Course Offerings

Below is a representative sampling of recently offered courses, grouped by specialization. For more information please contact the course instructor or consult the public unofficial course directory on Lou's List

African Religions

RELA 2700 Festivals of the Americas
Schmidt, Jalane Dawn
Readings will include contemporary ethnographies of religious festivals in the Caribbean ans South, Central, and North America, and increase their knowledge of the concepts of sacred time and space, ritual theory, and the relationships between religious celebration and changing accounts of ethnicity.

RELA 2850 Afro Creole Religions
Schmidt, Jalane
This survey course investigates African-inspired religious practices in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the U.S., particularly those religions--such as Haitian Vodou, Cuban Regla de Ocha (aka “Santería”), Brazilian Candomblé, and black churches in North America--which are deemed emblematic of local African-descended populations and even entire New World societies. By reading ethnographies, we will compare features common to many 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 commodification 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 “Africa,” “tradition,” “syncretism,” “modernity,” and “creole.”

RELA 3000 Women and Religion in Africa
 Hoehler-Fatton,Cynthia Heyden
This course examines women’s religious activities, traditions and spirituality in a number of different African contexts. Drawing on ethnographic, historical, literary, and religious studies scholarship, we will explore a variety of themes and debates that have emerged in the study of gender and religion in Africa.  Topics will include gendered images of sacred power; the construction of gender through ritual; sexuality and fertility; and women’s agency in indigenous religious movements, Muslim communities and Christian congregations in Africa. 

RELA      3559       Magic and Witchcraft
Schmidt, Jalane
Contact professor directly

RELA 3890 Christianity in Africa
 Hoehler-Fatton,Cynthia Heyden
This course examines the history of Christianity in Africa from its roots in Egypt and the Maghreb in the 2nd c. CE, to contemporary times when nearly half the continent's population claims adherence to the faith. Our historical overview will cover the flowering of medieval Ethiopian Christianity, 16th- and 17th- century Kongolese Christianity, European missions during the colonial period, the subsequent growth of independent churches, the emergence of African Christian theology, and the recent examples of charismatic and Pentecostal “mega-churches.”   We will consider the relationship between colonialism and evangelism; assess efforts in translation and inculturation of the gospel; reflect on the role of healing, prophesy and spirit-possession in conversion, and explore a variety of ways of understanding religious change across the continent.  We will attempt both to position the Christian movement within the wider context of African religious history, and to understand Africa's place in the larger course of Christian history.

RELA      3900       Islam in Africa
Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia
This course offers an historical and topical introduction to Islam in Africa.  After a brief overview of the central tenets and rituals of the Muslim faith, our chronological survey begins with the introduction of Islam to North Africa in the 7th century.  We will trace the transmission of Islam via traders and clerics to West Africa.  We will consider the medieval Muslim kingdoms; the development of Islamic scholarship and the reform tradition; the growth of Sufi brotherhoods; and the impact of European colonization and de-colonization upon African Muslims. We will also consider distinctive aspects of Islam in East Africa, such as the flowering of Swahili devotional literature, and the tradition of saint veneration. Readings and classroom discussions provide a more in-depth exploration of topics and themes encountered in our historical survey.  Through the use of ethnographic and literary materials, we will explore issues such as the translation and transmission of the Qur'an, indigenization and religious pluralism; the role of women in African Islam; and African Islamic spirituality. This course meets the Historical Studies requirement, as well as the Non-Western Perspectives requirement.  One prior course on Islam or African religions is recommended.

RELA      4085       Christian Missions in Contemporary Africa
Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia
This seminar examines Christian missions in Africa in the 21st Century.  Through a variety of disciplinary lenses, we examine faith-based initiatives in Africa—those launched from abroad, as well as those initiated by Africans themselves.  What does it mean to be a missionary in Africa today? How are evangelizing efforts being transformed in response to democratization, globalization and a growing awareness of human rights?  What is the relationship between evangelism and economic development, proselytism and humanitarian aid, and mission and education today? This seminar is intended for advanced undergraduates with a serious interest—and preferably some experience—in Africa.  At least one prior course on Christianity and/or Africa is recommended.

Buddhism

RELB 2054 Tibetan Buddhism Introduction
TBA
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
Kachru, Sonam
Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana Buddhist developments in India.

RELB 2135 Chinese Buddhism
TBA
This course examines the ways in which Chinese Buddhism differs from the Buddhisms of other countries. The first half of the course introduces Buddhism with a focus on the historical development of the tradition.The second half of the course surveys several philosophical schools and forms of practice including Huayan, Chan, Pure Land, and Tantric Buddhism.

RELB      2165       Buddhist Meditation and the Modern World
Trautz, Nicholas
This course offers a survey of Buddhist meditation traditions in India and Tibet, an introduction to the ways that meditation is adapted and used today throughout many areas of life, and a chance to practice secular meditation techniques in a contemplative lab. In class meetings are experimentally based.

RELB 2252 Buddhism in Film 
Schaeffer, Kurtis
This course is an introduction to Buddhism and an exploration of the place of Buddhism within contemporary Asian, European, and North American cultures through film. The goals are 1) to identify longstanding Buddhist narrative themes in contemporary films, 2) to consider how Buddhism is employed in films to address contemporary issues, and 3) to gain through film a vivid sense of Buddhism as a complex social and cultural phenomenon.

RELB      2559       Buddhist Meditation Traditions
Braun, Erik
Contact professor directly

RELB 2715 Chinese Religions
TBA
This course serves as a general introduction to the religions of China, including Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, and popular religion. 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.

RELB      3030       Mindfulness and Compassion
Bach, Dorthea
Bauer-Wu, Susan
This elective course provides an in-depth and rich experience in contemplative practices, namely secular mindfulness and compassion practices. It is designed to prepare students to live more fully, be more engaged and compassionate citizens and professionals, and navigate life’s stressors with greater clarity, peace of mind, and healthy behaviors. It’s based on Buddhist principles and the secular, evidence-based Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, yet expanded upon and modified specifically for college students. Pedagogical approaches will include regular in-class and homework guided meditations, rich interactive class discussions, and readings and discussions on the burgeoning research evidence in contemplative sciences. We will explore a variety of secular contemplative practices that foster self-awareness, emotional regulation, mental stability, and prosocial mental qualities, like empathy, compassion, generosity and gratitude. In addition to structured meditations, we will engage with a variety of informal practices to facilitate mindful awareness of everyday activities.

RELB 3150 Buddhism and Gender
 Lang,Karen C
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 3160 The Religions of Japan
 Jee,Hye Kyung
This course is a survey of religions in Japan as well as their roles in Japanese culture and society. The topics that will be discussed are syncretism between Buddhism and Shinto, the development of uniquely Japanese forms of Buddhism, the spontaneous emergence of Pure Land Buddhism, the use of Shinto as a nationalistic ideology, and the role of Christianity. There are no necessary prerequisites; but a basic knowledge of Buddhism or Japanese history is very useful.

RELB      3190       Buddhist Nirvana
Kachru, Sonam
This course explores the history and contested formulations of the Buddhist ideal of felicity, nirvana. We will explore the metaphors and concepts developed to think about nirvana, attending to Buddhist systematic, lyrical and narrative thought. Attention will be paid to the reception of the term in nineteenth century Europe, and the specter of nihilism which once shadowed the study of Buddhism, while sensitizing ourselves to much earlier criticisms of the idea of nirvana available in South Asia, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist. There are no prerequisites. This class should interest: students of Buddhism, Hinduism, South Asia, Theology, Literature and Religion, Philosophy, Anthropology, and students of the History of Religion with an interest in methodological issues involved in the study of religion.

RELB 3408 Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy
Campbell, John
Tibet possesses one of the great Buddhist philosophical traditions in the world. Tibetan Buddhist thinkers composed comprehensive and philosophically rigorous works on human growth according to classical Buddhism, works that surveyed ethics, meditation practice, the nature of personal identity, and enlightenment itself. In this seminar we will read and discuss famous Tibetan overviews of Buddhist philosophy. Pre-Requisites: One prior course in religion or philosophy recommended

RELB      3559       Buddhist Tantra
Campbell, John
Contact professor directly

RELB      5055       Buddhist Philosophy
Kachru, Sonam
This is a course introducing the subject of Buddhist Philosophy as it developed in Classical India from roughly 200 C.E.-1300 C.E in conversation with multiple traditions of reasoning--that is, as a discipline involving (as a minimum) conceptual analysis and the give and take of reasons and arguments, and worthy of being engaged with philosophically today. Topics of concern for Buddhist philosophers introduced in this course include: reductionism about personal identity; mereology; skepticism with respect to identity criteria for things (in the broadest possible sense) and non-realism with respect to truth more generally; the relationship between conventions and theories of the world; the distinction between conceptual and non-conceptual content; the prospect of a nominalist semantics and the prospects for solipsism as a metaphysical, epistemological and methodological claim. This course has no prerequisites, but an introduction to philosophy and / or an introduction to Buddhism will be particularly helpful. This course should be of interest to students of Buddhism, Philosophy (Ancient and Contemporary), Hinduism, South Asia, Theology, and all those interested in the place of reasons in any life worth living.

RELB 5390 Tibetan Buddhist Tantra Dzokch
Germano, David

RELB 5440 Sanskrit Religious Texts
 Lang,Karen C

RELB 5460 Seminar in Mahayana Buddhism
 Lang,Karen C
This seminar will explore the origins and development of  Mahayana Buddhism through looking   at Mahayana scriptures (sutras) and the Mahayana philosophical treatises (sastra) of the Madhyamaka and Yogacara schools.   Open to undergraduates who have taken at least one course in Buddhism

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

RELB      5480       Literary Tibetan VI
Advanced study in the philosophical and spiritual language of Tibet, past and present. Prerequisite: RELB 5000, 5010, 5350, 5360, or equivalent.

RELB 5810 Literary Tibetan VIII
 TBA

RELB      5559       Buddhist Modernities
Braun, Erik    
Contact professor directly

RELB 5559 Truth & Tradition: Intro to Buddhist Scholasticism
Kachru, Sonam
This course examines the distinct genres of Buddhist systematic thought (commentary,  conspectus, monograph, etc.) and explores how they function, and how hermeneutics interacts with epistemology, this as a way of clarifying what Buddhist scholasticism might be. Special attention is paid to Vasubandhu, but also other thinkers, in this course.

RELB 5800 Literary Tibetan VII
TBA
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      5810       Literary Tibetan VIII
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 Adv Literary & Spoken Tibetan
Schaeffer, Kurtis
Examines selected topics and techniques of Tibetan education.

Christianity

RELC 1210 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
Halvorson-Taylor, Martien
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 1220 Early Christianity & New Testament
Spittler, Janet
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 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      2060       The Reform and Global Expansion of Christianity
Shuve, Karl
How did Christianity become a global religion with hundreds of denominations and nearly two billion adherents? In this course, we will explore the reform and expansion of Christianity in the second millennium of the Common Era, from the high Middle Ages to the present day.

RELC      2155       Whiteness and Religion
Schmidt, Jalane  
Contact professor directly

RELC 2215 Mormonism and American Culture
Flake, Kathleen
In the nineteenth century, Mormonism had the distinction of being one of the most overtly persecuted religions in the U.S. Today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the nation's fourth largest religious body and has a reputation for hyper patriotism and middle class mores. In addition to introducing who the Mormons are, their beliefs and religious practices, this seminar will use their story to better understand religion and its adaptive strategies. More specifically, we will be asking what is the American idea of being properly religious? How did conflicts over Mormonism help define the legal limits of religious liberty and, even today, why does it serve as a test of public tolerance for religion? How have Latter-day Saint teachings about modern revelation, gender, race, sex and marriage, as well as controversies about whether or not Mormons are Christian, positioned and repositioned Mormons within American society? We will approach these questions from a variety of perspectives: historical, sociological, ethnographic, and theological.

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 History 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      2460       Spirit of Catholicism: Its Creeds and Customs
Fogarty, Gerald  
The course will trace the origins and development of Roman Catholic doctrine in light of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The following topics will be treated: the nature and person of Christ as examined in the first ecumenical councils from Nicaea (325) to Chalcedon (451); the nature of the Church and its authority vested in bishops and the pope; original sin, grace, and justification; the rise of the Reformation in western Christianity.

RELC 2850 Kingdom of God
Marsh Jr., Charles
The course examines the influence of theological ideas on social movements in twentieth and twenty-first century America; and it seeks to answer such questions as:  How do religious commitments shape the patterns of everyday living, including economic, political, and sexual organization, as well as racial perception?  How do our ideas about God shape the way we engage the social order?  What role do nineteenth century European and American Protestant theologies play in informing the American search for “beloved community”, which was the term Martin Luther King Jr. sometimes used interchangeably with the Kingdom of God?  What are the social consequences of religious beliefs?  Although our primary historical focus is the American Civil Rights Movement from 1954-1968, we will also look at counter-cultural movements of the late 1960’s, as well as the faith-based community-development movement and recent community organizing initiatives.

