Religion

The Religion Department offers a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, and critical program that explores the variety of religious experiences and expressions. In addition to courses that demonstrate the power and limits of various critical approaches to the study of religion, the department provides opportunities to analyze practices of interpretation, systems of belief, and patterns of religious behavior; the history of religious traditions; the effects of religion in society; the ways religions can form collective identity through race, nationalism, gender and sexuality, class, caste, language, and migration; and various forms of religious phenomena such as myth, ritual, texts, and theological and philosophical reflection.

Most courses are open to all students without prerequisites, although those with no background in the academic study of religion should consider starting with a 100 or 200-level course. A minor is available for those who wish to develop a modest program in religion in support of another major. The major is open to all students seeking an interdisciplinary home in the humanities and social sciences.

Faculty

Ron Cameron
BA, Western Kentucky Uni; MAA, Wesleyan University; PHD, Harvard University
Professor of Religion

Yaniv Feller
BA, Hebrew University; MA, Hebrew University; PHD, University of Toronto
Jeremy Zwelling Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies; Assistant Professor of Religion

Peter S. Gottschalk
BA, College of the Holy Cross; MA, Univ of Wisconsin Fond Du Lac; PHD, University of Chicago
Professor of Religion; Director, Office of Faculty Career Development; Professor, Science in Society; Coordinator, Muslim Studies

Dalit Katz
BA, Hebrew University; MA, Hebrew University
Adjunct Associate Professor of Religion; Director, Center for Jewish Studies

Elizabeth McAlister
BA, Vassar College; MA, Yale University; MA, Yale University; MPHIL, Yale University; PHD, Yale University
Professor of Religion; Chair, African American Studies; Director, Center for African American Studies; Professor, African American Studies; Professor, American Studies; Professor, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Justine Quijada
BA, University of Chicago; MA, Columbia University; PHD, University of Chicago
Assistant Professor of Religion; Assistant Professor, College of the Environment; Assistant Professor, Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Andrew H Quintman
BA, Hampshire College; MA, University of Michigan; PHD, University of Michigan
Associate Professor of Religion; Associate Professor, East Asian Studies

Mary-Jane Victoria Rubenstein
BA, Williams College; MA, Columbia University; MPHIL, Cambridge University; MPHIL, Columbia University; PHD, Columbia University
Professor of Religion; Chair, Religion; Professor, Science in Society; Professor, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Visiting Faculty

Lewis West
BA, Columbia University; MTS, Harvard Divinity School
Visiting Instructor in Religion

Emeriti

Jerome H. Long
BD, University of Chicago; MA, University of Chicago; PHD, University of Chicago
Associate Professor of Religion, Emeritus

Janice D. Willis
BA, Cornell University; MA, Columbia University; PHD, Columbia University
Professor of Religion, Emerita

Jeremy Zwelling
BA, Columbia University; MA, Brandeis University; PHD, Brandeis University
Associate Professor of Religion, Emeritus

Department Advising Expert

Mary-Jane Rubenstein

RELI127 Catholicism and Ideology in the Hispanic World

Catholicism has played a number of roles in the cultural politics of the Hispanic world, appearing as a place of national being, resistance, and conservatism. In this course, we will read a number of texts from different periods and national contexts with a view to understanding how writers and intellectuals from Spain, Latin America, and the U.S. engage with Catholicism and the historical conditions under which they do so.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-LAST
Identical With: RL&L127, LAST127
Prereq: None

RELI151 What is Religion? The Apocalypse, the First Amendment, and Sacred Trash

Is the American flag sacred? How did Judaism become a religion? Does secularism protect religion from the government or the government from religion? Why did the FBI assault the Branch Davidians' compound near Waco, Texas, thinking it was a cult, while those inside viewed the government as serving the Antichrist? This class will introduce you to the ways in which we study religions by reading critical case studies, including those about Muslims debating the hijab, the treatment of sacred objects in museums, and freedom of religion court cases. This is not a survey of world religions, and once you've taken What is Religion?, you'll know why we don't teach that at Wes. You will also have a critical set of intellectual tools for understanding the role of religion in the contemporary world.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI201 Introduction to The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)

The Hebrew Bible is one of the most influential texts in the world. From antiquity to the present, it has served as a source of philosophical, literary, and artistic reflection. It is a fascinating document, combining narrative, poetry, law, prophetic proclamations, and puzzling parables. What kind of book is the Hebrew Bible? Who wrote it and why? How do we approach such a text across the distance of time? Through a systematic reading from the very beginning, we will place the Bible in its historical context while giving special attention to the philosophical and literary questions it raises: Is obedience to authority always justified? Why do good people suffer unjustly? What gender is God? In answering these and other questions, you will gain an understanding of the ways contesting interpretations make authoritative claims.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RELI
Identical With: MDST203, CJST244, COL237
Prereq: None

RELI203 Jews & Judaism: Race, Religion, Culture

What is a Jew? Are Jews white? Must a Jew believe in God? What is at stake when defining someone as a Jew? Using sources ranging from the Hebrew Bible to contemporary films, this course examines various facets of Jewish life, paying special attention to contesting definitions of Jewishness as race, religion, and culture. Building on a chronological discussion of Jewish history, we will ask theoretical questions such as the relation between gender and biblical interpretation, the relevance of religious law in contemporary society, and the challenges of diasporic thinking to national sovereignty.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: CJST203
Prereq: None

RELI204 Judaism(s): Religion, Power, and Identity in Jewish History

This course will offer students an intensive survey of the major currents in Jewish social, political, intellectual, and religious history, while focusing in particular on what it means to be a Jew in the 21st-century. The course explores how Jews are a culture, ethnicity, nation, nationality, race, religion, and more and how Jewishness gets constructed differently across different times and contexts. The course looks both locally and globally at the plurality of Jewish identities. Students will read primary historical texts from prominent Jewish thinkers and writers, as well as texts written about Jews by non-Jews.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: CJST241
Prereq: None

RELI205 Dharma, Karma, and Living with the God/dess/es: Hindu Lives

Through fiction, autobiography, biography, art, a comic book, a city, and a village, this course explores some of the myriad understandings of what it is to be Hindu. In an effort to introduce students to Hindu culture and religion, a number of approaches shall engage the questions, What is Hindu dharma? and What is it to be Hindu? The class will also investigate the issue of "Hinduism," a term created in the 19th century to identify a Hindu "religion" rejected by many 21st-century Hindus. This issue expresses just one of many arising from the Indian experience of contact with the West. Overall, the course immerses students in the lives of Hindu individuals and communities so that we, as a class, can draw our conclusions about Hindu practices and meanings in different political, mythic, social, and cultural contexts.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI206 Neo-Confucian Chinese Philosophy

