skip to main content
Menu

Course Offerings

Fall 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.

New Testament

REL 102 - STAFF / Brown (Multiple Sections)

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

The Qur'an

REL 108 - Blecher (Multiple Sections)

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the Qur'an from a range of modern and pre-modern perspectives: as an oral recitation; as a material object; as a historical document; as a literary text; as it relates to the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament; as a foundation for Islamic law, theology and mysticism; and as a source for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.

FS: First-Year Seminar

REL 181 - Marks

. Fall 2014 topic:

REL 181-01: Death and Dying (3). First-year seminar. Prerequsite: First-year standing. 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, and write a journal and essays. Includes guest speakers and visits to a funeral home and cemetery. Marks

Law and Religion

REL 222 - Lubin

Drawing on examples from diverse periods and legal cultures, this seminar addresses "law" and "religion" as two realms of life that have much shared history and continue to intersect in the modern world. Several important topics in comparative law and jurisprudence are covered, including authority and legitimacy, the relation between custom and statute, legal pluralism, church-state relations, and competing models of constitutional secularism. A selective survey of legal systems and practices rooted in particular religious traditions is followed by an examination of how secular legal systems conceptualize religion and balance the protection of religious freedom with their standards of equity and neutrality.

Early Christian Thought: Orthodoxy and Heresy

REL 250 - STAFF / Brown

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.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 295A - Kosky

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.

Fall 2014 topic:

REL 295A-01: Heidegger and being in the world (3). This course explores the work of Martin Heidegger and the development of its themes in the work of select literary and/or film artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. A close reading of the magisterial account of being in the world in his 1927 Being and Time is followed by careful study of representative essays from his later work. Short works from Heidegger's critics help us see the possibilities and/or problems that his account of being in the world poses for ethical, religious, and existential concern. After our reading of Heidegger, we consider the literary and cinematic work of major 20th- and 21st-century artists who let us reflect on the meaning and importance of his thinking about being in the world. Artists considered may include Terrence Malick, Cormac McCarthy, Milan Kundera, and others. (HU) Kosky.

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.

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.

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.

Senior Seminar

REL 399 - Marks

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.

Honors Thesis

REL 493 - Kosky

Honors Thesis.

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.