Graduate Courses

Spring 2017 / Fall 2016/

Spring 2017

REL-R 521 STUDIES IN EARLY CHRISTIANITY / TOPIC: Jews, Christians, Others

Instructor: Schott, J.
Course Duration: 1/9/17 - 5/5/17
Day & Time: 4:00p-5:15p MW
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-A 316 and JSTU-J 316

This course explores the interactions between Jews, Christians, and other religious groups in antiquity, especially in Roman Palestine and Sasanian Persia circa the first through seventh centuries C.E. In this class we pay particular attention to the portrayals of Christians in ancient Jewish literature, but we also draw from early Christian and other sources. In this course students explore such questions as: How did Jews define themselves in relation to Christians, and vice versa? In what ways did Jews and Christians part ways with one another, as scholars often maintain? And, lastly, what role did other groups play, such as Zoroastrians, Gnostics, and Manichaeans, in this development? This course assumes no prior background in religious studies.

REL-R 531 STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN HISTORY / TOPIC: Right Belief: a History of Orthodox Christianity

Instructor: Michelson, P.
Course Duration: 1/9/17 - 5/5/17
Day & Time: 1:00p-2:15p TR
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-A 355

This course offers an in-depth study of modern Orthodox Christianity, the second largest Christian denomination in the world. Students will explore the various experiences of Orthodox believers, and the ways they interprete those experiences, in the context of religious rivalry, war, revolution, and oppression. Here we will see a faith community confront Antichrist and atheists, heretics and heathens, radicals and revolutionaries, all in an effort to defeat the “synagogue of Satan” and realize the Kingdom of God.

REL-R 532 STUDIES OF RELIGION IN AMERICAN CULTURE / TOPIC: Evangelical America

Instructor: Brown, C.
Course Duration: 1/9/17 - 5/5/17
Day & Time: 11:15a-12:30p MW
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-C 330

From eighteenth-century Great Awakening revivals to twenty-first-century presidential campaigns, evangelicals—and Pentecostal and Charismatic movements within evangelicalism—have played a vital role in shaping American cultural, social, and political institutions. Who are evangelicals? What do they believe, and how do they behave? Should non-evangelicals be worried about them? This course explores the causes, nature, and implications of evangelical influence through the lenses of history, literature, and religious studies—drawing upon fiction, poetry, autobiography, music, television, film, ethnography, and food.

REL-R 541 STUDIES INTHE JEWISH TRADITION / Topic: The Jewish Jesus from Late Antiquity to the Present

Instructor: Magid, S.
Course Duration: 1/9/17 - 5/5/17
Day & Time: 3:00p-5:00p W
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with JSTU-H 500

From the inception of Christianity in the first century CE, Jews, Jewish-Christians, and later Gentile Christians have struggled with the fact that Jesus was born and died a Jew, that (most of) the apostles were Jews, and that Jesus’ teachings, as documented in the New Testament, were largely drawn from Jewish teaching of the time. There is little in early Christianity that does not have some precedent in Ancient Israelite literature of the time, perhaps even the controversial (from a Jewish perspective) notions of incarnation and a resurrected messiah. Once Christianity moved from being a persecuted minority in the Roman Empire to its dominant religion after the conversion of Constantine, Jewish attitudes toward Christianity in general and Jesus in particular became almost exclusively negative. This negative attitude began to change in the 19th century as Jews entered civil society in Europe and began re-thinking their own historical roots. Christianity’s search for the historical Jesus and Judaism’s desire to be accepted by their Christian neighbors contributed to a more complex assessment of the Jewish Jesus in the 20th century. In this course we will trace the Jewish attitudes toward Jesus from late antiquity to the 20th century looking at the way Jesus continues to play a role (negatively and positively) in the Jewish imagination.