This course will present critical discussion of issues central to Neo-Confucian (11th--19th centuries CE) philosophers that in many cases are still central in Chinese thought today. Topics will include the relation between knowledge and action, Neo-Confucian conceptions of idealism and materialism, and the connection between Neo-Confucian philosophy and spirituality.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-PHIL
Identical With: PHIL259, CEAS256
Prereq: None

RELI207 Buddhist Psychology in Modern Perspective

The Buddhist tradition preserves a sophisticated model of mind and behavior in the early literature of the Pali Canon, along with a profound set of practices for transforming human experience from unhealthy to healthy states. Much of this lore is of great interest to modern psychologists, scientific researchers, and philosophers of mind, and is having an impact on a wide range of contemporary fields. This course begins with a survey of the core ideas of Buddhist psychology as they are presented in classical texts, then goes on to explore how these ideas are influencing the work of mental health professionals, cognitive scientists, social scientists, and others.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI207F Who is the Dalai Lama? (FYS)

This First Year Seminar introduces the institution of the Dalai Lama of Tibet and the individuals who have filled that role from a wide range of sources and perspectives. Topics include regional histories of Buddhism; the unique Tibetan tradition of recognized reincarnations (tulkus) and the Buddhist philosophical principles that support it; and a survey of prominent Dalai Lamas from the 15th century to the present day. The seminar examines the activities of the current Dalai Lama in his role as traditional Buddhist teacher, political leader, and international superstar, through the lenses of the PRC government media, Indian exile communities, and the modern West. Later classes will also address issues of Western and Chinese forms of Orientalism and myth-making about Tibet. Readings include the writings of past and current Dalai Lamas as well as supporting secondary literature.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: CEAS217F
Prereq: None

RELI208 The Buddha: His Life and Teachings

Few human beings have had as much impact upon the world as Siddhartha Gautama Shakyamuni, known to us as the Buddha. This course looks closely at the world he inhabited, the ways he transformed it, and the body of work left behind after a lifetime of teaching. Beginning with challenges of interpretation and literary sources, the course consists of equal parts historical and doctrinal investigation of the classical texts of the Pali Canon. We seek to get a sense of both the man behind the myth and the meaning of his message, while appreciating in the process the extent to which all such investigation is shaped by one's own cultural and historical viewpoints.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI211 Religion, Peace, and Violence: Muslim, Hindu, Christian, and Secular Politics

Why did Martin Luther King Jr. believe that Christianity could cure American racism, while Malcolm X thought the religion promoted it? If Islam is a religion of peace as advocated by many Muslims, how do we understand the so-called Islamic State's reign of terror? How has Hindu nationalism led to violence against Muslims and Christians if Mahatma Gandhi demonstrated the essential tolerance of Hindu traditions? Secularists often claim that removing religion from politics creates a more peaceful society, yet the most violent states in the past century have been professedly secular ones.

This seminar looks to explore the complexities of present-day religions and politics by investigating specific case studies in Egypt, India, France, and the U.S. While developing a better understanding of Muslim, Christian, Hindu, and secular traditions (no background in these necessary), we will develop analytic tools to critically comprehend the political dynamics of modern religions and the religious dynamics of contemporary politics.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI212 Introduction to the New Testament

The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to those writings of the earliest Christians that came to be included in the New Testament. These writings will be examined critically with respect to their social-historical origin, religious content, and place within the development of early Christianities. Interpreting early Christian texts constitutes the most important task in the study of the New Testament. We will, therefore, focus on a close reading of the New Testament in light of historical situations and social contexts in the Greco-Roman world, having as one of the chief aims of the course the acquisition of critical skills in reading and understanding the New Testament. In the process, we will necessarily engage secondary scholarship and wider theoretical interests, thereby providing students with a general introduction to the academic study of religion.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RELI
Identical With: MDST214
Prereq: None

RELI213 Refugees & Exiles: Religion in the Diaspora

Recent years have seen the on-going tragic refugee crisis, with millions of people being displaced because of war and ecological disasters. That this crisis also has religious overtones is evident by the so-called travel ban in the United States or the rhetoric used by right wing leaders across Europe. This course deals with the meaning of refuge, exile, and diaspora through three perspectives: philosophical, historical, and literary. A variety of case studies--including the contemporary refugee crises in the Middle East, the black transatlantic, and the destruction of the temple in the Hebrew Bible--will raise for us various questions: What does it mean to be violently forced to leave one's home? How is it possible to make sense of such a tragedy? What creative power can diaspora muster to the rescue of culture? This course is a Service Learning course in cooperation with WESU 88.1 FM Middletown. Each student's final project will be a radio show based on an analysis of a selected refugee crisis. To learn more and listen to last year's shows visit here.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: CJST214
Prereq: None

RELI214 Buddhism and the Body: Desire, Disgust, and Transcendence

This is a course about the body and the various ways that Buddhists have constructed, disciplined, despised, and venerated the human body. We will explore the Buddhist body in its various incarnations: the disciplined monastic body of monks and nuns, the hyper-masculine body of the Buddha, the sacred corpses of saints, the body given away in sacrifice, the body as marker of virtue and vice, the sexual body, the body transformed in ritual, and the body as understood in Buddhist medicine. Careful attention to ancient and modern Buddhist writing should enrich our understanding of what it means to inhabit a human body.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: FGSS215
Prereq: None

RELI215 Politics and Piety in Early Christianities

The first four centuries of the Christian era will illustrate the lively twists and turns of social experimentation that set the stage for the emergence of the Christian religion. This course will be concerned with fundamental arenas of intellectual and social conflict, including constructions of Christian myths of apostolic origins and authority; the appropriation of the Jewish epic; the challenge of gnosticism; the domestication of Greek philosophy; interpretations of sexuality and gender; experiences of martyrdom and prosecution; theological reflections on human nature and society; and the ways Christians were seen by Romans. The objective will be to grasp the beginnings of the Christian religion as a human achievement of cultural consequence.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: MDST215, CCIV212
Prereq: None

RELI216 Jesus Through Jewish Eyes

In this course, we explore the visual and textual representations of the vexed relation between Jews and Christians throughout history. Looking at the various ways in which Christianity and Judaism define themselves vis-à-vis the other allows us to understand what mechanisms of cultural appropriation, subversion, and hidden polemics are at work. Special attention will be given to the figure of Jesus as a point of artistic and theological contention. How do artistic representations change our understanding of religious themes? What is at stake for each religion in the encounter with the other? What are the political implications of theological debates? Is this dialogue needed, or even possible, in our post-secular age?
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: CJST216
Prereq: None

RELI217 Jewish Graphic Novels

This course will explore issues in Judaism and the Jewish experience through the medium of the graphic novel. Students will not only gain proficiency in critically reading graphic novels and sequential art, they will also gain a grasp on some of the major issues in Jewish history including (but not limited to) immigration, life in America, the Holocaust, and Israel/Palestine.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RELI
Identical With: CJST243
Prereq: None

