Spring 2012



RELA 2850 Afro- Creole Religions in the Americas; Jalane Schmidt
This survey course investigates African-inspired religious practices in Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly in those religions--such as Haitian Vodou, Cuban Regla de Ocha (aka "Santería"), and Brazilian Candomblé--which are deemed emblematic of local African-descended populations and even entire New World societies. By reading ethnographies, we will compare common features of these religions-such as polytheism, initiatory secrecy, divination, possession trance, animal sacrifice-as well as differences--such as contrasting evaluations of the devotional use of material objects, relations with the dead, and the commoditization of ritual expertise. We will consider how devotees deploy the history of slavery and re-interpret African influences in their practices, and evaluate practitioners' and anthropologists' debates about terms such as "tradition," "modernity," "creole," and "syncretism."

RELA 4100 Yoruba Religion: Ben Ray
An in-depth study of Yoruba religion through its oral traditions, ritual performances, traditional art, independent churches, and its representation in literature. The course will cover the following subjects: Ifa divination; sacred kingship; the orisha; the concept of supreme being; plays by Ijimere, Soyinka, and Osofisan; Yoruba art and aesthetics; concepts of personal destiny, final judgment, ancestors, and rebirth.. The course concludes with a brief introduction to Santeria.

RELA 7559 New Course in African Religions; Ritual & Remembrance; Jalane Schmidt
This interdisciplinary graduate seminar consists of readings in theories of ritual, memory and history, as well as ethnographies which focus on rituals performed in Africa and its Atlantic diaspora. We will consider both discursive (oral and written) and non-discursive (embodied, sensorial, spatial, ritualized, etc.) forms of remembrance, as well as examine ritual performances of memory and the politics of memory. We will explore topics such as the production of history and the particular challenges that the histories of slavery, colonialism, and collective trauma pose to the development of collective identities in the Atlantic World. At the end of the semester, students will be expected to write a seminar-length paper which interprets the themes of ritual and remembrance with respect to their own arena of research.


RELB 2054 Tibetan Buddhism Introduction; Jed Verity
A systematic introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, including aspects of its history, iconography, philosophy, ethics, monasticism, rituals, practices, and social milieu. Special attention will be paid to the various strands of Indo-Tibetan culture that have intertwined to produce the immensely rich tradition we see today, though we will also spend a good bit of time examining the uniquely Tibetan tantric technologies that evolved from this process. Previous knowledge of Buddhism is not necessary, but would be helpful for certain segments of the course.

RELB 2100 Buddhism; Karen Lang
The goal of courses in religious studies is to promote sensitivity to religious ideas, personalities, and institutions. Such courses are not intended to persuade you toward or away from any particular tradition. 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 2135 Chinese Buddhism: Paul Groner
This course is an introduction to Buddhism that examines how the Chinese arrived at new interpretations of a religion originally from India. We will consider how indigenous Chinese religions such as Confucianism and Daoism influenced Buddhism. Chinese monks adapted Buddhism to their culture by writing new scriptures that they claimed originated in India. Several of the major traditions of practice—Zen and Pure Land—will be studied as well as some of the philosophical traditions. During the last part of the class, we will think about how Buddhists met some of the challenges posed by the twentieth century, particularly Marxism, science, and interreligious dialogue. At the same time, they also reacted against the overwhelming economic reliance on funerary ritual to create a new more dynamic form of “humanistic Buddhism,” which dominates much of the tradition today. No prerequisites.

RELB 3655 Buddhism in America; Paul Groner
This course is seminar that examines the development of Buddhism in America from its earliest appearance to contemporary developments. We will begin with a consideration of how some American and British thinkers, particularly the Transcendentalists. Theosophists, and beatniks used Buddhism to push agendas that were inspired by Buddhist ideas, but frequently had little to do with Buddhism’s original teachings. As more Buddhist texts were translated and Asian Buddhists came to America, a split developed between what Asian-Americans and Caucasians wanted from the tradition. This divide was strengthened as more Americans studied and practiced in Asia. We will look at both Asian-American groups (Sōka gakkai, Buddhist Churches of America) and American groups (Zen, Tibetan Buddhism). In recent decades, American Buddhists developed new approaches to the tradition that have sometimes influenced Asia. Among the topics we will look at are Buddhism’s encounter with environmental movements, feminism, prison outreach and contemporary poetry, fiction, and movies. There are no prerequisites, but a previous course in Buddhism is very useful.

