Courses

FALL 2022

AFRICAN RELIGIONS

RELA

RELA 2400 | Intro to Africana Religions
Crawley, Ashon

DAY & TIME
Tuesday
2:00PM - 4:30PM

DESCRIPTION
An introductory survey course exploring the topic of Africana religions generally -- including the practices of spirituality of black people in the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe and on the continent of Africa. Particular attention will be paid to the relations between these various locations, the similarities, and differences. We will engage music, watch film, read fiction, poetry, sacred texts and works of critical nonfiction.


RELA 2800 | Intro. To Yoruba Religions
Ogunnaike, Oludamini

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
12:30PM - 1:45PM

DESCRIPTION
The Orisa traditions of the Yoruba-speaking peoples of West Africa have survived and thrived across centuries of war, slavery, and colonization, and continue to provide meaning to the lives of millions of people all over the world. This course will survey the various Orisa traditions of West Africa and the Americas, their interactions with other traditions as well as their influence on Black Atlantic art and spirituality.


RELA 3890 | Christianity in Africa
Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia Heyden

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
11:00AM - 12:15PM

DESCRIPTION
Historical and topical survey of Christianity in Africa from the second century c.e. to the present. Cross listed with RELC 3890. Prerequisite: A course in African religions or history, Christianity, or instructor permission.

BUDDHISM

RELB

RELB 2054 | Tibetan Buddhism Introduction
Schaeffer, Kurtis

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
12:00PM - 12:50PM

DESCRIPTION
Provides a systematic introduction to Tibetan Buddhism with a strong emphasis on tantric traditions of Buddhism - philosophy, contemplation, ritual, monastic life, pilgrimage, deities & demons, ethics, society, history, and art. The course aims to understand how these various aspects of Tibetan religious life mutually shape each other to form the unique religious traditions that have pertained on the Tibetan plateau for over a thousand years.


RELB 2200 | Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy
Kachru, Sonam

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
9:00AM - 9:50AM

DESCRIPTION
This is a lecture-based course--an idiosyncratic but hopefully helpful introduction to Buddhist philosophy. A few aspects of Buddhist philosophy, at any rate. The subject is potentially endless and can be grabbed from several different ends. Note: this course emphasizes the history of Buddhist concepts and arguments in premodern South Asia. But we will explore what are hopefully ideas of interest: in philosophy of mind; metaphysics; gender.


RELB 2900 | Buddhist Meditations Traditions
Braun, Erik

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
11:00AM - 12:15PM

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


RELB 3495 | Early Buddhism in South Asia
Braun, Erik

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
2:00PM - 3:15PM

DESCRIPTION
This course explores the origins and development of Buddhism in South Asia. It assumes students have no prior knowledge of Buddhism. The goal is to understand the complex of teachings, practices, and relationships that would become known later as Buddhism and, simultaneously, how such a complex has developed within specific cultural contexts.


RELB 5047 | The History of Tibetan Buddhist Literature
Schaeffer, Kurtis

DAY & TIME
Monday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
A history of Tibetan Buddhist literature from the origins in the 7th century to the early 20th century, focused on literature produced in Tibet, covering major genres and styles from all the major schools, traditions, eras, and regions. Weekly readings of excerpts and short pieces. Course is entirely in English translation. Knowledge of Tibetan language encouraged but not required. Seminar format, active discussion required.


RELB 5470 | Literary Tibetan V
Weinberger, Steven Neal

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
2:00PM - 3:15PM

DESCRIPTION
Advanced study in the philosophical and spiritual language of Tibet, past and present. Prerequisite: RELB 5000, 5010, 5350, 5360, or equivalent.


RELB 5800 | Literary Tibetan VII
Weinberger, Steven Neal

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
2:00PM - 3:15PM

DESCRIPTION
Examines the Yogachara-Svatantrika system as presented in Jang-kya's Presentation of Tenets, oral debate, and exercises in spoken Tibetan. Prerequisite: RELB 5000, 5010, 5350, 5360, 5470, 5480 or equivalent.