RELC 3006 Augustine's City of God
Mathewes, Charles
Augustine’s magnum opus The City of God is the most important book in Western Civilization that almost nobody has read. It is one of the greatest works of human intellect in the West, and had an almost unmatched impact on Western history. Yet its very scale is so galactic as to intimidate even the most serious reader. This course provides an introduces you to the book in an accessible way so you understand its structure, the thought of Augustine, the world of Late Antiquity in which he lived, and the fundamental questions that drive the book forward, from its beginnings in the sack of pagan Rome in 410 AD to Augustine’s concluding vision of the Heavenly Jerusalem at the End of Time. By the end of this course, you will not only understand the content of The City of God but you’ll also have a profoundly new way of thinking about politics, religion, the course of history, and Christian understandings of humanity's relationship to the divine.

RELC 3009 Protestant Theology
 Jones,Paul Dafydd
This course examines the writings of important Protestant theologians from the 1500s to the present day. Beginning with key texts by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and writers from the radical reformation, we then engage major eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth-century thinkers such as John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Karl Barth. We also examine recent developments in process, liberationist, and feminist theology. Topics considered include the role of the Bible in theological reflection, the nature of God, Christology, sin and salvation, and Christian ethics. 

Some familiarity with the academic study of Christian thought is useful, but not required.

RELC 3040 Paul: Letters and Theology
Spittler, Janet Elizabeth
The apostle Paul is arguably the most important figure in the development of early Christianity.  Of the 27 books of the New Testament, thirteen are explicitly attributed to Paul; of these thirteen, seven are near unanimously recognized by scholars as having been written by Paul himself – his letter to the Thessalonians being the earliest piece of Christian literature that we have today.  Paul is also the primary hero of the longest narrative in the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles, as well as multiple non-canonical narratives.  In this course we will study the life, teachings, and influence of Paul through careful reading of four different types of ancient texts.  We will consider: 1) his own letters, paying close attention to his role within the larger Christian community, including his disputes with other prominent figures; 2) letters written in Paul’s name by Christians of subsequent generations, including some texts the authenticity of which is still disputed by scholars (e.g. 2 Thessalonians and Colossians) and others that were quite clearly composed well after Paul’s death (e.g. his correspondence with the philosopher Seneca); 3) narrative texts in which Paul plays a leading role, including the canonical Acts and the non-canonical Acts of Paul; and 4) non-Pauline canonical texts that seem to contradict Paul’s positions on multiple issues (e.g. James and 2 Peter).  Because the one absolutely incontrovertible thing we know about Paul is that he was a resident of the Roman empire in the first century C.E., we will begin with an historical survey, setting the material covered in this course within its geographical, cultural and social contexts.

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.

RELC      3090       Israelite Prophecy
Goering, Gregory
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.

RELC      3150       Salem Witch Trials
Ray, Benjamin
The course will explore the historical scholarship, fictional literature, and primary source materials relating to the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692. How did the  accusations begin? Why did they spread far and wide? Serious theories and wild  speculations abound, both in 1692 and today. Who were the female and male  heroes, victims, and villains of this tragic episode? The most gripping personal  stories are to be found in the court records and in the literary portrayals by  Nathaniel Hawthorne and Arthur Miller. The course will draw upon parts of the  following historical works: Entertaining Satan by John Demos, Satan and Salem  by Benjamin Ray,  and The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff, in addition to  selected journal articles, as well as Arthur Miller's classic play The Crucible. All  discussion sections will be online, and students will write three two page essays  on the reading materials.  The  class will make extensive use of the online  "Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive” <http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/> which  contains all the original court documents and contemporary accounts.

RELC 3181 Medieval Christianity
 Komornicka,Jolanta N

RELC      3222       From Jefferson to King.
Hadley, Mark
A seminar focused upon some of the most significant philosophical and religious thinkers that have shaped and continue 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.  This course fulfills the College’s Second Writing Requirement.

RELC 3231 Reformation Europe
Lambert, Erin
Surveys the development of religious reform movements in continental Europe from c. 1450 to c. 1650 and their impact on politics, social life, science, and conceptions of the self. Cross-listed as HIEU 3231.

RELC      3245       Religious Liberty
Flake, Kathleen
Contact professor directly

RELC 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.

RELC 3470 Christianity and Science
Portmann, John
Christian Europe gave rise to modern science, yet Christianity and science have long appeared mutual enemies. In this course we explore the encounter between two powerful cultural forces and study the intellectual struggle (especially in Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Freud) about the place of God in the modern world.

RELC      3559       Christian Discipleship and Martyrdom
Flores, Nichole  
What defines Christian martyrdom? How does it relate to the broader demands of Christian discipleship? How does it relate to the ethical themes of love and justice? This course will engage readings in Christian theology and ethics to pursue these questions. The seminar emphasizes martyrdom in Christian tradition, but comparative religious research can be incorporated into student projects. 

RELC      3559       Catholic Experience
Fogarty, Gerald  
Contact professor directly

RELC      3559       God, Love & Sin Middle Ages
Hawthorne, Laura
This course explores Western Christian thought during the Middle Ages, beginning with Augustine at the end of late antiquity through the early fifteenth century. We will examine the theological works and historical context of authors throughout the period, paying particular attention to their ideas about divine love, human sin, and gender. In addition to Augustine, we will read works by Anselm of Canterbury, Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter Abelard, Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, and Julian of Norwich. The course will encourage you to develop your skills as a scholarly thinker, researcher, and writer. The readings and discussions will be challenging, but the instructor will provide guidance and encourage student interaction and collaboration. Students of all years and majors are encouraged to enroll. Contact the instructor to discuss the class.

RELC      3620       Modern Theology
Hart, Kevin  
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 3715 Walker Percy & Flannery O'Connor
 Guroian,Vigen, Wilson, William
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.

RELC 3804 Amer. Catholic Social Thought
Fogarty, Gerald P
This reading and discussion seminar will trace the evolution of American social and political thought from the Catholic Church's assimilation of an immigrant population to sometimes  unfriendly environment.  The American Church would accordingly support the organized labor movement and set an example for the European Church.  While the American Catholic Church developed progressive social thought, it sometimes refused to take a stand on such "political" issues as slavery.  During the Great Depression, there were, however, further developments in both papal social thought and its acceptance and accommodation to the American ethos.  Post World War II years saw the assimilation of older ethnic groups and yet the plight of new arrivals and racial minorities.  Gradually the American Church addressed these new problems and, in light of Vatican II, took up new issues such as nuclear arms and capital punishment.

RELC 3890 Christianity in Africa
 Hoehler-Fatton,Cynthia Heyden
This course examines the history of Christianity in Africa from its roots in Egypt and the Maghreb in the 2nd c. CE, to contemporary times when nearly half the continent's population claims adherence to the faith. Our historical overview will cover the flowering of medieval Ethiopian Christianity, 16th- and 17th- century Kongolese Christianity, European missions during the colonial period, the subsequent growth of independent churches, the emergence of African Christian theology, and the recent examples of charismatic and Pentecostal “mega-churches.”   We will consider the relationship between colonialism and evangelism; assess efforts in translation and inculturation of the gospel; reflect on the role of healing, prophesy and spirit-possession in conversion, and explore a variety of ways of understanding religious change across the continent.  We will attempt both to position the Christian movement within the wider context of African religious history, and to understand Africa's place in the larger course of Christian history.

RELC 4559 American Church-State Conflicts.
 Flake,Kathleen
This course considers how courts decide religious liberty cases and the public debate about those decisions. This means students will spend much of their time thinking about the values and social contexts that give coherence to a confusing array of seemingly contradictory court opinions. Consequently, we will be analyzing the logic of the court and its evolving cultural context, not merely the facts of court cases. Ultimately, the course is designed to develop the capacity to think critically through the use of relevant legal documents and to appreciate their influence on the shape of religion -- as well as other social institutions, such as education -- in America.  

RELC      4610       Sex and Morality
Portmann, John

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, and “senior sex.”  We will pay special attention to art, film, and the media in challenging sexual mores.  Please note that no laptops will be permitted in this seminar. 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      4085       Christian Missions in Contemporary Africa
Hoehler- Fatton,Cynthia
This seminar examines Christian missions in Africa in the 21st Century.  Through a variety of disciplinary lenses, we examine faith-based initiatives in Africa—those launched from abroad, as well as those initiated by Africans themselves.  What does it mean to be a missionary in Africa today? How are evangelizing efforts being transformed in response to democratization, globalization and a growing awareness of human rights?  What is the relationship between evangelism and economic development, proselytism and humanitarian aid, and mission and education today? This seminar is intended for advanced undergraduates with a serious interest—and preferably some experience—in Africa.  At least one prior course on Christianity and/or Africa is recommended.

RELC 5009 Bonhoeffer, Niebuhr and King
Marsh Jr., Charles Robert
This graduate seminar explores the theologies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Luther King, Jr., with attention to their intellectual inheritance and formation, historical context, and influence on modern religious thought.  Course requirements include three 1800-2000 word essays or one 6000-7500 research paper, weekly discussions, a class presentation and readings in primary and critical sources.  Undergraduate enrollment by permission of instructor.

RELC/J  5291 Genesis
Halvorson-Taylor, Martien 
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 that shed light on Genesis, early biblical interpretation, and secondary scholarship on the history, literature and religion of Ancient Israel. 

This course is open to graduate students; undergraduate students (who have completed RELC/RELJ 1210) may contact the instructor to discuss permission to enroll. 

Hebrew is not a prerequisite for the course, but advanced students in classical Hebrew may elect to take a translation component.

RELC 5445 Atonement
 Jones,Paul Dafydd
This course engages landmark Christian statements about atonement. For about two-thirds of the semester, we will read “classic” texts – specifically, works by Anselm of Canterbury, Peter Abelard, Julian of Norwich, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Friedrich Schleiermacher, G. W. F. Hegel, Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Sergius Bulgakov. In the remaining third of the course we will consider contemporary statements by René Girard, Delores Williams, Nancy Duff, Jon Sobrino, James Cone, and others. Questions addressed include the following: How do the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ relate to sin and salvation? What role do the Hebrew Bible and New Testament play in the formation of accounts of atonement? How does Christian experience, communal and individual, fund reflection on atonement? In what ways have different theologians described and conceptualized the reconciliation of God and humankind? Have classical descriptions of the cross directly or indirectly sanctioned violence against women and people of color? How do different perspectives on atonement bear on theological ethics?

While of direct interest to students interested in Christian thought and theological ethics, this course can also serve as a high-level survey of important Christian writings from the medieval period to the present day. It is intended primarily for graduate students in Religious Studies and related disciplines; interested undergraduates should email the professor directly to discuss enrollment.

RELC      5559       The Nag Hammadi Library and Gnosticism
Shuve, Karl
Contact professor directly

RELC 5559 Liturgy in Late Antiquity
Shuve, Karl
Liturgy and Self-Fashioning in Late Antiquity”, the description is as follows: This course will explore the role played by "liturgy" in creating and sustaining identities in Late Antiquity (c. 200-800 CE), especially in Christianity, but also in Judaism. Through the study of texts, art, and architecture, we will explore the ways that various rituals and communal experiences helped individuals to locate themselves in the world.

RELC 5559 Contemporary Catholic Theology
Flores, Nichole
The seminar explores crucial developments in late-20th and early-21st century Catholic theology and social thought. First, the course engages debates in theological method, especially in terms of their relationship with themes of enculturation and the public relevance of Catholic thought. The second unit explores major doctrinal trajectories that have emerged in light of these methodological debates. Shifting to a global theological perspective, the course concludes by investigating the role of Catholic theology in relation to crucial ethical concerns today: poverty/economics, human trafficking, immigration, and ecology.

RELC 5559 Continental Philosophy
Yates,  Christopher 
This course will examine the central 19th and 20th century movements and figures in European philosophy that comprise the tradition commonly called Continental Philosophy, particularly in its relationship to matters of meaning and belief.

RELC 5559 Ancient Fiction and Early Christian and Jewish Narratives
Spittler, Janet Elizabeth
Several important phenomena in the history of literature coincide in the first centuries CE: the invention of the novel (that is, fictive literature in prose), the adoption of the book (or “codex”) format, and the emergence of Christian literature, specifically the composition of prose narratives about Jesus and his disciples.  In this seminar, we will ask how and to what extent these phenomena are related.  To that end, we will read a wide variety of texts, including the earliest romance novels (e.g. Chariton’s Chaereas and Callirhoe), Jewish novellas (e.g. Joseph and Aseneth) and Christian narratives both canonical (e.g. the Gospel of Mark) and apocryphal (e.g. the Acts of Paul).  In these texts we will read about prison escapes, crucifixions, apparent deaths and resurrections, love at first sight, true love lost, beast fights in the arena, travel to exotic lands, shipwrecks, and pirates—lots and lots of pirates. We will consider questions of definition and genre, but our primary goal will be—through reading both widely and deeply—to increase our understanding of how ancient prose narratives function.  Simply put, we will try to become better readers of these texts.

