Course Offerings

Spring 2022

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.

Muslims in the Movies

REL 172 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

An examination of the history of visual representation of Islam and Muslims in classical and modern cinema. We approach movies produced by both Muslims and non-Muslims over the last century as historical sources: visual monuments that have captured the specific cultural and political context in which they were produced. We examine a selection of these movies through the lens of critical theory and the study of religion in order to pay attention to how questions surrounding identity and representation, race and gender, Orientalism and perceptions of difference have historically influenced and continue to influence cinematic images of Islam.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 295A - Brown, Alexandra R. / 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.

Spring 2022, REL 295A-01: Special Topics in Religion: The Bible in America (3).   This course considers the role of the Bible in American life from the early colonial period to the present day. We'll focus on the influence of the Bible in the founding of the United States, biblical interpretation in American social and political debate (slavery, women's suffrage, war, LGBT rights, evolution), legal questions about the Bible in the American public square, and the Bible as a material object in the US. The class will include a trip to the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC. (HU) Brown and Filler.

Winter 2022

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.

The Qur'an

REL 108 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

This course approaches the Qur'an from a range of modern and pre-modern perspectives: as an oral recitation; as a material object; as a historical document; as a literary text; as it relates to the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament; as a foundation for Islamic law, theology and mysticism; and as a source for ethics and social activism. Particular attention is devoted to issues of gender and politics raised by the Qur'an, supplemented by a number of film screenings. Prior knowledge of Islam is not required.

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.

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.

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

Whose Law? Pluralism, Conflict, and Justice

REL 220 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

Society is made up of schools, corporations, religions, guilds, associations, tribes, etc., each defined by a set of more-or-less formal rules that apply in various ways depending on the status of each member. Individuals are thus subject to overlapping obligations and claims, so authorities often come into conflict. This is legal pluralism. This seminar explores the various ways in which such interactions can play out in a range of social, religious, and political environments, and how they can affect people of different statuses differently. Examples range from the Roman empire, the Middle East and South Asia, past and present, to the modern United States and Europe. In each case, we examine the ways in which legal status is defined in relation to the state, religious community, ethnicity or race, and social class. Given different, overlapping, conflicting claims to authority, rights, and obligations, how is justice to be defined, and how can it be served?

Islam in America: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

REL 271 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

From the discourse on the War on Terror, to debates about Muslim women's dress, Islam in America has attracted the attention of journalists, activists, government officials, and scholars of religion. This course takes a critical-historical approach to the topic by examining key themes in the history of Islam in America: the lives of enslaved African Muslims in the Antebellum period and the Founding Fathers' visions of Islam; the immigrant experience of Arab Muslims at the turn of the 20th century; the role of Muslim organizations in the Civil Rights movement; and, the changing representations of American Muslims after the Gulf War and post-9/11. In interrogating the history of Islam in America, we specifically pay attention to the ways in which religion, gender, class, race, and citizenship continue to inform representations of Muslims in the U.S.

God and the Holocaust

REL 275 - Filler, Emily A.

This discussion-centered course considers Jewish and other responses to the mass destruction of European Jews under Hitler's regime. We will discuss a broad array of modern responses to the Holocaust as well as selections from classical Jewish texts on themes of suffering, divine action, and the Messiah. Readings and other media will include modern philosophy and theology, memoir, film, drama, and short stories on these difficult and ongoing questions.

Seminar in Biblical Studies

REL 351 - Brown, Alexandra R.

An exploration of a topic in Biblical studies, focusing on ancient texts and their interpreters from antiquity to the present. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Winter 2022, REL 351-01: Visions of the End: Apocalyptic Literature Antiquity to the Present (3) . Prerequisite: Previous coursework in religion, classics, philosophy or ancient history recommended. A study of the texts, movements and other cultural manifestations of end-time expectations in Jewish and Christian antiquity with attention to prominent legacies of apocalypticism in medieval and modern times. Contemporary apocalyptic expressions in art, music, and film (e.g., hip-hop, dystopian fiction) also considered. (HL) Brown .

Honors Thesis

REL 493 - Brown, Alexandra R.

Honors Thesis.

Fall 2021

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 - Brown, Alexandra R.

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

Introduction to Islam

REL 105 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

This course familiarizes students with the foundations of the Islamic tradition and the diverse historical and geographical manifestations of belief and practice built upon those foundations. Throughout the course, the role of Islam in shaping cultural, social, gender, and political identities is explored. Readings are drawn from the writings of both historical and contemporary Muslim thinkers.

Judaism: Tradition and Modernity

REL 106 - Filler, Emily A.

This course is an introduction to the rituals, concepts, and practices of Judaism from antiquity to the present day. Through a wide variety of sources, including rabbinic debate, fiction, drama, liturgy, memoirs, film, and history, we will consider how the Jewish tradition has developed, changed, and interacted with other traditions. Particular attention will be paid to the development of modern Jewish movements and communities.  


REL 131 - Haskett, Christian P. (Chris)

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.

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.

Seminar in the Christian Tradition

REL 260 - Brown, Alexandra R.

An introduction to perduring issues in Christian theology and ethics through study of one or more of the classical Christian theologians.

Fall 2021, REL 260-01: Seminar in the Christian Tradition: Christian Visionary and Mystical Traditions (3). This course explores 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 will include primary sources from mystics and visionaries and secondary readings exploring theories about mystical experience. Near the end of the course, we will 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 will help to contextualize some themes we encounter in the course. (HU) Brown.

Picturing Muhammad? Perceptions of the Prophet from the Hijra to Hip-Hop

REL 282 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

To Muslims, Muhammad is a prophetic figure whose model life is to be emulated; to non-Muslims, a controversial figure that has stirred the imagination for centuries. Through an analysis of the earliest non-Muslim sources on Muhammad, to insider Muslim narratives of the prophet's miraculous life, to polemical medieval Christian stories about him, to Deepak Chopra and Muhammad in hip-hop, this course explores the various historical, literary, and media representations of Muhammad. We will pay special attention to recent controversies on visual depictions of Muhammad, as well as contemporary ritual practices surrounding the embodiment of Islam's most important prophet.

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 2021, REL 295A-01: Special Topics in Religion: Religion and Toleration (3). This course considers the virtues and limitations of dialogue and toleration as ways of engaging religious diversity. What do these terms mean, and what might they require of both religious and non-religious people? When might tolerance be a problematic way of responding to religious claims or practices? How are tolerance and intolerance regulated - both within communities and by the state? This course will take up these questions, as well as a variety of theories of interfaith engagement and invitations to religious co-existence in political and cultural conflict. (HU) Filler.

Special Topics in Religion

REL 295B - 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.

Fall 2021, REL 295B-01: Special Topics in Religion: Yoga and Tantra (3). While both yoga and tantra have achieved fame and notoriety in the west, their history, philosophy, and cultural background are less well-known. This course considers these two religious technologies that cross the usual boundaries of Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, and even Muslim traditions in South Asia and beyond. We will trace the roots of yoga and tantra, their interconnection, and their modern global manifestations. We will come to see that yoga is far more than what is now used for fitness in the west. (HU) Haskett.


Honors Thesis

REL 493 - Brown, Alexandra R.

Honors Thesis.