Major Requirements

2015 - 2016 Catalog

Religion major leading to BA degree

A major in religion leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree requires completion of at least 30 credits from 10 three- or four-credit courses including the following:

  1. Introduction: One course introducing theory and method in the study of religion chosen from REL 100 or 210. This course must normally be taken before the start of the senior year.
  2. Religious Traditions: Two courses introducing trends in the thought, practice, and/or significance of a religious tradition. At least one course must be chosen from each of two of the following religious traditions
    1. Asian Religions: REL 131, 132
    2. Christianity: REL 102, 151, 152, 250
    3. Islam: REL 105, 108, 281, 283
    4. Judaism: REL 101, 106, 271
    5. American Indian Religions: REL 285 (SOAN 285)
  3. Cluster: A group of at least three courses proposed by students in consultation with their departmental adviser before the end of the junior year, cohering in such a way as to define and inform students' particular interest in a tradition, a topic or a method of studying religion. The cluster must include at least two courses from the Religion Department and may include up to three credits from one three- or four-credit course in other related disciplines or interdisciplinary programs (e.g., anthropology, art history, classics, English, history, philosophy, political science, sociology, women and gender studies). Examples of clusters might include the following:

    Traditions of Scripture: REL 101, 102, 108, 335

    Religion and Law: REL 335, 381, POL 236

    Religion and Literature: REL 153, 272, ENGL 236

    Religion in Classical Antiquity: REL 250, 283, 350, CLAS 201 (LIT 201)

    Patterns in Medieval Religion: REL 151, 215, HIST 305

    Secularization and Religion: REL 152, 203, SOAN 290 (when appropriate)

    Students are encouraged to search the catalog and each term's list of topical offerings for courses related to their study of religion. Examples of other courses that may count for the cluster include, but are not exhausted by:

    ARTH 140: Asian Art
    ARTH 205: Medieval Art in Southern Europe
    ARTH 206: Medieval Art
    CLAS 201: Classical Mythology
    CLAS 283: Late Antiquity
    CLAS 288: Supervised Study Abroad: Rome and Ancient Italy
    ENGL 236: The Bible as English Literature
    ENGL 330: Milton
    ENGL 252: Shakespeare
    HIST 204: The Age of the Reformation
    HIST 305: Seminar: Religion, Church and Politics in Medieval and Renaissance Society
    PHIL 214: Poverty, Ethics, and Religion
    and, when appropriate, POL 396, SOAN 290, SOAN 390.
  4. Additional work in religion or other related disciplines to add up to 10 courses. A limit of one non-Religion course will count toward the major including those in #3 above.
  5. A minimum of 15 credits must be at the 200 level or above, excluding REL 210, 399, and 493.
  6. Senior capstone: REL 399 or 493 (3-3)
  7. Students seeking to graduate with honors are required to graduate with a minimum of 11 three- or four-credit courses.
  1. Introduction:
  2. One course introducing theory and method in the study of religion chosen from REL 100 or 210. This course must normally be taken before the start of the senior year.

    • REL 100 - Introduction to Religion

      FDR: HU
      Credits: 3


      Not open to students who have taken REL 210.

      Through consideration of texts in a diversity of humanistic and social scientific disciplines, this course explores the nature, function, and meaning of religion in individual and collective experience. It also explores texts, practices, and symbols from a variety of world religions. Students who have taken REL 210 are ineligible for taking REL 100.

    • REL 210 - Approaches to the Study of Religion

      FDR: HU
      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Fall


      A study of approaches to understanding religious life and thought as found in selected writings in anthropology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, theology, and comparative religion.

  3. Religious Traditions:
  4. Two courses introducing trends in the thought, practice, and/or significance of a religious tradition. At least one course must be chosen from each of two of the following religious traditions:

    • Asian Religions:
      • REL 131 - Buddhism

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3


        A survey of the historical development of the doctrines and practices of Buddhism. After a discussion of the Hindu origins of Buddhism, the course focuses on the development of the Theravada, Vajrayana and Mahayana traditions. A class trip to at least one Buddhist center is included.