RELB 5012 Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts II; Paul Groner

RELB 5055 Seminar on Buddhist Philosophy; Karen Lang
This seminar will explore Buddhist ideas about the nature of the world and methods for escaping the cycle of death and rebirth. We will also investigate how Buddhists and Hindu philosophers debate such issues as existence of God and the reality of external objects, the difference between valid cognitions and illusions, and whether or not language accurately reflects reality. The focus throughout the course will be on the philosophical differences between the various schools of Buddhism (Abhidharma, Madhyamaka and Yogacara) and to a lesser extant, their engagement with Hindu philosophical schools(Nyaya-Vaishesika, Samkhya-Yoga, and Advaita Vedanta).

RELB 5170 The Dalai Lamas of Tibet; Kurtis Schaeffer

RELB 5480 Liteary Tibetan VI; Steve Weinberger

RELB 5810 Literary Tibetan VIII; Steve Weinberger

RELB 8230 Adv Literary & Spoken Tibetan; David Germano


RELC 1220 New Testament and Early Christianity; Harry Gamble
This course surveys the origins and early history of Christianity on the basis of a historical and analytical study of early Christian writings belonging to the "New Testament." Topics covered include the origins of Christianity in Judaism; the activity and significance of Jesus; the formation, beliefs and practices of early Christian communities; the varieties of Christianity in the first century; and the progressive distinction of Christianity from Judaism. Requirements: Two quizzes and a final examination, and occasional short papers in connection with discussion sections. Regular attendance at discussion sections is mandatory.

RELC 2060 History of Christianity II; Karl Shuve
In this course, we will survey the development and expansion of Christianity in the medieval and early modern periods – that is, from the eleventh to eighteenth centuries. It was during this crucial time that the threefold division into Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism took place, and we will examine both the reasons for and the legacy of these divisions. Topics to be studied include: theological reflection on Christ, the Church, the Bible and the sacraments; the rise of the papacy and clerical reform; mysticism and monasticism; the role of women and the laity in the Church; the East-West schism; the Crusades; the collapse of the Byzantine Empire; the Reformation; and missionary activities in the Americas. The course will conclude by reflecting on the significance of these events for the development of Christianity in America.

GREE 2240 New Testament Greek II: Letters of Paul
This intermediate-level Greek course (prerequisite Greek 1010-1020 or equivalent) aims to solidify students’ knowledge of Greek grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, while reading and interpreting letters of Paul (1 Corinthians and Romans) and Paul’s followers (Ephesians). Attention will also be given to basic principles of textual criticism of the New Testament. Counts towards Classics and Religious Studies majors (as RELC)

RELC 2460 Aspects of Catholic Tradition; Gerald Fogarty
Using as a guide the key documents of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the course will treat the principal doctrines of the Catholic Church by placing their in their historical context. While Vatican II, therefore, will provide the basic outline for the presentation, the course is document-based and will trace the development of doctrine in the earlier councils from Nicaea in 325 to Vatican I in 1869-1870. Topics treated will include the early teaching about Jesus Christ, the formation of the canon of the New Testament (i.e., the selection of what books to include and exclude), the interpretation of Scripture and the origin of Church authority, the development of Church structure leading to the schism between the eastern and western churches, and the crisis of the Reformation over the issue of grace. Course requirements will be attendance at lectures and discussions, a mid-term and final examination, and a take-home assignment.

RELC 3045 History of the Bible; Harry Gamble
The Bible has been and remains the most influential book in Western culture. But how did it originate in the ancient world and make its way from then to now? This undergraduate seminar traces the main lines of the history of the formation, transmission, translation, forms and uses of the Christian Bible from its beginnings through the modern period, with a view to comprehending the complexity and variety that belong to the history of the Bible as a book. Topics will include: the formation of the “Hebrew Bible/Old Testament” and the “New Testament,” the nature of ancient manuscripts and the habits of their scribes, the development of the leaf-book (as distinct from the book roll), “illuminated” manuscripts, ancient translations of the Bible, the transition from manuscripts to printed Bibles, the significance of the Renaissance and Reformation for the history, interpretation and use of the Bible, the translation of the Bible into European vernaculars, especially English, the principal types of English Bibles, various modern versions of the Bible, and theories and problems of translation.