REL-R 551 RELIGIONS OF SOUTH ASIA / TOPIC: The Mahabharata

Instructor: Manring, R.
Course Duration: 1/9/17 - 5/5/17
Day & Time: 5:45p-8:15p TR
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-B 420 and INST-I 370
Above class meets 2nd 8 weeks only

What is our duty as human beings? In this course we will explore how ancient Indian intellectuals answered this question. The Mahābhārata is one of the foundational texts of Indian civilization and is a world classic offering tremendous mythic and psychological insight into the human condition. We will examine that classical Indian epic, stressing its role as a living tradition that is constantly being recreated and reinterpreted. We’ll read significant excerpts from the epic itself, alongside recent scholarship on its literary, religious and historical contexts. We’ll also consider it as performance tradition and so will view and discuss recordings of several modern stagings of the Mahābhārata. Students will also consider recent novels (all available, if not originally written, in English) treating sections of the epic.

REL-R 563 RELIGION IN LITERATURE / TOPIC: Irony in Religion and Literature

Instructor: Harriss, M.
Course Duration: 1/9/17 - 5/5/17
Day & Time: 9:30a-10:45a MW
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-D 410

One frigid morning you happen upon your professor on campus. “It’s a lovely warm day!” she says. You pause. This odd statement could mean a number of things: Is your professor crazy? Delirious? Canadian? Or is she joking? She smiles and you realize that by saying the opposite of what she meant, she was being ironic. You laugh, being in on the joke’s meaning, but also recognize that in this ironic moment any number of “truths” were equally in play. Religion and literature are both meaning making enterprises. Sometimes their meanings are stable but more often they are not. Life is complicated and the meaning that we give it through literature and/or religion matches this instability. The concept of irony allows us to hold multiple meanings, contradictory truths, in tension, equipping us to deal with the absurdity of reality in meaningful ways—even when there may seem to be no stable meaning. This course considers a few theories of irony as a literary, religious, and political concept and then reads closely in selected literary texts (Shakespeare, Austen, Melville, Faulkner, and Ellison) to consider how irony enriches our readings of these texts (including questions of power, economy, gender, and race) and how the process of reading ironically helps us to understand how religions build communities around the making of meaning through which diverse people and groups may find some agreement (while also keeping others away).

REL-R 600 METHODS IN RELIGION STUDIES / TOPIC: Religious Hermeneutics

Instructor: Jaques, R.
Course Duration: 1/9/17 - 5/5/17
Day & Time: 9:05a-12:05p F
Credit Hours: 4

Description: This course will explore theories and practices in the interpretation of religious texts as they have developed over the last 200 years. It will focus specifically on the works of six important scholars of hermeneutical thought, the traditions of interpretation that emerge out of their works, and how students can use these works to develop their own approaches to textual interpretation as they may apply to their specific areas of interest.

Requirements: As this will be a three-hour course that meets just once a week, attendance is a must. Students will also write a weekly review of each text that highlights the main arguments of the author and each student will be required to “teach” at least one of the texts. We will discuss how the student should structure their lesson and how to focus on the central points of each work so that they are able to get through their material in the time allotted. Students will also be required to write a research-length 20-30 page essay that discusses their own theory of interpretation as it applies to their specific research interests.

Required Texts: Friedrich Schleiermacher, Hermeneutics and Criticism; Wilhelm Dilthey, Selected Works, Volume IV: Hermeneutics and the Study of History; Martin Heidegger, Being and Time; Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method; Paul Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting; and Jürgen Habermas, Religion and Rationality.

REL-R 672 RELIGIOUS THOUGHT AND ETHICS / TOPIC: Darwin and Religion

Instructor: Sideris, L.
Course Duration: 1/9/17 - 5/5/17
Day & Time: 2:00p-5:00p W
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-R 770

