Spring 2023 Offerings Course Info on SIS Archives
The list below includes descriptions of all undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Department of Religion, though some courses may be taught more often than others. Descriptions for special topics seminars are updated each semester.
Visit the undergraduate page for course requirements for specific programs. For up-to-date information on course offerings, schedules, room locations and registration, please visit the Student Information System (SIS).
REL 0001 Introduction To Religion. (Cross-listed as CVS 15) An introduction to the field of religion to give the student an understanding of the basic elements of the subject: the major characteristics, the forms and expressions, and the contributions to man's personal and social orientation.
REL 0002 Special Topics. Current Topics in the Study of Religion. Formerly REL 0010.
REL 0008 Introduction to Buddhism. The history, the doctrines, and practices of Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia. Philosophical theories of the Buddha, meditation, and Nirvana, plus aspects of Buddhist social and institutional history. Formerly REL 0045. REL 0010 Introduction to the Religions of China. Historical introduction to texts and contexts of major Chinese religions from Shang Dynasty shamanic practices to debates about religion in contemporary China. Historical and literary approaches to the study of religions in China. Interactions between folk and elite traditions, and alternating syncretism and competition between religions. Formerly REL 0053.
REL 0010 Introduction to the Religions of China. Historical introduction to texts and contexts of major Chinese religions from Shang Dynasty shamanic practices to debates about religion in contemporary China. Historical and literary approaches to the study of religions in China. Interactions between folk and elite traditions, and alternating syncretism and competition between religions. Formerly REL 0053.
REL 0012 Introduction to Christianity. Exploration of the major ideas, institutions, and practices of Christianity, with close attention to the diverse forms and expressions that Christian faith and life have taken in different historical periods and among a range of communities. Formerly REL 0035.
REL 0014 Introduction to Hinduism. Overview of the Hindu religious tradition, combining historical and textual study with investigation of modern and contemporary themes. Attention to the expression and contestation of Hinduism in colonial, postcolonial and diasporic contexts. Critical reflection on Hindu beliefs, social structures, popular customs, and rituals. Formerly REL 0044.
REL 0016 Introduction to Islam. Islam in its many facets. Pre-Islamic Arabia, the Prophet, the Qur'an, the prophetic traditions, tradition and customs, law, theology, major denominations, philosophy, and mysticism. Formerly REL 0048.
REL 0018 Introduction to Judaism. (Cross-listed as JS 34) Judaism as a diverse textual tradition and lived religion, with a focus on beliefs, ethics, and rituals. Contemporary Jewish communities from a global perspective; Hebrew Bible; rabbinic literature; medieval and modern theology and mysticism; social forms, law, and practice. Formerly REL 0034.
REL 0020 Introduction to Yiddish Culture. (Cross-listed as JS 65). An examination of the roots of East European Jewish culture, beginning with a 6000-year survey of the religions of Abraham; a brief examination of the origins of Judaism, the evolution of Christianity and Islam; the historic migration of the Jewish people from Asia to Western Europe and eventually to Czarist Russia; the rise and fall of Yiddish literature; the end of the Shtetl world; and the American experience. Readings include Sholom Aleichem, Sholem Asch, I. B. Singer, Bernard Malamud, and Phillip Roth. Stress on universal cultural patterns and similarities of ethnic experience. Formerly REL 0065.
REL 0021 Introduction to Hebrew Bible. (Cross-listed as JS 21) Survey of the Hebrew Bible in its historical context. Development of the religion of Ancient Israel, the life of Moses, production of Israelite codes of law, construction of theological language and imagery, rise of monarchy and temple, accounts of creation, psalms and wisdom literature, and lives and legacies of the Israelite prophets.
REL 0022 Introduction to New Testament. Study of the origins of Christianity and the evolution of its earliest beliefs and practices, as reflected in the writings ultimately selected for its canon. Jesus and his interpreters, Paul and his letters, beginnings of the church, interaction between Christians and their Jewish and Greco-Roman environments, women's participation in the shaping of early Christian history. Occasional readings from non-canonical literature to add perspectives.