RELC/J 3559 New Course in Christianity: Joseph, Esther, Daniel, Tobit
We will conduct a close critical reading of some of the finest narratives in ancient Judaism: The story of Joseph, the biblical Books of Esther and Daniel, and the Book of Tobit. Each tells of an ancient Jewish hero living outside the land, in exile, who works, against all odds, to deliver her or his people. In tandem with these works, we will also consider several related biblical and extra-biblical texts (including Nehemiah, Ruth, Joseph and Asenath, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, and Judith). We will attend to the literary, historical, and theological significance of these works and to themes they have in common, such as the refiguring of exile and restoration, the role of women in ancient Israel, the function of coincidence and coincidental reversals, the role of human activity in the face of a seemingly remote deity, the temptations of assimilation, and the vindication of the underdog and trickster.

RELC 3559 New Course in Christianity; Bible and Early Christians; Karl Shuve
This course explores the role that the Bible played in shaping a distinctly Christian culture in the later Roman Empire, which came to be the dominant culture across Europe and Byzantium. For the early Christians, the Bible was not simply a source of doctrine about God, but it also constituted an alternative body of literature to the classics (Homer, Hesiod, Vergil), which was to be read, interpreted, and emulated in a similar fashion. We will examine the variety of written and oral forms that early Christian interpretation of the Bible took (commentaries, homilies, orations, poetry, polemical literature), the social settings in which these documents were produced (pulpit, schoolroom, public debate), and the competing exegetical approaches that were developed (allegory, typology). Students will gain an appreciation for the complexity and diversity of early Christian biblical interpretation and an understanding of how the Bible came to serve as the foundation of Western culture.

RELC 3559 New Course in Christianity; Gender, Sexuality; Paul Jones
This experimental seminar, supported by the Mead Endowment, will engage contemporary discussions about Christianity, gender, and sexuality. The precise focus of the course will be shaped by student interests. A couple of meetings in Fall 2011 will be devoted to identifying students\' scholarly concerns; Professor Jones will then prepare a syllabus for the Spring semester. Topics than might be addressed include the following (the list is not exhaustive): theology, feminism, and womanism; human sexuality, sexual ethics, and marriage; the nature of "masculinity" and "femininity"; reproduction, contraception, and abortion; intimate partner violence; pornography; child-rearing and the family. For two-thirds of the semester, the seminar will focus on scholarly materials. During the last third of the semester, the seminar will visit religious and political groups in Washington, D.C., in order to hear different perspectives on the issues. The cost of these trips will be covered by the Mead Endowment. Participation in this seminar is by permission only. Students with an interest in enrollment should send Professor Jones an email that (a) lists relevant courses taken at U.Va; (b) identifies some areas of scholarly interest, pertinent to this course; and (c) explains, briefly, why the student would like to participate in the seminar. The email address: pdj5c@virginia.edu

RELC 3559 New Course in Christianity; O'Connor and Percy; Vigen Guroian, William Wilson
This course covers the major fiction of two important American writers of the twentieth century who challenged and tested the modern temper with a Christian imagination and vision of the human condition. We will read together ten or so of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. These include such stories as “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Revelation,” “The Enduring Chill,” “Good Country People,” and “Parker’s Back.” In addition one of O’Connor’s two novels will be read, either Wise Blood or The Violent Bear It Away. Three of Walker Percy’s novels are on the docket: The Moviegoer, Lancelot, and The Last Gentleman. Requirements include several papers and a take-home essay final.

RELC 4610 Sex and Morality; John Portmann
How have Jewish and Christian morals shaped sexual experience in the West? What do contemporary Americans mean by “family values”? 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, women selling their eggs, and “senior sex.” We will pay special attention to art, film, and the media in challenging traditional sexual mores.
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?

RELC 5077 Pius XII, Hitler, and the US WWII; Gerald Fogarty
Since 1963, with the production of Rolf Hochhuth’s play, The Deputy, controversy has arisen over the role of Pius XII in the Holocaust. Was he Hitler’s pope, as John Cornwell says? Was he silent, because he was anti-Semitic, as other charge? Was he so afraid of Communism that he sided with Nazism, as Michael Phayer and others contend? This course will study the works written on both sides of this controversy. The first part of the course will focus on a common reading of various more recent works; the second part will consist of student presentations of topics chosen in consultation with the professor.