RELI218 The Cosmos of Dante's Comedy

This course provides an in-depth introduction to Dante Alighieri's 14th-century masterpiece as a point of entry to the history of Western literature, philosophy, and science. The core of the course consists of an intensive study of Dante's encyclopedic poem in relation to the culture and history of Medieval Europe. Major topics include: representations of the afterlife; the soul's relation to the divine; concepts of modernity and antiquity in the Middle Ages; notions of authorship and authority during the 13th and 14th centuries; vernacular poetics and the medieval genre system; the culture and materiality of manuscripts in the Middle Ages; gender and genre in Dante and the 12th- to 14th-century lyric; intertextuality and imitation; classical and medieval language theory; the role of the classics in the Middle Ages; Dante's concepts of governance; myth and theology in Dante's Christian poetics; and the reception to Dante's work from the 14th-century to present. The course combines a close analysis of Dante's literary strategies with exercises in critical writing and in multimedia translation and adaptation, aimed at prompting critical reflection on the ways in which present cultural practices are built upon the practices of the past. This course is conducted in English; no previous knowledge of Italian is required.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: RL&L226, ITAL226, COL234, MDST226
Prereq: None

RELI220 Modern Christian Thought

This course will provide an introduction to the field of Christian thought by exploring the relationship between conceptions of God and conceptions of selfhood, from St. Augustine through liberation, feminist, evangelical, process, and eco-theologies. How do the ways people think about God reflect, support, or interrupt the ways they think about the human subject? And what sorts of ethics, communities, and political decisions do these models underwrite?
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RELI
Identical With: COL220
Prereq: None

RELI221 Islam and Muslim Cultures

This course provides an introduction to Islamic traditions and Muslim societies. No background is required. Using a variety of in-depth case studies, the course familiarizes students with many of the beliefs and practices Muslims associate with Islam and examines commonalties and diversity in how Muslims live their religion. While paying particular attention to peoples and places in South Asia, the Middle East, and the U.S., the course will demonstrate how contemporary Muslim communities exist within global networks that shape local and transnational religion, cultures, and politics.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI221F Islam & Muslim Cultures (FYS)

This course provides an introduction to Islamic traditions and Muslim societies. No background is required. Using a variety of in-depth case studies, the course familiarizes students with many of the beliefs and practices Muslims associate with Islam and examines commonalties and diversity in how Muslims live their religion. While paying particular attention to peoples and places in South Asia, the Middle East, and the U.S., the course will demonstrate how contemporary Muslim communities exist within global networks that shape local and transnational religion, cultures, and politics.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI228 Classical Chinese Philosophy

Topics in this critical examination of issues debated by the early Confucian, Daoist, and Mohist philosophers will include the nature of normative authority and value, the importance of ritual, and the relation between personal and social goods.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-PHIL
Identical With: PHIL205, CEAS261
Prereq: None

RELI229 Tibetan Buddhism

This course serves as an introduction to major themes of Buddhist thought and practice within the cultural and historical framework of Tibet and the wider Himalayan world. In doing so, it examines various approaches to the study of religion and questions traditional definitions of categories such as "religion" and "Buddhism" themselves. Beginning with a close study of Patrul Rinpoche's classic 19th-century guide to Tibetan Buddhism, the early part of the course focuses on the doctrinal foundations of the tradition. This is followed by a historical and more critical examination of Tibetan religious history, proceeding from Buddhism's Indian antecedents and its initial arrival in Tibet during the seventh century through the present day. The course will explore a wide range of Tibetan religious cultures and practices including Buddhist ethics, systems of monastic and ascetic life, ritual activities, sacred geography and pilgrimage, lay religion, as well as the status of Tibetan Buddhism under Chinese occupation and in the West. The majority of readings will consist of primary texts in translation, and will concentrate on Tibet's rich narrative literary tradition. These will be supplemented by secondary literature on the study of religion and Tibetan Buddhism.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: CEAS343
Prereq: None

RELI230 Cinematic Encounters: Muslims and/in/of the West

Examining contemporary films by Americans, Britons, Egyptians, Indians, Pakistanis, and Afghans offers the opportunity to challenge the simplistic binaries of West vs. Islam upon which popular representations often rely. Themes that will be explored include Muslim emigration, European imperialism and colonialism, religion and secularism in the formation of national identity, terrorism and state violence, representation of gender differences, and the problem of multiple identities. Films will include "The Kingdom of God," "The Battle of Algiers," "Of Gods and Men," "Baby Doll Night," "The Beauty Shop of Kabul," "Restrepo," "Khuda ke Liye," "My Name Is Khan," "Babel," "AmericanEast," and "Brick Lane," plus episodes of "Battlestar Galactica."
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI232 Religions of China: The Ways and Their Power

In this course, we examine the religious worlds of China from antiquity to the present. Not only will we read key works of Chinese philosophy from the Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist traditions, we will also investigate how these traditions find expression in art and architecture, poetry and prose, and in the lived realities of Chinese history.

In this exploration of Chinese religions, we will pay special attention to the question of what "counts" as religion, to the role of the state in defining and establishing Chinese religions, and to the power of new religious movements to intervene dramatically (and sometimes violently) in Chinese history.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RELI
Identical With: CEAS344
Prereq: None

RELI239 Modern Shamanism: Ecstacy and Ancestors in the New Age

The wise and mysterious native shaman has long held a particular fascination for Western scholars of religion, but does this figure even exist? What does it mean to be a practicing shaman today? Beginning with Eliade's definition of "archaic ecstasy," we examine the idea of the shaman, its role in the New Age movement, and the challenges faced by contemporary indigenous shamans, from negotiating international intellectual property rights law to Ayahuasca tourism. Course materials are supplemented by A/V materials from the instructor's fieldwork in Siberia.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: REES282
Prereq: None

RELI240 Religion in the Roman Empire

This course is an introduction to the religious practices of ancient Rome, from the Republic to the Empire and its conversion to Christianity. Attention will be given to the gods and their veneration, divination and sacrifice, religion and the family, religion and the state, and official attitudes toward foreign cults.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI242 Introduction to Buddhist Thought and Practice

This course will introduce significant aspects of Buddhist thought and practice, primarily as it manifested through the literature of India, South Asia, and East Asia. It begins with an overview of the historical Buddha's life and the development of early Buddhist ideas and practices. The course then introduces the Mahayana or Great Vehicle tradition that began to emerge around the first century BCE, as well as later forms of esoteric Buddhism known as Tantra. The course concludes with the development of modern Buddhism in Asia and its manifestation in the West. Readings consist mainly of primary Buddhist texts in translation, which are supplemented as necessary by works of secondary scholarship. The course broadly examines the topics of Buddhist philosophy and ethics, monastic and ascetic life, meditation and ritual practices, and the material culture of Buddhist societies, including artistic traditions, architecture, and book culture.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI250 Islamic Movements and Modernities