REL 0023 Introduction to The Talmud. (Cross-listed as JS 87.) Selected passages from the Talmud and rabbinic literature, Mishna, Gemara, Commentaries. Relevance to contemporary moral and ethical issues. All texts in English. Formerly REL 0087.
REL 0024 Muhammad and The Qur'an. Survey of the full range of Islamic scripture and sacred literature: the Qur'an, Hadith, Sira (Biography of Muhammad), and Tales of the Prophets. The objective is an understanding of these genres individually, their relationship to one another, as well as their relationship to the scriptures of other Abrahamic religions. Formerly REL 0154.
REL 0031 Philosophy of Religion. (Cross-listed as PHIL 16.) Introduction to the philosophical analysis of major religious concepts, such as God, human nature, freedom of will, immortality, and the problem of evil, through a study of representative types of religious philosophies. Formerly REL 0006.
REL 0032 Gurus, Cults, and Utopias. Introduction to the study of modern and contemporary New Religious Movements (NRMs) in specific regional contexts (South Asia, the United States, and Japan) and as a global phenomenon. Explores central questions in the study of religion around charismatic leadership, sect formation, utopianism, social mobility, gender, and violence. Influential 20th-century theories of religion and recent critical analyses of transnational, new age, esoteric, and alternative spiritualities.
REL 0033 Life after Death in Western History. Examination of the many ideas of heaven, hell, purgatory, and other afterlives and post-mortem geographies, as they have developed throughout Western history. Survey of a range of texts, artifacts, and works of art from the ancient Mediterranean and Medieval Europe, to the Christian Reformation and early 21st century America, including theoretical questions regarding cognitive science and the imagining of invisible worlds, the socio-political uses of post-mortem damnation and/or reward, as well as the ubiquitous historical struggle to address human mortality. Provides students with critical methods for understanding the texts, artifacts, or works of art in their relevant historical, political, and religious contexts. Formerly REL 0070.
REL 0035 Law, Religion, and International Relations. (Cross-listed with CVS 24) Relations between religion and the state seen through the lens of law and the day to day function of the judiciary in the US, Egypt, and China. Ways that religions provide the justification and structural foundation for the exercise of political and legal power within and between states as well as ways that religions respond to legal constraints enacted by governments. Focus on the repercussions of “Freedom of Religion” both historically and internationally and the role of secularism in fostering distinctly modern forms of religiosity and “fundamentalisms.” First Amendment case-law in the United States; issues of sovereignty, law, and the state in Egypt and China. Formerly REL 0008.
REL 0037 After God: Atheism and Secularism. The meaning and history of atheism and secularism. Are these growing or shrinking trends, universal concepts or specific to the Western and Christian traditions? What are their implications? Readings from both ancient and "new" atheists, and different accounts of the origins of secularism. Formerly REL 0076.
REL 0042 Religion and Politics In American History. (Cross-listed as HIST 126, AMER 15, and CVS 33). The role of religion in shaping American civic engagement and political activity from the seventeenth century to the present, putting contemporary events in broader historical context. Topics and themes may include: the relationship between church and state in the colonial period; faith and the founders; religion and social activism in the antebellum era (especially anti-slavery and women's rights); religion, race and Civil Rights; religious "outsiders" and American politics; spirituality and social protest in the 20th century; the rise of the religious right; religion and American politics post-9/11.
REL 0043 Sociology of Religion. (Cross-listed as SOC 43.) Religion as a cultural universal. Diversity in manifestation, organizational form, myth and ritual. Relationship between worldviews and socioeconomic conditions of religious communities. Social functions of religion. Organization, mission, and political agendas of religious groups in the United States. Formerly REL 0143.
REL 0047 History of Religion in America to the Civil War. Religion in North America from the arrival of European immigrants in the 16th century to the Civil War. Study of major figures, events and issues that have shaped American religious history. How religion has influenced the history of the United States, and conversely, how religious traditions have been transformed by American culture. Key topics and themes include encounter and colonization; revivalism and reform; church and state; gender and women’s history; spirituality and devotional life; slavery and race relations; immigration and ethnicity. Formerly REL 0039.