RELC 5130 Being and God; Kevin Hart
This seminar takes contemplation in the Christian tradition as its focus. Accordingly, we shall begin by examining what Plato and Aristotle say about *theoria*, and then see how these two quite different understandings are taken up by early Christians. Does *theoria* touch on something fundamental to Christianity or does it add something superfluous to it? How does *theoria* (and, in the West, *contemplatio*) influence Christian understandings of the Hebrew Bible? These questions will lead us to consider the elaborate development of *contemplatio* in the medieval Latin West, especially in the Victorines and Aquinas. Yet the adventures of the gaze do not stop there, and we shall also consider the revival of contemplation in phenomenology and in analytic philosophy of religion.

RELJ 5291 The Book of Genesis and Its Interpretation; Martien Halvorson-Taylor
Though listed as RELJ, the Student System has been programmed to count this course as RELC on student academic reports. See full description below.

RELC 5559 New Course in Christianity; Theology in the Third Reich; Charles Marsh
This seminar offers graduate students and selected undergraduates an opportunity to pursue close readings and original research on topics related to theology, theologians, and the religious practices of Protestants (mainly) between 1933 and 1945 in Germany. The goals of the seminar are to identify and analyze the differing theological responses to Hitler, to trace doctrinal commitments and scriptural practices as they shaped perceptions of Jews, other non-Aryans and homosexuals, and, more generally, to understand the relation between religion and race. Readings include: (1) primary documents, i.e., theological writings, church publications, sermons, circular letters from seminaries and parishes, personal letters, and university lectures; (2) theological and religious writings of the period (Harnack, Barth, Bonhoeffer, Heidegger, Tillich, Löwith, Gogarten, Kittel); (3) critical studies of theology and theological culture in the Third Reich (Klaus Scholder, Doris Bergen, Robert Erikson, Susannah Heschel, Victoria Barnett, John Conway, Richard Stiegmann-Gall, Robert Krieg); and (4) constructive works on Christian theology and the Holocaust (Edith Wyschogrod, Stephen Haynes,). All readings are in English. Requirements include weekly summaries of reading, active participation in the seminar, an annotated bibliography, either two 2400 – 3000 word research papers or one 4800- 6000 word paper; and a class presentation. Instructor’s permission is required for enrollment.

RELC 5559 New Course in Christianity; Patristic Exegesis; Judith Kovacs
This seminar on patristic exegesis considers the interpretation of the Bible in the first few centuries of the church, with particular attention to the exegesis of Origen, John Chrysostom, the Cappadocian Fathers, and Augustine. Topics will include interpretations of Genesis, the Song of Songs, the Gospel of John, and 1 Corinthians, as well as how early Christian interpretation of the Bible relates to classical culture (the system of education, classical rhetoric, and interpretation of Homer and Hesiod). The seminar is intended primarily for graduate students in JCA and SIP; it also welcomes interested graduate students in TEC and advanced undergraduates (by permission of the instructor). There is no language requirement but opportunity will be offered for interested students to read texts in the original.


RELG 1040 Intro Eastern Religious Traditions; Manuel Lopez
Description from spring 2009: This course serves as a general introduction to Asian Religions, in particular Indian Buddhism, Hinduism, and Chinese religions, Confucianism and Daoism in particular. By emphasizing the reading of primary texts in translation, we will explore the major ideas and practices of these traditions, making special note of the cultural, historical, political and material contexts in which they were conceived and expressed. There are no prerequisites for students who wish to take this course.

RELG 2160 Religion in America After 1865; Heather Warren
Description from spring 2009: An historical survey of religion in America from the Civil War to the present. The course includes study of theological change in Protestantism, the emergence of three kinds of Judaism, controversy and change in American Catholicism, the origins of fundamentalism and Pentecostalism, and various expressions of African-American faith. It attends to the effects of immigration, urbanization, politics, and other social and cultural changes on American religious life. 2 in-class tests and a final examination.

