Courses for Fall 2018

  • Love and War in India

    Love and War in India explores two fundamental cultural tropes that have significantly shaped the religious, literary, social and political life of South Asia. Building on the ancient Tamil conceptions of aham (love/interiority) and puram (war/exteriority), and the Sanskrit ideas of kama (desire), dharma (duty) and ahimsa (non-violence) we will investigate a variety of texts on religious devotion, ethical behavior and political theory in order to contextualize the concepts of love and war within multiple arenas of Indian social and cultural life.
    RELS 0036 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Reddy
  • Believers, Agnostics, and Atheists in Contemporary Fiction (JUDS 0050A)

  • Japan's Floating World

    An introduction to visual, literary, and dramatic expressions of Japan’s moral and aesthetic values in the early modern period (17th-19th centuries). We will seek to identify recurring intellectual and cultural patterns, as illustrated in woodblock prints, Kabuki, puppet theatre, and popular fiction, with an eye to connections with later popular culture. Course materials are primary readings in translation, secondary scholarship, and audiovisual works. No previous knowledge of Japan or Japanese language is expected.
    RELS 0082 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Sawada
  • Christmas in America

    This course explores how Christmas became a religious, consumer, and social extravaganza. Every year, many Americans devote several months to preparing for and recovering from Christmas. Most participate as Christians, but others participate despite other religious identities. Yet Christmas has not always loomed so large. Through encounters with such phenomena as sacred stories, consumer practices, and legal controversies, this course invites students to ask how and why Christmas became an important event. By the end of the course, students not only will recognize how religion and culture take shape together but also will appreciate how popular practices develop.
    RELS 0090K S01
    Primary Instructor
    Vaca
  • Buddhist Thought, Practice, and Society

    From its beginnings to the 21st century. Principal teachings and practices, institutional and social forms, and artistic and iconographical expressions.
    RELS 0100 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Protass
  • Christians

    A historical survey of Christianity from its foundations to the present, tracing its development into three main branches: Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant. Readings from a variety of Christian "classics" accompany the survey, pursuing the theme of how-in different times, places, and circumstances-Christians have understood their relations to the divine and to the world.
    RELS 0110 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Harvey
  • Food, Religion and Politics in South Asia

    Why study food? What can food tell us about religion, politics, and culture? Food in South Asia often shapes identity, social status, ritual purity, religious belonging, and political activism—the notion that you are what you eat has wide currency. Whatever form it takes, food embodies histories of migration, trade, empire, colonialism, and ethics. Through reading primary texts and ethnographic articles, watching films, and (of course) eating delicious food, we will explore the rich foodways of South Asia and their social, religious, and political ramifications.
    RELS 0140 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Moore-Gerety
  • Karma, Rebirth and Liberation: Life and Death in South Asian Religions

    Karma, Sanskrit for the "action" that makes up a human life, has been a central concern for the religious traditions of South Asia throughout their history. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism share the belief that after death people are reborn, taking on lives according to their actions in lives previous. In these traditions, liberation from the cycle of rebirth becomes the ultimate goal of human existence. This course examines the ideas of karma, rebirth and liberation in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism from historical, cosmological, ritual, narrative, iconographic and theological points of view. We also look at these ideas in Western culture.
    RELS 0145 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Moore-Gerety
  • Christianity and Economic Inequality

    In the face of the vast, increasing economic inequality, this sophomore seminar interrogates the role of religious institutions and individuals. Do our religious institutions sustain or challenge economic inequality, and how? We will attempt to answer this question with a focus on three types of texts: classical texts that shaped 20th Century U.S. Christian consciousness (e.g., Weber, Niebuhr, and Ayn Rand); contemporary works that analyze the effects of economic inequality on the social fabric (e.g., Stiglitz, Freeland, Wilkinson/Picket); and texts that clarify the vital roles some contemporary religious movements are playing in supporting economic inequality (e.g.,Bowler, Walton, Byrne).
    RELS 0200A S01
    Primary Instructor
    Willis
  • Islamic Sexualities

    In this course we examine gender and sexuality in Muslim cultures, as well the ways in which Islam is imagined in relationship to gender and sexuality. We will think about how particular constructions of gender and sexuality affect the representation of Islam and Muslims in the US and abroad, especially in films and documentaries, which form a critical component of this course. Students will learn to engage with and complicate key terms and themes including "masculinity," "cultural difference," "women's and LGBT rights," and "modernity/civilization" that are widely, and often uncritically, deployed in current representations of Islamic culture.
    RELS 0290D S01
    Primary Instructor
    Khalek
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts in the Ancient World