REL 0048 History of Religion in America Since the Civil War. Religion in the United States from the Civil War to the present. Study of major figures, events and issues that have shaped American religious history. How religion has influenced the history of the United States, and conversely, how religious traditions have been transformed by American culture. Key topics and themes include immigration and ethnicity; pluralism and diversity; responses to urbanization, industrialization, and science; evangelicalism, fundamentalism and pentecostalism; social change and civil rights. Formerly REL 0040.
REL 0049 Contemporary Religion in America. A survey of the major teachings and practices of the various expressions of religion in contemporary America. Attention is given to Judaism, Catholicism, the various denominations of Protestantism, and the so-called new religions, with a view to the appreciation of the religious character of the average community. Formerly REL 0041.
REL 0053 Asian Religions. A survey of the living religions of Asia from a historical point of view. Special attention is given to historical development, the major tenets of faith, and the distinctive ceremonies. Religions studied include Shintoism, Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Formerly REL 0043.
REL 0055 Japanese Religion. A study of Shinto and Japanese Buddhism and their roles in Japanese society and culture, with attention to recent developments, including nationalistic Shinto and the new religions of Japan. Formerly REL 0054.
REL 0058 Zen Buddhism. Historical and social examination of the origins and development of Zen Buddhism from the early political and epistemological debates in India to the reception and development of Buddhist meditation lineages in China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Introduction to debates about meditation theory, the rise of the martial arts, courtly arts such as tea and poetry, the rise of gentry society and the reception of Zen in the U.S.
REL 0062 Jesus from the 1st to the 21st Century. Historical analysis of the many ways in which Jesus has been imagined since the first century. How the religious image of Jesus has been put to use in the intersecting arenas of politics, gender relations, race/ethnicity, and economics. Antiquity with examination of the earliest depictions of Jesus, both theological and artistic. Depictions of Jesus in the writings of early Church Fathers and later portrayals of Jesus in the Middle Ages and Crusades. Perceptions of Jesus from the 18th to 21st centuries: Jesus as the defender of slave holders and as liberator of slaves, Jesus as feminist and Jesus as patriarch, Jesus as bastion of conservative politics, and Jesus as radical revolutionary. Formerly REL 0064.
REL 0063 A Global History of Christianity to the Middle Ages. (Cross-listed as HIST 9). Development of Christianity as a world movement from antiquity through the medieval period. Study of key figures, events, and issues that helped shape Christian traditions in a variety of cultural, social and historical contexts. Formerly REL 0036.
REL 0064 Global History of Christianity since the Middle Ages. (Cross-listed as CST 37 and HIST 15) Development of Christianity as a world movement from the early modern period to the present. Major themes include Protestant Reformations; expansions of Christianity through exploration, trade, conquest and mission; diversity and transformations of Christian traditions in colonial and post-colonial societies; global spread of evangelicalism and pentecostalism. Formerly REL 0037.
REL 0066 Contemporary Catholicism. A study of the landscape of contemporary Catholicism, emerging from reforms initiated by Vatican Council II (1962-65). Basic Catholic beliefs and practices; evolving models of church, ministry, vocation; new interpretations of ancient traditions and dogmas; impact of scholarship in Religion on preaching and religious education; controversies around sex and gender; feminist, liberation-theological, and social justice initiatives; movements for women’s ordination and optional priestly celibacy; demographic changes, parish closings, priest shortage; clergy sexual abuse; aesthetics of Catholic culture and imagination; re-presentations of Mary and the saints. Major focus on how Catholics in the U.S. have “lived their religion” post Vatican II. Formerly 0056.
REL 0070 Greek Religion. (Cross-listed as CLS 80) Examination of ancient Greek religion, including study of the religious festival calendar of Athens; ancient theology/philosophy; mystery cults; so-called “magical practices”; and the rise of Christianity. Lower level of dual level course. Formerly REL 0080.