RELC 5559 Catholic Biblical Scholarship
 Fogarty,Gerald P

RELC 5559 Religions of the Roman Empire
 Spittler,Janet Elizabeth
In this course we will study the diverse religious landscape of the Greco-Roman world from the end of the Roman Republic through the rise of Christianity.  We will consider a variety of religious practice and expression, including the Roman public religion, Dionysiac/Orphic cult, Isis cult, Mithras cult, Cybele cult, Greco-Roman Magic, Hellenistic Judaism and early Christianities. We will work with a variety of ancient sources, including literature, images and other material culture in an effort to understand these ancient cults and the people who participated in them.  While most have long since ceased to be practiced, two of these ancient religions are still around today.  In the last weeks of the course, we will make a special effort to place Judaism and Christianity within their Roman context, alongside the other “religious options” of the period.

RELC 5676 Human Image, Divine Image
 Guroian,Vigen
This is a study of major Patristic authors and modern Eastern Orthodox theologians who have reflected on the imago Dei and the humanity of God in their Christology and Christian anthropology. The writers that we will read include: Gregory of Nyssa, Ephrem the Syrian, Cyril of Alexandria, Maximus the Confessor, Nicholas Cabasilas, Vladimir Lossky, John Zizioulas, and Nicholas Berdyaev.

RELC 5980 Theology of Karl Barth 
Jones, Paul Dafydd
A close examination of the thought of Karl Barth -- arguably the most important European Protestant theologian of the twentieth century. While we will deal with some of Barth’s early work -- specifically, the second edition of *Epistle to the Romans* -- our primary focus will be the mighty *Church Dogmatics*. Topics considered include the role of the Bible in theological reflection, theological epistemology, the doctrine of God, election, human being and human agency, Christology and atonement, sin and evil, and the nature of Christian community. This course is primarily intended for graduate students with interests in Christian theology, western philosophy of religion, theological ethics, and biblical exegesis. Advanced undergraduates who wish to enroll must have significant background in the academic study of Christian thought and should contact the instructor before signing up on SIS.

RELC 7515 Themes & Topics Christian Thought :Through the Middle Ages
Mathewes, Charles
This seminar attempts to acquaint graduate students with major works in Christian thought, in order to provide them with the requisite background both for Comprehensive Examinations in Christian thought and also to orient them to engage various major accounts of the Christian tradition. What are the major debates and concepts that have informed Christian thought historically?  What styles of reasoning and deliberation have been explored, and to what ends? Engaging those questions should open angles of interpretation on what is “Christian” and “theology,” and how they relate to other disciplines. The assigned works are considered many of the most important benchmarks for the larger tradition, in both its Latin Western and Greek Eastern formulations, through the High Middle Ages.

General Religious Studies

RELG 1010 Intro Western Religious Traditions
Warren, Heather
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
Campbell, John  
Introduces various aspects of the religious traditions of India, China, and Japan.

RELG      2160       Religion in America Since 1865
Warren, Heather
Religion in America Since 1865 is an historical examination of the social and cultural change that affected the religious life of Americans over the ensuing 150 years.  The course studies theological change in Protestantism, the emergence of three kinds of Judaism, controversy and change in American Catholicism, the origins of fundamentalism and Pentecostalism, various expressions of African-American faith, the attraction of Asian religions to non-Asians in America in the 1960s and afterwards, and the rise of the religious right.  We also explore the effects of immigration, urbanization, politics, and intellectual change on religions in America.  Readings include Dennis Covington’s Salvation on Sand Mountain about snake handling Pentecostals in Appalachia, Abraham Heschel's The Sabbath, sermons of Martin Luther King, Jr., and an essay by basketball coach Phil Jackson about his practice of Buddhism and the way it influenced his coaching of the championship Chicago Bulls.  Fulfills historical studies and humanities area requirements for the College.

RELG      2210       Religion Ethics & Environment
Jenkins, Willis
Where do ideas of nature come from, and what cultural and political consequences do they carry? In an era of rapid human expansion and uncertain ecological change, cultures everywhere are reexamining their basic orientations to their environments. What stories and values shape the patterns of everyday ecological life? Are they still good ones, or must agents develop new moral resources to meet new moral problems?

This course interprets humanity’s changing ecological relationships through religious and philosophical traditions. It takes up ethical questions presented by environmental problems, introduces frameworks for making sense of them, and examines the symbols and narratives that shape imaginations of nature. In lecture and in online discussion sections, we take up relations of belief and behavior in practical problems like climate change and food choices, and we consider their implications for personal commitments and public goals.

Discussion sections for this class happen online. You must sign up for one of the sections, but there are no regular weekly meetings. You will be assigned a teaching assistant who will organize online discussions and be available to meet with you in person.

RELG 2300 Religious Ethics & Moral Probs
 Mathewes,Charles T
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 2380 Faith & Doubt in Modern Age
 Marsh Jr.,Charles Robert
This course introduces undergraduates to seminal writings in modern Western thought that explore and question the meaning, truthfulness, and uses of religious belief.  The goal is to develop a multi-storied narrative of the variety of interpretations given to the idea of God in modernity and to clarify the conditions of responsible religious belief in a pluralistic and possibly post-modern world.  Lectures and discussions will follow such questions as:   Is belief in God a product of wishful thinking?  Is religious belief a symptom of neurotic behavior?  If there is no God, is everything permissible?  Is atheism (new and old) parasitic on the moral convictions inspired by religion?  Is religion a primitive stage in human intellectual development in need of an education to reality?  Does religion promote violent tendencies among individuals and groups?  Is it inherently immoral?  On what basis do some intelligent people argue that belief in God is rational and others that belief in God violates reason?  We will consider such questions by studying the modern critiques of religion and the implications of such critiques for believers and people of faith.  Our sources novels, film, music and writings by philosophers, theologians and psychologists. 

RELG      2559       Violence, Literature, and the Sacred
Geddes, Jennifer
Contact professor directly

RELG 2559 Jerusalem
Andruss,  Jessica
This course traces the history of Jerusalem with a focus on its significance in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. How have these communities experienced and inhabited Jerusalem? How have they imagined the city and interpreted its meaning? How have Jews, Christians, and Muslims expressed their attachments to this contested space from antiquity to modern times? Our exploration will be rooted in primary texts—literary and documentary sources and visual images—and informed by historical and cultural context as well as scholarly approaches to sacred space.

RELG 2559 Literature and Ethics
Geddes, Jennifer Leslie  &  Bouchard, Larry D
This course explores the intersection between literature and ethics through close readings of literary texts and attentive readings of theoretical works in ethics, literary criticism, philosophy, and theology.

RELG      2630       Business Ethics and Society
TBA
A study of the philosophical and religious frameworks for interpreting and evaluating human activity in the marketplace. This includes major theoretical perspectives, contemporary issues within the marketplace, and corporate ethics.

RELG 2660 Spirituality in America
 Hedstrom,Matthew Sigurd
What does “spiritual but not religious” mean, and why has it become such a pervasive self-description in contemporary America? This interdisciplinary 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 way 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, environmentalism, 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; global religious and cultural encounters; gender and sexuality; and consumerism and mass culture. 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 2650 Theological Bioethics
Flores, Nichole
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, Ebola, & possible bioterrorist attacks. The course will use numerous actual and hypothetical cases to highlight moral issues.

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, Ebola, & possible bioterrorist attacks. The course will use numerous actual and hypothetical cases to highlight moral issues.

RELG      2660       Spirituality in America
Hedstrom, Matthew  
What does “spiritual but not religious” mean, and why has it become such a pervasive self-description in contemporary America? This interdisciplinary 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 way we’ll study everything from AA to yoga to Zen meditation, with stops in rock and jazz, Beat poetry, Abstract Expressionist painting, spirit photography, the feminist movement, environmentalism, 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; global religious and cultural encounters; gender and sexuality; and consumerism and mass culture. 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 3051 Religion and Society
 Hudson II,William Clarke

RELG/AAS 3200 Martin, Malcolm, and America
Hadley, Mark
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

RELG      3215       American Religious Innovation
Flake, Kathleen
Contact professor directly

RELG 3360 Conquests and Religions
Schmidt, Jalane
This course examines the history of religions in the colonial Americas—the Caribbean, South, Central, and North America from the late-15th century to the mid-19th century—and attends to signature religious devotions, personalities, institutions, and events in the New World during this historical epoch of intense cultural encounters.  Beginning with Islamic-ruled Spain and the Aztec and Incan empires, and the class studies the 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. We will consider issues of historiography—specifically, the problem of interpreting the at times hostile, ex post facto-written extant archival sources about the religious practices of subalterns and the use of such primary data in the writing of secondary literature.  Students will develop their abilities to evaluate primary sources (in English 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 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       Religion and Foreign Affairs
Ochs, Peter  
Approaches  in “religion-on-religion” conflict resolution. Special attention to two approaches developed at UVA (“Hearth to Hearth Conflict Resolution” and “Scriptural Reasoning) and to “Global Covenant of Religions,” an NGO whose research is planned at UVA. Students join research teams comprised of majors in Religious Studies, Systems Analysis, Politics, and Anthropology (and ethno-linguistics). Admission by application to pwo3v@virginia.edu.

RELG 3559 Ethics,  Literature,  Religion
Bouchard, Larry
Geddes, Jennifer Leslie
This course explores ethical questions raised by particular literary texts (mostly prose fiction but also memoir, poetry, drama, and scripture) as well as the narrative, or “storied,” dimensions of ethical thought and expression. By ethical questions, we mean inquiries into what it can mean to be a “good” person and live a “good life”; how we should live with and respond to those around us, especially when involving matters of flourishing and suffering; and what visions of the world we should seek to cultivate and realize. We will explore the following proposals: 1) there are relationships between how we respond to literary texts and how we interact with and respond to persons; 2) narrative precedes principles; 3) human beings are story-telling and story-craving animals; and 4) the stories we read and the stories we tell shape who we are, what we deem important, and what we hold sacred. 

Format: the course is taught as a seminar with guided discussion.  Assignments include very short written responses to select literary and theoretical readings, two critical essays, and a final presentation reflecting back on the course.

RELG 3559 / RELG 5320 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      3600       Religion and Modern Theatre
Bouchard, Larry
What relationships does religion have with the theatrical arts? Performance plays a major role in religious ritual, and the story of contemporary theatre in America can map a trajectory from Greek tragedy through medieval pageantry to modern and avant-garde dramas all the way to Broadway’s The Book of Mormon. This course will examine how drama and performance are linked with religious traditions and experience, sacred themes, and with some secular and theological perspectives on religion.   Modern theatre has often sought to revitalize its historical and thematic relations with ritual and sacred stories, and it has also probed the ethical and performed dimensions of selves and communities—as seen against the presence (or absence) of either a transcendent, divine horizon or an immanent sense of the sacred. Theatre also presses boundaries of moral and theological acceptability by staging questions about truth and illusion, obscenity and frivolity, and what sorts of stories we should tell. What differences do such relations make in our enjoyment, understanding, and criticism of theatrical drama? How can theatre expand and nuance the study of religion and culture?

We will encounter a number of classical dramas (e.g., Greek tragedy, “mystery” plays, Shakespeare) and plays by modern-or-contemporary dramatists (such as Peter Shaffer), who bring new takes to ancient themes.  Some dramatists have explicitly explored religious themes or subjects (such as Denys Arcand's film-about-a-performance, Jesus of Montreal; the Scholem Aleichem story turned into Fiddler on the Roof; Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Schwartz’s Mass; and Wole Soyinka’s exploration of Yoruba religion and European theatrical traditions in Death and the King’s Horsemen).  We will also look at ostensibly secular plays and musicals (such as Jonathan Larson’s musical, Rent, or T.S. Eliot’s The Cocktail Party) that nonetheless take up questions of religion, spirituality, and political life (more examples: plays by Samuel Beckett, Brian Friel, Caryl Churchill, Tony Kushner, John Patrick Shanley, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Mary Zimmerman).  And we will sample ritual theory, performance theory, and religious/theological views of drama and theatrical performance.  The syllabus is always changing and will be available soon.

Mode of teaching: some lectures, much discussion, reading/performing aloud, perhaps play attendance and film screenings, possibly even class performance.

Requirements: regular class attendance and participation; three prompt-directed essays (meeting the 2nd writing requirement for those who desire it) and/or a creative project in lieu of the third essay.

RELG 3630 Idolatry
Biemann, Asher
To the monotheistic traditions, idolatry represents one of the most abhorrent moral transgressions. Permeating both the religious and the secular, the prohibition against idol worship has become deeply ingrained in Western culture delineating the boundaries between "correct" and “false” worship, “true” and "strange" communities.  Even outside religious contexts the “idol continues to remain in the vocabulary of our everyday language.  Beginning with Biblical sources and concluding with contemporary texts, this course will examine the philosophical framework of casting idolatry as an unspeakable sin: What is an idol, and why is idolatry so objectionable? Reading texts from different religious and intellectual traditions, we will discuss idolatry in the context of representation, election, otherness, emancipation, nationalism, secularism, religious innovation, and messianism. Final research paper and project presentation.

