Fall 2018 Courses

African Religions

RELA 2850            Afro- Creole Religions in the Americas (3.00)
A survey course which familiarizes students with African-derived religions of the Caribbean and Latin America

RELA 3730            Religious Themes in African Literature and Film (3.00)
An exploration of religious concepts, practices and issues as addressed in African literature and film. We will examine how various African authors and filmmakers weave aspects of Muslim, Christian and/or traditional religious cultures into the stories they tell. Course materials will be drawn from novels, memoirs, short stories, creation myths, poetry, feature-length movies, documentaries and short films.

RELA 3890            Christianity in Africa (3.00)
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.


RELB 2054            Tibetan Buddhism Introduction (3.00)
Provides a systematic introduction to Tibetan Buddhism with a strong emphasis on tantric traditions of Buddhism - philosophy, contemplation, ritual, monastic life, pilgrimage, deities & demons, ethics, society, history, and art. The course aims to understand how these various aspects of Tibetan religious life mutually shape each other to form the unique religious traditions that have pertained on the Tibetan plateau for over a thousand years.

RELB 2100            Buddhism (3.00)
Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana Buddhist developments in India.

RELB 3150            Seminar in Buddhism and Gender (3.00)
This seminar takes as its point of departure Carolyn Bynum's statements: "No scholar studying religion, no participant in ritual, is ever neuter. Religious experience is the experience of men and women, and in no known society is this experience the same." The unifying theme is gender and Buddhism, exploring historical, textual and social questions relevant to the status of women and men in the Buddhist world from its origins to the present day.

RELB 5470            Literary Tibetan V (3.00)
Advanced study in the philosophical and spiritual language of Tibet, past and present. Prerequisite: RELB 5000, 5010, 5350, 5360, or equivalent.

RELB 5490 Religious History of Tibet

RELB 5800            Literary Tibetan VII (3.00)
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 8230            Advanced Literary and Spoken Tibetan (3.00)
Readings in various genres, including philosophy, poetry, ritual, narrative, and so forth.

RELB 8718            Tutorial in Thalgyur Tantra and Commentary (3.00)
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 (3.00)
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: Buddhist esoteric literature, a.k.a. Buddhist Tantra.

RELB 8724            Tutorial in Classical Tibetan Literature and Religion (3.00)


RELC 1210            Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (3.00)
Studies the history, literature, and religion of ancient Israel in the light of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Emphasizes methods of contemporary biblical criticism. Cross listed as RELJ 1210.

RELC 2050            The Rise of Christianity (3.00)
This course traces the rise of Christianity in the first millennium of the Common Era, covering the development of doctrine, the evolution of its institutional structures, and its impact on the cultures in which it flourished. Students will become acquainted with the key figures, issues, and events from this formative period, when Christianity evolved from marginal Jewish sect to the dominant religion in the Roman Empire.

RELC 2215            Mormonism and American Culture (3.00)
This course is designed to add substantive depth to a general understanding of American religious pluralism and insight into the socio-historical context of American religion through the study of Mormonism. In addition to introducing Mormonism's basic beliefs and practices, the course will explore issues raised by Mormonism's move toward the American mainstream while retaining its religious identity and cultural distinctiveness.

RELC 2245            Global Christianity (3.00)
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 (3.00)
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 3222            From Jefferson to King (3.00)
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 3559            Biblical Outsiders            

RELC 3559            Jesus in Film      

RELC 3890            Christianity in Africa (3.00)
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 5559            New Course in Christianity (1.00 - 4.00)
Schleiermacher and Tillich

General Religious Studies

RELG 1010            Introduction to Western Religious Traditions (3.00)
Studies the major religious traditions of the Western world; Judaism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam.

RELG 1040            Introduction to Eastern Religious Traditions (3.00)
Introduces various aspects of the religious traditions of India, China, and Japan.

RELG 1400            The Art and Science of Human Flourishing (3.00)
This course explores human flourishing, well-being, and resiliency across academic, personal, and professional spheres. The course presents a balance of theory and practice, organized into five domains: self-awareness, well-being, connection, wisdom, and integration. Each week explores a single quality of flourishing through scientific research, humanistic reflection, and artistic expression, as well as a detailed set of contemplative practices.

RELG 1500            Introductory Seminar in Religious Studies (3.00)
Religion, Race and Democracy

RELG 2820            Jerusalem (3.00)
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 3325            The Civil Rights Movement in Religious and Theological Perspective (3.00)
The seminar considers the American Civil Rights Movement, its supporters and opponents, in religious and theological perspective. While interdisciplinary in scope, the seminar will explore the religious motivations and theological sources in their dynamic particularity; and ask how images of God shaped conceptions of personal identity, social existence, race and nation in the campaigns and crusades for equal rights under the law.

RELG 3360            Conquests and Religions in the Americas, 1400s-1830s (3.00)
Beginning with Islamic-ruled Spain and the Aztec and Incan empires, the course examines historical changes in the religious practices of indigenous peoples, enslaved Africans and European settlers in Latin America and the Caribbean under European colonization and the transatlantic slave trade. Topics include: religious violence, human sacrifice, the Inquisition; missions; race, gender and sexuality; slavery, revolts, revolutions, nationalism.