RELB 8706 | Tutorial in the Buddhist Canon in Tibet
Schaeffer, Kurtis

DESCRIPTION
This tutorial introduces the structure, scope, and contents of the Tibetan-language Buddhist canonical collections. We will read and discuss selections in both English and Tibetan from the 5000 works in the Scripture (Bka' 'gyur) and Treatise (Bstan 'gyur) collections, as well as reference aids and current research on the canons. The course goal is to develop a firm basis for all research involving Tibetan-language canonical literature.


RELB 8718 | Tutorial in Thalgyur Tantra & Commentary
Germano, David

DESCRIPTION
This course is exploring one of the most important scriptures in the history of esoteric Buddhism, the Thalgyur, and its extensive commentary attributed to Vimalamitra. The two texts are over a thousand pages in length, only existent in Tibetan, and extremely difficult to understand. This course explores the texts through detailed philological and interpretative analysis.


RELB 8721 | Tutorial in Sanskrit: Buddhist Tantra
Nemec, John

DESCRIPTION
This tutorial constitutes a reading course in Sanskrit, the classical language of India. Students will read the original texts and translate them into English, analyzing and interpreting the materials considering the Indian tradition of commentary and exegesis and in light of contemporary scholarly and other analyses of the relevant subject matter: Buddhist esoteric literature, a.k.a. Buddhist Tantra.


RELB 8724 | Tutorial in Classical Tibetan Literature & Religion
Germano, David

DESCRIPTION
This course explores classical Tibetan literature and religious systems through a variety of genres in the original Tibetan texts.


RELB 8735 | Tutorial - Pali Reading
Braun, Erik C

DESCRIPTION
In this course students will read a selection of Pali canonical and commentarial texts.


RELB 8738 | Tutorial in Chinese Buddhist Texts
Heller, Natasha L

DESCRIPTION
This tutorial will focus on the translation of Chinese Buddhist texts into English. Texts will be drawn from a variety of time periods, traditions, and genres. Students will gain familiarity with Buddhist Chinese, and the themes and conventions of Buddhist texts.

CHRISTIANITY

RELC

RELC 1220 | New Testament & Early Christianity
Spittler, Janet Elizabeth

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
2:00PM - 2:50PM

DESCRIPTION
Studies the history, literature, and theology of earliest Christianity in light of the New Testament. Emphasizes the cultural milieu and methods of contemporary biblical criticism.


RELC 2245 | Global Christianity
Henry, James Daryn

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
1:00PM - 1:50PM

DESCRIPTION
The story of Christianity's emergence in the Middle East and its migration into Europe and then North America is just one aspect of Christian history, which also has a rich and long history in Africa, Asia and other parts of the global South. This course looks at the shape Christianity is taking in non-Western parts of the world and how this growth impacts Christianity in the West.


RELC 2360 | Elements of Christian Thought
Jones, Paul

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
11:00AM -11:50AM

DESCRIPTION
This course considers the complex world of Christian thought, examining various perspectives on the nature of faith, the being and action of God, the identity of Jesus of Nazareth, the role of the Bible in theological reflection, and the relationship between Christian thought and social justice. Students will read various important works of Christian theology and become acquainted with a range of theological approaches and ideas.


RELC 2770 | The Black Church
Parker, Kai Perry

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
2:00PM - 3:15PM

DESCRIPTION
"The Black Church" carries unique symbolic weight in America--but why? This course explores how the idea of the Black Church gained moral authority, whether there is a collective Black Church or only black churches, the traditions and practices the concept names, who the concept celebrates and who it marginalizes, and how--or whether--the Black Church, as myth or reality, is still relevant in African American life today.


RELC 3222 | From Jefferson to King
Hadley, Mark

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
9:30AM - 10:45AM

DESCRIPTION
A seminar focused upon some of the most significant philosophical and religious thinkers that have shaped and continued to shape American religious thought and culture from the founding of the Republic to the Civil Rights Movement, including Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jane Addams, William James, Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Luther King, Jr. We will explore how their thought influenced the social and cultural currents of their time.