      • REL 132 - God and Goddess in Hinduism

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3


        This course explores the many ways in which Hindus visualize and talk about the divine and its manifestations in the world through mythic stories, use of images in worship, explanations of the nature of the soul and body in relation to the divine, and the belief in human embodiments of the divine in Hindu holy men and women. Topics include: the religious meanings of masculine and feminine in the divine and human contexts; the idea of local, family, and "chosen" divinities; and differing forms of Hindu devotion for men and women.

    • Christianity:
      • REL 102 - New Testament

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Fall


        An introduction to the history, literature and interpretation of the New Testament.

      • REL 151 - Christianity and Culture Before 1500

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3


        This course introduces students to Christian thought and culture in the period roughly from Augustine to the high Middle Ages. Course materials include primary texts, exemplary images, and important works of modern scholarship reflecting on the significance of the Christian materials.

      • REL 152 - Christianity and Modern Culture

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3


        A study of Christian thought and cultures in the period from the Reformation to the early 20th Century. Particular emphasis is placed on the challenges posed to the foundation of religious belief and practice in a modern context and the Christian responses to these challenges.

      • REL 250 - Early Christian Thought: Orthodoxy and Heresy

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Winter 2016


        An exploration of the uncertain boundaries between orthodoxy and heresy in early Christian movements. Questions addressed include, "Who decides what is orthodox and what is heretical, how are these decisions made, and what impact do they have on institutional structures? What perennial problems in Christian thought and practice emerge in the early debates about orthodoxy and heresy, and how are those problems being addressed today?" Readings include selections from the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament, "Gnostic gospels" and other so-called heretical texts, writings from the Church Fathers (with special attention to St. Augustine) and recent scholarly treatments of orthodoxy and heresy.

    • Islam:
      • REL 105 - Introduction to Islam

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Fall 2015 and alternate years


        This course familiarizes students with the foundations of the Islamic tradition and the diverse historical and geographical manifestations of belief and practice built upon those foundations. Throughout the course, the role of Islam in shaping cultural, social, gender, and political identities is explored. Readings are drawn from the writings of both historical and contemporary Muslim thinkers.

      • REL 108 - The Qur'an

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Fall 2016 and alternate years


        This course approaches the Qur'an from a range of modern and pre-modern perspectives: as an oral recitation; as a material object; as a historical document; as a literary text; as it relates to the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament; as a foundation for Islamic law, theology and mysticism; and as a source for ethics and social activism. Particular attention is devoted to issues of gender and politics raised by the Qur'an, supplemented by a number of film screenings. Prior knowledge of Islam is not required.

      • REL 281 - Modern Islamic Thought

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3


        A study of Islamic religious movements and representative religious writings of the past two centuries, with focus upon "fundamentalist" or "revivalist" writings and upon recent authors responding to them.

      • REL 283 - Sufism: Islamic Mysticism

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3


        This course explores the mystical expressions and institutions known as Sufism within the Islamic community. Topics include the elaboration of Sufism from the core tenets of Islam; Sufi practices of ecstasy and discipline; the artistic and literary products of the Sufi experience; the institutions of Sufi orders, saints, shrines, and popular practices; and the debates among Muslims over the place of Sufism within the greater tradition of Islam.

    • Judaism:
      • REL 101 - Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3


        An introduction to the history, literature and interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).

      • REL 106 - Judaism

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Winter 2015


        Through a variety of sources, including Talmudic debate, fiction, drama, liturgy, memoirs, film, and history, this course introduces the main concepts, literature, and practices of the classical forms of Judaism that began in the first centuries C.E., and then examines how Judaism has changed during the past two centuries, in modernist movements (Reform, Neo-Orthodoxy, Zionism) and contemporary fundamentalist movements (Ultra-Orthodoxy, messianic settler Zionism), as well as current ideas and issues.

