Graduate Courses

Spring 2014 / Fall 2013


Spring 2014

REL-R 511 RELIGION OF ANCIENT ISRAEL / Jews, Christians, And Others Late Antiquity

Instructor: Mokhtarian J
Course Duration: 1/13/14 — 5/9/14
Day & Time: TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM
Credit Hours: 3

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 521 CHRISTIANITY, 50-450 c.e.

Instructor: Schott J
Course Duration: 1/13/14 — 5/9/14
Day & Time: MW 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-A 325

This course surveys the history and literature of ancient Christianity from its origins as a Jewish sect in Palestine to its establishment as the official religion of the Roman Empire in the fifth century. Topics include persecution and martyrdom, scripture, Gnosticism, theological controversies over the Trinity and the nature of Christ, Constantine and the establishment of Catholic orthodoxy, the rise of monasticism, and important figures such as Augustine. The course will emphasize the variety of early Christian groups and will provide a good foundation for the study of Christianity in any later period. It is something of a sequel to Rel A220 (“Introduction to the New Testament”), but there are no prerequisites, and no previous study of Christianity is assumed.

REL-C 532 STUDIES OF RELIGION IN AMERICAN CULTURE /TOPIC: Religion, Illness and Healing

Instructor: Brown C
Course Duration: 1/13/14 — 5/9/14
Day & Time: MW 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-C 401 AND AMST-G 620

Is illness good or evil? Can religion be good or bad for your health? How should healthcare providers and administrators respond to the religious beliefs of patients and their families? What ethical and legal questions arise when spiritual healing is integrated with (or replaces) conventional healthcare? Does inclusion of spiritual healing in public schools violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution? Does commercialization of spiritual healing make the practices less authentic—or less religious? This course will explore these and other questions surrounding religion, illness, and healing in America.
We will emphasize Christian beliefs and practices (e.g. valorization of suffering or prayer for divine healing) and forms of complementary and alternative medicine connected with religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, or Western metaphysical spirituality (e.g. yoga, martial arts, mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, and anticancer diets).
There are no prerequisites for enrollment. This course will be conducted as a discussion seminar, with limited lecturing and extensive student participation and shared leadership. Pre-med, pre-law, and business/management students will find material of use to them, but so too will other students interested in course subjects. In lieu of examinations, each student will develop a term project (5,000 words for undergrads, 7,500 words for graduate students).

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

Instructor: Brown C
Course Duration: 1/13/14 — 5/9/14
Day & Time: MW 11:15 AM - 12:30PM
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-c 330 and AMST-G 620

From the Great Awakening to the 2012 presidential campaigns, evangelicals—and in the last century Pentecostal and Charismatic movements within evangelicalism—have played a critical 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 and cultural studies. Assignments and classroom activities incorporate a wide variety of cultural artifacts, including fiction, poetry, autobiography, music, television, film, ethnography, and food. The course is organized thematically and chronologically. Topics include: religious revivals and reform; separation of church and state; race and gender; Billy Graham; science, evolution, creationism, and Intelligent Design; Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity; hymns, Contemporary Christian Music, and Holy Hip Hop; politics; Catholicism; mass media and megachurches; apocalypticism; and globalization. We will read two novels: Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps (1896) [the inspiration for WWJD: “What Would Jesus Do?”] and Tim F. LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’s Left Behind (1995).

REL-R552 STUDIES IN BUDDHISM / TOPIC: Buddhism and Popular Culture

Instructor: Blair H
Course Duration: 1/13/14 — 5/9/14
Day & Time: TR 11:15 AM - 12:30PM
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-b 412

Students in this discussion-intensive course explore the ways in which Buddhism animates and is transformed by popular culture through units focusing on Buddhist doctrine, Buddhist modernism, Zen, kung-fu, and the Dalai Lama. We will watch Hollywood and art house films, read a comic book, a novel, academic essays, and selections from classical Buddhist texts. Requirements include regular participation in class discussions and a research paper, which students complete gradually over the course of the semester. To enroll in this course, students must have completed Rel B210, Rel B310 or Rel B360. Alternatively, with permission of the instructor, students may substitute Rel R153, Coll C 103, or another course with content in Buddhist studies.

