Graduate Courses

Spring 2015 / Fall 2014

Spring 2015

REL-R 511 RELIGIONS OF ANCIENT ISRAEL / TOPIC: The Bible and Beyond - Reading Early Jewish Literature

Instructor: Mroczek, E.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time:M 3:35p-6:05p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-A 430 and JSTU-J 403

The biblical story of King David is like a blockbuster movie, complete with sex, lies, murder, betrayal, and a dysfunctional family. But in Jewish tradition, King David also became a singer of Psalms, a prophet, a perfect model for living, and finally an angelic heavenly being. How did this happen? Why was this character so exciting for ancient readers, and why does he still capture our imagination? In this class, we explore the biblical stories about King David and their afterlife in later literature, from the Dead Sea Scrolls through Rabbinic and mystical texts. We will discuss the emergence of biblical texts and explore their shifting meanings for communities of readers over time, including our own modern context.

The class requires some reading knowledge of Hebrew, as we will read some passages together in the original, but your Hebrew doesn’t have to be great. The course will take different reading levels into account.

REL-R 521 STUDIES IN EARLY CHRISTIANITY / TOPIC: Paul and His Influence in Early Christianity

Instructor: Schott, J.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: TR 2:30p-3:45p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-A 321

Paul of Tarsus is the most important human figure in the history of Christianity. This course investigates the man and the myth through a historical study of Paul’s own letters and the later writings about him. We begin with a survey of Paul’s letters, turn to the social and cultural history of Pauline congregations, and then look at Paul’s ancient and modern legacy. Topics include Paul’s moral teaching, including areas of controversy.

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

Instructor: Michelson, P.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: TR 9:30a-10:45a
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: American Religious Historical Fiction

Instructor: Harriss, C.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: MW 9:30a-10:45a
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-C 401

What is the relationship between fictional and historical narrative? Why do fiction writers work in historical modes? Why do historians frequently turn to fiction as primary sources? Why have literary critics become historians? How does the modifier “religious” change our expectations about fiction and/or history? How do we negotiate competing truth claims among religion, history, and fiction? What standards should we invoke in our reading and assessment of works of fiction as sources and statements, stories and insights, and what happens when we find religious, historical, and literary standards at odds with one another?

This course takes up these religious, literary, and historical questions (and more) with a specific focus on the issue of slavery in American narrative fiction. Selected historical and theoretical readings will supplement close engagement with slave narratives and The Book of Mormon—along with novels by Stowe, Eastman, Twain, Styron, Haley, and McBride.

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

Instructor: Brown, C.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: MW 11:15a-12:30p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-C 330

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-R 541 STUDIES IN THE JEWISH TRADITION / TOPIC: Jewish Critics of Zionism

Instructor: Magid, S.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: W 5:00p-7:00p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-R 300 and JSTU-J 303

In the past fifty years, Zionism has risen to become a central component of Judaism and anti-Zionism has been relegated to those considered the enemy of the State of Israel. Many do not know that some of the most vehement critiques of Zionism came not from the enemies of the state but from Zionists themselves. In this course we will read and examine the Jewish critics of Zionism from the early twentieth century to the present. We will read from the works of Kaufmann Kohler, rector of Hebrew Union College, Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt, Gershom Scholem, Bernard Lazare, Hans Kohn, Simon Rawidowicz, The American Council of Judaism, Yeshayahu Leibowiyz, Jacqueline Rose, Peter Beinart, and Judith Butler. We will also read some of the recent Israeli post-Zionist debates. This course is intended to give the student a much more complex and multifaceted view of Zionism as an idea and as an ostensible solution to the Jewish question.

REL-R 551 BOLLYWOOD AND BEYOND

Instructor: Manring, R.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: R 2:30p-5:00p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-B 335
Students will be required to watch weekly films. A film screening on Tuesday from 6:00-9:00pm will be available. Students may opt to watch the required assigned films on their own before lecture.

The course gives students a nice introduction to cinema in the Indian subcontinent using a theoretical framework for understanding the ways religion plays out in both popular and less commercial films.