    Alongside their Jewish and Pagan neighbors, ancient Christians sought to control and defend themselves against unseen forces teeming around them. They bound powerful angels to their will and harnessed the spirits of the recently deceased to activate their spells. Though none found the Elixir of Life, they left behind spells, recipes, and talismans as evidence of their quest to master spirits both hostile and sympathetic. This course will interrogate Christian and non-Christian conceptions of magic, its relationship with “religion” and “philosophy,” contextualize Christian magical practices alongside their neighbors, and conclude by examining the reception of “magic” into the modern West.
    RELS 0290H S01
    Primary Instructor
    Han
  • Great Jewish Books (JUDS 0681)

  • Ancient Christian Culture

    How did the Jesus movement that originated in a backwater of the Roman Empire become the Empire’s dominant religion? What was it like to be a Christian in a world full of religions, cults and philosophical traditions, and of diverse social and cultural identities? An introduction to the history of early Christianity, and to the ancient Christian culture through the exploration of selected topics by means of textual, material and epigraphic evidence. Multiple Christianities; literacy and orality; visual culture; the episcopal authority; wealth and poverty; asceticism and monasticism; hagiography and the cult of saints; sacred landscape and pilgrimage; women, gender; burial.
    RELS 0415 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Ivanisevic
  • Science, Religion, and the Search for Happiness in Traditional Asian Thought

    The search for true happiness is as relevant today as it was 2500 years ago in South and East Asia. Is it attained through sense pleasures or through spiritual satisfaction? Attained through self-indulgence or through self-denial? Can you be completely and truly satisfied in life if you flourish while others suffer? What are the roles of compassion for self and others and of mindfulness and meditation in the creation of a life of genuine happiness? This course will explore these issues through readings in the Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist traditions and via recent scientific research on mindfulness, meditation and compassion.
    RELS 0570 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Roth
    RELS 0570 L01
    Primary Instructor
    Roth
    Schedule Code
    L: Lab
  • Foundational Texts in African American Theology

    Central topics and foundational texts in the field of scholarship historically known as Black Theology. Major African American responses to those writings by Marxists, Womanists, process theologians, and religious humanists.
    RELS 0825 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Willis
  • Fascism: 1933 - Present (UNIV 0701)

  • Dreaming in the Ancient World (CLAS 0771)

  • Methods in Religious Studies

    Intensive introduction to classical and contemporary theories of religion and the principal methods for the study of religion. Junior seminar for religious studies concentrators. Enrollment limited to 25.
    RELS 1000 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Nahme
  • Philosophy of Mysticism

    Covers important attempts to understand the nature of religious experiences and mysticism. We will look at several philosophical issues surrounding religious experience, including: (a) whether mystical experiences are too private for outsiders to understand or evaluate them; (b) what the relationship between religious experiences, language, and culture is; (c) whether religious experiences justify religious beliefs; and (d) how gender and religious experiences are related. We will treat theorists from various perspectives, including philosophical, historical, theological, psychoanalytic, and neuroscientific. Previous work in philosophy courses (or philosophically-intensive courses) is highly recommended. Enrollment limited to 20.
    RELS 1370B S01
    Primary Instructor
    Bush
  • Goddesses and Women Gurus in South Asian Religious Traditions (CLAS 1145)

  • Buddhism in Chinese History

    This is an advanced course concerning the modern study of Buddhism in Chinese history. Weekly readings include content from major movements over eighteen hundred years. In-class seminar discussions emphasize modern methods, sources, and scholarly assumptions. We will revisit foundational debates from the 20th century, such as the competing models of ‘Sinification of Buddhism’ and ‘Buddhist conquest of China.’ We will also read recent publications that study Buddhism in China through lenses of cultural and material history. Students will lead book discussions each week, and complete a final seminar paper.
    RELS 1405 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Protass
  • Themes in Japanese Buddhism

    An exploration of critical themes and debates in the study of Japanese Buddhism. Participants become conversant with the key features of medieval Japanese thought as well as the strengths and weaknesses of established conceptual models in Japanese Buddhist studies. Readings include primary texts in English translation and modern secondary interpretations. Recommended: a course in Buddhism or East Asian religions.
    RELS 1440 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Sawada
  • Heresy and Orthodoxy in Islamic Thought

    Orthodoxy is defined as "right belief" while Heresy is just the opposite, but those definitions have always been in tension with society and culture. This course will interrogate theory and history to ask "What are Islamic Orthodoxy and Heresy?" From Islamic Law to who is or is not a "heretic" we will uncover interpretations of religious law, practice, and culture to learn how scholars apply orthodoxy or heresy to disrupt and unsettle notions of what "Islam" was at different moments, and how their interpretations force us to think of new ways to envision the formation of communities.
    RELS 1530B S01
    Primary Instructor
    Khalek
  • Sacred Sites: Law, Politics, Religion

    Sacred sites have long been flashpoints for inter-communal conflict the world over, as well as posing challenges to sovereign State authority. Such sites range from natural landscapes to architectural masterpieces. They often come to symbolize the perennial clash between the religious and the secular, the sacred and the political, tradition and modernity. We will discuss a diverse array of specific disputes and ask whether one may even speak of “sacred sites” cross-culturally. Can legal frameworks embrace different notions of the sacred? We will also examine the historical contexts that provoke such disputes, particularly the aftermath of colonialism.
    RELS 1610 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Berman
  • Gospel Music from the Church to the Streets