REL-R 553 STUDIES IN ISLAM / TOPIC : The Politics and Cultures of Islamic Education

Instructor: Ibrahim N
Course Duration: 1/13/14 — 5/9/14
Day & Time: TR 4:00PM - 05:15PM
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-A 470

REL-R 554 RELIGIONS OF EAST ASIA / TOPIC: Xunzi and other Confucian texts

Instructor: Ing M
Course Duration: 1/13/14 — 5/9/14
Day & Time: MW 4:00 PM - 5:15PM
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-B 460

REL-R 554 RELIGIONS OF EAST ASIA / TOPIC: Religions of Japan

Instructor: Blair H
Course Duration: 1/13/14 — 5/9/14
Day & Time: TR 4:00 PM - 5:15PM
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-b 360

In Japan most people say that they are not religious, and yet the cities are full of temples and shrines, the calendar is peppered with festival days, and most people have some kind of charm clipped to their handbag, mobile phone, or briefcase. This course is built on the understanding that religion has played and continues to play a major role in Japanese culture, but that we may need to re-think just what “religion” is and how it works when we think about religion in Japan. Therefore we will be reading not only about Zen but also about baseball, and we will be working with a variety of materials, including literature, ethnography, and film as we explore major issues and themes within the diverse religious cultures of Japan. Course requirements include two papers and four quizzes, as well as regular participation in class discussions. There are no pre-requisites for this course.

REL-R 662 CROSS-CULTURAL STUDY OF RELIGION / TOPIC: Politics of Religious Freedom

Instructor: Sullivan W
Course Duration: 1/13/14 — 5/9/14
Day & Time: T 3:35 PM - 5:35PM

Above class open to graduates only

In a surprisingly short period of time it has become accepted that religious freedom is necessary to the establishment of a peaceful and productive world. Qualification for membership in the civilized world increasingly requires endorsement of religious freedom as prior to other social goods. This class explores the sources and perduring structures of this narrative. We will consider the possibility that the indiscriminate promotion of a singular legal and cultural tool to address difference and discrimination across societies and cultures forecloses possibilities and, at times, generates the very violence its promotion is intended to prevent. We will consider a range of accounts, often of local contexts, in which peaceful co-existence is imagined without legal enforcement of religious freedom as commonly understood today.

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Fall 2013

REL-R 511 RELIGION OF ANCIENT ISRAEL / Jews, Christians, And Others Late Antiquity

Instructor: Mokhtarian J
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM
Credit Hours: 3

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 541 STUDIES IN THE JEWISH TRADITION / TOPIC: Judaism In The Making

Instructor: Mroczek E
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: MW 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM
Location: Ballantine Hall 217
Credit Hours: 3
Above class meets with REL-A 317 and JSTU-J 317

This course examines the origins and development of Jewish traditions in the context of the ancient Mediterranean, in their linguistic, geographical, and cultural diversity. We discuss ideas of cultural identity and belonging, responses to conflict and oppression, the emergence of biblical texts and modes of interpretation, and constructions of religious, gendered, and ethnic identities in the context of the culture and politics of the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman empires. How did these processes contribute to the shaping of “Judaism” as a distinct religious tradition? 
We discuss ways that Jewish traditions and identities were created both in the land of Israel and in the diaspora, and pay close attention to the way Judaism and Christianity were simultaneously shaped as separate religious traditions in dialogue with one another. We will work closely with primary texts (in translation), learning the tools of critical analysis and becoming familiar with the theoretical and methodological approaches that are currently dominant in the study of early Jewish sources. 

REL-R541 STUDIES IN THE JEWISH TRADITION / Topic: Studies in Early Hasidism

Instructor: Magid S
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: T 9:00A-11:00A
Credit Hours: 3

This course will be an in-depth study of the Hasidic works of Nahman of Bratslav (d. 1810). We will read secondary literature on the emergence of Hasidism and its relationship to the Sabbatean heresy in both its historical and theological context. We will then focus on close readings of selected homilies of Nahman of Bratslav, including the hagiographical and devotional literature written about him by his disciples. Special attention will be placed on his hermeneutical method and the concept of charisma in regards to the status of the zaddik, or holy man, in Hasidism. All texts will be available in both Hebrew and in English translation.