RELG 3559            New Course in Religious Studies (3.00)
Latino Religions

RELG 3559            New Course in Religious Studies (3.00)
Sustainability and Asceticism

RELG 3559            New Course in Religious Studies (3.00)
Gods, Humans, Robots

RELG 3600            Religion and Modern Theatre (3.00)
Examines the works of several playwrights, some of whom dramatize explicitly religious themes or subjects, and others who are predominantly concerned with secular situations and contexts that imply religious questions and issues.

RELG 3605            Religion, Violence and Strategy: How to Stop Killing in the Name of God (3.00)
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 3630 Idolatry

RELG 4023            Bioethics Internship Seminar (3.00)
The course enables students to spend time in medical settings as 'participant-observers,' in order to gain first-hand experience of the subject matter that is the focus of the theory, teaching, and practice of bioethics. Prerequisites: Bioethics Major/Minor

RELG 4220            American Religious Autobiography (3.00)
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 (3.00)
Sex, Gender and Religion

RELG 4559            New Course in Religious Studies (1.00 - 4.00)
MLK, Jr.: Power, Love, Justice

RELG 4800            Crafting a Research Project in Religious Studies (3.00)
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 4810            Poetry and Theology (3.00)
This seminar seeks to develop a close reading of major religious poetry by two major religious poets

RELG 5320 Research Seminar in Religion, Conflict and Peace

RELG 5321            Proseminar in Religion, Politics & Conflict (1.00)
The Proseminar for MA students in Religion, Politics & Conflict meets monthly each semester to discuss student research, to integrate methods and themes in the field, to facilitate professional development, and to deepen relationships with colleagues.

RELG 5801            Crafting a Research Project in Religious Studies (3.00)
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 Literatures (1.00)
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 5835            Ethnography and the Study of Religion (3.00)
This course familiarizes students with a range of ways of studying practice in religions as it is evidenced in sacred texts, religious artifacts, images and locations; as it is chronicled in historical documents; as it is reflected in literary and artistic creations; and as it revealed in contemporary practice.

RELG 7360            Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion (3.00)
Given the multidisciplinary character of religious studies, it is imperative for new scholars to gain a basic sense of theoretical and methodological options in the field. By way of an examination of landmark texts, this course surveys the formation of religious studies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and considers some important contemporary approaches.

RELG 8350            Proseminar in Scripture Interpretation and Practice (1.00)
This one credit seminar introduces students the Scriptural Interpretation and Practice (SIP) program to recent approaches to the comparative study of scriptural sources and scriptural traditions.

RELG 8704            Themes and Topics in Religious Ethics (3.00)
Tutorial on important themes, topics, and figures in religious ethics, both historically and in the present moment.

RELG 8715            Philosophic Resources for Abrahamic Theologies            

RELG 8719            The Frankfurt School (3.00)
This course will focus on key texts of the group of scholars known as the Frankfurt School, including Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin, and Jürgen Habermas.

RELG 8723            Tutorial in American Spirituality (3.00)


RELH 3559            New Course in Hinduism (3.00)
The History of Yoga

RELH 8722            Tutorial in Sanskrit: Devotional Poetry (3.00)
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.

RELH 8725            Tutorial in Sanskrit: Hindu Law (3.00)


RELI 2070              Classical Islam (3.00)
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 3110              Muhammad and the Qur'an (3.00)
Systematic reading of the Qur'an in English, with an examination of the prophet's life and work. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.

RELI 5540              Seminar in Islamic Studies (3.00)
Topics in Islamic Studies

RELI 8709              Islamic Studies Tutorial (3.00)
Tutorial in Islamic Studies on philosophy, theology, jurisprudence, ethics, and political Islam.


RELJ 1210             Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (3.00)
Studies the history, literature, and religion of ancient Israel in the light of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Emphasizes methods of contemporary biblical criticism. Cross listed as RELC 1210.

RELJ 1410             Elementary Classical Hebrew I (3.00)
Studies the essentials of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. Includes readings of narrative portions of the Hebrew Bible.

RELJ 2410             Intermediate Classical Hebrew I (3.00)
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 3170             Modern Jewish Thought (3.00)
This course offers an introduction into the major themes of Modern Jewish Thought.

RELJ 3559             New Course in Judaism (1.00 - 4.00)
Biblical Outsiders

RELJ 3559             New Course in Judaism (1.00 - 4.00)
Holocaust Museums

RELJ 3559             New Course in Judaism (1.00 - 4.00)
Israeli Art and Culture

RELJ 5100             Theology and Ethics of the Rabbis (3.00)
This course explores theological and ethical themes in classical rabbinic literature (c. 200-600 CE). Focus is on gaining fluency in textual and conceptual analysis. Questions examined include: How is the relationship between God, humans generally and the people Israel specifically, imagined? What is evil and how is it best managed? What is the nature of one's obligation to fellow human beings? How does one cultivate an ideal self?

RELJ 5559             New Course in Judaism (3.00)
Holocaust Studies

RELJ 8705             Tutorial in Translating Biblical Poetry (3.00)
An advanced tutorial in translating biblical poetry, with several interrelated goals: developing skills in advanced biblical grammar; furthering capacities for biblical interpretation; exploring the dynamics of biblical poetry; understanding how ancient poetry and biblical books formed, developed, and were redacted; evaluating secondary literature as a prelude to developing sound arguments and coherent elegant translations.

RELJ 8714             Tutorial: Scriptural Reasoning in Judaism