    • American Indian Religions:
      • REL 285 - Introduction to American Indian Religions (SOAN 285)

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Fall


        This class introduces students to some of the dominant themes, values, beliefs, and practices found among the religions of North America's Indian peoples. The first part of the course explores the importance of sacred power, landscape, and community in traditional Indian spiritualities and rituals. It then examines some of the changes that have occurred in these traditions as a result of western expansion and dominance from the 18th through early 20th centuries. Lastly, the course considers some of the issues and problems confronting contemporary American Indian religions.

  5. Cluster:
  6. A group of at least three courses proposed by students in consultation with their departmental adviser before the end of the junior year, cohering in such a way as to define and inform students' particular interest in a tradition, a topic or a method of studying religion. The cluster must include at least two courses from the Religion Department and may include up to three credits from one three- or four-credit course in other related disciplines or interdisciplinary programs (e.g., anthropology, art history, classics, English, history, philosophy, political science, sociology, women and gender studies).

    • Examples of clusters might include the following:
      • Traditions of Scripture:
        • REL 101 - Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3


          An introduction to the history, literature and interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).

        • REL 102 - New Testament

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3
          Planned Offering: Fall


          An introduction to the history, literature and interpretation of the New Testament.

        • REL 108 - The Qur'an

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3
          Planned Offering: Fall 2016 and alternate years


          This course approaches the Qur'an from a range of modern and pre-modern perspectives: as an oral recitation; as a material object; as a historical document; as a literary text; as it relates to the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament; as a foundation for Islamic law, theology and mysticism; and as a source for ethics and social activism. Particular attention is devoted to issues of gender and politics raised by the Qur'an, supplemented by a number of film screenings. Prior knowledge of Islam is not required.

        • REL 335 - Hindu Law in Theory and Practice

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3


          India produced one of the oldest legal systems in the world — one that offers some surprising contrasts with modern assumptions about the nature and scope of the law. Combining ethical and ritual obligations alongside rules for criminal and civil litigation, it was intended to cover every aspect of life, from personal habits to political institutions. The course begins with the ancient codes, Indian political theory, and documents from everyday legal practice in medieval times. The second half of the course begins with colonial-era British attempts to codify Hindu law; Hindu personal law in modern India; and the controversy over religion and secularism in the courts today, including the constitutional definition of "Hindu;" attempts to legislate against disapproved religious practices; and disputes over sacred spaces. We close with comparisons with legal reasoning about religion in America, Israel, and England, based on court cases.

      • Religion and Law:
        • REL 108 - The Qur'an

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3
          Planned Offering: Fall 2016 and alternate years


          This course approaches the Qur'an from a range of modern and pre-modern perspectives: as an oral recitation; as a material object; as a historical document; as a literary text; as it relates to the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament; as a foundation for Islamic law, theology and mysticism; and as a source for ethics and social activism. Particular attention is devoted to issues of gender and politics raised by the Qur'an, supplemented by a number of film screenings. Prior knowledge of Islam is not required.

        • REL 335 - Hindu Law in Theory and Practice

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3


          India produced one of the oldest legal systems in the world — one that offers some surprising contrasts with modern assumptions about the nature and scope of the law. Combining ethical and ritual obligations alongside rules for criminal and civil litigation, it was intended to cover every aspect of life, from personal habits to political institutions. The course begins with the ancient codes, Indian political theory, and documents from everyday legal practice in medieval times. The second half of the course begins with colonial-era British attempts to codify Hindu law; Hindu personal law in modern India; and the controversy over religion and secularism in the courts today, including the constitutional definition of "Hindu;" attempts to legislate against disapproved religious practices; and disputes over sacred spaces. We close with comparisons with legal reasoning about religion in America, Israel, and England, based on court cases.

        • REL 381 - Islamic Law in Society

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3
          Planned Offering: Winter 2016 and alternating years


          Prerequisite: Instructor consent.

