Courses for Spring 2018

  • Sacred Stories

    What do stories do? How do stories underlie who we are, where we are, or why our world is as it is? Ancient religious stories have been formative for western culture in all of its expressions, lasting into our modern, secularized times. Sacred stories underlie how we think about life, death, suffering, or joy. How do they work? This course will examine narrativity - the telling, sharing, and contesting of stories - as a means for constructing and maintaining religious identity, community, and world view in western history. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim materials. Lecture and discussion. DPLL WRIT
    RELS 0015 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Harvey
  • Saints and Mystics of India

    Saints and Mystics of India explores the rich variety of religious experience in India as expressed in the inspired poetic productions of several mystics through time. By critically listening to these powerful voices of the past, we will endeavor to understand how mystical poems from divergent Indian traditions exhibit multiple points of interaction, influence and convergence. Our investigation will draw on the spontaneous literary outpourings of several mystics including but not limited to: Nammalvar, Andal, Kabir, Mahadeviyakka, Nanak, Mira, Tukkaram, Caitanya, Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi. DPLL
    RELS 0035 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Reddy
  • Spiritual But Not Religious: Making Spirituality in America

    When someone calls themselves "spiritual," what does that mean? This course answers that question by exploring the wide range of ideas, practices, and desires that have come to make up the concept of spirituality. Inviting students to consider why spirituality seems "not religious," this course examines such phenomena as yoga, faith healing, hip hop, shopping, self-help books, psychology, surveys, and protest movements. Through such phenomena, this course will enable students to recognize how Americans have made sense of their own lives and institutional attachments through continually changing technologies of race, pluralism, science, capitalism, and secularism. DPLL WRIT
    RELS 0056 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Vaca
  • Christianity and Culture

    The aim of this introductory level lecture course is to interrogate the relationship between culture and religion. The foundation for our study will be exemplary works by major cultural critics and theologians since the early 19th century. Our focus will be on forms of cultural criticism put forward by interdisciplinary thinkers that attempted to gain a better grasp of both modern social crises and sources of communal joy. The course shall rehearse debates in cultural studies, theology, postmodernism, and politics.
    RELS 0058 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Willis
  • Religion and Torture

    The debates about the moral and legal status of torture have acquired a new urgency since 9/11. People are now questioning the consensus of law and human rights declarations that torture is never permissible. Indeed, some argue that in extreme cases, it may be obligatory to torture a captive for information that could save many lives. This class explores the recent debates about torture from secular and religious perspectives. It also deals with more general themes related to torture: What are the nature and effects of pain? Are human beings sacred, and does sacredness involve a prohibition against torture? WRIT
    RELS 0068 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Bush
  • The Imaginary Lives of Muslims

    How have Muslims understood the natural and social world that forms the backdrop for human lives? We will use this question to chart a variety of Islamic perspectives pertaining to thought and action. Topics include: worldviews contained in the Quran and other early Islamic materials; formal cosmologies that reflect continuity with late antique ideas; mystical thought pertaining to Sufis and Shi’is; reflection on politics and ethics; impact of modern science; and contemporary perspectives concerning the environment, gender, race, and class. No prerequisites or presumption of prior knowledge regarding the subject.
    RELS 0096 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Bashir
  • Introduction to Buddhism

    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
  • Fiction and the Problems of Faith

    This seminar course examines the relationship of religion and the novel. How does the novel provide space to think about desire, belongingness, the supernatural, pain and grief, human difference, pleasure, evil, and goodness? Is literary devotion a kind of religious devotion? How does the novel present problems of faith in self, community, and nation? We will read a collection of novels alongside theoretical interlocutors in order to explore these questions and to generate others. You will be expected to read, and to reflect on the pleasures and troubles of reading, as a key requirement of the course. WRIT
    RELS 0115 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Howe
  • The Classical Chinese Philosophy of Life

    An introduction to the origins and early development of the indigenous religious thought of China from the oracle bone divination of the Shang Dynasty to the ethical philosophy of Confucianism and the cosmology and mysticism of Daoism. The course will seek to identify and elucidate the basic elements of the distinctive Chinese world view and demonstrate how they have shaped the nature of religious practice and experience and how they have been shaped by them. Works of interpretive scholarship will be used to supplement the primary texts in translation that will form the course. Optional lab section.
  • Feeling Religion

    What is the relationship of emotion to religious experience? Can you taste, touch, smell religion? What does religion look and sound like? How does feeling religion differ based on bodily differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexuality, and ability? In this seminar course, we will focus on the relationship of the study of religion to contemporary scholarly interest in the study of emotion and sensation (or, affect theory). We will explore ways of feeling religion through themes of embodiment, sensation, happiness, melancholia, the social, the political, and the nonhuman. WRIT
    RELS 0255 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Howe
  • Humanitarian Sensibility and Its Critics