Each week we will watch and discuss, in detail, one film. Our broad topics include partition, gender, myth, fundamentalism, and the diaspora. We will come to know a range of views on religion and its role in the lives of South Asians through film produced in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, our classroom discussions, and our reading of critical articles for each film. The films include mythologicals, social commentary, and Bollywood blockbusters, all of which have a great deal to tell us about religion, and life in general, in South Asia. No prerequisites or prior knowledge of South Asia needed.

REL-R 553 STUDIES IN ISLAM / TOPIC: The Modern Muslim Experience: Muslim Fiction and the Depiction of Islam in the Contemporary World

Instructor: Jaques, K.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: TR 1:00p-2:15p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-A 300

Using topics as diverse as suicide bombing, infidelity, punk rock, and dragons, Muslim authors use novels to explore the complexity of religion in the contemporary world. This course will explore contemporary Muslim religious experiences through fiction written by Muslim authors. By using genres as 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: Early Chinese Thought

Instructor: Stalnaker, A.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: MW 4:00p-5:15p
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: Psychiatric Ethics

Instructor: Swan Tuite, J.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: MW 11:15a-12:30p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-D 430

Ethical issues are generally under theorized within psychiatric spaces. When psychiatric practices are subjected to ethical examination, the analysis is frequently uneven; i.e., there tends to be much more consideration of “hard cases” (e.g., involuntary commitments) than more common ethical dilemmas associated with psychiatric practice such as physician-patient relations. While many observers suggest that with the de-stigmatization of mental illness in western life many of the ethical issues in psychiatric care will be resolved through the application of standard ethical models, others argue that the concerns raised by psychiatry call for a re-examination of these standard ethical models. This course begins with a survey of practical ethical problems raised by psychiatric practice before turning to efforts to re-think the norms and safeguards within psychiatric practice. Likely topics include but not limited to (1) informed consent and decisional-impairment, (2) cognitive rehabilitative therapies and belief-formation, (3) privacy and duty to protect, (4) just distribution of psychiatric services, (5) pharmacological intervention/enhancement debates, (6) psychiatric care for children, and, finally, (7) psychiatric classification, race and gender. Readings are interdisciplinary but emphasize the contributions of religious studies scholarship especially religious ethics to the growing literature in psychiatric ethics.

REL-R 661 RELIGION AND SOCIAL CRITICISM / TOPIC: Post-Colonial Theory and Religion

Instructor: Schott, J.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: T 4:00p-6:15p
Credit Hours: 3

This course will introduce major trajectories in post-colonial theory and consider a variety of post-colonial critiques and analyses of religion(s) and religious studies. All readings will be in English or English translation. The course will be run as a discussion-based seminar. Students will be required to offer 1-2 in-class presentations and will produce a final paper of approximately 20-30 pages.

REL-R 662 CROSS-CULTURAL STUDY OF RELIGION / TOPIC: Thinking Through Ritual

Instructor: Nance, R.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: M 4:00p-6:00p
Credit Hours: 3

This course focuses on ritual in theory and practice, exploring accounts of ritual articulated by anthropologists, sociologists, theologians, and historians of religion. What are the hallmarks of ritual? How should one think about the relation between ritual and other forms of practice? What insights might be gained by thinking through ritual as--or as against--play, theater, art, or practices we are tempted to call “sincere”? How might ritual aid--or undermine--social and political institutions, or one’s own self-image? What should we make of ritual (and) language; ritual (and) affect; ritual (and) thinking? How do representations of ritual transform the rituals they represent? Who is qualified to articulate what rituals are and how they work? And in what terms may such articulation be responsibly attempted by scholars? Readings may include texts by Austin, Bateson, Bell, Bloch, Bynum, Douglas, Eliade, Geertz, Goffman, Grimes, Ing, Jennings, Kertzer, Rappaport, Schechner, Seligman, Smith, Staal, Tambiah, and Turner.