RELG 2190 Religion and Modern Fiction; Larry Bouchard
note: Relg 2190 now meets the 2nd writing requirement, on request
--Modern fiction often asks questions that are intrinsically religious, ethical, or spiritual in character. They may ask about connections between the human spirit and human nature, faith and doubt, evil and suffering, personal and communal wholeness, and personal identity and transformation. We will explore how some modern writers explore these questions and discern traces of the divine or the transcendent in language and experience.
--Collectively, our authors tell a story of “late modernity,” the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. Some of them (such as Elie Wiesel, Flannery O'Connor, and Marilynne Robinson) write fictions that explicitly reflect their religious traditions. Others (e.g., Joseph Conrad, E. M. Forster, and Toni Morrison) write apparently secular narratives that nonetheless have religious or ethical “dimensions” or implications. And others (N. Scott Momaday and Yann Martel) employ a variety of cultural and spiritual traditions to create new and distinctive religious visions.
--Requirements: Regular attendance and participation at lectures and discussion sections; short, objective quizzes to help you keep up (10% of grade); two guided essays with prompts, on assigned material (about 6 pages each, worth 25% and 35%); and a short paper on assigned material (about 8 pages, 30% of grade) in lieu of a final exam.

RELG 2260 Religion, Race, Film; Valerie Cooper
This course will explore themes of religion, race, gender, and relationship to the religious or racial “other” in films from the silent era to the present. It will consider film as a medium and engage students in analysis and discussion of cinematic images, with the goal of developing hermeneutic lenses through which these images can be interpreted. The films selected all deal with issues of race, religion, gender, and relationship, and ask the ultimate question, “How should we treat one another?”

RELG 2300 Religious Ethics & Moral Problems; Charles Mathewes
This course examines several contemporary moral issues from the standpoint of major Western religious traditions (Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) as well as from several broadly secularistic perspectives. We will consider moral issues such as marriage, friendship, truthfulness, capital punishment, warfare, and the meaning of work, career, and vocation. Particular attention will be paid to what selected authorities and thinkers in the above traditions say about these issues, how they reach their conclusions, and how their theological or philosophical convictions influence their moral judgments (and vice-versa).

RELG 2630 Business Ethics and Society
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, among others. 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 2660 Spirituality in America; Matt Hedstrom
What does “spiritual but not religious” mean, and why has it become such a pervasive self-description in contemporary America? This interdisciplinary lecture course surveys spirituality in America, with a particular eye for the relationship between spirituality and formal religion, on the one hand, and secular modes of understanding the self, such as psychology, on the other. Along the ways we’ll study everything from AA to yoga to Zen meditation, with stops in Christian rock, Beat poetry, Abstract Expressionist painting, spirit photography, the feminist movement, and recent film. The study of spirituality forces us to confront many of the central concerns of modern American life: psychology, self-help, and therapeutic culture; consumerism and mass culture; gender and sexuality; pluralism and syncretism; and the interplay of the public and the private. In the end, we’ll come to see spirituality in America as a complex intermingling of the great world religions, modern therapeutic psychology, the politics of movements for social change, and a crassly commercialized, billion-dollar culture industry. Is this the fate of religion in a modern, capitalist, globalized society?

RELG 3780 Faukner and the Bible; William Wilson
This course may list on the SIS temporarily as RELG 3559
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 3800 African American Religious History; Valerie Cooper
This course will explore African American religious traditions in their modern and historical contexts by combining an examination of current scholarship and contemporary worship. Over the course of the semester, we will explore the religious life and religious institutions of African Americans from their African antecedents to contemporary figures and movements in the US. While the course will emphasize the growth and spread of Evangelical Christianity among African Americans, it will also consider non-Christian influences—like Islam and African traditional religion—upon black churches and black communities. In considering the wide variety, popularity, economic strength, political leadership, and ubiquity of religious institutions in the African American community, we will ask what role religion plays for black people, and what role African American religious life plays in the broader scheme of American life.

RELG 4023 Bioethics Internship Seminar; Margaret Mohrmann
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 American Religious Autobiography; Heather Warren
Description from spring 2011: A 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, among them Thomas Merton's The Sign of Jonas; The Autobiography of Malcolm X; Charles Colson's Born Again; and Kathleen Norris' Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. Fulfills the majors seminar requirement. Prerequisites: Courses in religious studies, American history, or American literature. Requirements: Two short papers (5-7 pp. each) and an autobiography (20 pp.)

