Course Offerings

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.

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.