REL 0072 Hindus and Christians. (Cross-listed as CVS 28) Introduction to central issues in the encounter between Hindus and Christians, especially during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Special consideration given to understanding this encounter against the backdrop of British imperialism and Christian missions, to investigating key thinkers and themes from 1800 to the present, and to appreciating its impact on the modern discourse of religious pluralism. Formerly REL 0060.
REL 0090 Technology and Jewish Oral Tradition. (Cross-listed as MUS 32 and JS 55). The concept of oral tradition and its traditional transmission in the Jewish community. We consider why certain men and women increasingly see the performance of text as a key to authentic religious expression. In many congregations, across denominational lines, busy lay congregants spend hours every week preparing to "read Torah" and lead services at Sabbath worship. Many understand this performance of sacred text as a way to position themselves at the core of authentic religious experience. Increasingly, these oral traditions of chant and prayer are not learned through face to face interaction with cantors, rabbis or other teachers but from websites and computer programs such as "Haftutor," "CyberTropes," or "Navigating the Bible." We examine how the application of these new technologies is changing the transmission, study, performance and cultural understanding of these sacred oral traditions. Formerly REL 0055.
REL 0093 Aspects of the Sephardic Tradition. (Cross-listed as JS 73.) Introduction to the history and culture of the Sephardic Jews. The life and fortunes of the Sephardim in Spain and Portugal, their contributions to the exploration, settlement, and development of America, their folklore, and present attempts to preserve and promote their heritage will be considered. Focus on prominent and interesting Sephardic personalities from diverse countries and times, such as Maimonides, Dona Gracia Nasi, Judah Touro, Haim Isaac Carigal, and Elias Canetti. Formerly REL 0073.
REL 0095 Sources of Jewish Tradition. (Cross-listed as JS 84). The major religious texts of Jewish tradition, from the Hebrew Bible to the nineteenth century, which may include: the Torah, the Passover Haggadah, the Pirke Avot, the Mishnah, the Talmud, the Midrash, the Siddur (prayer book), Halevi's Kuzari, Maimonides' Mishneh Torah and Guide of the Perplexed, medieval Hebrew poetry, the Zohar and Kabbalistic tradition, the Shulhan Arukh, and Hasidic sermons and tales. An attempt is made to understand these works in their social and cultural settings, and to evaluate how and why they were considered important. All texts read in English. Formerly REL 0084.
REL 0099 Theory and Method in The Study Of Religion. Seminar on selected theories and methods in religious studies; may include anthropological, sociological, psychological, philosophical, text-critical, economic, feminist, and Marxist perspectives. Required for Religion majors and minors.
Recommendations: At least two other Religion courses or permission of instructor.
REL 0102 Special Topics. Current Topics in the Study of Religion.
REL 0103 Religion and Film. (Cross-listed as FMS 177) Analysis of religion and religious issues through their portrayal in contemporary film. Focus on approaches to film taken by scholars of religion, including mythological, theological and cultural studies, with consideration of film theory. Genres include drama, comedy, animation and science fiction. Formerly REL 0100.
REL 0106 Religion, Violence and Sexuality. (Cross-listed as WGSS 142) Analysis of representative theological and ethical positions on current issues related to violence/nonviolence and sexuality in the U.S. Attention will be paid to the treatment of these issues in a variety of religious and secular traditions. Topics include responses to war, terrorism, structural oppressions (such as racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism) and sexual violence, as well as controversies around reproductive rights and same-sex marriage.
REL 0109 Myth, Ritual, and Symbol. (Cross-listed as ANTH 132.) Various approaches to myth, ritual, and symbol including functionalist, structuralist, and psychological. Topics include dreams, landscape shamanism, and fairy tales, along with issues of performance, representation, authenticity, and history. Formerly REL 0134.
Recommendations: Sophomore standing.
REL 0110 Sacred Spaces, Contested Places. An exploration of religion as emplaced, embodied, material and spatial. What makes some places sacred? What is the relationship between place and religious experience? Why do some sacred sites become scenes of conflict? Discussion of religious geography, spatial politics, environment and pilgrimage, with selected case studies from Jewish, Christian, Native American, Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim traditions.