RELG 4500 Majors Seminar; Religion and Drama; Larry Bouchard
This edition of the Majors Seminar will look at how theatrical drama is linked both with religion historically and with ways that religion can be defined and studied. We will be concerned with how drama has been understood as an element within religion, and also with how religion has provided important perspectives on even secular drama and theater. As always, part of the seminar will be devoted to definitions or approaches to the study of religion. What all can the term "religion" mean? Can we speak of religion "in general," given that religion is most often found in particular traditions of belief, practice, and experience? We will pay special attention to how ideas about society and psychology, culture and identity, symbol and ritual, ethics, and theology figure in academic approaches to religion. We will also examine a selection of plays, performances, and interpretations of theatre and ask how they might further our understanding of the nature of religion. Assignments: one or two short reaction papers, oral presentation of these in class, an essay-style mid-term exam, and a final paper on a course related topic.

RELG 4500 Majors Seminar; Religion and Psychology; John Portmann
Exploration of religious emotions such as fascination, terror, guilt, wholeheartedness, and ecstasy. Analysis of questions such as: 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? How do scholars account for the "will to believe"? Emphasis on James, Freud, Jung, and Richard Dawkins. Requirements: 1) regular class participation; 2) two brief exams; 3) a class presentation; and 4) a final 12-15-page paper.

RELG 4500 Majors Seminar; Scripture; Elizabeth Alexander
What is the difference between sacred texts, scripture and canon? Why do some texts come to be more authoritative than others? How are sacred texts used differently within different religious communities (e.g. amongst African-Americans Christians, Fundamentalist Christians? Muslims? Jews)? What else is significant about scripture besides its semantic content? Do non-semantic aspects of scripture have significance? How do theologians understand the revelation of God that is manifest in scripture in
conceptual terms? How do we decide when scripture should continue to have authority? Perhaps scripture should be disregarded for other forms of religious "truth" like personal experience. We will explore these and other questions central to understanding the religious phenomenon of scripture. We will also examine the emergence of biblical scripture as a historical phenomenon. We will also consider a number of theorists on the role of scripture in religious experience.

RELG 5541 Seminar in Social & Political Thought:
Religion and Environmental Ethics; James Childress
An comparative examination of religious beliefs, values, and practices, across several traditions, that bear on the natural environment and have implications for personal, communal, and public actions and policies.

RELG 5541 Seminar in Social & Political Thought:
Public Health Ethics; James Childress
This highly interactive seminar will provide an overview of the key concepts and principles of public health ethics, with particular attention to the ethical issues that arise in societal and governmental deliberation about ends and means in public health interventions.

RELG 5559 New Course in Religion; Recent Feminist Thought; Margaret Mohrmann
This seminar course will explore in depth works published in the last decade or two that demonstrate feminist thought as increasingly integrated into "mainstream" conversations and controversies in ethics, both social/political and theological, and at the same time instrumental in taking those discussions in new and necessary directions. The emphasis in the course will be on careful reading and explication, usually of book-length works, and recognition of characteristic feminist themes and methods of argumentation. Course requirements include response papers, seminar presentations, and a final research paper. Permission of instructor required. Open to advanced undergraduates.

RELG 5559 New Course in Religion; Notes from the Wasteland: Dostoevsky and Eliot; Vigen Guroian
The title of this course is not just word play. It points to a common mind that belongs to both authors regarding the character of the modern world. Both gave us penetrating diagnoses of modernity, especially the failures of faith and love among its inhabitants. We will read Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov as well as Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Gerontion, Sweeney Among the Nightingales, The Wasteland, The Hollow Men, and The Four Quartets.

RELG 8330 Comparative Religious Ethics ; Charles Mathewes
This advanced graduate seminar will study the literature that has arisen in the past several decades concerning the possibility of a comparative religious ethics, both to understand the methodological challenges and material ambition of such a project. Students will be expected to produce research projects from the class.

RELG 8400 Historiography American Religion; Matt Hedstrom
This course grounds graduate students in the literature of American religious history. It is designed to accommodate graduate students whose primary work is in religious history, as well as students from a variety of fields—history, theology, religious studies, politics, literature, sociology, and others—who might benefit from a foundation in the religious history of the United States. Our focus throughout will be on the “state of the art”—understood broadly to include recent trends and debates in both subject and method. We will read works by emerging and established practitioners in the field to assess the current shape of the field, and the way religious history dialogues with wider conversations in both religious studies and history. We will examine the assigned texts from multiple angles, including their utility for us as models of scholarship. In addition to the primary focus on method—a focus that will take us into social history, political history, labor history, cultural history, and biography—the course also covers a variety of religious traditions and subjects, seeking to balance an appreciation of diversity with the search for unifying themes and field-defining arguments.