AMST-G 697 RACE, RELIGION, AND EMPIRE IN THE AMERICAS

Instructor: Selka, S.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: W 4:00p-7:00p
Credit Hours: 3

This course explores the intersection of race, religion and empire in the Americas from a transnational perspective. In it we will read key texts that define the “transnational turn,” particularly in relation to ideas about neoliberalism and American empire. More specifically, the course focuses on how representations and practices that we understand as race and religion emerge at the nexus of flows between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean. Particular topics through which we will explore these issues include US interventions in the Americas, neoliberalism and the Washington consensus, tourism development, and the representation and practice of African diaspora religions.

REL-R 762 CROSS-CULTURAL STUDY OF RELIGION / TOPIC: Thinking Through Ritual

Instructor: Nance, R.
Course Duration: 1/12/15 - 5/8/15
Day & Time: M 4:00p-6:00p
Credit Hours: 3

This course focuses on ritual in theory and practice, exploring accounts of ritual articulated by anthropologists, sociologists, theologians, and historians of religion. What are the hallmarks of ritual? How should one think about the relation between ritual and other forms of practice? What insights might be gained by thinking through ritual as--or as against--play, theater, art, or practices we are tempted to call “sincere”? How might ritual aid--or undermine--social and political institutions, or one’s own self-image? What should we make of ritual (and) language; ritual (and) affect; ritual (and) thinking? How do representations of ritual transform the rituals they represent? Who is qualified to articulate what rituals are and how they work? And in what terms may such articulation be responsibly attempted by scholars? Readings may include texts by Austin, Bateson, Bell, Bloch, Bynum, Douglas, Eliade, Geertz, Goffman, Grimes, Ing, Jennings, Kertzer, Rappaport, Schechner, Seligman, Smith, Staal, Tambiah, and Turner.

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Fall 2014

REL-R 531 STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN HISTORY / Topic: Russian Orthodoxy 1721-1918

Instructor:Michelson, P
Course Duration: 8/25/14 - 12/19/14
Day & Time: TR 9:30a-10:45a
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-R 300

The conventional image of Russian Orthodoxy is that of monolithic religion marked by ritualistic formality and exotic piety, exemplified most commonly in icon veneration, flowing priestly garments, incense, candles and bells, and monastic severity. But Russian Orthodoxy is also a historical religion that operates in and responds to the political, social, and intellectual world around it. This course offers an approach to understand the Russian Church along those lines by concentrating on the various ways in which Russian Orthodox clergy, theologians, and lay religious thinkers responded to the challenges of empire and revolution during the last two centuries of the Russian empire (1721–1918). For it was during that period that the Russian Church first responded to the challenges of modernity, namely the rise of the absolutist, interventionist state that seeks to use the Church as an instrument of secular power and the advent of new ideas and ideologies that seek to undermine or destroy the institutional and cultural authority of the Church. It is these challenges and the responses to them that constitute the focus of this course.

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

Instructor: Brown, C
Course Duration: 8/25/14 - 12/19/14
Day & Time: MW 11:15a-12:30p
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).

REL-R 552 STUDIES IN BUDDHISM / Topic: Buddhism Philosophy in India

Instructor: Nance, R
Course Duration: 8/25/14 - 12/19/14
Day & Time: TR 4:00p-5:15p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-B 414

This course surveys the historical development of Buddhist philosophy in India. We will begin by briefly reviewing some of the basic contours of early Indian Buddhist philosophical reflection. Following this review, we will read and discuss several texts by thinkers of seminal importance to Buddhist tradition, focusing on how these thinkers posed and attempted to answer questions regarding the self, reality, reasoning, knowledge, belief, conduct, and liberation. Students who enroll will be expected to participate in extensive in-class discussions and to write a final paper, the topic of which will be developed in consultation with the instructor.

