Course Offerings

Fall 2020

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 - Filler, Emily A.

An introduction to the history, literature and interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old 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.

God and Goddess in Hinduism

REL 132 - Haskett, Christian P. (Chris)

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.

Jesus in Fact, Fiction, and Film

REL 153 - Brown, Alexandra R.

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.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 195A - Haskett, Christian P. (Chris)

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.

 

Approaches to the Study of Religion

REL 210 - Brown, Alexandra R.

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.

An exploration of the work of Martin Heidegger and the development of its themes in select philosophers, literary artists, and/or film makers. 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 figures 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. Special attention this year is paid to the films of Terrence Malick.

Women and Gender in Islam

REL 284 - Al-Ahmad, Jumana S.

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.

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.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 295A - Filler, Emily A.

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 2020, REL 295A-01: Topic: American Judaism (3). No prerequisite. The first Jews set foot on American soil in 1584, and Jewish understandings of the United States and its non-Jewish majority have been complicated ever since. We explore the history, sociology, and theology of American Judaism from the colonial period to the present day, with a particular focus on the Jewish minority experience and the development of Jewish politics and culture. Students also consider the rise of the congregational denominations, the appeal of nostalgia, and development of particularly American Jewish holidays and cuisines. (HU) Filler.

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 2020

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.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 195 - Chalmers, Matthew J.

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 2020, REL 195-01: From Anti-Judaism to Anti-Semitism (3). In this course, we encounter and analyze the forms and histories of anti-Jewishness. The course tracks from Judaeophobia in the ancient world to anti-Semitism in the contemporary world, with a focus on three moments: first, the Mediterranean world at the birth of Christian empire; second, the Holocaust in historical and ideological context; and third, anti-Semitism in America, from Henry Ford's anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to the Pittsburgh Tree of Life shooting. In the process we ask some hard questions. What is the connection between anti-Semitism and racial thought? What is the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism? How does Christian religion intersect with anti-Semitism? How have Jewish people responded to hostility and attack, and how has suffering and loss been memorialized? (HU) Chalmers.

Meditation and Self-Knowledge

REL 333 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

For 2,500 years, Hindus and Buddhists have promoted meditation as a means to attain insight and liberation from suffering, a state sometimes understood in terms of divinity or Buddha-nature. Meditation has also been adopted by some in the West during the last century, often for psychological or physical benefits apart from any devotional context. What had traditionally been a practice of ordained monks was popularized in the West, a trend that then caught on in Asia as well. We look at the origins of meditative practices in Asian traditions using primary sources, social context, and personal experience of basic meditative techniques. The course concludes by noting that some contemporary neuroscientists are looking to meditation to better understand mind, brain, emotion, and cognition.

Winter 2020

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.

New Testament

REL 102 - Chalmers, Matthew J.

An introduction to the history, literature and interpretation of the New 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.

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

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.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 295A - Chalmers, Matthew J.

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 2020, REL 295A-01: Rise of Religion and Fall of Rome (3). Over the first six centuries CE, a disparate assortment of texts from the eastern Mediterranean - eventually known as the New Testament - were written, composed, collected, and became authoritative for communicating a religious identity: Christian. Simultaneously, Jewish communities from Spain to Central Asia went on living their lives, with the communities of Palestine and Babylonia ultimately producing a regulatory literature - the Talmud - that would revolutionize Jewish religion. Neither existed in a vacuum. This is an exploration of some of our earliest and richest opportunities for understanding how Christianity and Judaism became global phenomena. We focus on vibrant local and trans-local narratives: martyrs, magic, the Holy Land, halakha, magicians, and heretics. We travel not only the traditional hunting grounds of this period (Italy, Gaul, and what became northern Europe) but also late Roman Syria, Egypt, Palestine, and Ethiopia. How were the important events in the period relived and rewritten by those who followed, including Iraqi clerics and the first women playwright of the Middle Ages? And what can we learn by rethinking the big questions we ask of this period - of decline, fall, rise, conquest, and religious competition? (HU) Chalmers.

 

Honors Thesis

REL 493 - Kosky, Jeffrey L.

Honors Thesis.