The so-called Islamic State grabs headlines daily with criminal acts primarily committed against other Muslims, but also against non-Muslims. Its violence has overshadowed even al-Qaeda and the Taliban in media coverage. This seminar will track the development of these groups as well as the many more Islamic movements that reject violence and seek peaceful social change. Indeed, many Muslims object to the name "Islamic State" because they recognize the group as neither Islamic nor a legitimate state. The seminar examines how specific Muslim communities in the Middle East, South Asia, and the U.S. have engaged the modern conditions of Western imperialism, nationalism, and globalization and shaped their own forms of modernity. The seminar also investigates the increasingly digital, transnational, and intercultural realms of Muslim experiences.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI255 Heretics and Heresy

What is religion all about? Is it fundamentally about belief, truth, or God? About understanding, revelation, or salvation? Is religion about one's origins, identity, or destiny? Is it about what one does or is supposed to do? How would we ever know? And who gets to say so? This class will explore the emergence of "heresy"--notions of error--in the construction of religious belief and practice in ancient Christianity, and how "heretics" became central to the way Christianity defined itself in relation to Jewish and Greco-Roman religious traditions. We will examine these issues, in part, by reading a number of remarkable, and recently discovered "heretical" texts from antiquity and early Christianity, including the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Truth, and the Cologne Mani Codex.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI259 Islam and/in the West

Is there a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West? What distinguishes the two and why the conflict? This course, which assumes no familiarity with Islam, explores these questions and the assumptions underlying them. Through a historical and thematic exploration, we will delve into the notions of difference and the interests these have served, as well as the cultural, religious, and political dimentions of interaction at specific historical moments. These will include Arab imperialism, the Crusades, the Spanish Reconquista, European imperialism, Zionism, Islamist revivalism, Western Muslims, and the War Against Terror.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI268 Anthropology of Black Religions in the Americas

This course examines Afro-Creole religions and cultural expressions in selected communities throughout the Atlantic world. How were religious communities created under colonial domination? Under what conditions were religions shaped, and what shapes did they take? How are African-based religions produced through aesthetics and the ritual arts of spiritual talk and sermons, song, dance, drumming, and medicine-making? How do these religions continue to survive, thrive, and, in some cases, grow in the current historical period? This course will pay special attention to the yearly ritual cycle and its attendant festivals: Christmas, carnivals, Lent, Easter, saints' days, feasts, and pilgrimages, as well as the emergent spiritual and aesthetic traditions such as Capoeira and Rara. We will study Orisha religions such as La Regla de Ocha, or Lukumi, in Cuba and the Latino U.S.; Candomble in Brazil; Vodou in Haiti; and Garifuna traditions and spiritism in Puerto Rico.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: AFAM387, LAST268, ANTH267
Prereq: None

RELI270 Magical Money and Enchanted Capitalisms

In the early days of the 20th century, Max Weber foresaw that with the rise of capitalism and modernity, the world would become increasingly disenchanted. Now, with the turn of the 21st century, people all over the world experience capitalism as a realm of enchantment. In Malaysia, ghosts possess factory workers; in South Africa, capitalism produces zombies; and in Bolivia, mines eat their miners. Instead of Weber's "iron cage," we live in a world of "voodoo economics" where Korean shamans conduct ceremonies to bless new businesses, Russian psychics curse business competitors, and prosperity theology preaches that God will make you rich. This class explores the enchantment of the financial sphere, combining theory on the disenchantment of modernity (Max Weber) and commodity fetishism (Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, William Pietz) with ethnographic accounts of how capitalism and the economy become mystified and enchanted.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI271 Secularism: Godlessness from Luther to Lenin

Secularism is more than just the absence of religion. It is a political and ideological project with a long history that seeks to separate political and religious authority and imagines whether human life can be richer without religion. This course traces the idea and ideal of secularism as an ideological project from classic Enlightenment philosophers to contemporary critics. We begin with Martin Luther's arguments for the separation of church and state, examine utopian ideals of secular humanism in Mill, Locke, Hume, and Marx. We then trace how these philosophies were embodied in state-sponsored atheism in the Soviet Union and how secularism came to stand for religious freedom during the Cold War. Finally, we examine critiques of the secular project (such as Asad, Mahmood, and others), focusing on secularism as a realpolitik approach to governing multireligious societies and the idea of religious freedom as a universal human right. This is a seminar focused on close readings of philosophical and critical texts. Assignments include reading responses and reflective essays.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: REES216
Prereq: None

RELI272 Ethics After the Holocaust

The philosopher Theodor Adorno declared, "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." The Holocaust is a challenge to our understanding of modern society, ethics, and what it means to be human after Auschwitz. In this course, we will investigate how the Holocaust orients contemporary discussions on questions of guilt, forgiveness, and evil. What does it mean to remember, to forgive, and to forget? Can one ethically represent the Holocaust in art? We will explore these questions using various sources, including works by Hannah Arendt, Adorno, and Emmanuel Levinas, as well as museums, memorial sites, and cinematic representations.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: CJST272, GRST266
Prereq: None

RELI275F Religions Resisting Modernity (FYS)

Why did the Taliban forbid television? Why do creationists reject evolution? Why did Gandhi insist that Indian nationalists spin their own thread? Throughout the last century, resistance has risen to modernity, and religion has played an increasingly important role in challenging the globalization of modern Western values. This seminar will explore how Europe transformed itself into a modern society with worldwide influence. Then it will investigate how the Lakota Sioux, Christian creationists, Mohandas Gandhi, the Branch Davidians, and Egyptian Islamicists each have used religion in an attempt to resist some aspect of modernity, either outside the Western world or within it. Ultimately, the course will challenge our very understandings and expectations of modernity.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI276 The Gospels and Jesus

In this examination of the history and literature of the earliest writings about Jesus, attention will be given to the literary forms used in the composition of gospel literature, the social and religious functions of the traditions, the role of imagination in the production of gospel texts, and the diversity of interpretations of Jesus in the early church. Readings will focus on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Thomas, and "Q."
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI278 American Jewish Humor

This course is a look at American Jewish history through one particular lens--that of the peculiar phenomenon of Jewish humor. There is a long history of Jews and humor that has nothing to do with the immigrant experience in America, but the immigrant experience in America nonetheless has a great deal to do with the humor that has been produced by Jews in this country, particularly in the 20th century. We will read some historical background on American Jews and some humor theory as our foundation for our understanding of film viewings, short stories, stand-up comedy performances, and musical recordings. By looking at the way Jewish humor changed throughout the 20th century, we should, in the end, be able to chart the way the lives of American Jews were changing and have a deeper understanding of the American Jewish experience.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-HIST
Identical With: CJST278, AMST292
Prereq: None

