Spring 2017   Fall 2016  

Spring 2017

RELI 111-01

Introduction to Buddhism

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-10:40 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Erik Davis

Notes: Buddhism is increasing well-known in the USA, but what is it, and how does Buddhism encourage people to organize and think about their lives? Organized on the basis of the Eightfold Noble Path, with a focus of 'morals, the Buddhist psychology of mind, and meditation,' this course offers an introduction to the personalities, teachings, and institutions of Buddhism. Beginning in India at the time of the Buddha, this course focuses on Theravada Buddhism, asking students to think historically, philosophically, and anthropologically. Many Friday sessions will be dedicated to an exploration of the variety of Buddhist meditative techniques. (4 credits)

RELI 194-01

After the Holocaust

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Barry Cytron

Notes:

RELI 194-02

World Religions and World Religious Discourse

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 02:20 pm-03:20 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: James Laine

Notes:

RELI 194-03

Sufism: The Islamic Quest for Intimacy with the Beloved

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Gregory Lipton

Notes:

RELI 233-01

Hindus and Muslims

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: James Laine

Notes: This class will be a reflection on the long history of co-existence of people in South Asia thought to belong to two very different religions Hinduism and Islam. We will begin by looking at the formation of classical Islam in the Middle East, and looking at the classical Hindu epic, the Ramayana. From there we will move to a survey of the history of encounter and exchange, from the early period (al Biruni), to the establishment of the great Muslim sultanates. We will critically examine the evidence of religious conflict, alongside the evidence of rich cultural exchange, and interrogate the competing historigrahic narratives, according to which South Asia either become a single Indo-Islamic civilization or a place of two cultures destined to become different modern nation states (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh). Finally, we will consider colonial and post colonial South Asia and conclude with a reflection on the Babri Masjid crisis and India's debates about secularism. (4 credits)

RELI 294-01

Imagination and Religious Imagination

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Erik Davis

Notes:

RELI 294-02

Religion and Its Modern Post Modern Critics

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: William Hart

Notes:

RELI 294-03

Sacred Madness

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Gregory Lipton

Notes:

RELI 394-01

Violent Resistance and Death

  • Days: W
  • Meeting Time: 07:00 pm-10:00 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: William Hart

Notes:

RELI 394-02

Slaves, Animals, and Fetuses

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room:
  • Instructor: William Hart

Notes:

RELI 469-01

Approaches to the Study of Religion

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room:
  • Instructor: Susanna Drake

Notes: An advanced seminar required for religious studies majors, open to minors. Both classic and contemporary theories on the nature of religion and critical methods for the study of religion will be considered. (4 credits)

Fall 2016

RELI 111-01

Introduction to Buddhism

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 02:20 pm-03:20 pm
  • Room: MAIN 111
  • Instructor: Erik Davis

Notes: *First Year Course only* This class intends to introduce students with little to no prior exposure to Buddhism to the basic concepts, philosophy, and meditative practices within Buddhism, primarily as found within the Theravada tradition of South and Southeast Asia. It will tend to focus on historical, social, or anthropological approaches to Buddhist Studies, and will particularly examine Buddhist Modernism, and the current fashions of ‘mindfulness’ meditative practices. The primary goals of this class are two: First, to introduce Buddhism via its fundamental principles and theories; Second, to examine how Buddhism appears in the personal and communal worlds of traditional Buddhist Southeast Asia. Note that there is a regular meditation lab as a component of the class.


RELI 135-01

India and Rome

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: NEILL 226
  • Instructor: Laine, Overman

Notes: *Cross-listed with CLAS 135-01*

This course is taught jointly between the department of Religious Studies and the department of Classics, by a specialist in the Roman East and a specialist in classical India. We will start on either side of this world, with Alexander the Great and Ashoka, exploring the relationship between empire and religion from Rome to India in the world's crossroads for the thousand years between Alexander and the rise of Islam. Cross-listed with Classics 135. (4 credits)

RELI 194-01

American Judaisms Since 1945: From Religion to Tribe to Post-Ethnic

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room: ARTCOM 102
  • Instructor: Barry Cytron

Notes: American Jewish life has been upended since the end of World War II. The Holocaust, the establishment of Israel and suburbanization in an era of protest and identity politics all combined to dramatically transform the community’s religious, political and cultural paths. We’ll examine how America’s Jews interacted with multiple forces as it debated, adapted and carved out new forms of practice and self-understanding.

RELI 194-02

World Religions and World Religions Discourse

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 03:30 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: MAIN 010
  • Instructor: James Laine

Notes: Our goal will be to make an effort to comprehend just what cultural literacy would mean when studying the major religious traditions of the world, while at the same time developing an appreciation of some of the blind spots and problems in this enterprise. To a large extent, we will do some serious construction before we feel ready for de-construction. Ever couple of weeks, we will cover one of five major areas (South Asia, East Asia, Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and each student will read a different author's treatment of this material.