REL-R 552 STUDIES IN BUDDHISM / TOPIC: Embodying Nirvana

Instructor: Nance R
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: TR 9:30AM-10:45 AM
Location: Woodburn Hall 204
Credit Hours: 3
Above class meets with REL-B 433

When beings become Buddhas, what happens? What does it mean to be a Buddha? What is lost in attaining awakening, and what is gained? How is nirvana embodied? The nature of the end point of the Buddhist path as attainable and attained by sentient beings has long been an object of controversy among Buddhists. Some representatives of the tradition hold that Buddhas are simply human beings who are no longer afflicted by lust, hatred, and delusion; others portray Buddhas in non-human (or super-human) terms, as beings who simultaneously possess multiple embodiments, are omniscient, can disappear and reappear at will, speak multiple languages at the same time, and emanate whole universes without breaking a sweat. This course addresses the divergent ways in which Buddhists have understood the figure of the Buddha and the nature of Buddhahood. We will read a number of primary texts in translation (together with several secondary studies), and will explore a number of interrelated topics: Buddhas as human and/or superhuman; Buddhas as moral exemplars and/or moral exceptions; the notion of a Buddha’s “skill in means” and its range of applicability; the vexed question of whether a Buddha can have thoughts and intentions; a Buddha’s multiple bodies and their characteristics; the controversy over “Buddha nature” as metaphysical and/or soteriological postulate; the occasionally divergent emphases of narrative and doctrinal texts; and the question of whether -- and what -- historical conclusions regarding Buddhist traditions might justifiably be drawn from the extant data. We’ll be concentrating principally (although not exclusively) on Indian Buddhist materials, though I will welcome course contributions that draw from other Buddhist traditions of reflection and practice.

REL-R 553 STUDIES IN ISLAM / TOPIC: Seeing Islam Through Muslim Fiction

Instructor: Jaques R
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: MW 4:0 0PM - 05:15 PM
Location: Ballantine Hall 245
Credit Hours: 3
ABOVE class meets with REL-A 470

This course will explore contemporary Muslim religious experience through fiction written my Muslim authors. By using genres are diverse as science fiction, romance, historical fiction, spy thrillers, and fantasy the course will examine how Muslim authors have used fiction to represent different religious ideas and worldviews in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Texts include Naguib Mahfouz, Children of the Alley; Leila Aboulela, Minaret; Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red; Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner; Yasmina Khadra, The Attack; Monica Ali, Brick Lane: A Novel; Pramoedya Toer, The Girl from the Coast; Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist; and Michael Muhammad Knight, Osama Van Halen.
Requirements: Attendance is mandatory, weekly book reviews, in-class discussion, and a final research-length paper.

REL-R 554 RELIGIONS OF EAST ASIA / TOPIC: East Asian Buddhism

Instructor: Blair H
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: TR 4:00PM - 5:15 PM
Location: Sycamore Hall 001
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. Course requirements include regular attendance, participation in discussion, four quizzes, and three papers (3 to 7 pages).

REL-R 571 STUDIES IN RELIGIOUS ETHICS / TOPIC: Death

Instructor: Ing M
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: MW 1:00 PM - 02:15 PM
Location: Sycamore Hall 001
Credit Hours: 3
ABOVE class meets with REL-R 300

This course will explore several issues under the broad topic of ‘death’. In particular we will study various cultural responses to personal death (i.e., one’s own death) and the death of others. We will spend much of the semester thinking about question such as, how have people thought about death? How do people cope with personal death anxiety? How have various cultures dealt with the grief associated with losing someone significant?
In thinking through these questions we will read the work of contemporary philosophers, anthropologists, and scholars of religious studies. This will involve learning about early China, ancient Greece, and contemporary Europe and the United States. Students who take this class will be able to understand the role of mourning across cultures, analyze various approaches to coping with anxieties associated with death, and think through the ways in which death might influence how people live their lives. Assignments include summaries of readings, a mid-term paper (four to six pages), and a final exam.