RELI279 Liberation Theology and Pentecostalism in the Americas and Africa

This course tackles the question: If liberation theology advocates a preferential option for the poor, why do the poor in Africa and the Americas often choose evangelical Protestantism? For evangelical Christianity, the common good is a by-product of the righteous lives of believers as they enact the outward signs of personal salvation. This course examines both religious thought and analysis of various Christianities of the Americas and Africa, with particular attention to the ways religious thinkers and communities grapple with and resolve questions of human rights, evangelizing race, and structural inequalities that arise in the recent era of globalization and neoliberal capitalism. Other topics will include the prosperity gospel, the growth of Christian NGOs, gender and machismo, and spiritual warfare. Case studies will include readings on the U.S., Colombia, Brazil, Haiti, and Zimbabwe.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: LAST306
Prereq: None

RELI280 Mixed in America: Race, Religion, and Memoir

This course examines the history of mixed-race and interfaith identities in America. Using the genre of the memoir as a focusing lens, we will look at the various ways that Americans of mixed heritage have found a place, crafted an identity, and made meaning out of being considered "mixed." How has being multiracial or bi-religious changed in the course of history in this country? What has occasioned these changes, and what patterns can we observe? We will explore questions of racial construction; religious boundary-making; rites of passage; gender, sexuality, and marriage; and some literary and media representations of mixed-heritage people.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: AFAM282, AMST242
Prereq: None

RELI280F Mixed in America: Race, Religion, and Memoir (FYS)

This first-year seminar course examines the history of mixed-race and interfaith identities in America. Using the genre of the memoir as a focusing lens, we will look at the various ways that Americans of mixed heritage have found a place, crafted an identity, and made meaning out of being considered "mixed." How has being multiracial or bi-religious changed in the course of history in this country? What has occasioned these changes, and what patterns can we observe? We will explore questions of racial construction; religious boundary-making; rites of passage; gender, sexuality, and marriage; and some literary and media representations of mixed-heritage people.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: AFAM282F
Prereq: None

RELI282 Religion and the Scientific Imagination

Where do we get the idea that science and religion are opposed to one another? What did Darwin do to classic proofs of the existence of God and how have those proofs bounced back? What sort of evidence do theologians marshal in support of their hypotheses, and what sort of spiritualities do scientists generate in support of theirs? What do neuroscientists think they're finding when they measure the neural activity of meditating monks? What are the "new atheists" so annoyed about? How do cosmologists talk about the origins of the world, and how do climate scientists talk about its end? In this class we will explore the many ways "religion" and "science" have interacted, conflicted, collided, and combined with one another--in an effort to move beyond the frankly boring "debates" between them.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: SISP282
Prereq: None

RELI288 Buddhism in America: The Dharma Comes to Main Street

The American understanding of Buddhist ideas and acceptance of Buddhist practices, which has been growing slowly for some time, has quickened significantly in the last few decades. In this course we examine this process, from its early phases in the 19th century, through the impact of population displacement and increasing spiritual diversity in the 20th century, to the virtual explosion in the current century of creative engagement between Buddhism and a wide range of fields. We cover such topics as environmentalism; physical and mental health; issues of conflict resolution, social justice, race, and gender; practices relating to optimal performance, end-of-life care, and prison ministry; and the emerging fields of cognitive science, contemplative studies, and the philosophy of mind.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI289 Indigenous Religions: Politics, Land, Healing

From wise old shamans to heroic pipeline protestors, the media is full of romantic representations of indigenous religion, but what do you really know beyond the stereotypes? If indigenous religion is just religion practiced by indigenous people, is it a category at all? Since the first days of colonialism the question of whether or not the "natives" have or are capable of having religion has had political consequences. This class introduces students to the historical and political contexts within which indigenous peoples practice their religions, and critically engages with popular stereotypes. Using ethnography, fiction, critical theory, and the instructor's own fieldwork materials, we will examine some of the criteria by which indigenous religious practices have been romanticized or judged lacking by outsiders: What does an oral tradition sound like? What does it mean to engage in place-based religion? What is a "noble savage," what are sacred sites, animate landscapes, and what are some of the ways indigenous peoples really do relate to the environment in radically different ways? What are some of the contradictions and complications of multiculturalism and the politics of recognition when it comes to indigenous populations? While this is not a survey course, students will be introduced to case studies of indigenous religious practices from North America, Australia, and Siberia.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: REES289
Prereq: None

RELI291 From Jerusalem to Ground Zero: Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Sioux, and Hindu Notions of Sacredness

Many Jews, Christians, and Muslims view Jerusalem as a "sacred" place. But what does this mean? How does a place--or an object or person--become sacred, holy, revered? Is Ground Zero sacred? If so, how do we compare the destruction of an office building that makes part of Manhattan sacred and Native American efforts to protect venerated sites from "development" that they describe as "desecration"? Does the term "sacred" even translate in other languages? When does a stone sculpture become an embodiment of a Hindu deity?

Using examples such as Jewish, Christian, and Muslim views of Jerusalem, Lakota Sioux recognition of revered places and wicasa wakan (medicine men), and Hindu engagements with divine images, this seminar will explore these questions.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI292 Reason and Revelation: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion

With the dawning of modernity, Europe's colonial and scientific adventures opened a distinction of mutual suspicion between theology and philosophy. Broadly speaking, "philosophy of religion" is the effort to evaluate the claims of revelation and reason in terms of one another. We will examine some of the major texts within this field, whose authors include deep skeptics, committed Christians, committed anti-Christians, secular and nonsecular Jews, feminists, ethicists, idealists, empiricists, Romantics, and liberationists. Themes include proofs of God's existence--along with refutations of those proofs and rebuttals to those refutations--the problem of evil, religious ethics, religious experience, the possibility of a universal religion, "divine" racism, the gender of God, the ecocidal tendencies of Abrahamic theology, and the role theology might or might not play in efforts toward ecological, sexual, and racial justice.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RELI
Identical With: PHIL282
Prereq: None

RELI298 Religion and History

This course will examine some ways that scholars have understood the role of religion in history. Readings will reflect a wide variety of theoretical, theological, and disciplinary perspectives.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-HIST
Identical With: HIST323
Prereq: None

RELI299 Imagining Communities: National Religions and Political Rituals

From the Catholic-Protestant troubles in Northern Ireland, Christian nationalism in Serbia, Hindu-Buddhist conflict in Sri Lanka, and the Taliban in Afghanistan, religious nationalism often produces virulent and violent conflict. Yet the Virgin of Guadeloupe is a national symbol of Mexico, Catholicism was central to the Polish Solidarity movement, and America defines itself as "one nation under God." How are we to understand the relationship between religion and national identity, and how do political rituals, both religious and secular, help form communities? Popular media and political science analysis define religious nationalism as dangerous and secular nationalism as good. We will investigate this claim over the course of the semester by asking what the study of religion and ritual can bring to the topic. Are religious and secular political rituals really as different as they seem? We will read and discuss the classic social theories of Samuel Huntington, Benedict Anderson, Emile Durkheim, Victor Turner, Clifford Geertz, and Talal Asad, and these readings will be interspersed with case studies that illustrate how these theories help us understand the world. Case studies include the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the arrest and trial of the punk band Pussy Riot in Russia, and the Yasukuni shrine in Japan, where the souls of kamikaze pilots and World War II war criminals are enshrined. In addition, students will pick a case study of their own for a research project. This project will be conducted through multiple small assignments over the course of the semester that will be combined into a final research paper and class presentation.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: REES299
Prereq: None