RELC 3245 | Religion, Law, & Culture
Flake, Kathleen

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
9:30AM - 10:45AM

DESCRIPTION
An examination of the legal evolution, philosophical underpinnings, and political application of the First Amendment religion clauses. Analysis of specific controversies and court opinions will be supported by attention to such key concepts as "secularism," "tolerance," "civilization," "gender" and "race" in the application of these clauses domestically and in U.S. foreign policy.


RELC 3620 | Modern Theology
TBA

DAY & TIME
Monday
2:00PM - 4:30PM

DESCRIPTION
Who are the great modern Christian theologians? What do they have to say to us? What do they argue about? Who did they offend and why? In this seminar we shall read major works by four of the truly great modern theologians of the twentieth century. Two are Protestant (Karl Barth and Paul Tillich), and two are Catholic (Karl Rahner and Henri de Lubac).


RELC 3675 | Women in Ancient & Medieval Christianity
Shuve, Karl Evan

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
12:30PM - 1:45PM

DESCRIPTION
Why were women excluded from the priestly hierarchy of the church? How did male clerics subsequently circumscribe women's roles in the church? And how did women respond? These are the questions that we will explore in this course on the intersection between gender and power in pre-modern Christianity.


RELC 3681 | Cultural Catholicism
Portmann, John

DAY & TIME
Monday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
Exploration of Roman Catholic experience outside structure of the Holy See (for example, devotions, pilgrimages, shrines, art, fiction, cinema, television), particularly as committed Catholics argue over how to honor their spiritual tradition in day-to-day life. Study of current challenges wrought by women, Jews, and gays. Special attention paid to contemporary intellectuals and artists who criticize John Paul II while fiercely guarding their own.


RELC 3790 | Augustine of Hippo
Hart, Kevin

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
9:30AM - 10:45AM

DESCRIPTION
Examines the life and thinking of Augustine of Hippo, a major figure in Christian history and a formative influence on Christian thought to this day. Prerequisite: Any RELC course or instructor permission.


RELC 3890 | Christianity in Africa
Hoehler-Fatton, Cindy Heyden

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
11:00AM - 12:15PM

DESCRIPTION
Historical and topical survey of Christianity in Africa from the second century c.e. to the present. Cross listed with RELA 389. Prerequisite: a course in African religions or history, Christianity, or instructor permission.


RELC 4044 | Religion and the American Courts
Portmann, John

DAY & TIME
Tuesday
3:30PM – 6:00PM

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


RELC 5665 | Freedom: Theological & Philosophical Perspectives
Jones, Paul

DAY & TIME
Monday
3:30PM – 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
This seminar examines perspectives on freedom in landmark texts of Christian theology, western philosophy, and recent critical theory. It engages diverse accounts of (a) the relationship of divine and human action; (b) the nature of sin and grace; and (c) gender, sex, race, and class as they bear on human subjection and/or liberation.


RELC 7515 | Christian Thought through the Middle Ages
Mathewes, Charles T.

DAY & TIME
Tuesday
3:30PM – 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
An advanced graduate class, run tutorial-style, which will acquaint graduate students with core texts, themes, and thinkers in Christian thought.

GENERAL RELIGIOUS STUDIESS

RELG

RELG 1010 | Introduction to Western Religious Traditions
Warren, Heather A.

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
10:00AM – 10:50AM

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


RELG 1500 | Introduction Seminar in Religious Studies
Hoehler-Fatton, Cindy Heyden

DAY & TIME
Tuesday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

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


RELG 2300 | Religious Ethics & Moral Problems
Mathewes, Charles T.

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
2:00PM - 3:15PM

DESCRIPTION
Examines several contemporary moral problems from the perspective of ethical thought in the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish traditions.


RELG 2559 | Religion, Gender, and Sexuality
Flake, Kathleen

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
12:30PM - 1:45PM

DESCRIPTION


RELG 2650 | Religion, Ethics & Health Care
Flores, Nichole

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
1:00PM – 1:50PM

DESCRIPTION
Analyzes various moral problems in medicine, health care, and global health from Christian (Catholic and Protestant), Jewish, and Islamic theological perspectives with reference to salient philosophical influences.