RELG 3820 Global Ethics & Climate Change
Jenkins, Willis Jackson
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
Marshall, Mary Faith
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
Warren,  Heather 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. This course counts as a religious studies majors seminar.

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       Religion and Psychology
Portmann, John
Exploration of the will to believe, with attention to 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?  Emphasis on Nietzsche, James, Freud, and Daniel Kahneman.  Requirements: 1) regular and substantive class participation; 2) two brief exams; 3) a class presentation; and 4) a final 15-20-page paper

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: God,  Politics and War
Mathewes, Charles
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?  This course studies the complicated interactions, both historically and today, between human political and social life, the presence of war and conflict within it, and the role of religion in both politics and war.  We 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, and study 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  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  
This seminar seeks to develop a close reading of major religious poetry by two major religious poets

Prerequisite: 3.4 min GPA.

RELG 5070 Interpretation Theory
Bouchard, Larry
   We will explore various approaches to interpretative activity, with emphases on the nature and problems of understanding, especially in respect to literary, religious, and critical texts. 
   Readings in the first part of the course reflect theories of interpretation often known as “hermeneutical.”  Some views considered include those of Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Gadamer, and Ricoeur, who locate meaning in our enacted relations with persons, texts, and other forms of expression—especially when separated by time and culture.  Hermeneutics wagers that to some extent, and in different ways, such distances can be overcome.  But this wager is contestable, as with Habermas’s critique of Gadamer.
   The last half of the course explores elaborations of, alternatives to, and departures from the hermeneutical paradigm, as in the work of Bakhtin and Nussbaum, as well as critical practices associated with Derrida, Foucault, and Judith Butler, who in the late twentieth century began bringing this practice to issues of religion and ethics.
   Requirements: Class participation and a brief presentation of (or response to) select assigned syllabus materials, a take-home essay examination (coming a week or so after the mod term break), and either a paper or a take-home essay final. Undergraduates wishing to enroll in this course are welcome, but need to first consult with the instructor.

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       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 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 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 7360 Study of Religion
Spittler, Janet
Kachru, Sonam

Given the interdisciplinary character of religious studies, it is imperative for entering graduate students to gain a basic grounding in the theoretical and methodological studies in the field. By way of an examination of landmark texts, this course surveys the basic nineteenth and twentieth century approaches, as well as some contemporary methods. The course will facilitate critical engagement with classic concepts in the study of religion by applying them to examples of religious belief and practice.

RELG 7559 Aristotle,  Plato and  Scripture: Medieval Theo-Philosophical commentary on the Bible and Qur’an.
Ochs, Peter W
A study of the sources and practice of Medieval Theo-Philosophical commentary on the Bible and Qur’an. Critical study of the texts of Plato and Aristotle most cited in medieval commentaries, followed by critical study of a sample of those commentaries, including Maimonides, Nahmanides, Augustine, Aquinas, Al Farabi, Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd, Al Ghazali.

RELG 8000 Negativity and Religious Imagination
Bouchard,  Larry
Examines ways in which tragedy (and other forms of imaginative literature), scripture and theology, and hermeneutics and criticism portray and reflect on aspects of suffering and evil.

RELG 8350 Proseminar in SIP
Ochs, Peter

RELG  8400 Historiography of American Religion
Hedstrom, Matthew Sigurd
This course provides advanced training in the study of American religious history through a careful analysis of important recent scholarship in the field. 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, anthropology, art history, law, and others—who might benefit from a thorough grounding in the religious history of the United States. In this way, the course lays the foundation for further advanced study in American religious history and a variety of allied fields.

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, and cultural history—the course also covers a variety of religious traditions and subjects, seeking to balance an appreciation of diversity with the search for unifying themes. The majority of the readings covers the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Hinduism

RELH 2090 Hinduism
TBA
Surveys the Hindu religious heritage from pre-history to the 17th century; includes the Jain and Sikh protestant movements.

RELH 2195 Theory and Practice of Yoga
Hubbard, Leslie
An investigation of yoga practice throughout history from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Topics include yoga's origins in ancient India, systematic yoga theories in Buddhism and Hinduism, Tantric Yoga, and the medicalization and globalization of Yoga in the modern period. Students' readings and writing assignments are supplemented throughout with practical instruction in yoga.

RELH      3725       Travel Writing and India
Nemec, John
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
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      5475       Social Vision in Hinduism
Nemec, John
This course will examine the public and social dimensions of Hinduism. Topics will include the role of religion in shaping social institutions (e.g.: caste, the law), cultural attitudes toward sexual and other personal relationships, and the relationship between religion and government. Put in emic terms, we will explore the nature of the first three of the four Hindu goals of life (purusarthas): dharma, artha, and kama. Prerequisite: Basic Knowledge of Hindu Traditions

RELH 5559 Yoga Phil. & Technol. of Self
 Nemec,John William
This course examines the classical Indian texts and traditions that established yoga as a field of learning and a religious discipline.  Attention will be paid to theories regarding the efficacy of yogic practice, the nature of the individual who is said to be affected and transformed by the same, and the history and diachronic development of these ideas over time and across the sometimes competing traditions of learning in premodern South Asia.  Students who wish to take this course are expected to have a firm understanding of classical Indian religions.

Islam

RELI 2070 Classical Islam
Nair, Shankar
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        2080       Global Islam (formerly: Islam in the Modern Age)
Al-Rahim, Ahmed
Studies the 19th and 20th centuries in the Arab world, Turkey, and the Sub-Continent of India, emphasizing reform movements, secularization, and social and cultural change.

RELI        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.

RELI        3110       Muhammad and the Qur'an
Nair, Shankar   
Systematic reading of the Qur'an in English, with an examination of the prophet's life and work. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.

RELI 3559 Medieval Scholars and Books
al-Rahim, Ahmed
fewer):A survey of medieval scholarship, book culture, and transmission of knowledge.

RELI        3900       Islam in Africa
Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia
This course offers an historical and topical introduction to Islam in Africa.  After a brief overview of the central tenets and rituals of the Muslim faith, our chronological survey begins with the introduction of Islam to North Africa in the 7th century.  We will trace the transmission of Islam via traders and clerics to West Africa.  We will consider the medieval Muslim kingdoms; the development of Islamic scholarship and the reform tradition; the growth of Sufi brotherhoods; and the impact of European colonization and de-colonization upon African Muslims. We will also consider distinctive aspects of Islam in East Africa, such as the flowering of Swahili devotional literature, and the tradition of saint veneration. 

Readings and classroom discussions provide a more in-depth exploration of topics and themes encountered in our historical survey.  Through the use of ethnographic and literary materials, we will explore issues such as the translation and transmission of the Qur'an, indigenization and religious pluralism; the role of women in African Islam; and African Islamic spirituality. This course meets the Historical Studies requirement, as well as the Non-Western Perspectives requirement.  One prior course on Islam or African religions is recommended.

RELI 5540 Seminar in Islamic Studies: Special Topics in Islamic Thought
Nair, Shankar

RELI 5540 Seminar in Islamic Studies: Introduction, Islamic Studies
al-Rahim, Ahmed

RELI        5559       Islamic Philosophy and Theology
Al-Rahim, Ahmed
Contact professor directly

RELI 5559 Classical Quranic Commentary
al-Rahim, Ahmed  
This graduate seminar is intended to introduce students to the genres of medieval Arabic quranic commentary. We will examine and compare Israelite and hadith based exegesis, sectarian and mystical exegesis, as well as Quran qua Qurran commentaries.

RELI 5559 Islam in South Asia
Nair, Shankar  
fewer):This course examines Islam in the South Asian context. We will explore the coming of Islam to South Asia and its cultural, political and intellectual development from the classical to the modern periods. Special attention will be given to issues of religious boundaries and identity, particularly as this relates to Muslim-Hindu interactions. The course will also aim to provide advanced exposure to current methodological trends within the subfield.

Judaism

RELJ 1210 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
Halvorson-Taylor, Martien  
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
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
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 from Hebrew to English moderately difficult prose passages.

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 3052 Responses to the Holocaust
Geddes, Jennifer

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
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. 

The following units will guide the course:

1)  Defining the Modern Period for Judaism
2)  Spinoza
3)  Origins of the Jewish Enlightenment
4)  Moses Mendelssohn
5)  Emancipation in Progress
6)  Religious Reform and Restoration
7)  Alternative Models of Reform and Religious Adjustment
8)  Nationalism and Dissimilation
9)  Reinventing Tradition
10)  Judaism as Philosophy
11)  After the Holocaust
12)  Contemporary Questions

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 5100  Ethics and Theology of the  Rabbis
Alexander, Elizabeth S
Though the rabbis do not have a distinct genre in which they discuss ethical and theological questions, we will use these rubrics to deepen our understanding of the rabbinic religious outlook.  In the domain of theology, we will tease out the rabbinic response to questions such as:  What is the nature of divinity?  How is personhood conceived? What is the relationship between God and humanity, and specifically to the people Israel?  How are we to understand evil?  What are the limits of knowledge?  We will also explore the question of why rabbinic literature does not address theological questions in a straightforward manner.  In the area of ethics, we will explore central themes such as obligations to the poor, behavioral norms and cultivation of an ideal self (virtue ethics).  In drawing a rabbinic ethic out of the literature, we will consider the respective value of narrative vs. legal materials.  Throughout the course, we will focus on close readings of primary texts.  The goal of the course is to shed light on theological and ethical matters with the aid of reading strategies attentive to the distinctive character of rabbinic discourse.

RELJ 5165 Scripture and Philosophy in Judaism and Beyond
Ochs,  Peter
What happened when classical Jewish traditions of study and learning encountered the Hellenic traditions of philosophy? This course examines instances of encounter between philosophy and Jewish text learning throughout Jewish history, from the days of Philo to today, focusing on contexts of history, text-reading and hermeneutics. The second half of the course will explore implications for studies in Christianity and Islam.

RELJ/C 5291 Genesis
Halvorson-Taylor, Martien 
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 that shed light on Genesis, early biblical interpretation, and secondary scholarship on the history, literature and religion of Ancient Israel. 

This course is open to graduate students; undergraduate students (who have completed RELC/RELJ 1210) may contact the instructor to discuss permission to enroll. 

Hebrew is not a prerequisite for the course, but advanced students in classical Hebrew may elect to take a translation component.

RELJ 5292 Book of Job
 Halvorson-Taylor,Martien A
This seminar focuses on the book of Job and its related texts—ancient, medieval, and modern—which allow us to establish the literary, theological and philosophical traditions in which Job was composed and the literary, theological, and philosophical legacy that it has engendered. Our study will begin with a grounding in ancient compositions from Mesopotamia and biblical Wisdom Literature; proceed through the book of Job itself (with accompanying critical scholarship); and then finally turn to interpretations of the book. (These interpretations may include, for example, early Jewish and Christian retellings of Job, Kierkegaard, Kafka’s The Trial, J.B. by MacLeish, the writings of later liberation and Jewish theologians, or the etchings of William Blake; students will select and present on these materials based on their research interests.) We will pay particular attention to the ways in which interpretations of Job play off one another in literary form and expression and in their treatment of such themes as divine justice, human piety, the limits of human knowledge, and the nature of the divine-human encounter.

Undergraduates who wish to take this course should have taken RELC/RELJ Introduction to the Hebrew Bible and should confer with the instructor first (maht@virginia.edu).

RELJ 5559 Jewish Bible Commentaries
Andruss,  Jessica
The Jewish Bible commentary—a verse-by-verse explication of a biblical book, prefaced by a programmatic introduction—is an innovation from the medieval world that remains familiar to readers today. In this seminar, we will trace the development of the Jewish commentary genre from its origins in the ninth-century Islamic East (Geonic and Karaite exegesis) through its twelfth-century manifestations in the Christian West (the Spanish and French schools of exegesis). We will focus on the exegetical techniques of the commentaries as well as their cultural significance. We will approach the commentaries as serious treatments of the biblical text, as responses to rabbinic literature and institutions, and as engagements with parallel trends in Muslim and Christian intellectual history. Core course readings will come from the commentaries, which were originally written in Arabic or Hebrew and are available in English translation. Our aim will be to appreciate the craft of Jewish commentary writing and to discover what is distinctive about the interpretive project in varied historical circumstances.

RELJ       5559       Germans and Jews
Biemann, Asher D
Contact professor directly

RELJ       5559       Benjamin, Adorno, and Arendt
Geddes, Jennifer  
Contact professor directly

RELJ 5559 History Methods Jewish Studies
 Biemann,Asher D
This seminar introduces graduate students of any discipline and department to the history and methods of Jewish Studies as an interdisciplinary field. Students will be exposed to seminal texts, key concepts, and contemporary debates preparing them to work independently on areas related to the study of Judaism. Participation, presentation, and a research paper on a topic of choice are required.