REL-R 553 STUDIES IN ISLAM / Topic: Life and Legacy of Muhammad

Instructor: Jaques, R
Course Duration: 8/25/14 - 12/19/14
Day & Time: TR 2:30p-3:45p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-A 485

The Life and Legacy of Muhammad will explore the ways in which sacred biography is used in various contexts to develop theories of authority and history. The course will begin by examining a number of different theories of religious authority and then move on to how biography is formative in developing “orthodox” methods of interpreting revelation as a means of understanding the relationship between humans and God. We will then focus specifically on the biography of Muhammad (d.632 CE) written by Ibn Ishaq (d. 767). We will explore the development of Muhammad biographical traditions in Islam and how particular forms of biography (legal and quasi-legal traditions that relate specific information thought to originate with Muhammad) were used by Ibn Ishaq in various contexts and how changing cultural circumstances in the early Abbasid period influenced the evolution of popular understandings of Muhammad’s life. Specifically, we will focus on how Ibn Ishaq used various pre-existing cultural and religious themes and motifs common in late antique and early medieval Mediterranean culture to create an image of Muhammad as a prophetic authority.

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

Instructor: Blair, H
Course Duration: 8/25/14 - 12/19/14
Day & Time: TR 2:30p-3:45p
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 571 STUDIES IN RELIGIOUS ETHICS / Topic: From Christian Ethics to Social Criticism I

Instructor: Swan-Tuite, J
Course Duration: 8/25/14 - 12/19/14
Day & Time: TR 11:15a-12:30p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class meets with REL-D 330

This is the first half of a two-semester survey of the history of Christian ethics and religious social criticism. I The survey has two objectives. First, the course aims to give an overview of major thinkers in key periods of Christianity and to acquaint students with different genres of ethical literature. The underlying argument of the course is that the tradition of Christian ethics is not a single, monolithic entity. It is rather a patchwork of subtraditions that have produced literatures, arguments, and standards for human conduct in response to problems that have emerged in different cultural, social, and institutional contexts. We will explore that variety in this course. Materials for the first semester will draw from biblical sources and early Christian teachings, the patristic period, Augustine, Abelard, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, radical reformers, and Spanish Scholasticism.

Second, given the diversity of materials we study, we will examine the idea of a tradition, and will ask what a tradition comprises. That is to say, we will step back from the survey and ask which materials seem obvious to include in a tradition of Christian ethics, and what those decisions suggest about how a tradition is constructed (and revised).

REL-R 661 RELIGION & SOCIAL CRITICISM / Topic: Religion and Subjectivity

Instructor: Furey, C
Course Duration: 8/25/14 - 12/19/14
Day & Time: W 4:00p-6:00p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class open to graduate students only

How do people come to understand themselves, and to act, as subjects? How is this process—the formation of subjectivity—influenced by religious ideas and practices? Subjectivity is a critical issue in the study of religion. It is central to theories of gender and sexual identity, to claims about the importance of institutional power and powerful ideas, and to arguments about the importance of bodily practices and communal rituals. In this course we will assess the way interest in subjectivity has influenced the study of religion and how religion in turn has figured in theories of subjectivity by focusing on three influential approaches: Michel Foucault’s emphasis on subjectivation and the hermeneutics of the subject; Judith Butler’s theory of gender and sexual identity; and psychoanalytic notions of desire. Readings will include work that specifically applies one or more theories to the study of religious phenomena. The last section of the course will explore work that seeks to shift the focus from subjectivity to intersubjectivity and relationally. Work will include short weekly responses, a class presentation, and a final conference-length paper (8-10 pages) and presentation.

REL-R 665 INTERPRETATIONS OF RELIGION

Instructor: Sullivan, W
Course Duration: 8/25/14 - 12/19/14
Day & Time: W 4:00p-6:00p
Credit Hours: 3

Above class open to graduate students only

In this course we will read and analyze twentieth-century texts that shape the way religion is studied today, texts from a variety of disciplinary and theoretical backgrounds: sociology, anthropology, psychology, phenomenology, hermeneutics, critical theory. Our analysis of these works will enable us to compare different ways of thinking about central methodological issues: how do we locate and 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.

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