RELG 2820 | Jerusalem
Andruss, Jessica

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
2:00PM - 3:15PM

DESCRIPTION
This course traces the history of Jerusalem with a focus on its significance in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. How has Jerusalem been experienced and interpreted as sacred within these religious communities? How have they expressed their attachments to this contested space from antiquity to modern times? Discussion will be rooted in primary texts from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources, with attention to their historical context.


RELG 3255 | Ethics, Literature & Religion
Geddes, Jennifer L.

DAY & TIME
Wednesday
2:00PM - 4:30PM

DESCRIPTION
Explores how ethical issues in religious traditions and cultural narratives are addressed in literature, scripture, essay, and memoir. How do stories inquire into "the good life"? How may moral principles and virtues be "tested" by fiction? How does narrative shape identity, mediate universality, and particularity, reflect beliefs and values in conflict, and depict suffering?


RELG 3559 | Anxiety: Religious & Theological Perspectives
Marsh, Charles

DAY & TIME
Wednesday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION


RELG 3605 | Religion, Violence & Strategy
White, Gerard B.

DAY & TIME
Monday
5:00PM - 7:30PM

DESCRIPTION
This course will teach students to evaluate critically the leadership and strategies of social impact campaigns, and the ways in which governments, religious actors and civil society have tried to reduce violent conflict. Students will be organized into small integrated teams to research the root causes and triggers for religion-related violence across the Middle East and North Africa.


RELG 4220 | American Religious Autobiography
Warren, Heather A.

DAY & TIME
Monday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
Multidisciplinary examination of religious self-perception in relation to the dominant values of American life. Readings represent a variety of spiritual traditions and autobiographical forms.


RELG 4500 | Majors Seminar: Sex, Gender & Religion
Shuve, Karl Evan

DAY & TIME
Monday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
Introduces the study of religion as an interdisciplinary subject, utilizing methods in history of religions, theology, sociology, depth psychology, and literary criticism. The seminars are thematic, and topics will vary according to the design of the instructor. Limited to twenty religious studies majors.


RELG 4800 | Crafting a Research Project in Religious Studies
Alexander, Elizabeth S.

DAY & TIME
Thursday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
This course offers third- and fourth-year Religious Studies majors resources for conceiving and executing a major research project. As a follow-up, students usually take RELG 4900 ("Distinguished Major Thesis"), which affords them an opportunity to write the research project they have conceived in this course. Whether you plan to write a thesis or not, RELG 4800 offers an accessible introduction to the craft of research in Religious Studies.


RELG 5395 | Religion and the Common Good
Flores, Nichole

DAY & TIME
Tuesday
2:00PM - 4:30PM

DESCRIPTION
How is a religiously pluralistic society to pursue a societal common good? This graduate seminar explores responses to this question within religious ethics at local, national, and global levels. Readings will address major contributions to this topic within political philosophy before pivoting to responses in religious and theological ethics, including broadly Augustinian, Thomistic, and critical theological approaches.


RELG 5801 | Crafting a Research Project in Religious Studies
Alexander, Elizabeth S.

DAY & TIME
Thursday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
This course offers MA students in Religious Studies resources for conceiving and executing a major research project or thesis. By the end of the semester, each participant will have completed a well-organized, detailed prospectus. The prospectus will reflect the guidance of one's thesis advisor as well as the scrutiny of the instructor and input from peers. Each student will thus be poised to begin writing his/her thesis the following semester.


RELG 5821 | Proseminar in World Religions, World Literature
Fowler, Elizabeth

DAY & TIME
Friday
2:00PM - 2:50PM

DESCRIPTION
This monthly seminar explores methods and issues vital to the combined study of literatures and religions. It brings all MA students together, under faculty guidance, to attend to the broad range of individual projects and to foster a rich conversation that traverses the emergent field of study.


RELG 7130 | American Spirituality
Hedstrom, Matthew S.

DAY & TIME
Tuesday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
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.


