthodox feminists, secular Jews, liberal Jews, same-sex-couples and the marriage laws of teh State of Israel. Students will work together in teams over the course of the semester to present elaborately staged and festive weddings for their classmates and invited guests. 

It does not matter what your starting point is, whether this is your first course in Judaism: you will be helped to chart your own trajectory for learning.  And should you ever attend a Jewish wedding; you will be able to explain everything that is going on—and its history—to the person sitting next to you. 

RELJ 3559 Political Theology and Israel
Weinman, Michael
This course investigates the tradition of Political Theology. The course will focus centrally on Spinoza'the Theological-Political Treatise, and will cover precursors-“precursors” to Spinoza, including 1st and 2nd Samuel, Talmudic selections (read with commentary from Levinas), e medieval texts (Rambam/Ibn Sina/Ibn Roschd), “responses” to Spinoza, including Hegel, Schmitt, Benjamin, and Derrida as well as Arendt, Agamben, Butler and Levinas.

RELJ 3830 Introduction to Talmud 
Alexander,Elizabeth S
This course introduces students to the talmudic corpus, which in conjunction with the Hebrew Bible, plays a fundamental role in shaping Judaism as we know it today. Indeed, the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud are the two major sacred texts on which Jewish practice and belief are based. Ostensibly an interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud creates something exciting and new through its empowered approach to interpretation. In this course we will examine the various strategies of interpretation used by the Talmud and the new trajectories of thought, belief and practice that result from the Talmud's creative interpretations. We will pay special attention to the talmudic reshaping of the biblical myths of creation and revelation. We will also explore the culture of "holy" debate and argumentation that talmudic texts encourage. Finally, we will gain competence and mastery in reading the three main genres of the talmudic corpus (biblical interpretation, legal codes, and legal argumentation) so that students can put forward their own interpretations of these foundational texts.

RELJ 5210 Mishnah Seminar  
Alexander,Elizabeth SThis course trains students to read Mishnah in the original language. Primary emphasis will be on giving students tools to decode the text and set the text in its appropriate historical and cultural contexts. Special attention will be paid to literary and legal aspects of the text. The Mishnah will also compared with parallels from contemporary compositions (the Tosephta and midrash halakhah). Secondary readings will expose students to the range of theoretical concerns raised in the interpretation of the Mishnah. We will address the following kinds of questions: What is the purpose of the Mishnah? Was the Mishnah written down or orally transmitted? How should a literary reading of the Mishnah proceed? What is the function of dispute in the Mishnah? How can we best use the Mishnah as a historical source in the reconstruction of early rabbinic Judaism?

RELJ 5559 Kafka, Benjamin, Arendt  
Geddes,Jennifer Leslie
This course will explore the works of three key figures in modern Jewish thought: Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, and Hannah Arendt. Although extremely diverse in style, these three European Jewish intellectuals, who wrote during the first half and middle of the twentieth century, shaped the ways in which we understand modernity and our experience and the meanings of our contemporary world.

Special Topics

RELS 8995 Research Selected Topics
Instructor: Student's choice

Systematic reading in a select topic under detailed supervision. Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding his course.

RELS 8998 Non Topical Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For master's research, taken under the supervision of a thesis director. Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding this course.

RELS 9998 Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.

Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding this course.

RELS 9999 Non-Topical Research

Instructor: Student's choice

For dissertation research, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.

Contact the graduate secretary for details regarding this course.

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