REL 0112 Feminist Theologies. (Cross-listed as WGSS 0140) Survey of feminism's impact on the religious commitments of women and on traditional religious institutions, beliefs, and practices. Feminist scholarship in the study of scriptural texts and other historical sources, the rise of women's rituals and alternative spiritualities, religious feminism in relation to other struggles for human dignity and liberation and how the inclusion of women's perspectives is influencing the craft of theology itself. Formerly REL 0104.
REL 0116 Indian Philosophies. (Cross-listed as PHIL 122.) Seminar on the doctrines and arguments of the major Indian schools of philosophy (Samkhya, Buddhist, Vedanta, Nyaya-Vaisesika, and Navya-Nyaya). How these schools attempt to ground their religious systems in logical argumentation about the human soul, God, and the path to nirvana. Formerly REL 0141.
Recommendations: One of the following: REL 8, 14, or 53; or PHIL 33; or Permission of Instructor.
REL 0120 Religion, Race and Nation in American History. (Cross-listed as HIST 127). How the categories of race, religion, and nation have been imagined in light of each other throughout American history from the colonial period through contemporary US debates involving many groups. The social, cultural, and political circumstances that have shaped the meaning of these concepts and perceived relationships among them in various settings. Focus on the role of religions in structuring racial identities and related ideas about American civilization and citizenship. Formerly REL 0102.
REL 0121 Evangelicalism in America. History of evangelical Christianity in North America from the 17th century to the present. Attention to issues of theology, race, class, gender, culture, politics and globalization. Consideration of relationships among evangelicalism, fundamentalism and pentecostalism. Formerly REL 0107.
Prerequisites: One lower-level course in the history of Christianity (REL 12 or 63) or one lower-level course in American Religious History (REL 42, 47, 48, or 49), or permission.
REL 0122 Women and Religion In America, 1900 To Present. (Cross-listed as HIST 125). History of the significance of women's presence in American religion from the 17th century to the present. Explores the role of religion in shaping, upholding, resisting and transforming gender norms in a variety of social and cultural contexts. Draws upon diverse primary sources and important secondary works in women's history, and asks how participants in diverse religious traditions have understood women's "nature," defined their roles in society, and debated their "calling" to religious leadership. Formerly REL 0101.
REL 0123 Religion and U.S. Foreign Affairs. History of religion’s role in U.S. foreign affairs from the inception of the nation to the present. Key themes include American exceptionalism, manifest destiny and imperialism; missions and moral reform movements; humanitarian intervention; war and peace; religious freedom (IRFA); the ongoing effects of 9/11. Formerly REL 0108.
REL 0130 Religion and Colonialism in South Asia. Seminar on religious change in South Asia from the rise of British colonial rule to the partition of British India. Special emphasis on 19th-century Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh movements, the colonial construction of religious categories, competing modes of reformist and customary religion, and debates over the meaning of history, community, and gender. Formerly REL 0149.
REL 0131 Religion, Law and Misplaced Secularity In South Asia. (Cross-listed as HIST 141.) The historical relationship between religion and law in the precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial periods. A reconceptualization of the separation of public and private, secular and religious. How Indian self-perceptions of religiously informed identities were shaped by the challenge of colonial modernity, and their influence upon anticolonial nationalism and postcolonial national ideologies. Formerly REL 0140.
REL 0133 Religion in Japanese History. (Cross-listed as HIST 132.) The peoples of Southeastern Europe from the Ottoman conquests in the Balkans during the fourteenth century and the fall of Constantinople in 1453 until the present time. Emphasis on the development of Balkan nationalism, ethnic rivalries, the role of religion, the rise of independent Balkan states, the area's role in nineteenth- and twentieth-century European diplomacy, and the spread and disintegration of Communist regimes. Formerly REL 0136.
