Courses for Spring 2020

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Music and Meditation

    Music and Meditation explores the contemplative nature of sonic experience from humanistic, artistic and scientific perspectives. By drawing from various traditions across both time and space, and by engaging with a variety of disciplinary methodologies from Contemplative Studies, Ethnomusicology, Religious Studies and Cognitive Science, we will seek to better understand how diverse religious communities have used music as a meditative tool, a mystical philosophy, a communal exercise, a ritual performance, and more. We will examine the philosophies of thinkers, scientists and musicians to investigate music making as both an instrument, and a goal, of contemplative practice.
    RELS 0032 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Reddy
  • Spiritual But Not Religious: Making Spirituality in America

    When people call themselves "spiritual but not religious,” what does that mean? This course answers that question by exploring many of the diverse ideas, practices, and desires that the idea of spirituality has included. To see how spirituality has saturated American society, students will examine phenomena such as yoga, hip hop, ghosts, self-help gurus, countercultures, and protest movements. By studying the making of spirituality in the past and present, this course will enable students to recognize how Americans have made sense of their own lives and institutional attachments through shifting concepts of race, pluralism, science, capitalism, secularism, and more.
    RELS 0056 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Vaca
  • Islam from the Ground Up

    Current events and popular culture alike direct our attention to the centrality of discourse on the Islamic world. In this course, we examine the historical origins and development of Islamic religion and practice in light of the sources and communities that shaped them in a variety of contexts. The goals of this course are to learn the fundamentals of: how people have studied the Qur'an, the concept and development of "Shariah", sectarianism, approaches to gender and sexuality, and Muslim theology, philosophy, and mysticism in pre-modern and contemporary Muslim life.
    RELS 0095A S01
    Primary Instructor
    Khalek
  • Religion Gone Wild: Spirituality and the Environment

    A study of the dynamic relation between religion and “nature” or the more-than-human world. Religion, in this course, includes forms of religion within and outside the bounds of conventional religious traditions. In this course, then, religion includes Buddhism, Christianity, and Aboriginal religion, but also ecofeminism, nature literature, and environmentalism. Topics in this study of religion, ethics, and environmental humanities include: religious depictions of humans in relation to “nature” and the more-than-human; the contribution of religions to environmental degradation and environmental health; religion and environmental justice; and North American and Australian indigenous eco-spiritual perspectives. Enrollment limited to 20.
    RELS 0260 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Cladis
  • Sacred Bodies

    How did ancient Christians understand physical holiness? What did the bodies of saints demonstrate or reveal? How was bodily sanctity represented in actual practices, and in literary, artistic, or ritual expressions? We will consider three broad categories of saints: desert heroes, holy women, and virtuosos (pillar saints, holy fools).
    RELS 0420 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Harvey
  • The History and Practice of Yoga in India and Beyond

    From its roots in premodern India to its current popularity worldwide, yoga has a rich a complex history. As a practice of the mind, body, and spirit, yoga has taken many forms—meditation, chanting, breath control, postures—in order to achieve a range of goals: liberation from rebirth, supernatural powers, strength, pleasure, peace, wellness. As its reputation and commodification have increased, yoga has attracted deep interest, debate, and even controversy. In this course we will study yoga from its earliest texts to its status in the modern world, addressing its historical, religious, social, and political ramifications in many different contexts.
    RELS 0525 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Moore-Gerety
  • African American Religious Strategies: Martin and Malcolm

    MLK, Jr. and Malcolm X are two iconic figures in the pantheon of black religious leadership. Their profoundly influential ideas about justice, freedom, democracy and racism, along with their activist strategies and personal biographies have generated extraordinary interest over the past 50 years. Despite this, the rich and complex tradition out of which their ideas and world-views evolve; the 300 year old religious strategies and practices employed by African-Americans have been understudied, disconnected from our understanding of their significance. This course will examine these traditions and these two central figures’ roles within them in order to shed important light on both.
    RELS 0820 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Willis
  • 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
    Bush
  • Educating Bodies in Ancient Christianity