Below you will find descriptions of courses that have been taught in the Department of Religious Studies. The list is not exhaustive, but will give you a sense of the range of our offerings. If you would like to know more about a course, please contact the professor directly. Email addresses can be found on the faculty page. To view whether a course is being offered during a particular semester, or to check times and room assignments, consult the Student Information System (SIS) or the unofficial "UVA Class Schedules." 

Courses on this page are listed by Subject Area, RELA, RELB, RELC, RELG, RELH, RELI, and RELJ.

African Religions

RELA 2700 Festivals of the Americas
Schmidt, Jalane Dawn
Readings will include contemporary ethnographies of religious festivals in the Caribbean ans South, Central, and North America, and increase their knowledge of the concepts of sacred time and space, ritual theory, and the relationships between religious celebration and changing accounts of ethnicity.

RELA 2850 Afro Creole Religions
Schmidt, Jalane
This survey course investigates African-inspired religious practices in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the U.S., particularly those religions--such as Haitian Vodou, Cuban Regla de Ocha (aka “Santería”), Brazilian Candomblé, and black churches in North America--which are deemed emblematic of local African-descended populations and even entire New World societies. By reading ethnographies, we will compare features common to many 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 commodification 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 “Africa,” “tradition,” “syncretism,” “modernity,” and “creole.”

RELA 3000 Women and Religion in Africa
 Hoehler-Fatton,Cynthia Heyden
This course examines women’s religious activities, traditions and spirituality in a number of different African contexts. Drawing on ethnographic, historical, literary, and religious studies scholarship, we will explore a variety of themes and debates that have emerged in the study of gender and religion in Africa.  Topics will include gendered images of sacred power; the construction of gender through ritual; sexuality and fertility; and women’s agency in indigenous religious movements, Muslim communities and Christian congregations in Africa. 

RELA      3559       Magic and Witchcraft
Schmidt, Jalane
Contact professor directly

RELA 3890 Christianity in Africa
 Hoehler-Fatton,Cynthia Heyden
This course examines the history of Christianity in Africa from its roots in Egypt and the Maghreb in the 2nd c. CE, to contemporary times when nearly half the continent's population claims adherence to the faith. Our historical overview will cover the flowering of medieval Ethiopian Christianity, 16th- and 17th- century Kongolese Christianity, European missions during the colonial period, the subsequent growth of independent churches, the emergence of African Christian theology, and the recent examples of charismatic and Pentecostal “mega-churches.”   We will consider the relationship between colonialism and evangelism; assess efforts in translation and inculturation of the gospel; reflect on the role of healing, prophesy and spirit-possession in conversion, and explore a variety of ways of understanding religious change across the continent.  We will attempt both to position the Christian movement within the wider context of African religious history, and to understand Africa's place in the larger course of Christian history.

RELA      3900       Islam in Africa
Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia
This course offers an historical and topical introduction to Islam in Africa.  After a brief overview of the central tenets and rituals of the Muslim faith, our chronological survey begins with the introduction of Islam to North Africa in the 7th century.  We will trace the transmission of Islam via traders and clerics to West Africa.  We will consider the medieval Muslim kingdoms; the development of Islamic scholarship and the reform tradition; the growth of Sufi brotherhoods; and the impact of European colonization and de-colonization upon African Muslims. We will also consider distinctive aspects of Islam in East Africa, such as the flowering of Swahili devotional literature, and the tradition of saint veneration. Readings and classroom discussions provide a more in-depth exploration of topics and themes encountered in our historical survey.  Through the use of ethnographic and literary materials, we will explore issues such as the translation and transmission of the Qur'an, indigenization and religious pluralism; the role of women in African Islam; and African Islamic spirituality. This course meets the Historical Studies requirement, as well as the Non-Western Perspectives requirement.  One prior course on Islam or African religions is recommended.

RELA      4085       Christian Missions in Contemporary Africa
Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia
This seminar examines Christian missions in Africa in the 21st Century.  Through a variety of disciplinary lenses, we examine faith-based initiatives in Africa—those launched from abroad, as well as those initiated by Africans themselves.  What does it mean to be a missionary in Africa today? How are evangelizing efforts being transformed in response to democratization, globalization and a growing awareness of human rights?  What is the relationship between evangelism and economic development, proselytism and humanitarian aid, and mission and education today? This seminar is intended for advanced undergraduates with a serious interest—and preferably some experience—in Africa.  At least one prior course on Christianity and/or Africa is recommended.

Buddhism

RELB 2054 Tibetan Buddhism Introduction
TBA
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
Kachru, Sonam
Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana Buddhist developments in India.

RELB 2135 Chinese Buddhism
TBA
This course examines the ways in which Chinese Buddhism differs from the Buddhisms of other countries. The first half of the course introduces Buddhism with a focus on the historical development of the tradition.The second half of the course surveys several philosophical schools and forms of practice including Huayan, Chan, Pure Land, and Tantric Buddhism.

RELB      2165       Buddhist Meditation and the Modern World
Trautz, Nicholas
This course offers a survey of Buddhist meditation traditions in India and Tibet, an introduction to the ways that meditation is adapted and used today throughout many areas of life, and a chance to practice secular meditation techniques in a contemplative lab. In class meetings are experimentally based.

RELB 2252 Buddhism in Film 
Schaeffer, Kurtis
This course is an introduction to Buddhism and an exploration of the place of Buddhism within contemporary Asian, European, and North American cultures through film. The goals are 1) to identify longstanding Buddhist narrative themes in contemporary films, 2) to consider how Buddhism is employed in films to address contemporary issues, and 3) to gain through film a vivid sense of Buddhism as a complex social and cultural phenomenon.

RELB      2559       Buddhist Meditation Traditions
Braun, Erik
Contact professor directly

RELB 2715 Chinese Religions
TBA
This course serves as a general introduction to the religions of China, including Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, and popular religion. 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.

RELB      3030       Mindfulness and Compassion
Bach, Dorthea
Bauer-Wu, Susan
This elective course provides an in-depth and rich experience in contemplative practices, namely secular mindfulness and compassion practices. It is designed to prepare students to live more fully, be more engaged and compassionate citizens and professionals, and navigate life’s stressors with greater clarity, peace of mind, and healthy behaviors. It’s based on Buddhist principles and the secular, evidence-based Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, yet expanded upon and modified specifically for college students. Pedagogical approaches will include regular in-class and homework guided meditations, rich interactive class discussions, and readings and discussions on the burgeoning research evidence in contemplative sciences. We will explore a variety of secular contemplative practices that foster self-awareness, emotional regulation, mental stability, and prosocial mental qualities, like empathy, compassion, generosity and gratitude. In addition to structured meditations, we will engage with a variety of informal practices to facilitate mindful awareness of everyday activities.

RELB 3150 Buddhism and Gender
 Lang,Karen C
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 3160 The Religions of Japan
 Jee,Hye Kyung
This course is a survey of religions in Japan as well as their roles in Japanese culture and society. The topics that will be discussed are syncretism between Buddhism and Shinto, the development of uniquely Japanese forms of Buddhism, the spontaneous emergence of Pure Land Buddhism, the use of Shinto as a nationalistic ideology, and the role of Christianity. There are no necessary prerequisites; but a basic knowledge of Buddhism or Japanese history is very useful.

RELB      3190       Buddhist Nirvana
Kachru, Sonam
This course explores the history and contested formulations of the Buddhist ideal of felicity, nirvana. We will explore the metaphors and concepts developed to think about nirvana, attending to Buddhist systematic, lyrical and narrative thought. Attention will be paid to the reception of the term in nineteenth century Europe, and the specter of nihilism which once shadowed the study of Buddhism, while sensitizing ourselves to much earlier criticisms of the idea of nirvana available in South Asia, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist. There are no prerequisites. This class should interest: students of Buddhism, Hinduism, South Asia, Theology, Literature and Religion, Philosophy, Anthropology, and students of the History of Religion with an interest in methodological issues involved in the study of religion.

RELB 3408 Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy
Campbell, John
Tibet possesses one of the great Buddhist philosophical traditions in the world. Tibetan Buddhist thinkers composed comprehensive and philosophically rigorous works on human growth according to classical Buddhism, works that surveyed ethics, meditation practice, the nature of personal identity, and enlightenment itself. In this seminar we will read and discuss famous Tibetan overviews of Buddhist philosophy. Pre-Requisites: One prior course in religion or philosophy recommended

RELB      3559       Buddhist Tantra
Campbell, John
Contact professor directly

RELB      5055       Buddhist Philosophy
Kachru, Sonam
This is a course introducing the subject of Buddhist Philosophy as it developed in Classical India from roughly 200 C.E.-1300 C.E in conversation with multiple traditions of reasoning--that is, as a discipline involving (as a minimum) conceptual analysis and the give and take of reasons and arguments, and worthy of being engaged with philosophically today. Topics of concern for Buddhist philosophers introduced in this course include: reductionism about personal identity; mereology; skepticism with respect to identity criteria for things (in the broadest possible sense) and non-realism with respect to truth more generally; the relationship between conventions and theories of the world; the distinction between conceptual and non-conceptual content; the prospect of a nominalist semantics and the prospects for solipsism as a metaphysical, epistemological and methodological claim. This course has no prerequisites, but an introduction to philosophy and / or an introduction to Buddhism will be particularly helpful. This course should be of interest to students of Buddhism, Philosophy (Ancient and Contemporary), Hinduism, South Asia, Theology, and all those interested in the place of reasons in any life worth living.

RELB 5390 Tibetan Buddhist Tantra Dzokch
Germano, David

RELB 5440 Sanskrit Religious Texts
 Lang,Karen C

RELB 5460 Seminar in Mahayana Buddhism
 Lang,Karen C
This seminar will explore the origins and development of  Mahayana Buddhism through looking   at Mahayana scriptures (sutras) and the Mahayana philosophical treatises (sastra) of the Madhyamaka and Yogacara schools.   Open to undergraduates who have taken at least one course in Buddhism

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

RELB      5480       Literary Tibetan VI
Advanced study in the philosophical and spiritual language of Tibet, past and present. Prerequisite: RELB 5000, 5010, 5350, 5360, or equivalent.

RELB 5810 Literary Tibetan VIII
 TBA

RELB      5559       Buddhist Modernities
Braun, Erik    
Contact professor directly

RELB 5559 Truth & Tradition: Intro to Buddhist Scholasticism
Kachru, Sonam
This course examines the distinct genres of Buddhist systematic thought (commentary,  conspectus, monograph, etc.) and explores how they function, and how hermeneutics interacts with epistemology, this as a way of clarifying what Buddhist scholasticism might be. Special attention is paid to Vasubandhu, but also other thinkers, in this course.

RELB 5800 Literary Tibetan VII
TBA
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      5810       Literary Tibetan VIII
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 Adv Literary & Spoken Tibetan
Schaeffer, Kurtis
Examines selected topics and techniques of Tibetan education.

Christianity

RELC 1210 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
Halvorson-Taylor, Martien
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 1220 Early Christianity & New Testament
Spittler, Janet
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 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      2060       The Reform and Global Expansion of Christianity
Shuve, Karl
How did Christianity become a global religion with hundreds of denominations and nearly two billion adherents? In this course, we will explore the reform and expansion of Christianity in the second millennium of the Common Era, from the high Middle Ages to the present day.

RELC      2155       Whiteness and Religion
Schmidt, Jalane  
Contact professor directly

RELC 2215 Mormonism and American Culture
Flake, Kathleen
In the nineteenth century, Mormonism had the distinction of being one of the most overtly persecuted religions in the U.S. Today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the nation's fourth largest religious body and has a reputation for hyper patriotism and middle class mores. In addition to introducing who the Mormons are, their beliefs and religious practices, this seminar will use their story to better understand religion and its adaptive strategies. More specifically, we will be asking what is the American idea of being properly religious? How did conflicts over Mormonism help define the legal limits of religious liberty and, even today, why does it serve as a test of public tolerance for religion? How have Latter-day Saint teachings about modern revelation, gender, race, sex and marriage, as well as controversies about whether or not Mormons are Christian, positioned and repositioned Mormons within American society? We will approach these questions from a variety of perspectives: historical, sociological, ethnographic, and theological.

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 History 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      2460       Spirit of Catholicism: Its Creeds and Customs
Fogarty, Gerald  
The course will trace the origins and development of Roman Catholic doctrine in light of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The following topics will be treated: the nature and person of Christ as examined in the first ecumenical councils from Nicaea (325) to Chalcedon (451); the nature of the Church and its authority vested in bishops and the pope; original sin, grace, and justification; the rise of the Reformation in western Christianity.

RELC 2850 Kingdom of God
Marsh Jr., Charles
The course examines the influence of theological ideas on social movements in twentieth and twenty-first century America; and it seeks to answer such questions as:  How do religious commitments shape the patterns of everyday living, including economic, political, and sexual organization, as well as racial perception?  How do our ideas about God shape the way we engage the social order?  What role do nineteenth century European and American Protestant theologies play in informing the American search for “beloved community”, which was the term Martin Luther King Jr. sometimes used interchangeably with the Kingdom of God?  What are the social consequences of religious beliefs?  Although our primary historical focus is the American Civil Rights Movement from 1954-1968, we will also look at counter-cultural movements of the late 1960’s, as well as the faith-based community-development movement and recent community organizing initiatives.