This is an interdisciplinary seminar that surveys a subset of themes on Darwin and evolutionary thought in relation to religion and the material world. Our focus will be on the past and present affinity of Darwinism with ideas of disenchantment, reechantment, animism, embodiment, and affect. Owing to Darwin’s painstaking and empathic studies of animal emotions and his eloquent reflections on nature’s tragic side, his work has often been viewed through the lens of Romanticism. A romantic conception of nature in Darwin’s early years undoubtedly shaped the formation of his later ideas about human and nonhuman species. Darwin was deeply troubled by the problem of pain in human and nonhuman worlds; his struggle to make sense of suffering is often alleged to have motivated his eventual turn away from religion. In the 20th century, however, a different picture of Darwinism emerged, and with it a litany of complaints against the pernicious materialism and reductionism of Darwinian worldviews. Recently, a reappraisal of Darwinian and evolutionary ideas accompanied the contemporary turn to we might call the real, the material, and the biological. Feminist, new materialist and posthumanist scholars, and those interested in “object-oriented ontology,” among others, turn to Darwin and evolutionary ideas in order to bolster a new (or old?) account of matter as active, vital, and constructive. Darwin’s central metaphors of entanglement and enmeshment speak to our contemporary perception that boundaries between humans and nature—or humans and the machine—are dissolving. Darwin’s work can be seen to ground new forms of engagement with corporeality. This course will survey these trends in relation to the study of religion, emotion, and the body, and consider the value of Darwinian ideas more broadly for religion and ethics. For more information contact Lisa Sideris (lsideris@indiana.edu).

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Fall 2016

REL-R 551 RELIGIONS OF SOUTH ASIA / TOPIC: Women and Gender in South Asian Religious Traditions Literature of India

Instructor: Manring, R.
Course Duration: 8/22/16 - 12/16/16
Day & Time: TR 1:00p-2:15p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-B 330 and INST-I 380, INST-I 580

What do South Asian religions tell us about what it means to be a woman? We will explore women’s lives with four different perspectives in mind:

1. Descriptive: women’s own voices and their contributions to the shaping of the various traditions we will study.
2. Critical: women’s subordination, marginalization, and invisibility in religious history.
3. Comparative: how do women in South Asia handle issues, for example, of purity and pollution?
4. Methodological: how can we as scholars locate the gendered experience of religion? In other words, in a field once dominated by philology, how have some scholars managed to shift their emphasis to hear the voices that have rarely been recorded, the voices of women?

Class format will blend lecture and discussion, with students expected to participate fully in class meetings. We will develop the skills to help us evaluate the trustworthiness of our sources as we compare and contrast diverse and sometimes conflicting primary sources for a single issue. In this course we will frequently be dealing with ambiguity and contradiction! You will learn to identify the main issues raised in the week’s assigned readings so that you can raise questions for discussion. You'll be working in groups, with each group responsible for leading discussion twice during the semester. We will use a number of film clips illustrating relevant topics to help us understand women’s lives in South Asia.

REL-R 552 STUDIES IN BUDDHISM / Topic: East Asian Buddhism

Instructor: Blair, H.
Course Duration: 8/22/16 - 12/16/16
Day & Time: TR 11:15a-12:30p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-B 310

This discussion/lecture course introduces students to East Asian Buddhism (that is, China, Korea, Japan, and the East Asian cultural diaspora). We will explore how East Asian Buddhists past and present have used religion to imagine and interpret the physical, social, and supernatural worlds that they inhabit. The course is divided into four units. First, we will examine Buddhist cosmology, that is, the ways the world, from the heavens down to the hells, is imagined. Next we will explore the monastery as a site for dedicated practice by religious specialists (mostly, but not exclusively, monks and nuns). Then we will look at the question of how rulers have used Buddhism for political purposes. Finally, we will study pilgrimage, which brings people from all walks of life to sacred places. Course materials draw from both primary and secondary sources, and range from the classical to the contemporary. There are no pre-requisites for this course; however, those with no background in Buddhism or East Asian cultures are especially encouraged to come to office hours and may need to put in some extra effort, particularly at the beginning of the semester.

REL-R 554 RELIGIONS OF EAST ASIA / Topic: Early Chinese Thought

Instructor: Stalnaker, A.
Course Duration: 8/22/16 - 12/16/16
Day & Time: MW 9:30a-10:45a
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-B 374

This course provides an introduction to the early development of Chinese thought, from the oracle bone divination of the Shang Dynasty to the religious, ethical, and political theories of classical Confucianism, Mohism, and Daoism, through the unification of China in 221 BCE. We will concentrate on early debates over human nature and the best practices of self-cultivation, the general nature of the cosmos and the human role in it, and the proper ordering of society. The different positions articulated by these early Chinese figures greatly influenced later Chinese intellectual and social history, including the development of Buddhism, and influenced developments in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam as well. Thus, understanding these early debates is an important stepping-stone for understanding East Asian thought and culture generally. No knowledge of classical Chinese is required. Readings are in English translation.