          This seminar introduces students to the Islamic understanding of shari'a ("Path," "law") and its role in Muslim culture, history, and society. To be examined are: the key sources of law in the Qur'an and the model of the Prophet Muhammad, the early development of Islamic legal theories and institutions, the roles of these institutions in everyday life, and the struggle to re-imagine Islamic law and its place in contemporary Muslim communities. Case studies include the nature of political institutions, the rights and roles of women, and Islamic economics, courtroom procedure and the standing of shari'a in American courts.

        • POL 236 - The American Supreme Court and Constitutional Law

          FDR: SS2
          Credits: 3
          Planned Offering: Fall


          Prerequisite: POL 100.

          A survey of the development of American constitutional law and a study of the role of the Supreme Court as both a political institution and principal expositor of the Constitution.

      • Religion and Literature:
        • REL 153 - Jesus in Fact, Fiction, and Film

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3


          A study of representations of Jesus in history, fiction, and film and the ways in which they both reflect and generate diverse cultural identities from antiquity to the present. The course begins with the historical Jesus and controversies about his identity in antiquity and then focuses on parallel controversies in modern and postmodern fiction and film. Readings include early Christian literature (canonical and non-canonical), several modern novels and works of short fiction, and theoretical works on the relationship of literature to religion. In addition, we study several cinematic treatments of Jesus dating from the beginnings of filmmaking to the present.

        • REL 272 - Modern Jewish Literature in Translation

          FDR: HL
          Credits: 4


          Prerequisite: Completion of FW requirements.

          Readings in the works of 20th-century authors writing in Yiddish and Hebrew, such as the Polish author Isaac B. Singer, the Russian author Sholem Aleichem, and the Israeli novelists Amos Oz and A. B. Yehoshua. These writings are studied as literary expressions of religious themes and as responses to the historical and religious crises of modern Jewish life in Europe, the United States, and Israel. The class views four films for additional insight into Yiddish and Israeli culture. Students write two interpretive papers and daily analyses of the readings and films. This is a discussion-centered course.

        • ENGL 236 - The Bible as English Literature

          FDR: HL
          Credits: 3
          Planned Offering: Winter 2013 and alternate years


          Prerequisite: Completion of FW requirement.

          An intensive study of the Bible as a literary work, focusing on such elements as poetry, narrative, myth, archetype, prophecy, symbol, allegory, and character. Emphases may include the Bible's influence upon the traditions of English literature and various perspectives of biblical narrative in philosophy, theology, or literary criticism.

      • Religion in Classical Antiquity:
        • REL 250 - Early Christian Thought: Orthodoxy and Heresy

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3
          Planned Offering: Winter 2016


          An exploration of the uncertain boundaries between orthodoxy and heresy in early Christian movements. Questions addressed include, "Who decides what is orthodox and what is heretical, how are these decisions made, and what impact do they have on institutional structures? What perennial problems in Christian thought and practice emerge in the early debates about orthodoxy and heresy, and how are those problems being addressed today?" Readings include selections from the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament, "Gnostic gospels" and other so-called heretical texts, writings from the Church Fathers (with special attention to St. Augustine) and recent scholarly treatments of orthodoxy and heresy.

        • REL 283 - Sufism: Islamic Mysticism

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3


          This course explores the mystical expressions and institutions known as Sufism within the Islamic community. Topics include the elaboration of Sufism from the core tenets of Islam; Sufi practices of ecstasy and discipline; the artistic and literary products of the Sufi experience; the institutions of Sufi orders, saints, shrines, and popular practices; and the debates among Muslims over the place of Sufism within the greater tradition of Islam.

        • REL 350 - Seminar in Biblical Studies

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3
          Planned Offering: Winter 2016


          Prerequisite: REL 101, 102, 151 250, or course work in ancient history or classics, or instructor consent.

          An exploration of a topic in Biblical studies, focusing on ancient texts and their interpreters from antiquity to the present. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

          Winter 2016 topic:

          REL 350: Seminar in Biblical Studies: The Apostle Paul: Life, Letters, Legacy (3). Prerequisite: REL 101, 102, 151, 250 or course work in ancient history or classics, or instructor consent. A study of the Apostle Paul that begins with historical and cultural contexts (Jewish and Hellenistic) in the first century of the common era, takes up his letters individually through close readings, and follows the various and divergent influences of certain of his key ideas (e.g., justification, faith, freedom, law, grace) through the course of Western religious and political thought to the present. (HU) Brown.
           