RELC 3006 Augustine's City of God
Mathewes, Charles
Augustine’s magnum opus The City of God is the most important book in Western Civilization that almost nobody has read. It is one of the greatest works of human intellect in the West, and had an almost unmatched impact on Western history. Yet its very scale is so galactic as to intimidate even the most serious reader. This course provides an introduces you to the book in an accessible way so you understand its structure, the thought of Augustine, the world of Late Antiquity in which he lived, and the fundamental questions that drive the book forward, from its beginnings in the sack of pagan Rome in 410 AD to Augustine’s concluding vision of the Heavenly Jerusalem at the End of Time. By the end of this course, you will not only understand the content of The City of God but you’ll also have a profoundly new way of thinking about politics, religion, the course of history, and Christian understandings of humanity's relationship to the divine.

RELC 3009 Protestant Theology
 Jones,Paul Dafydd
This course examines the writings of important Protestant theologians from the 1500s to the present day. Beginning with key texts by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and writers from the radical reformation, we then engage major eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth-century thinkers such as John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Karl Barth. We also examine recent developments in process, liberationist, and feminist theology. Topics considered include the role of the Bible in theological reflection, the nature of God, Christology, sin and salvation, and Christian ethics. 

Some familiarity with the academic study of Christian thought is useful, but not required.

RELC 3040 Paul: Letters and Theology
Spittler, Janet Elizabeth
The apostle Paul is arguably the most important figure in the development of early Christianity.  Of the 27 books of the New Testament, thirteen are explicitly attributed to Paul; of these thirteen, seven are near unanimously recognized by scholars as having been written by Paul himself – his letter to the Thessalonians being the earliest piece of Christian literature that we have today.  Paul is also the primary hero of the longest narrative in the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles, as well as multiple non-canonical narratives.  In this course we will study the life, teachings, and influence of Paul through careful reading of four different types of ancient texts.  We will consider: 1) his own letters, paying close attention to his role within the larger Christian community, including his disputes with other prominent figures; 2) letters written in Paul’s name by Christians of subsequent generations, including some texts the authenticity of which is still disputed by scholars (e.g. 2 Thessalonians and Colossians) and others that were quite clearly composed well after Paul’s death (e.g. his correspondence with the philosopher Seneca); 3) narrative texts in which Paul plays a leading role, including the canonical Acts and the non-canonical Acts of Paul; and 4) non-Pauline canonical texts that seem to contradict Paul’s positions on multiple issues (e.g. James and 2 Peter).  Because the one absolutely incontrovertible thing we know about Paul is that he was a resident of the Roman empire in the first century C.E., we will begin with an historical survey, setting the material covered in this course within its geographical, cultural and social contexts.

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.

RELC      3090       Israelite Prophecy
Goering, Gregory
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.

RELC      3150       Salem Witch Trials
Ray, Benjamin
The course will explore the historical scholarship, fictional literature, and primary source materials relating to the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692. How did the  accusations begin? Why did they spread far and wide? Serious theories and wild  speculations abound, both in 1692 and today. Who were the female and male  heroes, victims, and villains of this tragic episode? The most gripping personal  stories are to be found in the court records and in the literary portrayals by  Nathaniel Hawthorne and Arthur Miller. The course will draw upon parts of the  following historical works: Entertaining Satan by John Demos, Satan and Salem  by Benjamin Ray,  and The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff, in addition to  selected journal articles, as well as Arthur Miller's classic play The Crucible. All  discussion sections will be online, and students will write three two page essays  on the reading materials.  The  class will make extensive use of the online  "Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive” <http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/> which  contains all the original court documents and contemporary accounts.

RELC 3181 Medieval Christianity
 Komornicka,Jolanta N

RELC      3222       From Jefferson to King.
Hadley, Mark
A seminar focused upon some of the most significant philosophical and religious thinkers that have shaped and continue 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.  This course fulfills the College’s Second Writing Requirement.

RELC 3231 Reformation Europe
Lambert, Erin
Surveys the development of religious reform movements in continental Europe from c. 1450 to c. 1650 and their impact on politics, social life, science, and conceptions of the self. Cross-listed as HIEU 3231.

RELC      3245       Religious Liberty
Flake, Kathleen
Contact professor directly

RELC 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.

RELC 3470 Christianity and Science
Portmann, John
Christian Europe gave rise to modern science, yet Christianity and science have long appeared mutual enemies. In this course we explore the encounter between two powerful cultural forces and study the intellectual struggle (especially in Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Freud) about the place of God in the modern world.

RELC      3559       Christian Discipleship and Martyrdom
Flores, Nichole  
What defines Christian martyrdom? How does it relate to the broader demands of Christian discipleship? How does it relate to the ethical themes of love and justice? This course will engage readings in Christian theology and ethics to pursue these questions. The seminar emphasizes martyrdom in Christian tradition, but comparative religious research can be incorporated into student projects. 

RELC      3559       Catholic Experience
Fogarty, Gerald  
Contact professor directly

RELC      3559       God, Love & Sin Middle Ages
Hawthorne, Laura
This course explores Western Christian thought during the Middle Ages, beginning with Augustine at the end of late antiquity through the early fifteenth century. We will examine the theological works and historical context of authors throughout the period, paying particular attention to their ideas about divine love, human sin, and gender. In addition to Augustine, we will read works by Anselm of Canterbury, Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter Abelard, Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, and Julian of Norwich. The course will encourage you to develop your skills as a scholarly thinker, researcher, and writer. The readings and discussions will be challenging, but the instructor will provide guidance and encourage student interaction and collaboration. Students of all years and majors are encouraged to enroll. Contact the instructor to discuss the class.

RELC      3620       Modern Theology
Hart, Kevin  
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 3715 Walker Percy & Flannery O'Connor
 Guroian,Vigen, Wilson, William
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.

RELC 3804 Amer. Catholic Social Thought
Fogarty, Gerald P
This reading and discussion seminar will trace the evolution of American social and political thought from the Catholic Church's assimilation of an immigrant population to sometimes  unfriendly environment.  The American Church would accordingly support the organized labor movement and set an example for the European Church.  While the American Catholic Church developed progressive social thought, it sometimes refused to take a stand on such "political" issues as slavery.  During the Great Depression, there were, however, further developments in both papal social thought and its acceptance and accommodation to the American ethos.  Post World War II years saw the assimilation of older ethnic groups and yet the plight of new arrivals and racial minorities.  Gradually the American Church addressed these new problems and, in light of Vatican II, took up new issues such as nuclear arms and capital punishment.

RELC 3890 Christianity in Africa
 Hoehler-Fatton,Cynthia Heyden
This course examines the history of Christianity in Africa from its roots in Egypt and the Maghreb in the 2nd c. CE, to contemporary times when nearly half the continent's population claims adherence to the faith. Our historical overview will cover the flowering of medieval Ethiopian Christianity, 16th- and 17th- century Kongolese Christianity, European missions during the colonial period, the subsequent growth of independent churches, the emergence of African Christian theology, and the recent examples of charismatic and Pentecostal “mega-churches.”   We will consider the relationship between colonialism and evangelism; assess efforts in translation and inculturation of the gospel; reflect on the role of healing, prophesy and spirit-possession in conversion, and explore a variety of ways of understanding religious change across the continent.  We will attempt both to position the Christian movement within the wider context of African religious history, and to understand Africa's place in the larger course of Christian history.

RELC 4559 American Church-State Conflicts.
 Flake,Kathleen
This course considers how courts decide religious liberty cases and the public debate about those decisions. This means students will spend much of their time thinking about the values and social contexts that give coherence to a confusing array of seemingly contradictory court opinions. Consequently, we will be analyzing the logic of the court and its evolving cultural context, not merely the facts of court cases. Ultimately, the course is designed to develop the capacity to think critically through the use of relevant legal documents and to appreciate their influence on the shape of religion -- as well as other social institutions, such as education -- in America.  

RELC      4610       Sex and Morality
Portmann, John

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, and “senior sex.”  We will pay special attention to art, film, and the media in challenging sexual mores.  Please note that no laptops will be permitted in this seminar. 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      4085       Christian Missions in Contemporary Africa
Hoehler- Fatton,Cynthia
This seminar examines Christian missions in Africa in the 21st Century.  Through a variety of disciplinary lenses, we examine faith-based initiatives in Africa—those launched from abroad, as well as those initiated by Africans themselves.  What does it mean to be a missionary in Africa today? How are evangelizing efforts being transformed in response to democratization, globalization and a growing awareness of human rights?  What is the relationship between evangelism and economic development, proselytism and humanitarian aid, and mission and education today? This seminar is intended for advanced undergraduates with a serious interest—and preferably some experience—in Africa.  At least one prior course on Christianity and/or Africa is recommended.

RELC 5009 Bonhoeffer, Niebuhr and King
Marsh Jr., Charles Robert
This graduate seminar explores the theologies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Luther King, Jr., with attention to their intellectual inheritance and formation, historical context, and influence on modern religious thought.  Course requirements include three 1800-2000 word essays or one 6000-7500 research paper, weekly discussions, a class presentation and readings in primary and critical sources.  Undergraduate enrollment by permission of instructor.

RELC/J  5291 Genesis
Halvorson-Taylor, Martien 
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 that shed light on Genesis, early biblical interpretation, and secondary scholarship on the history, literature and religion of Ancient Israel. 

This course is open to graduate students; undergraduate students (who have completed RELC/RELJ 1210) may contact the instructor to discuss permission to enroll. 

Hebrew is not a prerequisite for the course, but advanced students in classical Hebrew may elect to take a translation component.

RELC 5445 Atonement
 Jones,Paul Dafydd
This course engages landmark Christian statements about atonement. For about two-thirds of the semester, we will read “classic” texts – specifically, works by Anselm of Canterbury, Peter Abelard, Julian of Norwich, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Friedrich Schleiermacher, G. W. F. Hegel, Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Sergius Bulgakov. In the remaining third of the course we will consider contemporary statements by René Girard, Delores Williams, Nancy Duff, Jon Sobrino, James Cone, and others. Questions addressed include the following: How do the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ relate to sin and salvation? What role do the Hebrew Bible and New Testament play in the formation of accounts of atonement? How does Christian experience, communal and individual, fund reflection on atonement? In what ways have different theologians described and conceptualized the reconciliation of God and humankind? Have classical descriptions of the cross directly or indirectly sanctioned violence against women and people of color? How do different perspectives on atonement bear on theological ethics?

While of direct interest to students interested in Christian thought and theological ethics, this course can also serve as a high-level survey of important Christian writings from the medieval period to the present day. It is intended primarily for graduate students in Religious Studies and related disciplines; interested undergraduates should email the professor directly to discuss enrollment.

RELC      5559       The Nag Hammadi Library and Gnosticism
Shuve, Karl
Contact professor directly

RELC 5559 Liturgy in Late Antiquity
Shuve, Karl
Liturgy and Self-Fashioning in Late Antiquity”, the description is as follows: This course will explore the role played by "liturgy" in creating and sustaining identities in Late Antiquity (c. 200-800 CE), especially in Christianity, but also in Judaism. Through the study of texts, art, and architecture, we will explore the ways that various rituals and communal experiences helped individuals to locate themselves in the world.

RELC 5559 Contemporary Catholic Theology
Flores, Nichole
The seminar explores crucial developments in late-20th and early-21st century Catholic theology and social thought. First, the course engages debates in theological method, especially in terms of their relationship with themes of enculturation and the public relevance of Catholic thought. The second unit explores major doctrinal trajectories that have emerged in light of these methodological debates. Shifting to a global theological perspective, the course concludes by investigating the role of Catholic theology in relation to crucial ethical concerns today: poverty/economics, human trafficking, immigration, and ecology.

RELC 5559 Continental Philosophy
Yates,  Christopher 
This course will examine the central 19th and 20th century movements and figures in European philosophy that comprise the tradition commonly called Continental Philosophy, particularly in its relationship to matters of meaning and belief.

RELC 5559 Ancient Fiction and Early Christian and Jewish Narratives
Spittler, Janet Elizabeth
Several important phenomena in the history of literature coincide in the first centuries CE: the invention of the novel (that is, fictive literature in prose), the adoption of the book (or “codex”) format, and the emergence of Christian literature, specifically the composition of prose narratives about Jesus and his disciples.  In this seminar, we will ask how and to what extent these phenomena are related.  To that end, we will read a wide variety of texts, including the earliest romance novels (e.g. Chariton’s Chaereas and Callirhoe), Jewish novellas (e.g. Joseph and Aseneth) and Christian narratives both canonical (e.g. the Gospel of Mark) and apocryphal (e.g. the Acts of Paul).  In these texts we will read about prison escapes, crucifixions, apparent deaths and resurrections, love at first sight, true love lost, beast fights in the arena, travel to exotic lands, shipwrecks, and pirates—lots and lots of pirates. We will consider questions of definition and genre, but our primary goal will be—through reading both widely and deeply—to increase our understanding of how ancient prose narratives function.  Simply put, we will try to become better readers of these texts.