RELG 7360 | Theories & Methods in the Study of Religion
Biemann, Asher

DAY & TIME
Friday
2:00PM - 4:30PM

DESCRIPTION
Given the multidisciplinary character of religious studies, it is imperative for new scholars to gain a basic sense of theoretical and methodological options in the field. By way of an examination of landmark texts, this course surveys the formation of religious studies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and considers some important contemporary approaches.

HINDUISM

RELH

RELH 2090 | Hinduism
Nemec, John William

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
2:00PM - 3:15PM

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


RELH 2300 | Philsopher Queens of Hinduism
Kachru, Sonam

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
9:30AM - 10:45AM

DESCRIPTION
This course revisits the lives and conceptual legacies of notable female philosophers in Hinduism. We track a historiographical problem, a question of genre, and a conceptual question: how shall we recover women's voices? What link between certain genres of thought and the role of female philosophers in history? What relationships between gender, embodiment, subjectivity, and experience?


RELH 3105 | Hinduism & Ecology
Allen, Michael S.

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
2:00PM - 3:15PM

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


RELH 3725 | Travel Writing and India
Nemec, John William

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
11:00AM - 12:15PM

DESCRIPTION
This course examines western encounters with India by reading the fiction and travel writing of Europeans, expatriate Indians, and Americans in India. In reading such works, the course will explore the place of India in the European and American literary and cultural imagination.


RELH 5450 | Hindu-Buddhist Debates
Allen, Michael S.

DAY & TIME
Thursday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
This course examines philosophical debates of Hindu and Buddhist authors from the time of the founding of Buddhism to the medieval period. Primary sources in translation and secondary, scholarly sources are examined in this course.
Prerequisite: Significant prior exposure to Hinduism and/or Buddhism.


RELH 8722 | Tutorial in Sanskrit: Devotional Poetry
Nemec, John William

DESCRIPTION
This tutorial constitutes a reading course in Sanskrit, the classical language of India. Students will read the original texts and translate them into English, analyzing and interpreting the materials in light of the Indian tradition of commentary and exegesis and in light of contemporary scholarly and other analyses of the relevant subject matter: the stotra genre or that of Indian devotional poetry.

ISLAM

RELI

RELI 2070 | Classical Islam
Nair, Shankar Ayillath

DAY & TIME
Monday, Wednesday
10:00AM - 10:50AM

DESCRIPTION
Studies the Irano-Semitic background, Arabia, Muhammad and the Qur'an, the Hadith, law and theology, duties and devotional practices, sectarian developments, and Sufism.


RELI 3120 | Sufism: Islamic Mysticism
TBA

DAY & TIME
Tuesday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
This course will be a historical and topical survey of the development of Sufism from the classical Islamic period through the modern age, paying special attention to the interaction of ideas and the social and political contexts surrounding them.


RELI 5559 | Contemporary Islamic Renewal
Salomon, Noah

DAY & TIME
Wednesday
3:30PM - 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION

JUDAISM

RELJ

RELJ 2031 | Intro. To Jewish Life in America
Ochs, Vanessa L.

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
9:30AM - 10:45AM

DESCRIPTION
This class is an introduction to Jewish Life in America in its religious and cultural manifestations. Students will become familiar with Jewish texts, holidays, rituals, lifecycle events, philosophical issues, communities, and cultural practices as they are encountered NOW..


RELJ 2410 | | Intermediate Biblical Hebrew I
Andruss, Jessica H.

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
11:00AM - 12:15PM

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


RELJ 3052 | Responses to the Holocaust
Geddes, Jennifer L.

DAY & TIME
Tuesday
2:00PM – 4:30PM

DESCRIPTION
Responses to the Holocaust


RELJ 3170 | Modern Jewish Thought
Biemann, Asher D.

DAY & TIME
Tuesday, Thursday
11:00AM - 12:15PM

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


RELJ 3320 | Judaism: Medicine & Healing
Ochs, Vanessa L.

DAY & TIME
Wednesday
3:30PM – 6:00PM

DESCRIPTION
Judaism: Medicine and Healing