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Spring 2014

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 195 - Onishi

A course offered from time to time in a selected problem or topic in religion. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Spring 2014 Topic:

REL 195: Christianity and Contemporary Culture (3). This course offers an examination of Christianity's relationship to contemporary culture by way of exploration of several contentious cultural issues in the United States and globally. While we gain a historical and theological understanding of Christianity's relationship to culture, we also take the opportunity to speak with Christian leaders, activists, and scholars in the area. Neither a course on the history of theology, nor on the theology of culture, our focus is on understanding how and why various Christian groups have formed such divergent interpretations of contemporary political, social, and ethical matters. (HU) Onishi. Spring 2014

 

Fall 2013 topic:

REL 195: Death and Dying (3). Not open to students who have taken this topic as REL 180, 181 or 213. A comparison of ways in which various religious traditions, as well as modern secular writers, describe and conceive of death and the meaning of life in the face of our human mortality. Students study memoirs, philosophy, poetry, novels, scripture, essays, and film. (HU) Onishi.

The Sacred in Music: The Liberal Arts as Portal to the Sacred

REL 201 - Brown

This course offers an immersion in the sacred music of the West, viewed through the lens of the liberal-arts tradition and considers the liberal arts as a portal to the sacred. We begin with Pythagoras and his monochord in the portal of Chartres Cathedral and progress through the development of melody, harmony, and rhythm from early chant (Hebrew and Christian) to Bach choral music (The Passion According to John) and finally to the American forms of Spiritual, Sacred Harp, and American Opera. While attentive to contributions from science, philosophy. psychology and religious theory concerning the connection of music to religious experience, we also take advantage of musical performances in the area and, with the help of professional conductors and musicologists, perform music ourselves.

Meditation and Self-Knowledge

REL 333 - Lubin

For 2,500 years, Hindus and Buddhists have promoted meditation as a means to attain insight and liberation from suffering, a state sometimes understood in terms of divinity or Buddha-nature. Meditation has also been adopted by some in the West during the last century, often for psychological or physical benefits apart from any devotional context. What had traditionally been a practice of ordained monks was popularized in the West, a trend that then caught on in Asia as well. We look at the origins of meditative practices in Asian traditions using primary sources, social context, and personal experience of basic meditative techniques. The course concludes by noting that some contemporary neuroscientists are looking to meditation to better understand mind, brain, emotion, and cognition.


Winter 2014

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Introduction to Religion

REL 100 - Onishi (Multiple Sections)

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.

New Testament

REL 102 - Brown (Multiple Sections)

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

God and Goddess in Hinduism

REL 132 - Lubin

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.

Secularity, Disenchantment, and Religion

REL 203 - Onishi

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.

Sainthood in Four Traditions

REL 216 - Lubin

A survey of sainthood in a variety of religious contexts: Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist. The course asks: "What makes someone holy? How do saints behave? How and why are they worshipped?" Readings include sacred biographies (hagiographies), studies of particular traditions of saint worship, and interpretations of sainthood in both theological and cross-cultural perspectives.

Directed Study in Sanskrit

REL 299 - Lubin

Instruction in Sanskrit language and literature. For students at the elementary level, the course presents all the basic grammar of the language over the course of a year, with readings of gradually increasing difficulty from the first class. Recitation and the use of spoken Sanskrit to analyze grammatical forms will be taught. At the intermediate level, the course gives more attention to syntax, the use of compounds, and metrics. All readings are taken from original Sanskrit works, beginning with easy epic passages and fables in prose and verse. At the advanced level, the course guides students in the reading, analysis, and interpretation of important works in Sanskrit (chosen in accordance with the students' interests), providing historical, religious, and cultural background, as well as a consideration of the relevant secondary literature. Opportunities for reading from manuscripts are offered. May be repeated for degree credit when the levels of instruction are different. Only the fifth term of study (third-year level) may be used to a meet a major requirement.

Islamic Law in Society

REL 381 - Blecher

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.


Fall 2013

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Introduction to Asian Religions

REL 103 - Lubin

A survey of the teachings, practices, and historical significance of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto.

Introduction to Islam

REL 105 - Blecher (Multiple Sections)

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.

Christianity and Modern Culture

REL 152 - Onishi

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.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 195 - Onishi

A course offered from time to time in a selected problem or topic in religion. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Spring 2014 Topic:

REL 195: Christianity and Contemporary Culture (3). This course offers an examination of Christianity's relationship to contemporary culture by way of exploration of several contentious cultural issues in the United States and globally. While we gain a historical and theological understanding of Christianity's relationship to culture, we also take the opportunity to speak with Christian leaders, activists, and scholars in the area. Neither a course on the history of theology, nor on the theology of culture, our focus is on understanding how and why various Christian groups have formed such divergent interpretations of contemporary political, social, and ethical matters. (HU) Onishi. Spring 2014

 

Fall 2013 topic:

REL 195: Death and Dying (3). Not open to students who have taken this topic as REL 180, 181 or 213. A comparison of ways in which various religious traditions, as well as modern secular writers, describe and conceive of death and the meaning of life in the face of our human mortality. Students study memoirs, philosophy, poetry, novels, scripture, essays, and film. (HU) Onishi.

Approaches to the Study of Religion

REL 210 - Brown

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

Seminar in the Christian Tradition

REL 260 - Brown

An introduction to perduring issues in Christian theology and ethics through study of one or more of the classical Christian theologians.

Fall 2013 topic:

REL 260: Seminar in the Christian Tradition: Christian Mystical and Visionary Traditions (3). This course explores classical Christian texts from antiquity to the present that concern a particular phenomenon, namely the desire for and experience of the divine presence. Certain of Christianity’s great figures have embraced this “mystical” mode of experience and expression while others have consciously avoided it. Beginning with biblical (Jewish and Christian) and classical Greek materials that inform later mystical expression, and moving on to particular figures and movements in the patristic, medieval, Reformation, and post-Enlightenment eras, we examine both primary texts and various theories (e.g., theories of language, psychology and religion) pertinent to them. (HU) Brown.

 

Introduction to American Indian Religions

REL 285 - Markowitz (Multiple Sections)

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.

Directed Study in Sanskrit

REL 299 - Lubin

Instruction in Sanskrit language and literature. For students at the elementary level, the course presents all the basic grammar of the language over the course of a year, with readings of gradually increasing difficulty from the first class. Recitation and the use of spoken Sanskrit to analyze grammatical forms will be taught. At the intermediate level, the course gives more attention to syntax, the use of compounds, and metrics. All readings are taken from original Sanskrit works, beginning with easy epic passages and fables in prose and verse. At the advanced level, the course guides students in the reading, analysis, and interpretation of important works in Sanskrit (chosen in accordance with the students' interests), providing historical, religious, and cultural background, as well as a consideration of the relevant secondary literature. Opportunities for reading from manuscripts are offered. May be repeated for degree credit when the levels of instruction are different. Only the fifth term of study (third-year level) may be used to a meet a major requirement.

Hindu Law in Theory and Practice

REL 335 - Lubin

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.

Senior Seminar

REL 399 - Lubin

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.