Course Offerings

Fall 2017

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 - Brown, Alexandra R. (Alex)

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

Secularity, Disenchantment, and Religion

REL 104 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

A study of the decline, transformation, and/or displacement of religious thought and practice in the west. Students explore depictions of religion and secularity in the modern west from the perspective of a variety of disciplines, including some or all of the following: sociology, psychology, philosophy, theology, literature, art.  These explorations address the disenchantment that is supposed to have pervaded modern secularity, and they ask if secularity offers alternatives to such disenchantment.

Us, Them, and God: Religion, Identity, and Interaction in the Middle East and South Asia

REL 130 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

This course surveys the historical and social dynamics that have contributed to the formation of religious identities in the Middle East and South Asia. These identities, shaped over many centuries by the rise, spread, and interaction of religious ideas, peoples, and institutions, become important factors in socio-political movements and conflicts. The course takes a long view of the historical roots of these religious identities, their shifting boundaries and significance in the era of European colonialism, and their role in the formation of post-colonial nations. Particular emphasis is placed on the cultural linkages between the various Middle Eastern and South Asian cultural spheres, and broader patterns of Identity-formation and cultural influence through forms of globalization, both modern and pre-modem

FS: First-Year Seminar

REL 180 - Marks, Richard G.

First-year seminar. Topics vary by term.

Fall 2017, REL 180-01: FS: Perspectives on Death and Dying (3) . First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year standing. A comparison of ways in which various religious traditions, as well as modern secular writers, think about the meaning of life in the face of our human mortality. Students study memoirs, novels, essays, scripture, and film, and write a journal and essays. A discussion-centered course, with visits to a funeral home and cemetery. Note: Should not be repeated in the future as REL 213. (HU) Marks.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 195A - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

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 2017, REL 195A-01: Islamic Mysticism (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. (HU) Atanasova.

Perspectives on Death and Dying

REL 213 - Marks, Richard G.

Should not be repeated by those students who have taken this class as REL 180 or 181 or WRIT 100-04: FY Wr Sem: Shadow of Death. 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.

Religion and Existentialism

REL 214 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

A consideration of the accounts of human existence (faith and doubt; death and being-in-the-world; anxiety, boredom, and hope; sin and evil; etc.) elaborated by philosophers, theologians, and literary figures in the 19th and 20th centuries. The central figures considered are Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. Attention is paid to their significance for future philosophers, theologians, artists, and literary figures, and consideration may also be paid to forerunners in earlier centuries.

Law and Religion

REL 222 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim) / Rowe, Barbara L.

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.

Seminar in the Christian Tradition

REL 260 - Brown, Alexandra R. (Alex)

An introduction to perduring issues in Christian theology and ethics through study of one or more of the classical Christian theologians. Fall 2017 topic: Christian Mysticism and Visionary Traditions , exploring diverse Christian sources from antiquity to modernity with a focus on experiences and expressions of the "presence of God," the "Ground of Being," the "wholly other," the "beatific vision," etc. Course materials include primary sources from mystics and visionaries and secondary readings exploring theories about mystical experience. Near the end of the course, students consider contemporary and even secular expression in poetry and music that points to the mystical without using traditional theological language. A field trip to a monastery helps to contextualize some themes we encounter in the course.

Sufism: Islamic Mysticism

REL 283 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

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.

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.

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 2017

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.

Caste at the Intersection of Economy, Religion, and Law

REL 246 - Silwal, Shikha B. / Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

Social stratification touches every aspect of life, and South Asia's traditional caste structure is a special case: this highly complex, strictly-adhered-to system has been religiously legitimized and criticized over a 3,000-year history, and is nowadays seen as being at odds with the modern world. Yet it remains a crucial factor in social identity, economic roles, legal status, and religious practice. This course offers a 360-degree survey of caste both historically and in practice today in Nepal. The course addresses four themes, respectively providing for each a combination of historical background, social scientific analysis of the modern situation, and direct field experience for the students.

Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland

REL 387 - Brown, Alexandra R. (Alex) / Conner, Marc C.

This course immerses the student in the literature, religious traditions, history, and culture of Ireland. The primary focus of the course is on Irish literary expressions and religious beliefs and traditions, from the pre-historic period to the modem day, with a particular emphasis on the modem (early 20th-century) Irish world. Readings are coordinated with site visits, which range from prehistoric and Celtic sites to early and medieval Christian sites to modem Irish life. Major topics and authors include Yeats and Mysticism, St. Brendan's Pilgrimage, Folklore and Myth, Lady Gregory and Visions, Religion in Irish Art, the Blasket Island storytellers, the Mystic Island, and others.

Winter 2017

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.

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 - Marks, Richard G.

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

God and Goddess in Hinduism

REL 132 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

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.

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

Yogis, Monks, and Mystics in India

REL 231 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

Yogis, ascetics, and other holy people pursue extraordinary paths that invert the normal aims and values of society. This course surveys ideas on mental and physical training; their conceptual basis; the range of techniques used; and their philosophical development. Course material is drawn from a diverse range of religions that may include Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Islamic, and Christian. The course seeks to answer such questions as: "What is the purpose of these teachings and for whom were they designed?" "What roles do yogis and ascetics play in religious life?" and "What is their ethical status in the world?"

Early Christian Thought: Orthodoxy and Heresy

REL 250 - Brown, Alexandra R. (Alex)

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.

God and the Holocaust

REL 275 - Marks, Richard G.

Through drama, poetry, theology, memoir, book-inspired films, and short fiction composed by Holocaust victims and later writers, this discussion-centered course explores how Jews have addressed the question, "Where was God during the Holocaust?" Their answers range from acquiescent faith to angry rejection, and to paradoxical wrestling with an absent God. We begin with the biblical books of Job and Lamentations as well as traditional Jewish writings about national catastrophes and the Messiah, to learn how they addressed the problem of undeserved suffering. We compare these ancient ideas with our main topic of study: the ideas and experiences of modern Jews confronting the theological problem of the Holocaust.

Honors Thesis

REL 493 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

Honors Thesis.