RELI301 Jesus and the Gods: Christianity and the Religions of Antiquity

This course will focus on the politics and methods of comparison in order to reveal how thinkers have described the myths and practices of early Christianity as they relate to the religions of ancient Israel, Greece, and Rome. In reading carefully a wide range of ancient texts and modern scholarly discussions, we will be thinking on several levels at once. That is, we will learn about the gods and ritual practices of ancient Greece and Rome and also think critically about the agendas of the many writers--from Plato to Thomas Jefferson and beyond--who described them for their own purposes. How did Jesus of Nazareth come to be understood as a god, who dies and rises, in a world brimming with gods? Why was he remembered as a philosopher and a martyr, like Socrates? How--and with what motives--did writers throughout history compare Jesus with the priests and kings of ancient Israel or with the gods and goddesses of the Hellenistic Mystery Religions? What is the place of Demeter, Isis, and Osiris in the history of religion? How did early Christians understand their rituals of death and resurrection in terms of rebirth, salvation, and martyrdom? Considering themes and theories of piety and sacrifice, purity and prophecy, wisdom and narrative, ethics and philosophy, mythmaking and cultural critique, we will ask how the politics of comparison and classification have shaped not only our understanding of Jesus and Judaism, ancient Greece and Rome, but also the construction of "Judaism" and "Christianity" as religions--and the very category of religion itself.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI305 Pantheologies: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, World

Pantheism teaches that the world itself is divine. The idea seems simple enough, yet it has suffered extraordinary ridicule at the hands of western philosophers and theologians who have considered "matter" to be lifeless, dark, and feminine, which is to say as different as possible from "God." This course will explore this generalized panic over pantheism--in particular, the anxieties it encodes over gender, race, nationality, and class--before turning to contemporary constructive pantheologies at work in some of the natural and social sciences. To what extent are recent theories of cosmology, complexity, and materiality setting forth subtle pantheisms? What are the feminist, anti-racist, and ecological stakes of these theories? Properly conceived, what is pantheism, and is it ultimately distinguishable from atheism?
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: FGSS290, SISP305
Prereq: None

RELI307 Ritual

Religion can be defined through beliefs or traditions or texts, but it always takes physical form through ritual. Ritual is the one universal in religion, but the question of how to understand ritual is possibly the most contested question in the study of religion. Can a ritual be read like a text? How do symbols produce effects, and how should we understand these effects? What is performative speech and how does it work? How does ritual behavior reflect and shape social relationships? This course introduces students to the major approaches to the study of ritual. The readings draw heavily, but not exclusively, on anthropological approaches to ritual, both classic texts and recent innovative approaches focusing on language and embodiment. Students will pick a ritual that they are interested in and will attend that ritual several times over the semester, conducting practical fieldwork exercises and applying the theories we read in class. The assignments culminate in a paper in which students will be required to analyze "their" ritual using the theory we read together in class. For these assignments, students are encouraged to define ritual broadly and creatively. The goal of the class is to gain an understanding of theoretical approaches to ritual by applying these theories to the social world around them.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: ANTH303
Prereq: None

RELI308 Funny, You Don't Look Jewish: Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Judaism

This course will give advanced students the opportunity to engage deeply with critical current issues in Judaism, including race, gender, and sexuality. In both the U.S. and Israel, issues of Jewish whiteness (or not), straightness (or not), and maleness (or not) dominate conversations about the direction Judaism will take in the 21st century and how Judaism can remain relevant in an increasingly globalized and secularized world.

Students in this course will read contemporary scholarship on those who have been traditionally pushed to the margins of Judaism and will be asked to wade into murky ethical waters as they think about the power of naming and who has the authority to determine "in" and "out."
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: FGSS313, CJST308
Prereq: None

RELI312 Indigenous Religion and the New Age: Inspiration or Appropriation?

Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? This course examines the way in which indigenous religious practices, images, and ideas become appropriated into New Age religion. In GOD IS RED, Native American philosopher Vine Deloria Jr. argued that indigenous religion is superior to western Christianity and the Christian West has much to learn from it, but many indigenous people understandably object when their practices are copied by outsiders, decontextualized, and used to make a profit. Where is the line between respectfully learning from and disrespectfully appropriating? Why are indigenous practices so appealing to the New Age? How do New Age desires intersect with the needs and desires of contemporary indigenous practitioners, as well as national legal structures and neo-liberal economies? What are the contexts within which decontextualized indigenous practices and ideas become re-contextualized as New Age? We will read and deconstruct the classic manifesto of New Age spirituality THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN, examine the Ayahuasca patent case, and consider questions of intellectual property, cultural appropriation, and spiritual tourism.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-CHUM
Identical With: CHUM312
Prereq: None

RELI314 Buddhist Traditions of Mind and Meditation

This seminar surveys a range of Buddhist meditation practices in the context of traditional theories of mind, perception, and cognition, with an emphasis on the traditions of South Asia, East Asia, and the Himalaya. Beginning with canonical descriptions of the mind and its variety of mental states, the course will then examine early scriptural expositions on the two principal types of meditation techniques: tranquility or concentration meditation (samatha) and insight meditation (vipasyana). Next will be an examination of techniques for cultivating compassion and the view of emptiness that were central to the later Indian traditions of the Mahayana or Great Vehicle. The course will finally turn to the elaborate systems of Tantra that developed in India and spread through Tibet, which incorporate the visualization of deities and recitation of mantras. Readings will include both primary Buddhist canonical works and commentaries by contemporary Buddhist teachers in English translation as well as secondary scholarship on the historical context of Buddhist meditation systems, cognitive theory, and ritual practice.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI315 Ethics and Action in the Buddhist Cosmos

We often think about nirvana, or "enlightenment," as the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice. But the reality is much more complex. Buddhist traditions imagine a huge range of positive outcomes for moral behavior: immediate material benefits, rebirth in a better body or in a wealthier family, and enjoyment of gold-paved heavens or eternally blissful Pure Lands.