    From Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments to Teju Cole’s “The White Savior Industrial Complex,” this course explores the genealogy of humanitarian sensibility through a selection of Western philosophical, historical, literary and ethnographic accounts. It asks: What are the social and historical forces that have shaped the need for and appeals to humanitarianism in the modern West? What does it mean to think, feel and act as a humanitarian subject, or to be positioned as its object? And, what’s ethically at stake when we think critically about humanitarianism? DPLL
    RELS 0290A S01
    Primary Instructor
    Howe
  • How the Bible Became Holy (JUDS 0682)

  • Edward Said and Cornel West

    This course explores intersections between race and religion through two of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century: Edward Said and Cornel West. Said was a pioneer in the study of Orientalism, challenging discourses about “the East,” Islam, and imaginary “other” against whom notions of “the West” were created and sustained. West distinctively shaped Black critical thought, foregrounding Black American subjectivity as a way of understanding modernity. We will examine the racialization of religion; transnational solidarity; and what religious thought offers for struggles for racial justice in sites like Ferguson, Missouri, Black Lives Matter, and Palestine and Israel.
    RELS 0835 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Khalek
  • Kabbalah: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism (HMAN 1971U)

  • Gods and Myths in Mesopotamia (ASYR 1100)

  • The Age of Constantine: The Roman Empire in Transition (CLAS 1120V)

  • Jewish and Christian Identity in the Ancient Period (JUDS 1601)

  • Heidegger, the Jews, and the Crisis of Liberalism (JUDS 1614)

  • 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. DPLL
    RELS 1380A S01
    Primary Instructor
    Vaca
  • Buddhist Poetry

    This course surveys Asian and Anglophone literary cultures that emerged in response to Buddhist teachings and practices. Through close reading, we will engage epic poetry celebrating the Buddha’s life; verses in Buddhist scripture; the landscape poetry of Chinese hermits; the poetry of early nuns; Japanese poems of spiritual travel; American beatniks; and contemporary Taiwanese poetry. All readings are available in English. Students may complete a creative or imitative project, an original translation, or a research paper for the final project.
    RELS 1425 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Protass
  • Islam in South Asia

    A survey of Muslim presence in South Asia. We will trace historical development of communities, including the arrival of Muslims in the subcontinent, establishment of various polities in the medieval period, and the evolution of modern colonial and postcolonial states. Paying attention to religious ideas, literary expression in numerous languages, and art and architecture, we will treat Islam as a multidimensional factor embedded within diverse South Asian intellectual and cultural contexts. Readings include original materials in translation and academic studies from various humanities and social science fields.
    RELS 1510 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Bashir
  • Medieval Islamic Sectarianism

    Sunni and Shi'i conflict and sectarian division have been an enduring issue in the Islamic world. From Iraq to Syria, Iran to Egypt, inter-Muslim conflict and conflicting ideologies seem to be central issues. But how accurate and historical is this impression? In this course, we examine the origins and evolution of Islamic sectarianism, with an emphasis on the politics of religious authority in the Islamic world, old and new. This is an upper level seminar, and juniors and seniors will be given preference for enrollment. Shoppers must attend the first day of class if they wish to enroll. DPLL
    RELS 1530D S01
    Primary Instructor
    Khalek
  • A Global History of the Reformation (HIST 1736)

  • Law and Religion (HMAN 1970K)

  • 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
  • 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
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
  • Readings in Rabbinic Literature

    This graduate seminar will focus on reading rabbinic literature in its original languages with the goal of improving linguistic and technical fluency. Texts and topics will vary. Knowledge of Hebrew and/or Aramaic is required.
    RELS 2100I S01
    Primary Instructor
    Satlow
  • The Court Narrative in Ancient Israel

    A number of ancient Israelite and Jewish narratives are set in the court of the foreign king: the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50, Esther, Daniel 1-6 (along with the additions from the Apocrypha: Susanna and Bel and the Dragon), and the Prayer of Nabonidus from Qumran. These entertaining narratives are often set off from the more strictly historical tradition, and seem to have been part of a resilient and international genre of popular stories. In this course we will read and analyze these narratives in their original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.
    RELS 2101 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Wills
  • Religion and Romanticism: Religion, Democracy, and the Environmental Imagination

    The seminar will explore the central radical religious, democratic, and environmental dispositions and ideologies that mutually informed each other in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British Romantic literature and their subsequent and sustained legacies in America. We will read such authors as William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Emerson, and Thoreau.
    RELS 2110A S01
    Primary Instructor
    Cladis
  • Readings in Neo-Confucianism

    Emphasis on Neo-Confucian--Zen Buddhist debates and apologetics, mainly in the Japanese context but with attention to continental sources. Weekly reading and translation of primary texts in Chinese and/or Japanese, plus a final research paper.
    RELS 2350C S01
    Primary Instructor
    Sawada
  • Pragmatism and Religion

    Readings in the original American pragmatists and their recent admirers with special attention to the topic of religion.
    RELS 2600D S01
    Primary Instructor
    Bush
  • 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
  • Thesis Preparation

    For graduate students who have met the tuition requirement and are paying the registration fee to continue active enrollment while preparing a thesis.
    RELS 2990 S01
    Schedule Code
    E: Grad Enrollment Fee/Dist Prep