RELC 5559 Catholic Biblical Scholarship
 Fogarty,Gerald P

RELC 5559 Religions of the Roman Empire
 Spittler,Janet Elizabeth
In this course we will study the diverse religious landscape of the Greco-Roman world from the end of the Roman Republic through the rise of Christianity.  We will consider a variety of religious practice and expression, including the Roman public religion, Dionysiac/Orphic cult, Isis cult, Mithras cult, Cybele cult, Greco-Roman Magic, Hellenistic Judaism and early Christianities. We will work with a variety of ancient sources, including literature, images and other material culture in an effort to understand these ancient cults and the people who participated in them.  While most have long since ceased to be practiced, two of these ancient religions are still around today.  In the last weeks of the course, we will make a special effort to place Judaism and Christianity within their Roman context, alongside the other “religious options” of the period.

RELC 5676 Human Image, Divine Image
 Guroian,Vigen
This is a study of major Patristic authors and modern Eastern Orthodox theologians who have reflected on the imago Dei and the humanity of God in their Christology and Christian anthropology. The writers that we will read include: Gregory of Nyssa, Ephrem the Syrian, Cyril of Alexandria, Maximus the Confessor, Nicholas Cabasilas, Vladimir Lossky, John Zizioulas, and Nicholas Berdyaev.

RELC 5980 Theology of Karl Barth 
Jones, Paul Dafydd
A close examination of the thought of Karl Barth -- arguably the most important European Protestant theologian of the twentieth century. While we will deal with some of Barth’s early work -- specifically, the second edition of *Epistle to the Romans* -- our primary focus will be the mighty *Church Dogmatics*. Topics considered include the role of the Bible in theological reflection, theological epistemology, the doctrine of God, election, human being and human agency, Christology and atonement, sin and evil, and the nature of Christian community. This course is primarily intended for graduate students with interests in Christian theology, western philosophy of religion, theological ethics, and biblical exegesis. Advanced undergraduates who wish to enroll must have significant background in the academic study of Christian thought and should contact the instructor before signing up on SIS.

RELC 7515 Themes & Topics Christian Thought :Through the Middle Ages
Mathewes, Charles
This seminar attempts to acquaint graduate students with major works in Christian thought, in order to provide them with the requisite background both for Comprehensive Examinations in Christian thought and also to orient them to engage various major accounts of the Christian tradition. What are the major debates and concepts that have informed Christian thought historically?  What styles of reasoning and deliberation have been explored, and to what ends? Engaging those questions should open angles of interpretation on what is “Christian” and “theology,” and how they relate to other disciplines. The assigned works are considered many of the most important benchmarks for the larger tradition, in both its Latin Western and Greek Eastern formulations, through the High Middle Ages.

General Religious Studies

RELG 1010 Intro Western Religious Traditions
Warren, Heather
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
Campbell, John  
Introduces various aspects of the religious traditions of India, China, and Japan.

RELG      2160       Religion in America Since 1865
Warren, Heather
Religion in America Since 1865 is an historical examination of the social and cultural change that affected the religious life of Americans over the ensuing 150 years.  The course studies theological change in Protestantism, the emergence of three kinds of Judaism, controversy and change in American Catholicism, the origins of fundamentalism and Pentecostalism, various expressions of African-American faith, the attraction of Asian religions to non-Asians in America in the 1960s and afterwards, and the rise of the religious right.  We also explore the effects of immigration, urbanization, politics, and intellectual change on religions in America.  Readings include Dennis Covington’s Salvation on Sand Mountain about snake handling Pentecostals in Appalachia, Abraham Heschel's The Sabbath, sermons of Martin Luther King, Jr., and an essay by basketball coach Phil Jackson about his practice of Buddhism and the way it influenced his coaching of the championship Chicago Bulls.  Fulfills historical studies and humanities area requirements for the College.

RELG      2210       Religion Ethics & Environment
Jenkins, Willis
Where do ideas of nature come from, and what cultural and political consequences do they carry? In an era of rapid human expansion and uncertain ecological change, cultures everywhere are reexamining their basic orientations to their environments. What stories and values shape the patterns of everyday ecological life? Are they still good ones, or must agents develop new moral resources to meet new moral problems?

This course interprets humanity’s changing ecological relationships through religious and philosophical traditions. It takes up ethical questions presented by environmental problems, introduces frameworks for making sense of them, and examines the symbols and narratives that shape imaginations of nature. In lecture and in online discussion sections, we take up relations of belief and behavior in practical problems like climate change and food choices, and we consider their implications for personal commitments and public goals.

Discussion sections for this class happen online. You must sign up for one of the sections, but there are no regular weekly meetings. You will be assigned a teaching assistant who will organize online discussions and be available to meet with you in person.

RELG 2300 Religious Ethics & Moral Probs
 Mathewes,Charles T
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 2380 Faith & Doubt in Modern Age
 Marsh Jr.,Charles Robert
This course introduces undergraduates to seminal writings in modern Western thought that explore and question the meaning, truthfulness, and uses of religious belief.  The goal is to develop a multi-storied narrative of the variety of interpretations given to the idea of God in modernity and to clarify the conditions of responsible religious belief in a pluralistic and possibly post-modern world.  Lectures and discussions will follow such questions as:   Is belief in God a product of wishful thinking?  Is religious belief a symptom of neurotic behavior?  If there is no God, is everything permissible?  Is atheism (new and old) parasitic on the moral convictions inspired by religion?  Is religion a primitive stage in human intellectual development in need of an education to reality?  Does religion promote violent tendencies among individuals and groups?  Is it inherently immoral?  On what basis do some intelligent people argue that belief in God is rational and others that belief in God violates reason?  We will consider such questions by studying the modern critiques of religion and the implications of such critiques for believers and people of faith.  Our sources novels, film, music and writings by philosophers, theologians and psychologists. 

RELG      2559       Violence, Literature, and the Sacred
Geddes, Jennifer
Contact professor directly

RELG 2559 Jerusalem
Andruss,  Jessica
This course traces the history of Jerusalem with a focus on its significance in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. How have these communities experienced and inhabited Jerusalem? How have they imagined the city and interpreted its meaning? How have Jews, Christians, and Muslims expressed their attachments to this contested space from antiquity to modern times? Our exploration will be rooted in primary texts—literary and documentary sources and visual images—and informed by historical and cultural context as well as scholarly approaches to sacred space.

RELG 2559 Literature and Ethics
Geddes, Jennifer Leslie  &  Bouchard, Larry D
This course explores the intersection between literature and ethics through close readings of literary texts and attentive readings of theoretical works in ethics, literary criticism, philosophy, and theology.

RELG      2630       Business Ethics and Society
TBA
A study of the philosophical and religious frameworks for interpreting and evaluating human activity in the marketplace. This includes major theoretical perspectives, contemporary issues within the marketplace, and corporate ethics.

RELG 2660 Spirituality in America
 Hedstrom,Matthew Sigurd
What does “spiritual but not religious” mean, and why has it become such a pervasive self-description in contemporary America? This interdisciplinary 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 way 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, environmentalism, 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; global religious and cultural encounters; gender and sexuality; and consumerism and mass culture. 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 2650 Theological Bioethics
Flores, Nichole
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, Ebola, & possible bioterrorist attacks. The course will use numerous actual and hypothetical cases to highlight moral issues.

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, Ebola, & possible bioterrorist attacks. The course will use numerous actual and hypothetical cases to highlight moral issues.

RELG      2660       Spirituality in America
Hedstrom, Matthew  
What does “spiritual but not religious” mean, and why has it become such a pervasive self-description in contemporary America? This interdisciplinary 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 way we’ll study everything from AA to yoga to Zen meditation, with stops in rock and jazz, Beat poetry, Abstract Expressionist painting, spirit photography, the feminist movement, environmentalism, 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; global religious and cultural encounters; gender and sexuality; and consumerism and mass culture. 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 3051 Religion and Society
 Hudson II,William Clarke

RELG/AAS 3200 Martin, Malcolm, and America
Hadley, Mark
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

RELG      3215       American Religious Innovation
Flake, Kathleen
Contact professor directly

RELG 3360 Conquests and Religions
Schmidt, Jalane
This course examines the history of religions in the colonial Americas—the Caribbean, South, Central, and North America from the late-15th century to the mid-19th century—and attends to signature religious devotions, personalities, institutions, and events in the New World during this historical epoch of intense cultural encounters.  Beginning with Islamic-ruled Spain and the Aztec and Incan empires, and the class studies the 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. We will consider issues of historiography—specifically, the problem of interpreting the at times hostile, ex post facto-written extant archival sources about the religious practices of subalterns and the use of such primary data in the writing of secondary literature.  Students will develop their abilities to evaluate primary sources (in English 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 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       Religion and Foreign Affairs
Ochs, Peter  
Approaches  in “religion-on-religion” conflict resolution. Special attention to two approaches developed at UVA (“Hearth to Hearth Conflict Resolution” and “Scriptural Reasoning) and to “Global Covenant of Religions,” an NGO whose research is planned at UVA. Students join research teams comprised of majors in Religious Studies, Systems Analysis, Politics, and Anthropology (and ethno-linguistics). Admission by application to pwo3v@virginia.edu.

RELG 3559 Ethics,  Literature,  Religion
Bouchard, Larry
Geddes, Jennifer Leslie
This course explores ethical questions raised by particular literary texts (mostly prose fiction but also memoir, poetry, drama, and scripture) as well as the narrative, or “storied,” dimensions of ethical thought and expression. By ethical questions, we mean inquiries into what it can mean to be a “good” person and live a “good life”; how we should live with and respond to those around us, especially when involving matters of flourishing and suffering; and what visions of the world we should seek to cultivate and realize. We will explore the following proposals: 1) there are relationships between how we respond to literary texts and how we interact with and respond to persons; 2) narrative precedes principles; 3) human beings are story-telling and story-craving animals; and 4) the stories we read and the stories we tell shape who we are, what we deem important, and what we hold sacred. 

Format: the course is taught as a seminar with guided discussion.  Assignments include very short written responses to select literary and theoretical readings, two critical essays, and a final presentation reflecting back on the course.

RELG 3559 / RELG 5320 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      3600       Religion and Modern Theatre
Bouchard, Larry
What relationships does religion have with the theatrical arts? Performance plays a major role in religious ritual, and the story of contemporary theatre in America can map a trajectory from Greek tragedy through medieval pageantry to modern and avant-garde dramas all the way to Broadway’s The Book of Mormon. This course will examine how drama and performance are linked with religious traditions and experience, sacred themes, and with some secular and theological perspectives on religion.   Modern theatre has often sought to revitalize its historical and thematic relations with ritual and sacred stories, and it has also probed the ethical and performed dimensions of selves and communities—as seen against the presence (or absence) of either a transcendent, divine horizon or an immanent sense of the sacred. Theatre also presses boundaries of moral and theological acceptability by staging questions about truth and illusion, obscenity and frivolity, and what sorts of stories we should tell. What differences do such relations make in our enjoyment, understanding, and criticism of theatrical drama? How can theatre expand and nuance the study of religion and culture?

We will encounter a number of classical dramas (e.g., Greek tragedy, “mystery” plays, Shakespeare) and plays by modern-or-contemporary dramatists (such as Peter Shaffer), who bring new takes to ancient themes.  Some dramatists have explicitly explored religious themes or subjects (such as Denys Arcand's film-about-a-performance, Jesus of Montreal; the Scholem Aleichem story turned into Fiddler on the Roof; Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Schwartz’s Mass; and Wole Soyinka’s exploration of Yoruba religion and European theatrical traditions in Death and the King’s Horsemen).  We will also look at ostensibly secular plays and musicals (such as Jonathan Larson’s musical, Rent, or T.S. Eliot’s The Cocktail Party) that nonetheless take up questions of religion, spirituality, and political life (more examples: plays by Samuel Beckett, Brian Friel, Caryl Churchill, Tony Kushner, John Patrick Shanley, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Mary Zimmerman).  And we will sample ritual theory, performance theory, and religious/theological views of drama and theatrical performance.  The syllabus is always changing and will be available soon.

Mode of teaching: some lectures, much discussion, reading/performing aloud, perhaps play attendance and film screenings, possibly even class performance.

Requirements: regular class attendance and participation; three prompt-directed essays (meeting the 2nd writing requirement for those who desire it) and/or a creative project in lieu of the third essay.

RELG 3630 Idolatry
Biemann, Asher
To the monotheistic traditions, idolatry represents one of the most abhorrent moral transgressions. Permeating both the religious and the secular, the prohibition against idol worship has become deeply ingrained in Western culture delineating the boundaries between "correct" and “false” worship, “true” and "strange" communities.  Even outside religious contexts the “idol continues to remain in the vocabulary of our everyday language.  Beginning with Biblical sources and concluding with contemporary texts, this course will examine the philosophical framework of casting idolatry as an unspeakable sin: What is an idol, and why is idolatry so objectionable? Reading texts from different religious and intellectual traditions, we will discuss idolatry in the context of representation, election, otherness, emancipation, nationalism, secularism, religious innovation, and messianism. Final research paper and project presentation.