There are no courses offered in Hinduism this semester.


RELI 2080 Islam in the Modern Age; Ahmed al-Rahim
Description from spring 2011: RELI 2080 deals with the Muslim communities in the contemporary world. That which characterizes these communities is their devotion to the classical faith, Islam, with its legacy of rich past. The course is primarily concerned with the study of Islamic tradition and its peoples in the last two centuries - the period of Islamic reform in the wake of Western hegemony and the efforts of the community to readjust under the challenges of the liberal and technical age. The course will attempt to answer a basic question: What is happening to the Muslim community in the technical age and how has it responded to the challenges posed by "Westernization" through "modernization” through “secularization”? Moreover, it will explore ways of evaluating the relatively new phenomenon in the Muslim world in the aftermath of the Islamic revolution in Iran: "Political Islam" in the context of global religious fundamentalism in the world's religions.

RELI 5540 Islamic Theology; Ahmed al-Rahim

RELI 5559 New Course in Islam Muslim Conceptions of Revelation; Ahmed al-Rahim
This graduate seminar examines competing conceptions of revelation in the medieval Islamic tradition, particularly in the areas of theology ('ilm al-kalam) and philosophy. *The requirement for both seminars is 2-3 years of Arabic.

RELI 5559 New Course in Islam Islamic Law: Theory and Practice; Ahmed al-Rahim
This graduate seminar addresses the origins and sources of Islamic law; the various schools of jurisprudence and the elaboration of Islamic legal theory and its practice in the medieval Muslim world).


RELJ 1420 Elementary Classical Hebrew II; Gregory Goering
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 2420 Intermed Classical Hebrew II; Gregory Goering
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.

RELC/J 3559 New Course in Judaism: Joseph, Esther, Daniel, Tobit
We will conduct a close critical reading of some of the finest narratives in ancient Judaism: The story of Joseph, the biblical Books of Esther and Daniel, and the Book of Tobit. Each tells of an ancient Jewish hero living outside the land, in exile, who works, against all odds, to deliver her or his people. In tandem with these works, we will also consider several related biblical and extra-biblical texts (including Nehemiah, Ruth, Joseph and Asenath, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, and Judith). We will attend to the literary, historical, and theological significance of these works and to themes they have in common, such as the refiguring of exile and restoration, the role of women in ancient Israel, the function of coincidence and coincidental reversals, the role of human activity in the face of a seemingly remote deity, the temptations of assimilation, and the vindication of the underdog and trickster.

RELJ 3559 New Course in Judaism; Jewish Identities in Western Music; Assaf Shelleg
The course explores the historical contexts of compositions written by Jews, for Jews, and about Jews, from the 17th century until the present. Jewish Identities in Western Music offers a study of Jewish history through music, unfolding the ever-evolving definitions of Jewish music as well the non-Jewish perceptions of it. The course starts from the problem of defining Jewish music and continues with musical and literary examples from renaissance Italy, through nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe, music from the Nazi era, Israeli art music, Jewish American Jazz, to late twentieth century developments.

RELJ 3559 New Course in Judaism; Intro to Israel Studies; Assaf Shelleg
Intro to Israel Studies offers a survey of Israeli history, nationalism, and culture in the twentieth century. Ranging from early Zionism to post-capitalism in Israeli society this class intertwines readings from history, sociology, modern Hebrew literature, Israeli cinema, and popular music.

RELJ 3830 Talmud; Elizabeth Alexander
Description from spring 2006: 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 5291 The Book of Genesis and Its Interpretation; Martien Halvorson-Taylor
A seminar of the book of Genesis, its formation, and its subsequent interpretation. We will examine the literary artistry of the book—the dramatic and tangled narrative that opens the Hebrew Bible—by considering its plot, characterization, and compositional history. Using methods of modern biblical scholarship, we will further consider the book in its historical and religious context. And, finally, we will examine the early history of how the book was interpreted. Readings will include not only biblical texts, but other ancient Near Eastern compositions (the Enuma Elish and the Gilgamesh epic) that shed light on Genesis, early biblical interpretation, and secondary scholarship on the history, literature and religion of Ancient Israel. [Hebrew is not a prerequisite for the course, but advanced students in classical Hebrew may elect to take a translation component.]


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.