Course Offerings

Fall 2016

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.


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.

Christianity and Modern Culture

REL 152 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

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.

Perspectives on Death and Dying

REL 213 - Marks, Richard G.

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.

Female and Male in Western Religious Traditions

REL 215 - Brown, Alexandra R. (Alex)

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.

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.

Law and Religion

REL 222 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

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.

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 2016

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.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 295 - Hyne-Sutherland, Amy L.

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 2016, REL 295-01: Madness, Psychology, and Religion (4). Why are madness and religion so often associated with one another? Why do different people, sometimes even the same person, consider the same phenomenon as either madness or religion? This course addresses these questions by reading (1) theories that explain away-religion as madness; (2) biographies of gurus and saints who think the world, not themselves, mad; (3) studies in cognitive science that measure religious experience in the laboratory; and (4) works of literature in which madness and religion are associated. (HU) Hyne-Sutherland.

Winter 2016

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.

Judaism: Tradition and Modernity

REL 106 - Marks, Richard G.

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.

Jesus in Fact, Fiction, and Film

REL 153 - Brown, Alexandra R. (Alex)

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.

Beginning Biblical Hebrew II

REL 176 - Marks, Richard G.

Graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory. In this course, students develop an introductory knowledge of classical (biblical) Hebrew grammar and vocabulary, and of how biblical language expresses itself in selected biblical passages. Student learn to read and translate simple narrative prose from the Hebrew Bible, and gain a more nuanced understanding of the life and thought of the ancient Israelites through their own language.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 195 - Hyne-Sutherland, Amy L.

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.

Winter 2016, REL 195-01: Popular Religion in South Asia (3). How is religion shaped by culture? In what ways does the religion of everyday life—what is practiced "on the ground"—differ from what is described in classical texts? This course explores these questions in the context of South Asia. Through an exploration of rituals, beliefs, healing practices, pilgrimages, festivals, and death rites in Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Sikh, and Buddhist traditions, we explore South Asian religiosity on an individual level, at the level of family, and in the public sphere. (HU) Hyne-Sutherland.

Fall 2015, REL195-01: Special Topic in Religion: Introduction to Christian Thought and Culture (3). Readings in key primary texts and important secondary works introduce students to major theological issues in the history of Christian thought and important forms of life and culture in the history of Christianity. (HU) Kosky. Fall 2015

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.

Ancient Greek Religion

REL 223 - Laughy, Michael H., Jr.

In this course, we examine the strange and wonderful world of ancient Greek religion, beginning with stories of the gods that all Greeks knew: Homer and Hesiod. We then study religion on the ground, examining how religion functioned at a number of sanctuaries and shrines in Greece. Topics covered in this course include ancient conceptions of the cosmos; the nature of Greek deities and heroes; the distinction between myth and religion; the art and architecture of sanctuaries; ritual performances and festivals; ritual sacrifice; sacred games; oracles; the underworld; sacred mysteries; women and religion; and the socio-political role of Greek ritual practice.

American Indian Religions, Landscapes, and Identities

REL 224 - Markowitz, Harvey J.

Drawing on a combination of scholarly essays, native accounts, videos, guest lectures, and student presentations, this seminar examines the religious assumptions and practices that bind American Indian communities to their traditional homelands. The seminar elucidates and illustrates those principles concerning human environmental interactions common to most Indian tribes; focuses on the traditional beliefs and practices of a particular Indian community that reflected and reinforced the community understanding of the relationship to be maintained with the land and its creatures; and examines the moral and legal disputes that have arisen out of the very different presuppositions which Indians and non- Indians hold regarding the environment.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 295 - Hyne-Sutherland, Amy L.

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.

Winter 2016, REL 295-01: Hinduism in American Popular Culture (3). Yoga camps, Ohm tattoos, 5K color runs: all are testament to the fact that religious ideas and symbols from classical Indian culture have found new life in contemporary America. In this course, we examine this process of transmission, exchange, and appropriation. Students examine classical Indian texts in translation alongside modern re-imaginings of the concepts and practices found within them. Major topics include: the appropriation of Hindu symbols and practices for commercial or artistic purposes, the role of Indian philosophy in American literature and counter-culture, the nature of the guru-disciple relationship in American ashrams, and the development of "spiritual" tourism to South Asia. (HU) Hyne-Sutherland.

Seminar in Biblical Studies

REL 350 - Brown, Alexandra R. (Alex)

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, REL 350-01: 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.

Islamic Law in Society

REL 381 - Blecher, Joel A.

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 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

Honors Thesis.