In this seminar we will read Buddhist scriptures, commentaries, biographies, narrative anthologies, and scholarly works that trace the many ways of thinking about ethics, action, and rebirth in the vast Buddhist cosmos. We will tour Buddhist heavens and hells, Pure Lands and political dystopias, as well as the complex worlds of Buddhist modernity. Along the way we will begin to think about key issues in the study of religion: narrative and ethics, magic and material culture, cosmology and sacred presence, modernity and globalization.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: CEAS345
Prereq: None

RELI318 Awesome Cinema: Religion, Art, and the Unrepresentable

How does one represent the unrepresentable? In particular, how might a medium like cinema, founded on recording the visible world, move us to sense something beyond human experience? Various artistic, religious, and religiously artistic traditions use mystery, horror, surprise, disgust, and pleasure to evoke the uncanny, the majestic, the terrifying, and even the sublime in us. This class examines how filmmakers prompt audiences to feel awe (which might be awesome, awful, or both) and how that relates to religious engagement with the nonrational. Noting parallels in painting, ritual, architecture, and other means of expression, we consider how art structures emotion, perception, and cognition to exceed representation of the known. This class will examine how aliens, avatars, black holes, death, deities, demons, saints, saviors, superheroes, and nature have been conduits to that which appears to escape reason. Films will include "Arrival," "Interstellar," "The Exorcist," "Jai Santoshi Maa," "Passion of Joan of Arc," "Ten Canoes," and "Yeelen."
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-FILM
Identical With: FILM318
Prereq: RELI151 OR FILM307

RELI319 Zionism: A Political Theology

This seminar examines the political theology of Zionism by focusing on the intersections of secular aspirations and theological notions embedded in the ideology and practice of the national Jewish mission.

To this end, the seminar is designed to explore the modern concept of political theology. In analyzing a range of selected primary and secondary sources, it will also bring this concept to bear on an understanding of the Zionist secular adaptations of theological concepts, such as heresy, faith, inner experience, and redemption. Finally, the seminar will focus on how this type of political-theology informed the national Jewish language, symbolism, literature, social institutions, and social and political imagination.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-CHUM
Identical With: CHUM319, CJST319
Prereq: None

RELI330 American Utopias in the 19th Century

This seminar will examine expressions, both religious and secular, of the utopian impulse in 19th-century American culture. Communitarian experiments launched by Shakers, transcendentalists, perfectionists, and feminists will be studied as manifestations of social and religious turmoil and will be compared with their literary analogues. Utopianism as a philosophical, literary, and literal approach to solving social problems and constructing a more perfect nation-state has been a persistent and recurrent feature in American history. This seminar explores precursors in the long 19th century to more recent utopian theory and experimentation.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-HIST
Identical With: AMST330, HIST330
Prereq: None

RELI348 Magic, Sex, and Scholasticism: Tantric Traditions in Asia and Beyond

The word "tantra" conjures many images: ritual feasts on illicit substances, sexual union in the service of religious transformation, alchemical journeys, and explorations of the erotic, the terrifying, and the sublime. But what precisely did tantra look like in practice? Were the worlds of tantra imagined by marginal outcastes? Monastic elites? Or were they just the wild fantasies of Western imperialists?

In this course, we will immerse ourselves in the worlds of tantra, through scriptures, ritual manuals, and art. We will read scholarship on tantra to probe the social and philosophical contexts in which tantra thrived. Finally, we will investigate the history of Western encounters with and appropriations of tantra, from Aleister Crowley to Sting.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RELI
Identical With: FGSS348
Prereq: None

RELI351 Debate and Destruction: Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages

This course will consider relations between the Jewish minority and their Christian neighbors in England before the Jews' expulsion in 1290. We will also look at how the Jews are depicted in subsequent Christian writing. We will read texts originally written in Hebrew, French, and Latin (all in translation) as well as English, giving us a sense of the conversations that took place between two groups that were both inextricably bound together and set apart by centuries of conflict and persecution. Among the issues we will explore are the popularity of Jewish-Christian debate as a literary form, the Crusades, gender roles and gender fluidity, Jewish and Christian apocalyptic programs, and the curious afterlife of Jews in Middle English literature..
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ENGL
Identical With: ENGL351, MDST351, CJST351
Prereq: None

RELI355 Mystical Traditions in Islam

Muslim scholars today often condemn the mystical traditions of Sufism as being un-Islamic. But for almost 1,000 years, mysticism provided an alternative voice to Muslim believers. This course will explore the origins and development of Sufism and its extraordinary impact on the cultural life of Muslims over the past millennium.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-HIST
Identical With: HIST337
Prereq: None

RELI373 Religion, Science, and Empire: Crucible of a Globalized World

The development of modern science--and of modernity itself--not only coincided with the rise of European imperialism, it was abetted by it. Meanwhile, religion was integral to both the roots of European science and Western encounters with others. This class will explore how the intersections of religion, science, and empire have formed a globalized world with examples of European engagement with the Americas, Middle East, and, particularly, India from the age of Columbus through to the space race. We will examine how the disciplines we know today as biology, anthropology, archaeology, folklore, and the history of religions all crystallized in the crucible of imperial encounter and how non-Westerners have embraced, engaged, and resisted these epistemes.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: SISP373
Prereq: None

RELI375 Relic and Image: The Archaeology and Social History of Indian Buddhism

This course investigates the social history and material culture of Indian Buddhism from the fifth century BCE through the period of the Kushan empire (1st--3rd century CE). The course begins with the examination of the basic teachings of Buddhism as presented in canonical texts and then turns to consideration of the organization and functioning of the early Buddhist community, or sangha. The focus then shifts to the popular practice of Buddhism in early India and the varied forms of interaction between lay and monastic populations. Although canonical texts will be examined, primary emphasis in this segment of the course is given to the archaeology and material culture of Buddhist sites and their associated historical inscriptions. Specific topics to be covered include the cult of the Buddha's relics, pilgrimage to the sites of the Eight Great Events in the Buddha's life, the rise and spread of image worship, and the Buddhist appropriation and reinterpretation of folk religious practices. Key archaeological sites to be studied include the monastic complex at Sanchi, the pilgrimage center at Bodh Gaya (site of the Buddha's enlightenment), the city of Taxila (capital of the Indo-Greek kings and a major educational center), and the rock-cut cave monasteries along the trade routes of western India.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ART
Identical With: ARHA381, CEAS381, ARCP380
Prereq: None

RELI377 Worlding the World: Creation Myths from Ancient Greece to the Multiverse

This course will focus on two questions that have thwarted and enthralled scientists, philosophers, and theologians for millennia: Where have we come from? and Where are we going? By reading ancient Greek and early Christian sources alongside contemporary astrophysicists, we will witness the reconfigured resurrection of some very old debates about the creation and unmaking of the world. Is the universe eternal, or was it created? Is it finite or infinite? Destructible or indestructible? Linear or cyclical? And is ours the only universe, or are there others?

