Course Offerings

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).

Buddhism

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. (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.

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. (Alex)

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.

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.