    How did ancient Christians learn to be Christian? Did Christian education look different from the ways that “Pagans” learned to be Pagan, Jews Jewish, or “heretics” heretics? This course explores the many ways that Christians learned to be Christian, paying particular attention to the role of the family, city, liturgy, and, of course, “schools.” We will adopt a comparative approach, looking at education among heretical “Gnostic” communities, on the one hand, and the rabbinic Jewish community, on the other. Some familiarity with the ancient Mediterranean world, through prior study of early Christianity, Judaism, Classics, or Ancient History, is recommended.
    RELS 1325A S01
    Primary Instructor
    Han
  • Money, Media, and Religion

    This course explores the relationship between religious life, forms of capitalism, and media technologies in the history of the United States. From constructing buildings and printing texts to disseminating teachings and communicating with members: essential aspects of religious life require both money and media. Yet forms of money and media continually have changed, and those changes have taken shape in dialogue with religious beliefs, practices, and sensibilities. This seminar examines this dialogue by visiting such varied sites as Puritan marketplaces, Santa Claus displays, Bible factories, television talk shows, and Occupy protests.
    RELS 1380A S01
    Primary Instructor
    Vaca
  • From Moses to Muhammad: Prophets of the Ancient World

    The figure of "the Prophet" forms the backbone to many of history’s major religions. From well-known prophets like Moses and Muhammad to more obscure figures like Mani, ancient prophets claimed to have unique access to God(s). Yet the concept of prophethood, and its twin, “prophecy,” was as diverse as those who claimed its mantle. This seminar will explore ancient discourses of prophethood and prophecy from the Ancient Near East up to the early medieval era. Our reading selection will include the Hebrew Bible, apocalypses, Greek theories of divination, the Manichaean corpus, the Qur’an, and other “non-canonical” texts.
    RELS 1500 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Han
  • The History of Emotions and Medieval Islamic Tradition

    In this advanced course (open to graduate students) we will explore the history of emotions in contemporary historical theory and scholarship in conjunction with medieval Islamic tradition literature and medieval biographical and hagiographical texts. The goals of the course are to understand how emotions have been studied by historians and scholars of religion and to apply a history of emotions approach to our readings of medieval Islamic texts. Prior courses in Islamic studies required, knowledge of Arabic or other primary-text language strongly preferred.
    RELS 1530F 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
  • Seminar: Afro-Theism

    This graduate seminar places a theological lens on Black life in North America. Its premise is that Afro-Theisms, not the institutional "Black Church" or Black prophetic religion, have been seminal to the self-conception of Black people and their way of constituting racial "others". Different theistic emphasis at different historical moments demonstrates both the importance and fluidity of Afro-Theisms and sheds unique light on quest for equity and self-actualization. Starting with the conventional Christian theologies into which New World Africans under slave conditions were indoctrinated, this course will explore the role and impact of Afro-Theisms.
    RELS 2600L S01
    Primary Instructor
    Willis
  • The Virgin Mary in Christian Tradition

    Who was the Virgin Mary? How did she become important, when and to whom? What was inherited? What was new? How were Mary’s meanings demonstrated? A study in the developing theological and devotional traditions regarding Mary the Mother of Jesus, focused on the first thousand years of Christian history. Major theological positions; relationship to pre-existing religious practices and goddess traditions; the role of popular violence; Marian piety; Marian relics; Mary as cultural metaphor. Seminar format.
    RELS 1325C S01
    Primary Instructor
    Harvey
  • The Bible and Moral Debate (JUDS 0060)

  • Gender in Early Jewish and Christian Texts (JUDS 0606)

  • On the Margins of the Bible: Jewish and Christian Non-Canonical Texts (JUDS 1603)

  • Antisemitism: A History (JUDS 0063)

  • Literature of the Early Second Temple Period

    A close reading of selections from surviving literary texts of the late sixth century (e.g., Isaiah 56-66, Zechariah 1-8, Haggai) and and the fifth century (Ezra-Nehemiah, Malachi). Prerequisite: An advanced knowledge of biblical Hebrew and permission of the instructor.
    RELS 2100E S01
    Primary Instructor
    Olyan
  • Sensing the Sacred: Sensory Culture in South Asian Religions