        • CLAS 201 - Classical Mythology (LIT 201)

          FDR: HL
          Credits: 3 in fall, winter; 4 in spring


          An introduction to the study of Greek mythology, with an emphasis on the primary sources. The myths are presented in their historical, religious, and political contexts. The course also includes an introduction to several major theories of myth, and uses comparative materials drawn from contemporary society and media.

      • Patterns in Medieval Religion:
        • REL 151 - Christianity and Culture Before 1500

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3


          This course introduces students to Christian thought and culture in the period roughly from Augustine to the high Middle Ages. Course materials include primary texts, exemplary images, and important works of modern scholarship reflecting on the significance of the Christian materials.

        • REL 215 - Female and Male in Western Religious Traditions

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3


          An investigation of views about the body, human sexuality, and gender in Western religious traditions, especially Judaism and Christianity, and of the influences of these views both on the religious traditions themselves and on the societies in which they develop. The course focuses on religion and society in antiquity and the Middle Ages, but also considers the continuing influence of religious constructions of the body and sexuality on succeeding generations to the present.

        • HIST 305 - Seminar: Religion, Church, and Politics in Medieval and Renaissance Society

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3


          The seminar draws on primary and secondary sources to examine the rise of Christianity in Europe, church-state relations, scholastic theology, mendicant piety, lay religious life, mysticism, heresy, humanism, gender and religion, urban and rural contexts, and church reform.

      • Secularization and Religion:
        • REL 152 - Christianity and Modern Culture

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3


          A study of Christian thought and cultures in the period from the Reformation to the early 20th Century. Particular emphasis is placed on the challenges posed to the foundation of religious belief and practice in a modern context and the Christian responses to these challenges.

        • REL 203 - Secularity, Disenchantment, and Religion

          FDR: HU
          Credits: 3


          A study of various attempts to define "modernity" in terms of the decline, transformation, and/or displacement of religious thought and practice in the west. Students explore depictions of the modern west from the perspective of a variety of disciplines, including some of the following: sociology, psychology, philosophy, theology, literature, art.

        • SOAN 290 - Special Topics in Sociology (when appropriate)

          Credits: 3 in Fall or Winter, 4 in Spring
          Planned Offering: Offered when interest is expressed and departmental resources permit


          A discussion of a series of topics of sociological concern. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

    • Examples of other courses that may count for the cluster include, but are not exhausted by:

      • ARTH 140 - Asian Art

        FDR: HA
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Fall 2016 and alternate years


        An introduction to the study of traditional architecture, sculpture, painting, prints, and decorative arts of India, China, and Japan.

      • CLAS 201 - Classical Mythology

        FDR: HL
        Credits: 3 in fall, winter; 4 in spring


        An introduction to the study of Greek mythology, with an emphasis on the primary sources. The myths are presented in their historical, religious, and political contexts. The course also includes an introduction to several major theories of myth, and uses comparative materials drawn from contemporary society and media.

      • CLAS 288 - Supervised Study Abroad: Rome and Ancient Italy

        FDR: HA
        Credits: Not yet approved for new spring term
        Planned Offering: Not offered in 2015-2016


        Prerequisite: Instructor consent. Offered when interest is expressed and faculty resources permit.

        This course traces the growth of Rome and Roman civilization from its modest beginnings to its glory during the Republic and Empire. Lectures and readings prepare students for daily visits to sites, excavations, monuments and museums in Rome and its environs, and to locations in the Bay of Naples area.

      • ENGL 236 - The Bible as English Literature

        FDR: HL
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Winter 2013 and alternate years


        Prerequisite: Completion of FW requirement.