RELI 212-01

Philosophy of Religion

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: MAIN 010
  • Instructor: Joy Laine

Notes: *Cross-listed with PHIL 212-01*

Philosophical analysis of problems in religion and theology such as arguments for the existence of God and the nature of religious knowledge. The Philosophy of Religion seeks an understanding of religion by raising philosophical questions about its underlying assumptions and implications. When we believe something it is because we think it is true and because we think we have good evidence to support our belief. In the case of religious beliefs, however, we are immediately faced with questions concerning the nature of such beliefs. What claims do they make? What would count as good evidence for a religious belief? What is the nature of religious truth? In this course we will examine the nature of religious beliefs and the ways in which philosophers in different traditions have justified or argued against such beliefs. Perhaps in response to the increasing challenge to religion from the natural sciences, twentieth century philosophers have questioned the traditional philosophical approach to religion. Some philosophers, Wittgenstein for example, question traditional interpretations of religious language and re-examine the relationship between faith and reason. Can religious life be practiced without a theology or with skepticism or agnosticism regarding theological questions? Other topics covered in the course include the attempt to introduce intelligent design into public schools as part of the science curriculum; religious pluralism; the belief in life after death; and feminist critiques of religious language. Cross-listed with Philosophy 212. Alternate years. (4 Credits)

RELI 235-01

Theorizing Religion

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 01:20 pm-02:50 pm
  • Room: MAIN 111
  • Instructor: Erik Davis

Notes: The course is an introduction to some of the important theoretical and methodological work conducted by scholars in various disciplines who hope to better define and understand religious phenomena. This seminar begins with some of the early twentieth century texts that are often cited and discussed by contemporary scholars of religion (e.g., Durkheim, Weber, Freud) and then turns to a number of investigations stemming from engagement with earlier theorists or refracting new concerns. The course inquires into the problems of defining and analyzing religious cultures, and the researcher's position or positions in this analysis, as this has been approached from anthropological, sociological, and religious studies perspectives. (4 credits)


RELI 238-01

Catholics: Culture, Identity, Politics

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 10:50 am-11:50 am
  • Room: MAIN 111
  • Instructor: James Laine

Notes: A study of the religious tradition of Roman Catholicism. Some attention will be given to the theology and historical development of the Roman Catholic Church, but major emphasis will fall on the relationship of the Catholic religion to various Catholic cultures, including Ireland, Mexico, Poland and the United States. (4 credits)


RELI 245-01

Arabic Reading and Translation

  • Days: MWF
  • Meeting Time: 12:00 pm-01:00 pm
  • Room: MAIN 011
  • Instructor: Gregory Lipton

Notes: *Cross-listed with CLAS 345-01*

This course aims to improve your Arabic reading and translation skills while introducing you to selected genres of Arabic and Islamic literature. The course will proceed in a workshop format and focus on the comprehension and translation of texts in question. Students will learn to use an Arabic dictionary, expand their vocabulary, deepen their understanding of grammar and syntax, and develop skills in reading manuscripts, navigating Arabic texts, and producing English translations. Prerequisite: 3 previous semesters of Arabic language. Cross-listed with Classics 345. (4 credits)

RELI 252-01

Martin and Malcolm: Racial Terror and the Black Freedom Struggle

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room: NEILL 409
  • Instructor: William Hart

Notes: In this course we explore the complicated lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. - the convergences and divergences. We analyze the intersections of racial identity, religious affiliation, and political orientation and their relations to the prevailing notions of manhood. How did Malcolm and Martin enter the black freedom movement? How did their religious affiliation facilitate or hinder entry? How did their participation in the movement inform their understanding of religion? Within their respective imaginations, what kind of "religio-political and ethical figure" is America - Egypt, or Promised Land, Zion or Babylon; messianic nation or apocalyptic, dystopian nightmare? How do Martin and Malcolm perform, enact, and embody the notion that "black lives matter?" (4 credits)

RELI 294-03

The Veil in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam

  • Days: M
  • Meeting Time: 07:00 pm-10:00 pm
  • Room: MAIN 111
  • Instructor: Susanna Drake

Notes: *Cross-listed with WGSS 294-03* In this course, we will examine the role of the veil in societies from the ancient Near East to the present. We will pay special attention to veiling as a cultural and religious practice that reflects ideas about piety, gender, and status. Along with learning about the history of the veil and its use in some of the major religious traditions, we will consider the function of the veil in contemporary political debates, and we will explore women's veiling, in particular, as a topic in feminist discourse.

RELI 294-04

Conversion and Inquisition: Religious Change

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 09:40 am-11:10 am
  • Room: NEILL 110
  • Instructor: Karin Velez

Notes: *Cross-listed with HIST 252-01* What causes people to change their religious beliefs? How have societies handled those who do alter their spiritual attitudes? This course focuses on several dramatic case studies of men and women who self-consciously changed their religion during the turbulent period of imperial encounters between the mid-1500s and the 1700s. Among others, we will examine and interrogate reports of converts to Christianity including Jewish and Muslim prisoners of the Inquisition, captives of Mediterranean pirates, and the nearly canonized Mohawk convert Catherine Tekakwitha. We will consider how violence, national loyalties, gender, charisma, local power dynamics, environmental upheaval, and serendipity affected the choices and fates of these converts. Meets the both the global/comparative and pre-1800 requirements.

RELI 354-01

Human Sacrifice: Killing for God and State

  • Days: TR
  • Meeting Time: 03:00 pm-04:30 pm
  • Room: MAIN 011
  • Instructor: William Hart

Notes: Though sacrifice is often viewed as the exclusive property of religion, this course is organized around the claim that religion and statecraft (the art of governing a nation well) are connected through practices of human sacrifice. Thus, in this course, we use "human sacrifice" as a comparative category to understand aspects of religion and statecraft, especially in war, capital punishment, torture, terrorism, and genocide. Though torture, terrorism, and genocide are important, our special focus is warfare and capital punishment, which encompass the other sites of human sacrifice. The central questions are the following: Why do gods and states demand blood; whence the impulse to human sacrifice? What are the relations between divine sovereignty, political sovereignty, and sacrifice? What are the modalities of human sacrifice? Is human sacrifice inevitable? (4 credits)