REL-R 571 STUDIES IN RELIGIOUS ETHICS / Topic: Self Cultivation and Spiritual Exercises

Instructor: Stalnaker, A.
Course Duration: 8/22/16 - 12/16/16
Day & Time: MW 1:00p-2:15p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-D 430

Can anyone ever really change who they are? Religions tend to answer this question with an emphatic yes. And it does seem that religions can transform people: some believers even become selfless servants of the poor, or suicide bombers. But how and why might this happen? Similar circumstances push people in quite different ways; “good intentions” alone are not sufficient for real conversion to some difficult new form of life. This class focuses on how religious commitments are conceived, articulated, and nurtured through methodical practices that give followers specific direction, guiding them through alternative territories of sin and salvation, ignorance and wisdom, or suffering and bliss.

Examining practices of personal formation sheds new light on the broader question of how flawed and frail human beings can actually become good, and perhaps even heroic, sagely, or saintly. It also provides a unique window into the psychosocial mechanisms of religious power. All readings will be in English or English translation.

REL-R 661 RELIGION AND SOCIAL CRITICISM

Instructor: Furey, C.
Course Duration: 8/22/16 - 12/16/16
Day & Time: M 4:00p-6:00p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class open to graduates only.

“What is spirituality?” Michel Foucault asked during the first hour of his 1982 seminar, published in English as The Hermeneutics of the Subject. Foucault’s question about spirituality—and his interest in asking it—provides a clear example of how modern theories of selfhood continue to be bound up with an enduring interest in spirituality. “One of the great problems of Western culture,” he observed, “has been to find the possibility of founding the hermeneutics of the self not, as it was the case in early Christianity, on the sacrifice of the self but, on the contrary, on a positive, on the theoretical and practical, emergence of the self.” These two poles—self-sacrifice, on the one hand, and self-emergence, on the other—structure most modern theories of the subject. In this course we will examine the intersection between these theories and the study of religion. How might religious texts and traditions affirm, contradict, or otherwise complicate this account of subject formation? Readings will include work by Foucault, Judith Butler, Saba Mahmood, and others still to be determined.

REL-R 662 CROSS CULTURAL STUDIES OF RELIGION / TOPIC: Religion as/and Fantasy

Instructor: Blair, H.
Course Duration: 8/22/16 - 12/16/16
Day & Time: R 4:40p-6:40p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class open to graduate students only

Above class meets with REL-R 761

This graduate seminar examines the relationship of religion and fantasy in two ways. It asks whether religion is—or can be—a type of fantasy, and it examines how fantasy makes use of—and often acts like—religion. We will be reading essays by “classical” theorists like Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, as well as more recent academic work on play and fan culture. We will also be watching films and reading novels from the science fiction and fantasy genres. The main requirements for this course are regular, active participation in class discussions and completion of an independent research project.

REL-R 665 INTERPRETATIONS OF RELIGION

Instructor: Sullivan, W
Course Duration: 8/22/16 - 12/16/16
Day & Time: W 4:00p-6:00p
Credit Hours: 4

Above class open to graduate students only

Above class meets with REL-R 762

What is religion? What does it mean to interpret religion? Broadly conceived, this is a conversation that stretches across human history. This class is not a survey or a methods course: the goal is not to introduce you comprehensively to the study of religion or equip you with a toolkit of ideas and methods. Nor is it intended to enable you to identify the “best” theory of religion or to learn the decisive reasons for rejecting most of the ambitious theories from the past. It is instead an invitation to think deeply about what we mean by religion through thoughtful encounters with some contemporary theorists of religion with particular attention to the legal and political structuring of religion.

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