REL 0139 Religious and Spiritual Development Across the Lifespan. (Cross-listed as CSHD 157 and CVS 173) Religious and spiritual development across the life-span. Emphasis on differences in: paradigms and theories for explaining spiritual development; the diverse nature of spirituality; developmental tasks (e.g., moral, intellectual, and identity development) as they relate to spiritual development; and supports for and exemplars of spiritual development. Topics include spiritual exemplars, spirituality and the natural world, and spiritual pathology. Formerly REL 0157.
REL 0140 (Mis-)Translating Vodun: Africana Religious Cultures and the Politics of Interpretation. (Cross-listed as CST 118, AMER 118 and AFR 118) A historical and comparative examination of the history of cultural contact between Vodun religious cultures and the Western world, with specific attention to issues of translation and interpretation in the study of West African Vodun, Haitian Vodou, and New Orleans Voodoo. Colonization and the construction of religious Others; the invention of civilization, the primitive, and the fetish; slavery, religion, and the construction of race; law and politics of religious criminality; the U.S. occupation of Haiti and the Western imagination of “voodoo”; and U.S. imperialism and the media. Formerly REL 0118.
REL 0143 Tibetan Buddhism and The Buddhism Of The Himalayas. Survey of Tibetan Buddhism, as it is practiced in Western China and Nepal. Focus on two monastic specialties: philosophical/debate and ritual/yogic practice. Explores issues of gender, economics, political power, and ethnic identity as they are related to tantric forms of Buddhism throughout the region. Formerly REL 0145.
REL 0160 Gender and Sexuality in Ancient Christianity. (Cross-listed as WGSS 160) Examination of gender and sexuality in the ancient Mediterranean, with special attention to how issues of gender and sexuality are treated in the New Testament, in early Church Fathers, Hebrew Bible, martyrdom accounts, and hagiography (saints’ lives). Consideration of pre-Christian sexual ethics and the structure of the family in Mediterranean patriarchal cultures (in this case Greeks, Romans, and Judeans) and discussion of the sexual ethics found in the writings of figures like Pythagoras, Plato, and the Stoics. Discussion of how early Christians (second through the fifth centuries CE) simultaneously reinscribe traditional gender roles and notions of sexuality, and also subvert these roles and ideas. Consideration of the conflict over the right of women to hold positions of authority and alternative avenues of power such as renouncing sexuality & marriage, and voluntary martyrdom. The rise of sexual renunciation as a central feature of ascetic Christianity and attention to the ways that women and men strive to shed the trappings of “this mortal coil” by denying sexuality full-stop.
REL 0161 Life and Letters of Paul. A close examination of the first-century apostle Paul, often viewed as the founder of Christianity, whose letters, along with letters falsely attributed to him, comprise over half the Christian New Testament. Discussion of each of his undisputed letters, the pseudepigraphical Pauline letters, and early Christian stories about him. Special attention to his ethical and moral ideas, and consider the extent to which he reinscribes and/or refutes traditional values found among Greeks, Romans, and Judeans in the ancient Mediterranean. Consideration of his relationship to ancient Greek philosophical schools, and to pre-Rabbinic Judaism. Develops a strong understanding of Paul’s (ancient) cultural and religious context, as well as the critical skills to identify how his authority has been constructed, maintained, and reimagined over time. Formerly REL 0109.
REL 0162 Jesus from the 1st to the 21st Century. Historical analysis of the many ways in which Jesus has been imagined since the first century. How the religious image of Jesus has been put to use in the intersecting arenas of politics, gender relations, race/ethnicity, and economics. Antiquity with examination of the earliest depictions of Jesus, both theological and artistic. Depictions of Jesus in the writings of early Church Fathers and later portrayals of Jesus in the Middle Ages and Crusades. Perceptions of Jesus from the 18th to 21st centuries: Jesus as the defender of slave holders and as liberator of slaves, Jesus as feminist and Jesus as patriarch, Jesus as bastion of conservative politics, and Jesus as radical revolutionary. Formerly REL 0164.