RELG 3820 Global Ethics & Climate Change
Jenkins, Willis Jackson
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
Marshall, Mary Faith
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
Warren,  Heather 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. This course counts as a religious studies majors seminar.

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       Religion and Psychology
Portmann, John
Exploration of the will to believe, with attention to 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?  Emphasis on Nietzsche, James, Freud, and Daniel Kahneman.  Requirements: 1) regular and substantive class participation; 2) two brief exams; 3) a class presentation; and 4) a final 15-20-page paper

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: God,  Politics and War
Mathewes, Charles
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?  This course studies the complicated interactions, both historically and today, between human political and social life, the presence of war and conflict within it, and the role of religion in both politics and war.  We 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, and study 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  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  
This seminar seeks to develop a close reading of major religious poetry by two major religious poets

Prerequisite: 3.4 min GPA.

RELG 5070 Interpretation Theory
Bouchard, Larry
   We will explore various approaches to interpretative activity, with emphases on the nature and problems of understanding, especially in respect to literary, religious, and critical texts. 
   Readings in the first part of the course reflect theories of interpretation often known as “hermeneutical.”  Some views considered include those of Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Gadamer, and Ricoeur, who locate meaning in our enacted relations with persons, texts, and other forms of expression—especially when separated by time and culture.  Hermeneutics wagers that to some extent, and in different ways, such distances can be overcome.  But this wager is contestable, as with Habermas’s critique of Gadamer.
   The last half of the course explores elaborations of, alternatives to, and departures from the hermeneutical paradigm, as in the work of Bakhtin and Nussbaum, as well as critical practices associated with Derrida, Foucault, and Judith Butler, who in the late twentieth century began bringing this practice to issues of religion and ethics.
   Requirements: Class participation and a brief presentation of (or response to) select assigned syllabus materials, a take-home essay examination (coming a week or so after the mod term break), and either a paper or a take-home essay final. Undergraduates wishing to enroll in this course are welcome, but need to first consult with the instructor.

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       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 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 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 7360 Study of Religion
Spittler, Janet
Kachru, Sonam

Given the interdisciplinary character of religious studies, it is imperative for entering graduate students to gain a basic grounding in the theoretical and methodological studies in the field. By way of an examination of landmark texts, this course surveys the basic nineteenth and twentieth century approaches, as well as some contemporary methods. The course will facilitate critical engagement with classic concepts in the study of religion by applying them to examples of religious belief and practice.

RELG 7559 Aristotle,  Plato and  Scripture: Medieval Theo-Philosophical commentary on the Bible and Qur’an.
Ochs, Peter W
A study of the sources and practice of Medieval Theo-Philosophical commentary on the Bible and Qur’an. Critical study of the texts of Plato and Aristotle most cited in medieval commentaries, followed by critical study of a sample of those commentaries, including Maimonides, Nahmanides, Augustine, Aquinas, Al Farabi, Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd, Al Ghazali.

RELG 8000 Negativity and Religious Imagination
Bouchard,  Larry
Examines ways in which tragedy (and other forms of imaginative literature), scripture and theology, and hermeneutics and criticism portray and reflect on aspects of suffering and evil.

RELG 8350 Proseminar in SIP
Ochs, Peter

RELG  8400 Historiography of American Religion
Hedstrom, Matthew Sigurd
This course provides advanced training in the study of American religious history through a careful analysis of important recent scholarship in the field. 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, anthropology, art history, law, and others—who might benefit from a thorough grounding in the religious history of the United States. In this way, the course lays the foundation for further advanced study in American religious history and a variety of allied fields.

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, and cultural history—the course also covers a variety of religious traditions and subjects, seeking to balance an appreciation of diversity with the search for unifying themes. The majority of the readings covers the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Hinduism

RELH 2090 Hinduism
TBA
Surveys the Hindu religious heritage from pre-history to the 17th century; includes the Jain and Sikh protestant movements.

RELH 2195 Theory and Practice of Yoga
Hubbard, Leslie
An investigation of yoga practice throughout history from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Topics include yoga's origins in ancient India, systematic yoga theories in Buddhism and Hinduism, Tantric Yoga, and the medicalization and globalization of Yoga in the modern period. Students' readings and writing assignments are supplemented throughout with practical instruction in yoga.

RELH      3725       Travel Writing and India
Nemec, John
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
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      5475       Social Vision in Hinduism
Nemec, John
This course will examine the public and social dimensions of Hinduism. Topics will include the role of religion in shaping social institutions (e.g.: caste, the law), cultural attitudes toward sexual and other personal relationships, and the relationship between religion and government. Put in emic terms, we will explore the nature of the first three of the four Hindu goals of life (purusarthas): dharma, artha, and kama. Prerequisite: Basic Knowledge of Hindu Traditions

RELH 5559 Yoga Phil. & Technol. of Self
 Nemec,John William
This course examines the classical Indian texts and traditions that established yoga as a field of learning and a religious discipline.  Attention will be paid to theories regarding the efficacy of yogic practice, the nature of the individual who is said to be affected and transformed by the same, and the history and diachronic development of these ideas over time and across the sometimes competing traditions of learning in premodern South Asia.  Students who wish to take this course are expected to have a firm understanding of classical Indian religions.

Islam

RELI 2070 Classical Islam
Nair, Shankar
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        2080       Global Islam (formerly: Islam in the Modern Age)
Al-Rahim, Ahmed
Studies the 19th and 20th centuries in the Arab world, Turkey, and the Sub-Continent of India, emphasizing reform movements, secularization, and social and cultural change.

RELI        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.

RELI        3110       Muhammad and the Qur'an
Nair, Shankar   
Systematic reading of the Qur'an in English, with an examination of the prophet's life and work. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.

RELI 3559 Medieval Scholars and Books
al-Rahim, Ahmed
fewer):A survey of medieval scholarship, book culture, and transmission of knowledge.

RELI        3900       Islam in Africa
Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia
This course offers an historical and topical introduction to Islam in Africa.  After a brief overview of the central tenets and rituals of the Muslim faith, our chronological survey begins with the introduction of Islam to North Africa in the 7th century.  We will trace the transmission of Islam via traders and clerics to West Africa.  We will consider the medieval Muslim kingdoms; the development of Islamic scholarship and the reform tradition; the growth of Sufi brotherhoods; and the impact of European colonization and de-colonization upon African Muslims. We will also consider distinctive aspects of Islam in East Africa, such as the flowering of Swahili devotional literature, and the tradition of saint veneration. 

Readings and classroom discussions provide a more in-depth exploration of topics and themes encountered in our historical survey.  Through the use of ethnographic and literary materials, we will explore issues such as the translation and transmission of the Qur'an, indigenization and religious pluralism; the role of women in African Islam; and African Islamic spirituality. This course meets the Historical Studies requirement, as well as the Non-Western Perspectives requirement.  One prior course on Islam or African religions is recommended.

RELI 5540 Seminar in Islamic Studies: Special Topics in Islamic Thought
Nair, Shankar

RELI 5540 Seminar in Islamic Studies: Introduction, Islamic Studies
al-Rahim, Ahmed

RELI        5559       Islamic Philosophy and Theology
Al-Rahim, Ahmed
Contact professor directly

RELI 5559 Classical Quranic Commentary
al-Rahim, Ahmed  
This graduate seminar is intended to introduce students to the genres of medieval Arabic quranic commentary. We will examine and compare Israelite and hadith based exegesis, sectarian and mystical exegesis, as well as Quran qua Qurran commentaries.

RELI 5559 Islam in South Asia
Nair, Shankar  
fewer):This course examines Islam in the South Asian context. We will explore the coming of Islam to South Asia and its cultural, political and intellectual development from the classical to the modern periods. Special attention will be given to issues of religious boundaries and identity, particularly as this relates to Muslim-Hindu interactions. The course will also aim to provide advanced exposure to current methodological trends within the subfield.

Judaism

RELJ 1210 Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
Halvorson-Taylor, Martien  
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
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
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 from Hebrew to English moderately difficult prose passages.

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 3052 Responses to the Holocaust
Geddes, Jennifer

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
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. 

The following units will guide the course:

1)  Defining the Modern Period for Judaism
2)  Spinoza
3)  Origins of the Jewish Enlightenment
4)  Moses Mendelssohn
5)  Emancipation in Progress
6)  Religious Reform and Restoration
7)  Alternative Models of Reform and Religious Adjustment
8)  Nationalism and Dissimilation
9)  Reinventing Tradition
10)  Judaism as Philosophy
11)  After the Holocaust
12)  Contemporary Questions

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 5100  Ethics and Theology of the  Rabbis
Alexander, Elizabeth S
Though the rabbis do not have a distinct genre in which they discuss ethical and theological questions, we will use these rubrics to deepen our understanding of the rabbinic religious outlook.  In the domain of theology, we will tease out the rabbinic response to questions such as:  What is the nature of divinity?  How is personhood conceived? What is the relationship between God and humanity, and specifically to the people Israel?  How are we to understand evil?  What are the limits of knowledge?  We will also explore the question of why rabbinic literature does not address theological questions in a straightforward manner.  In the area of ethics, we will explore central themes such as obligations to the poor, behavioral norms and cultivation of an ideal self (virtue ethics).  In drawing a rabbinic ethic out of the literature, we will consider the respective value of narrative vs. legal materials.  Throughout the course, we will focus on close readings of primary texts.  The goal of the course is to shed light on theological and ethical matters with the aid of reading strategies attentive to the distinctive character of rabbinic discourse.

RELJ 5165 Scripture and Philosophy in Judaism and Beyond
Ochs,  Peter
What happened when classical Jewish traditions of study and learning encountered the Hellenic traditions of philosophy? This course examines instances of encounter between philosophy and Jewish text learning throughout Jewish history, from the days of Philo to today, focusing on contexts of history, text-reading and hermeneutics. The second half of the course will explore implications for studies in Christianity and Islam.

RELJ/C 5291 Genesis
Halvorson-Taylor, Martien 
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 that shed light on Genesis, early biblical interpretation, and secondary scholarship on the history, literature and religion of Ancient Israel. 

This course is open to graduate students; undergraduate students (who have completed RELC/RELJ 1210) may contact the instructor to discuss permission to enroll. 

Hebrew is not a prerequisite for the course, but advanced students in classical Hebrew may elect to take a translation component.

RELJ 5292 Book of Job
 Halvorson-Taylor,Martien A
This seminar focuses on the book of Job and its related texts—ancient, medieval, and modern—which allow us to establish the literary, theological and philosophical traditions in which Job was composed and the literary, theological, and philosophical legacy that it has engendered. Our study will begin with a grounding in ancient compositions from Mesopotamia and biblical Wisdom Literature; proceed through the book of Job itself (with accompanying critical scholarship); and then finally turn to interpretations of the book. (These interpretations may include, for example, early Jewish and Christian retellings of Job, Kierkegaard, Kafka’s The Trial, J.B. by MacLeish, the writings of later liberation and Jewish theologians, or the etchings of William Blake; students will select and present on these materials based on their research interests.) We will pay particular attention to the ways in which interpretations of Job play off one another in literary form and expression and in their treatment of such themes as divine justice, human piety, the limits of human knowledge, and the nature of the divine-human encounter.

Undergraduates who wish to take this course should have taken RELC/RELJ Introduction to the Hebrew Bible and should confer with the instructor first (maht@virginia.edu).

RELJ 5559 Jewish Bible Commentaries
Andruss,  Jessica
The Jewish Bible commentary—a verse-by-verse explication of a biblical book, prefaced by a programmatic introduction—is an innovation from the medieval world that remains familiar to readers today. In this seminar, we will trace the development of the Jewish commentary genre from its origins in the ninth-century Islamic East (Geonic and Karaite exegesis) through its twelfth-century manifestations in the Christian West (the Spanish and French schools of exegesis). We will focus on the exegetical techniques of the commentaries as well as their cultural significance. We will approach the commentaries as serious treatments of the biblical text, as responses to rabbinic literature and institutions, and as engagements with parallel trends in Muslim and Christian intellectual history. Core course readings will come from the commentaries, which were originally written in Arabic or Hebrew and are available in English translation. Our aim will be to appreciate the craft of Jewish commentary writing and to discover what is distinctive about the interpretive project in varied historical circumstances.

RELJ       5559       Germans and Jews
Biemann, Asher D
Contact professor directly

RELJ       5559       Benjamin, Adorno, and Arendt
Geddes, Jennifer  
Contact professor directly

RELJ 5559 History Methods Jewish Studies
 Biemann,Asher D
This seminar introduces graduate students of any discipline and department to the history and methods of Jewish Studies as an interdisciplinary field. Students will be exposed to seminal texts, key concepts, and contemporary debates preparing them to work independently on areas related to the study of Judaism. Participation, presentation, and a research paper on a topic of choice are required.