REL R 600 RELIGIOUS HERMENEUTICS

Instructor: Jaques K
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: T 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Credit Hours: 3

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 636 EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANITY IN AMERICAS / TOPIC: Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity in the Americas

Instructor: Brown C
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: M 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Credit Hours: 3
ABOVE class open to graduates only
ABOVE class meets with REL-R 735

From the Great Awakening to the 2012 presidential campaigns, evangelicals—and in the last century Pentecostal and Charismatic movements within evangelicalism—have played a critical role in shaping North American, Latin American, and global cultural, social, and political institutions. Who are evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Charismatics? What do they believe, and how do they behave? Should non-evangelicals be worried about them? How has evangelicalism reflected and shaped larger patterns of globalization?
This graduate seminar explores the causes, nature, and implications of evangelical influence. Discussions engage scholarly monographs that describe and interpret the historical emergence and dramatic recent growth of evangelical and pentecostal Christianity. Seminar participants will receive substantial feedback on a book review, multi-stage research paper, and mock conference presentation.

REL-R 662 CROSS-CULTURAL STUDY OF RELIGION

Instructor: Stalnaker A
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: W 3:00 PM - 05:00 PM
Credit Hours: 3
Above class open to graduates only
Above class meets with REL-R 762

While there have been a variety of motivations for the attempt to study “religious ethics” rather than or in addition to “Christian ethics,” one animating idea has been the growing recognition that people from numerous religious and cultural groups propound sophisticated and powerful moral visions, which possess intriguing similarities and differences, and which are not easily reducible to a common denominator. Moreover, the variety and particular characteristics of such visions are historically, politically, and philosophically significant in the modern era of increasingly pervasive globalization.
Comparative religious ethics makes such ethical diversity central to its analysis. This analysis typically includes description and interpretation of particular accounts of morality or the best way of life, on the basis of historical, textual, anthropological, or other data. Comparing different instances of such ethics requires searching reflection on the methods and tools of inquiry, and often grounds critical, constructive, and theoretical goals, sometimes including explicit normative argument. Through all of these modes of analysis, comparative ethicists work to address contemporary concerns about overlapping identities, cultural complexity and plurality, universalism and relativism, and political problems regarding the coexistence of divergent social groups, as well as particular moral controversies and topics in ethical theory such as virtue and personal formation. Ideally, each of these aspects enriches the others, so that, for example, comparison across traditions helps generate more insightful interpretations of particular figures and themes.
This seminar will focus on the recent development of comparative religious ethics as a field, first surveying influential books and essays of the past 30 years, and then examining a number of recent works.

REL-R 665 INTERPRETATIONS OF RELIGION

Instructor: Furey C
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: T 4:00PM - 6:00 PM
Credit Hours: 3
Above class open to graduates only

In this course we will read and analyze twentieth-century texts that influence the way religion is studied in the academy. The authors who have shaped Religious Studies speak from a variety of disciplinary and theoretical backgrounds: sociology, anthropology, psychology, phenomenology, hermeneutics, critical theory. Our analysis of their works will enable us to compare different ways of thinking about central methodological issues: how do we delimit “religion” or “religious” phenomena? Do we seek to explain or to interpret what we study? What is the most fruitful way to analyze individual actors, interpretive communities, and the interplay between the two? What is learned or obscured by viewing religion as a product of the human psyche? As a source of social cohesion? As a symbolic system? As a mechanism of social oppression or political power? Requirements will include active participation, short response papers, and an 8-10 page paper, suitable for a conference presentation.

REL-R 672 RELIGIOUS THOUGHT AND ETHICS / TOPIC: Kant And Religion

Instructor:
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: T 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Credit Hours: 3
ABOVE class open to graduates only
ABOVE class meets with REL-R 780
A consideration of selected works of Immanuel Kant in the light of his views on religion.

REL-R 735 SEMINAR -- NORTH AMERICAN RELIGIONS

Instructor:Brown C
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: M 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Credit Hours: 3
Above class open to graduates only
ABOVE class meets with REL-R 636 (see description above)

REL-R 762 CROSS-CULTURAL STUDY OF RELIGION

Instructor: Stalnaker A
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: W 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Credit Hours: 3
ABOVE class open to graduates only
ABOVE class meets with REL-R 662 (see description above)

REL-R 780 TOPICS IN RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHY / TOPIC: Kant And Religion

Instructor:
Course Duration: 8/26/13 — 12/20/13
Day & Time: T 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Credit Hours: 3
ABOVE class open to graduates only
ABOVE class meets with REL-R 672 (see description above)

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