REL 0164 Martyrs, Mystics, And Melancholics: Christian Spirituality and The Body. History of Christian spirituality and the body from antiquity to the present. How have Christians in different historical and cultural contexts understood, debated and enacted the relationship between flesh and spirit, body and soul? How have gender, social location and political concerns shaped Christian ideas about and practices of suffering, sanctity, spirituality and embodiment? Topics and themes may include the meanings of incarnation and resurrection; devotional disciplines and ritual practice; sickness, health and healing; sexuality and family life; the politics of martyrdom, monasticism, and mysticism. Formerly REL 0103.
REL 0165 Re-imagining God. Introduction to post-WWII western Christian thought about "God," focusing on emerging critical challenges to traditional Christian beliefs. Analysis of representative responses by Protestant and Catholic thinkers and their critics to such issues as political and social oppression, secularization, and the environment, with consideration of images and ideas presented in contemporary creative arts. Formerly REL 0105.
REL 0167 Catholicism in Crisis. A survey of major issues of crisis in the Catholic Church today including sexual abuse scandals, women's ordination, the authority of bishops versus the authority of theologians, and homosexuality in the priesthood. Formerly REL 0156.
REL 0168 Catholic Moral and Social Teaching. Catholic moral and social teaching from the official magisterium and the full spectrum of Catholic theologians. The history of Roman Catholic moral theology and the origins of Catholic social, sexual, and medical ethics. Tensions between the official teachers in the Church, the bishops, and the scholars/theologians. Formerly REL 0111.
REL 0170 Greek Religion. (Cross-listed as CLS 180) Examination of ancient Greek religion, including study of the religious festival calendar of Athens; ancient theology/philosophy; mystery cults; so-called “magical practices”; and the rise of Christianity. Upper level of dual level course. Formerly REL 0180.
REL 0171 Modern Hinduism. Examination of articulation, practice and contestation of Hinduism in South Asia and the global diaspora, from 1800 to the present. Topics may include the genesis of modern Hindu apologetics, the construction of new Hindu movements, the transformation of caste, untouchability and gender, changing patterns of worship, and the challenges of nationalism, secularism, and transnational migration. Formerly REL 0148.
REL 0172 A History of Yoga: From Slaughter to Sex to Spandex. The history and practice of yoga in global perspective, tracing the roots of the modern Yoga studio backwards through a variety of adventures and misadventures in the modern and premodern eras to its most ancient roots in the world of Vedic India. Examination of the international bodybuilding movement and Indian Nationalist movement (late 19th and early 20th centuries), ascetic practices associated with the mass yogic militias of the 17th and 18th centuries, various alchemical and sexual yogas of the 8th-16th centuries, contemplative and philosophical yogas of the 1st century, and the sacrificial and political significance of meditation in the context of animal sacrifice in the late Vedic period (ca. 500 BCE and afterwards). Discussion of the role of memory and forgetting – as yogic traditions reinvent themselves multiple times over the course of two millennia. Discussion of the purpose and early social/political context for blood sacrifice and vegetarianism, public ritual sex, rituals of coronation and installation and how each of these contribute to the modern practice of yoga. Particular attention paid to the rise and fall of blood sacrifice, of yogic alchemy, the rise and persistence of late yogic philosophy of Kashmiri Shaivism, and the pivotal role of yogic practices in the spread of Islam in pre-colonial India and of yogis in the defeat of the Marathas and the Mughals in the 17th century. Formerly REL 0144.
REL 0175 Introduction to Islamic Law. Origins, theories, practice, and development of Islamic law. Sources of Islamic law and the major legal schools of Sunnite and Shi'ite Islam. Theoretical and practical problems raised by modern context. Muslim minorities in the West, their attempts to secure recognition of some aspects of Islamic law, and the problems raised by such attempts. Formerly REL 0151.
REL 0176 Islam and Modernity. The encounter between Islam and modernity and the diverse ways muslims have responded to the challenges posed by modernity. Discourses of various Muslim thinkers from the Middle East, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, and Europe will be examined. Formerly REL 0152.