    This course explores South Asian religions through the body, the senses, and aesthetics. Drawing on Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions, and concentrating on embodied practices such meditation, chanting, eating, sex, asceticism, ritual, possession, and performance, we will examine experiences of the sacred in India, past and present. How has sensory culture shaped lives, practices, and doctrines? What place do the senses have in South Asian traditions? Drawing on premodern law codes, erotic handbooks, and medical treatises; and integrating new media from ethnographic films to graphic novels, we will plunge into to the rich sense-worlds of religions in South Asia.
    RELS 0037 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Moore-Gerety
  • Principles and Practices of Contemplative Studies

    Advanced study of the distinctive methods of the field of Contemplative Studies that includes third-person, second-person, and critical first-person perspectives. Will focus on the study of meditative practices in their cultural contexts and on essential scientific research on their nature and effects. Prerequisite: COST 0100 or Permission of Instructor. Meditation Lab to be scheduled
    RELS 1705A S01
    Primary Instructor
    Roth
    RELS 1705A L01
    Primary Instructor
    Roth
    Schedule Code
    L: Lab
  • Religion, Aesthetics, and Politics

    This course examines aesthetic values and experiences and their relationship with religion, ethics, and politics. We will examine theological discussions of beauty. We will look at the potential ethical and political implications of the beautiful and the sublime, and ask questions about how aesthetic regard shapes religious, ethical, and political agency.
    RELS 2600R S01
    Primary Instructor
    Bush
  • The History, Philosophy, and Practice of Rinzai Zen: Zen Master Hakuin Ekaku

    Explores Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhist tradition by focusing on its seminal figure, Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769). Examines his biography, core practices, and key philosophy by looking at selections from his essential autobiographical and philosophical writings as well as his artwork. Focuses on the following aspects of Hakuin’s importance in the history of Japanese Buddhism: Hakuin as reviver of Rinzai Zen, especially kōan practice: Hakuin as a meditation master; Hakuin as talented artist; Hakuin as social critic. Readings will be primary sources in translation.
    RELS 1700A S01
    Lab Section is Recommended and Not Required.
    Primary Instructor
    Matsubara
    RELS 1700A L01
    Primary Instructor
    Matsubara
    Schedule Code
    L: Lab
  • The Archaeology of Japanese Buddhism

    This course explores the history of Japanese Buddhism through archaeological sites, artifacts, and interpretations. It aims to introduce students to the major contours of Japanese Buddhist history by examining the relationships between religious transmission, belief, ritual, and material culture. We will first focus on the major issues surrounding material culture in the study of Buddhism, and religion more broadly. The remainder of the course will consist of an survey of the chronological transmission and development of Buddhism in Japan in the early and medieval periods through case studies of specific sites, objects, architectural features, sculpture, and human remains.
    RELS 1440B S01
    Primary Instructor
    Thumas
  • Religion and Movement Politics

    This course considers the relationship between religion and social movements in democratic societies. Political theorists often invoke social movements and the Civil Rights Movement, in particular, as examples of salutary political uses of religion. But what does ‘religion’ mean in these debates? What is its relationship to race and gender? And under what conditions – and to whom – do religions and social movements pose problems for democratic politics? This course explores these questions using a range of theoretical sources as well as historical, ethnographic and personal accounts of twentieth- and twenty-first-century social movements.
    RELS 0086 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Inouye
  • International Law (INTL 1700A)

  • The Text and Philosophy of the Zhuangzi

    The Zhuangzi is a collection of 33 chapters written from a variety of perspectives that some say all share a common vision. While attributed to a historical figure named Zhuang Zhou and regarded as one of the foundational works of the Daoist tradition, it has been suspected of multiple authorship for almost a millennium. Our task will be to read essential chapters in their original classical Chinese, understand the variety of authorial voices, and to discover what it is that does or does not tie them together. This will involve both careful textual analysis and philosophical discussion. This is a Graduate Seminar restricted to those with prior Brown University coursework in Chinese Thought and reading knowledge of classical Chinese. All others need Permission of the instructor.
    RELS 2300D S01
    Primary Instructor
    Roth