Course Offerings

Fall 2018

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 - Kosky, Jeffrey L. / Rowe, Barbara L.

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.

Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

REL 101 - Sonia, Kerry M.

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

Introduction to Islam

REL 105 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

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.

FS: First-Year Seminar

REL 180 - Sonia, Kerry M.

First-year seminar. Topics vary by term.

Augustine and the Literature of Self, Soul, and Synapses

REL 219 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

A careful reading of the depiction of the restless soul in Augustine's Confessions is followed by study of fictional, philosophical, religious, and/or scientific literature. Students reflect on the state of the soul in a world made of selves or the fate of the self in a soulless world ... and whether there might be other options

Whose Law? Pluralism. Conflict, and Justice

REL 220 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

Society is made up of schools, corporations, religions, guilds, associations, tribes, etc., each defined by a set of more-or-less formal rules that apply in various ways depending on the status of each member. Individuals are thus subject to overlapping obligations and claims, so authorities often come into conflict. This is legal pluralism. This seminar explores the various ways in which such interactions can play out in a range of social, religious, and political environments, and how they can affect people of different statuses differently. Examples range from the Roman empire, the Middle East and South Asia, past and present, to the modern United States and Europe. In each case, we examine the ways in which legal status is defined in relation to the state, religious community, ethnicity or race, and social class. Given different, overlapping, conflicting claims to authority, rights, and obligations, how is justice to be defined, and how can it be served?

Truth, Identity, and the Boundaries of Belief: Defining Insiders and Outsiders in Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Religion

REL 250 - Brown, Alexandra R.

Who decides what is orthodox [acceptable thought] and what is heretical [unacceptable], how are these decisions made, and what impact do they have on societal definitions of "insider" and "outsider?" What perennial questions emerge in debates about orthodoxy and heresy -- e.g., the powers of states to enforce religious orthodoxy, the joining of political ideologies with religious interests -- and how are those questions addressed in modernity? This course explores the shifting and perpetually uncertain boundaries of truth and identity in religion. The focal religion is Christianity, but comparative religions are in view. 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), medieval heresy trials, a contemporary American novel, and recent scholarly treatments of the boundaries that define "insiders" and "outsiders."

Introduction to American Indian Religions

REL 285 - Markowitz, Harvey J.

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.

Seminar in Biblical Studies

REL 351 - Brown, Alexandra R.

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.

Fall 2018, REL 351-01: Visions of the End: Apocalyptic Literature Antiquity to the Present (3). Prerequisite: Previous coursework in religion, classics, philosophy or ancient history recommended. A study of the texts, movements and other cultural manifestations of end-time expectations in Jewish and Christian antiquity with attention to prominent legacies of apocalypticism in medieval and modern times. Contemporary apocalyptic expressions in art, music, and film (e.g., hip-hop, zombie apocalypses, dystopian fiction) also considered. (HL) Brown.

Senior Seminar

REL 399 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

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, Jeffrey L.

Honors Thesis.

Spring 2018

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.

Biblical Job and His Modern Masks

REL 270 - Marks, Richard G.

This course combines study, performance, and creative writing. We study the biblical Book of Job in relation to other wisdom writings in the Hebrew Bible, and then some later Jewish and Christian interpretations. Students write about a theme in the Book of Job and perform a significant passage. Afterwards, we read several modern retellings of the book such as MacLeish's J.B. , Wiesel's Trial of God , Sholem Aleichem's Tevye stories, and the Danish film Adam's Apples . The final student project is a personal and creative retelling of the book in a contemporary setting. Lastly, students perform, with another member of the class, a critical scene from their compositions.

Winter 2018

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.

Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

REL 101 - Marks, Richard G.

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


REL 131 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

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.

Jesus in Fact, Fiction, and Film

REL 153 - Brown, Alexandra R.

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.

Nature and Place

REL 207 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

Through a consideration of work drawn from diverse disciplines including philosophy, religious studies, literature, art, and anthropology, this course explores a variety of ideas about and experiences of nature and place.

Approaches to the Study of Religion

REL 210 - Brown, Alexandra R.

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

Heidegger and Being in the World

REL 218 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

This course explores the work of Martin Heidegger and the development of its themes in the work of select philosophical, literary, and/or film artists. A close reading of the magisterial account of being in the world in Being and Time is followed by careful study of representative essays from his later work. After our reading of Heidegger, we consider the literary, cinematic, and/or philosophical work of major 20th- and 21st-century artists who let us reflect on the possibilities and/or problems that his account of being in the world poses for ethical, religious, and existential concern.

Modern Jewish Literature in Translation

REL 273 - Marks, Richard G.

Readings in the works of 20th-century Jewish authors, studied as literary responses to the historical and religious crises of modern Jewish life in Europe, the United States, and Israel.

Gender, Sexuality, and Islam

REL 284 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

How have issues of gender and sexuality in Medieval and Modern Islamic societies been debated across the Middle East, South Asia, and the West? Students examine scholarly and public discussions of gender and Islam, and they build a vocabulary in which to talk about women. queer, and intersex history as they concern Muslim societies and their foundational sources in their regional and historical contexts. No prior knowledge of Islam is necessary.

Islamic Law in Society

REL 381 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

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.

Honors Thesis

REL 493 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

Honors Thesis.