REL 0177 Islamic Spirituality: The Sufi Tradition. Seminar examining Islam's mystical tradition, including introduction to medieval and modern Sufi practice, and Sufi cosmology and metaphysics. Also examines Western studies and understandings of Sufism and mysticism more broadly. Formerly REL 0153.
REL 0179 Europe and Islam, Islam in Europe. The history of European attitudes toward Islam and the Muslim world. The challenges faced by Muslim and non-Muslim Europeans over the past 50 years as Islam has become indigenous to Europe. Formerly REL 0116.
REL 0180 Islam in South Asia. (Cross-listed as HIST 142.) Social and political conflict and cultural and political accommodation in the history of South Asian Islam, spanning the precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial periods. The question of Muslim identity and the politics of coexistence with members of other religious communities, especially Hindus and Sikhs. The multiple and shifting affiliations of Muslims as individuals to the community of Islam, as well as to the linguistic groups, economic classes, and modern nations. Formerly REL 0138.
REL 0185 Roots of The Jewish Imagination. (Cross-listed as JS 126 and ILVS 133.) Jewish myths, legends, mystical teachings, and other subjects that influenced the formation of Jewish imaginative literature. Topics include: the journey of the soul; the Book of Job and why bad things happen to good people; Jewish heresy; Jewish dream lore; the Messiah and the End of Days; legends of the Golem (android, or artificial man); the dybbuk (spirit possession) and exorcism; tales and parables of Kafka; metamorphosis; hunger, food, and eating; the comic book and graphic novel; the Holocaust and modern trauma; Kabbalah, mysticism, and religious search; Ju-Bus (Jewish Buddhists); Israelis and Palestinians; women’s experience in Jewish life. All texts read in English. Formerly REL 0126.
REL 0186 Book of Genesis And Its Interpreters. (Cross-listed as JS 132 and ILVS 132.) A detailed study of the biblical Book of Genesis and related biblical texts, in their historical setting, with special attention to the role that Genesis played in postbiblical religious traditions and in art and literature from early modern times onward. All texts read in English. Formerly REL 0132.
REL 0187 The Story of King David. (Cross-listed as JS 136 and WL 136.) King David was ancient Israel's most pivotal leader, who transformed Israel from a loose confederation of tribes to a dynastic monarchy with a capital in Jerusalem, fashioning a people into a nation in a more complex sense. The story of his acquisition and use of power is told in the biblical books 1 and 2 Samuel and the first two chapters of 1 Kings, which present a critique of kingly power and an examination of both the strengths and failings of Israel's first dynastic king. The course explores these and related biblical narratives, viewed in the light of modern historical and literary study, and cultural theory. Formerly REL 0137.
REL 0188 Jewish Experience on Film. (Cross-listed as FMS 84, JS 142, WL 142 and ILVS 142.) Selected classic and contemporary films dealing with aspects of Jewish experience in America, Europe, and Israel, combined with reading on the cultural, historical, and philosophical problems illuminated by each film. One weekly session will be devoted to screenings, the other to discussion of the films and readings. In English. Formerly REL 0142.
REL 0189 Music and Prayer in the Jewish Tradition. (Cross-listed as MUS 31 and JS 150.) The role and function of music in Jewish worship and cultural identity. Focus on the Kabbalat Shabbat. Topics to include participation vs. performance in worship, music and historical authenticity in prayer, music and religious experience, and the invention and presentation of tradition. Liturgical music and dual culturalism in the American Jewish community. Renumbered from REL 0158.
REL 0192 Special Topics. Current Topics in the Study of Religion. Formerly REL 0194.
REL 0196 Independent Study. Directed reading and study in selected areas of religious thought and practice. Formerly REL 0192.Recommendations: Permission of the department.
REL 0198 Senior Honors Thesis A. Honors Thesis. This is a yearlong course. Each semester counts as 4 credits towards a student’s credit load. Students will earn 8 credits at the end of the second semester. Formerly REL 0199.
REL 0199 Senior Honors Thesis B. Honors Thesis. This is a yearlong course. Each semester counts as 4 credits towards a student’s credit load. Students will earn 8 credits at the end of the second semester.