        An intensive study of the Bible as a literary work, focusing on such elements as poetry, narrative, myth, archetype, prophecy, symbol, allegory, and character. Emphases may include the Bible's influence upon the traditions of English literature and various perspectives of biblical narrative in philosophy, theology, or literary criticism.

      • ENGL 330 - Milton

        FDR: HL
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Winter 2017 and alternate years


        Prerequisites: ENGL 299.

        This course surveys one of the most talented and probing authors of the English language -- a man whose reading knowledge and poetic output has never been matched, and whose work has influenced a host of writers after him, including Alexander Pope, William Blake, William Wordsworth, and Mary Shelley. In this course, we read selections from Milton's literary corpus, drawing from such diverse genres as lyric, drama, epic and prose polemic. As part of their study of epic form, students create a digital humanities project rendering Paradise Lost in gaming context. Quests, heroes,ethical choices and exploration of new worlds in Paradise Lost are rendered as a game. Students read Milton in the context of literary criticism and place him within his historical milieu, not the least of which includes England's dizzying series of political metamorphoses from Monarchy to Commonwealth, Commonwealth to Protectorate, and Protectorate back to Monarchy.

      • ENGL 252 - Shakespeare

        FDR: HL
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Fall, Winter


        Prerequisite: Completion of FW requirement.

        A study of the major genres of Shakespeare's plays, employing analysis shaped by formal, historical, and performance-based questions. Emphasis is given to tracing how Shakespeare's work engages early modern cultural concerns, such as the nature of political rule, gender, religion, and sexuality. A variety of skills are developed in order to assist students with interpretation, which may include verse analysis, study of early modern dramatic forms, performance workshops, two medium-length papers, reviews of live play productions, and a final, student-directed performance of a selected play.

      • HIST 204 - The Age of Reformation

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Winter


        Examines the origins, development, and consequences of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations of the 16th century. The late medieval religious environment; the emergence of new forms of lay religious expression; the impact of urbanization; and the institutional dilemmas of the church. The views of leading reformers, such as Luther, Calvin, and Loyola; and the impact of differing social and political contexts; and technological innovations, such as printing, on the spread of reform throughout Europe. The impact of reform and religious strife on state development and the emergence of doctrines of religious toleration and philosophical skepticism; recent theses and approaches emphasizing "confessionalization," "social discipline," and "microhistory."

      • HIST 305 - Seminar: Religion, Church, and Politics in Medieval and Renaissance Society

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3


        The seminar draws on primary and secondary sources to examine the rise of Christianity in Europe, church-state relations, scholastic theology, mendicant piety, lay religious life, mysticism, heresy, humanism, gender and religion, urban and rural contexts, and church reform.

      • POV 241 - Poverty, Ethics, and Religion

        FDR: HU
        Credits: 3
        Planned Offering: Winter 2015


        This course introduces students to some of the most influential and compelling ethical arguments (both secular and religious) about our moral obligations regarding poverty. The course also examines the benefits and challenges of doing comparative religious and philosophical ethical analysis of a pressing moral and social problem. In particular, students will consider the arguments for and against including religiously inflected arguments in public deliberation about anti-poverty policy.

      • and, when appropriate, POL 396, SOC 290, SOC 390.
  7. Additional work in religion or other related disciplines to add up to 10 courses.
  8. A limit of one non-Religion course will count toward the major including those in #3 above.

  9. 15 credits of 200-level or above
  10. A minimum of 15 credits must be at the 200 level or above, excluding REL 210, 399, and 493.

  11. Senior capstone:
    • REL 399 - Senior Seminar

      Credits: 3
      Planned Offering: Fall


      Prerequisite: Senior religion major.

      This course begins with consideration of the nature of the study of religion. The remainder of the course is devoted to the writing of an independent research project. Students will continue to meet for discussion of work in progress and instruction in the craft of researching and writing a long, multi-source independent research project.

    • or
    • REL 493 - Honors Thesis

      Credits: 3-3
      Planned Offering: Fall-Winter


      Honors Thesis.

  12. Students seeking to graduate with honors are required to graduate with a minimum of 11 three- or four-credit courses.