    Black gospel music has informed popular music artists including Beyoncé, Elvis, and Chance the Rapper. This course surveys African American gospel music as it is implemented for worship, evangelism, and popular consumption. Beyond analysis of key musical and lyrical characteristics of gospel, this class gives attention to the religious and sociocultural contexts that inform gospel composition and performance. Gospel music is integrally connected to the worship traditions of black American Pentecostals, Baptists, and Methodists. Consequently, this course is also a musical introduction to African American Christianity. Classes include interactive demonstrations in addition to discussion of audio/video recordings and required texts.
    RELS 1650 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Barron
  • The Sacred & Profane: Dante, Milton, Mingus, Rushdie (LITR 1231I)

  • Individual Study Project

    Directed reading and research arranged with individual faculty. Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.
    RELS 1990 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Willis
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S02
    Primary Instructor
    Cladis
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S03
    Primary Instructor
    Lewis
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S04
    Primary Instructor
    Khalek
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S05
    Primary Instructor
    Harvey
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S06
    Primary Instructor
    Vaca
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S07
    Primary Instructor
    Olyan
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S08
    Primary Instructor
    Sawada
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S09
    Primary Instructor
    Roth
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S10
    Primary Instructor
    Satlow
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S11
    Primary Instructor
    Nahme
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S12
    Primary Instructor
    Bush
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S13
    Primary Instructor
    Bashir
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S14
    Primary Instructor
    Protass
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S15
    Primary Instructor
    Han
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1990 S16
    Primary Instructor
    Barron
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
  • Thesis Preparation

    Required of seniors in the honors program. Open to others only by permission of the chair of the department. Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.
    RELS 1999 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Willis
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S02
    Primary Instructor
    Cladis
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S03
    Primary Instructor
    Lewis
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S04
    Primary Instructor
    Khalek
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S05
    Primary Instructor
    Harvey
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S06
    Primary Instructor
    Vaca
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S07
    Primary Instructor
    Olyan
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S08
    Primary Instructor
    Sawada
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S09
    Primary Instructor
    Roth
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S10
    Primary Instructor
    Satlow
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S11
    Primary Instructor
    Nahme
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S12
    Primary Instructor
    Bush
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S13
    Primary Instructor
    Bashir
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S14
    Primary Instructor
    Protass
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S15
    Primary Instructor
    Han
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 1999 S16
    Primary Instructor
    Barron
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
  • Early Rabbinic Literature: The Mishnah

    Readings in the Mishnah and related rabbinic literature. While the focus will be on gaining textual skills, we will also survey academic approaches to the Mishnah: What is the Mishnah and its relationship to earlier and contemporaneous texts? How was it composed, transmitted, and received? Prerequisite: Reading knowledge of Hebrew.
    RELS 2100G S01
    Primary Instructor
    Satlow
  • Religion and Internationalism (HMAN 2400L)

  • Sufism Seminar

    A survey of Sufism—as an Islamic religious phenomenon as well as a modern academic field—from the earliest sources to expressions in contemporary Muslim contexts. We will discuss Sufi mystical philosophies, liturgical practices, social organization, and historical development in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Readings consist of translations and academic treatments from various perspectives in the humanities and the social sciences. There will also be an optional weekly session dedicated to reading materials in original languages pertinent for course participants’ research agendas.
    RELS 2705 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Bashir
  • Preliminary Examination Preparation

    For graduate students who have met the tuition requirement and are paying the registration fee to continue active enrollment while preparing for preliminary examinations.
    RELS 2890 S01
    Schedule Code
    E: Grad Enrollment Fee/Dist Prep
  • Independent Research

    The staff is willing to offer independent reading courses in selected areas. See the Instructor for more information. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering.
    RELS 2910 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Willis
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S02
    Primary Instructor
    Cladis
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S03
    Primary Instructor
    Lewis
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S04
    Primary Instructor
    Khalek
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S05
    Primary Instructor
    Harvey
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S06
    Primary Instructor
    Vaca
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S07
    Primary Instructor
    Olyan
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S08
    Primary Instructor
    Sawada
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S09
    Primary Instructor
    Roth
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S10
    Primary Instructor
    Satlow
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S11
    Primary Instructor
    Nahme
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S12
    Primary Instructor
    Bush
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S13
    Primary Instructor
    Bashir
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S14
    Primary Instructor
    Protass
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    RELS 2910 S15
    Primary Instructor
    Berman
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
  • Thesis Preparation

    For graduate students who have met the residency requirement and are continuing research on a full time basis.
    RELS 2990 S01
    Schedule Code
    E: Grad Enrollment Fee/Dist Prep