The semester will be divided into four sections. The first will explore the dominant, or "inflationary," version of the big bang hypothesis in relation to the Christian doctrine of creation. The second will consider the possibility that the whole universe might be a negligible part of a vast "multiverse" in conversation with the early Greek atomists, who posited an extra-cosmic space teeming with other worlds. The third will explore contemporary cyclical cosmologies--that is, theories that posit a rebirth of the cosmos out of its fiery destruction--in relation to early Stoic philosophy and cross-cultural cyclic mythologies. The fourth will explore quantum cosmologies, in which the universe fragments into parallel branches each time a particle "decides" upon a position. We will examine these varied cosmologies of multiplicity, not with a view toward adjudicating among them, but toward pointing out their mythic and ontological genealogies and consequences.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: SISP377
Prereq: None

RELI379 Christianity and Sexuality

This course will explore a range of Christian teachings on attitudes toward, and technologies of, sex and sexuality. We will read medieval and modern theologies of sexuality, as well as contemporary historical, sociological, and cultural studies. Points of focus will include confession, mysticism, marriage, celibacy, queer and trans* practices and identities, and reproductive justice.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RELI
Identical With: FGSS309
Prereq: None

RELI391 Religion and the Social Construction of Race

In this course we examine aspects of the intersections between race and religion in a number of historical and social contexts. We place at the center of our discussions the question of how race and religion are co-constructed categories that function as a prism through which people come to understand and experience their own identities and those of others. We will privilege interpretations that emphasize (1) the intersectionality of race and religion as a process in which power plays a pivotal role; and (2) the means through which communities form collective identities. We will read a range of historical analysis and primary source materials from the U.S. and the Caribbean. After a theory module, we will examine a colonial-era captivity narrative, antebellum pro-slavery document, missionary works, analyses of anti-Semitism, works on Rastafari, Haitian Vodou, Jonestown, the Christian White Supremacy movement, as well as the contemporary U.S. relationship to the Middle East.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: AFAM280, AMST391
Prereq: None

RELI393 "If there is no God, then everything is permitted?" Moral Life in a Secular World

In Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, Dmitri Karamazov famously poses the question of what would happen to mankind "without God and immortal life," asking whether this means that "all things are permitted." Made famous by Dostoevsky, the question of whether we can be moral without God has always haunted secularism and has consistently been the most vocal criticism of unbelief. From papal condemnations of secularism and "godless Soviets," to the contemporary consensus that belief in God is evidence of moral goodness and its absence a sign of a broken ethical barometer, the assumption has been that transcendental authority is all that stands between us and moral abyss. When the atrocities committed by "totalitarian" regimes are cited as evidence of this, it is only the most radical articulation of a broader narrative of secular modernity.

One of modernity's master narratives is that people go from being under the care of the church to being under the care of the state, and our focus will be on historical cases where the question of secular values was explicitly engaged by the state. We will examine individual and collective articulations of morality in three prominent models of secularism: American civil religion, French laïcité, and Communist official atheism. What constitutes the moral foundation of a world without God? Can religion's moral and spiritual function be performed by a different kind of belief system?
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-HIST
Identical With: HIST395, REES344
Prereq: None

RELI395 The Anthropology of Religion

What do we study when we study religion? We can observe practices, record speech, examine objects and actions--but what do these things tell us? If religion is about belief, what can we say about belief from documenting actions? Perhaps we must conclude that religion is not about belief, but if so, are in danger of "explaining away" the very phenomena we seek to understand? This course will introduce students to a cross-cultural, comparative perspective on religious practice and belief in order to critically reflect on the role of methodology and research design in the study of religion and the social sciences more broadly. How do we know what we know? How do we plan research in order to find out what we want to know? The course has a significant methods component. Students will be expected to do field research exercises in a local religious community and prepare a methodology research proposal for a fictional or real project as a final assignment. Methodological exercises will be interspersed with ethnographic texts that allow us to reflect on how religion is studied, experienced, and explained. Students planning theses or other research projects with an ethnographic component, in any social science field, may use the class and the final assignment to conceptualize and plan their projects.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: ANTH395
Prereq: None

RELI398 Majors Colloquium in Religious Studies

This seminar provides an opportunity for majors to reflect even more critically upon the theories, methods, and discourses that constitute the academic study of religion. We will be concerned with current studies in history and the history of religions, the interpretation of texts, anthropology, feminist theory, and post-colonial theory. Our task is to understand and assess how scholars of religion make critical judgments. The seminar will explore how scholars operate within disciplinary communities, choose their topics, engage interlocutors, and weigh issues of emic and etic interpretation. We will seek to identify and evaluate each scholar's principles of selection, means of description, stipulation of evidence, use of comparative categories, and methods and models of argumentation.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Prereq: None

RELI401 Individual Tutorial, Undergraduate

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

RELI402 Individual Tutorial, Undergraduate

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

RELI403 Department/Program Project or Essay

Project to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F

RELI404 Department/Program Project or Essay

Project to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: Cr/U

RELI407 Senior Tutorial (downgraded thesis)

Downgraded Senior Thesis Tutorial - Project to be arranged in consultation with the tutor. Only enrolled in through the Honors Coordinator.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F

RELI408 Senior Tutorial (downgraded thesis)

Downgraded Senior Thesis Tutorial - Project to be arranged in consultation with the tutor. Only enrolled in through the Honors Coordinator.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F

RELI409 Senior Thesis Tutorial

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

RELI410 Senior Thesis Tutorial

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

RELI411 Group Tutorial, Undergraduate

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

RELI412 Group Tutorial, Undergraduate

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

RELI420 Student Forum

Student-run group tutorial, sponsored by a faculty member and approved by the chair of a department or program.
Offering: Host
Grading: Cr/U

RELI466 Education in the Field, Undergraduate

Students must consult with the department and class dean in advance of undertaking education in the field for approval of the nature of the responsibilities and method of evaluation.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F

RELI467 Independent Study, Undergraduate

Credit may be earned for an independent study during a summer or authorized leave of absence provided that (1) plans have been approved in advance, and (2) all specified requirements have been satisfied.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

RELI468 Independent Study, Undergraduate

Credit may be earned for an independent study during a summer or authorized leave of absence provided that (1) plans have been approved in advance, and (2) all specified requirements have been satisfied.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: None
Prereq: None

RELI469 Education in the Field, Undergraduate

Students must consult with the department and class dean in advance of undertaking education in the field for approval of the nature of the responsibilities and method of evaluation.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: None
Prereq: None

RELI491 Teaching Apprentice Tutorial

The teaching apprentice program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to assist in teaching a faculty member's course for academic credit.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

RELI492 Teaching Apprentice Tutorial

The teaching apprentice program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to assist in teaching a faculty member's course for academic credit.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

RELI495 Research Apprentice, Undergraduate

Project to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: Cr/U

RELI496 Research Apprentice, Undergraduate

Project to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: Cr/U