Course Catalog for RELIGIOUS STUDIES
RELG 101
Introduction to Religious Studies
This course introduces students to the academic study of religion by focusing on those major themes that connect religious experiences from around the world. We will explore the complex ways in which issues in religion relate to topics such as spiritual beings, birth, death, ritual, the afterlife, ethics, and the good-life. Through a range of classical, modern, and ethnographic sources, students will gain an understanding of the ways in which scholars have sought to understand the social, political, economic, and cultural contexts in which various religious traditions are embedded. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 109
Jewish Tradition
A thematic introduction to the major concepts, ritual cycles, holidays, and beliefs of Judaism. Readings and course material will be taken from classic Jewish texts as well as modern secondary sources. (May be counted toward International Studies, Middle Eastern Studies and Jewish Studies.) (GLB2)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 110
Introduction to Christianity
How is Jesus of Nazareth understood throughout Christian history: martyr, zealot, insurgent, Marxist, capitalist, emperor, social worker, general, or savior? How is Christianity connected to both colonialism and liberation movements, the Inquisition and Civil Rights, anti-Semitism and religious tolerance, witch-hunts and female leadership? This course will offer a broad introduction to the diverse traditions and identities of global Christianity through a range of sources: literary, historical, and philosophical texts, art and architecture, as well as ethnography and film. We consider the ways in which Christianity is both a religion of protest, revolt and liberation, as well as a religion of empire and conquest. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 151
Religions of Asia
An introduction to the major religions of Asia: Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism, with special emphasis on how each of these modes of thought gives rise to a special vision of man in the universe, a complex of myth and practice, and a pattern of ethical behavior. (May be counted toward international studies/Asian studies.) (GLB2)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 181
Understanding Islam
This survey course explores the diversity of Muslim experiential and intellectual approaches to the key sacred sources of the religion, the Qur'an, and the figure of the Prophet. The course addresses pre-Islamic Arabia and the rise of Islam; Muhammad and the Qur'an; prophetic traditions and jurisprudence; theology and mysticism; art and poetry; basic beliefs and practices of the Muslim community; responses to colonialism and modernity; and Islam in the United States. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 200
Western Occultism
This course offers an introduction to Western occultism and esotericism. We will cover topics such as magic, mediation, astrology, and alchemy. Students will examine the connections between esotericism and science and explore how the esoteric sciences have been inspired by trends in Jewish Mysticism, transcendentalism, and romanticism. This course will also document the histories, rites, and practices of several important occult practices including Hermeticism, New Age spiritualities, Neo-Paganism, Wicca, and Satanism. In so doing, students will begin to unravel the occult's hidden role in the formation of the Western world and beyond - especially as it relates to issues of class, race, and gender. (GLB5)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 203
Religion and Climate Change
Climate change has elicited a range of responses from the world's religions, based on the history of their understanding of the natural world and the relationship of human beings to it. Through an examination of texts produced by specific religious traditions and actions taken by religious communities individually and collectively, this course will evaluate the role of religion in confronting the climate change crisis. Some experience with religious modes of thought is required. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 204
Religions of the Black Atlantic
Through the lens of diaspora and critical-race theory, this course explores the ways in which global trends in religious practice have affected, inspired, and forever changed the Black Atlantic world. Students will explore a variety of Afro-Caribbean religions such as Haitian Vodou, Brazilian Candomblé, Cuban Lukumi, and U.S.-based conjure/hoodoo. In so doing, students will develop an appreciation for religious diversity and an understanding of the ways in which race, capitalism, colonialism, nationality, and emerging trends in global tourism continue to affect the ways Caribbean peoples experience religion from across the region. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 205
Religions of Africa
This course is an exploration of the ways in which Africans make sense of their worlds through religion. By reading a wide range of ethnographic and historical texts, students will consider the challenges that post-colonial politics present to understanding religion in Africa and in the diaspora Students will examine a variety of African religious traditions ranging from indigenous practices to the ways in which Christianity and Islam have developed uniquely African beliefs. In so doing, students will frame African religions as global phenomena while considering the historical and contemporary salience of the many canonical themes found in African religion such as spirit possession, divination, healing, magic, witchcraft, sorcery, and animal sacrifice. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 206
Queer Religion
Queer people from around the world have been both celebrated and harmed by religion. LGBTQ+ people have used religion to affirm their rights to exist and as a symbol for their oppression. In this course, students will explore the ways in which LGBTQ+ people engage with queer-affirming and queerphobic religious practices while considering how religion has shaped the queer experience. Through queer-centered ethnography, students will identify the religious strategies that have been mobilized by LGBTQ+ people in ways that give their lives meaning. We will also consider how colonialism, white supremacy, and the global dominance of Christianity has affected the ways that we've come to understand the queer experience from around the world. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 211
Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
Where did the Bible come from? This class will examine the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) in its evolution and complexity. We will pay careful attention to the text's many powerful voices and striking literary features, its great figures such as Abraham, Moses, and David, and its relationship with the major historical events which shaped the life of ancient Israel and later Jewish and Christian tradition. (May be counted toward Jewish Studies and International Studies/Middle Eastern Studies.) (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 212
New Testament
An examination of the New Testament in the context of the first century C.E. to study the formation and themes of these early Christian writings. The course will stress the analysis of texts and discussion of their possible interpretations. How did the earliest writings about Jesus present him? Who was Paul? Is it more accurate to call him the founder of Christianity instead of Jesus? How do we understand Gospels that are not in the New Testament? We will attend to these and other social, political, and historical issues for studying the New Testament and Early Christianity. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 213
The David Story
Although David is often lauded as ancient Israel’s greatest king, his character is one of deep flaws. By exploring the many and often conflicting depictions of the founder of the ancient Israelite monarch, this course will probe this most important moment in biblical history: What are the theological implications of David’s divine election? How do the king’s painful missteps ricochet forward and influence later events? By focusing mainly on the Old Testament story, we will examine the historical institution David initiated and the religious problems it engendered. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 214
Jews in America
A social and religious history of American Judaism from pre-revolutionary to contemporary times. After examining the era of immigration and “Americanization,” the course will focus on the ethnic, religious, and social structures of American Judaism: the community center, the synagogue, and the federation. (May be counted toward American studies and Jewish studies.) (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 215
Jewish Feminism in America
The aim of this course is to introduce students to the foundational texts of Jewish feminism in the United States from the early 1970s through the present. By "Jewish feminism," I refer specifically to the movement by Jewish women to name and theorize injustice toward women in the Jewish tradition. This course will also address the wider historical developments that informed the intellectual trends, including Christian feminist influences. Students will emerge from the course with an appreciation of the vocabulary of Jewish feminism, its central questions, and its historic evolution. Attention will also be paid to LGBT Jewish ideas and activism and the extent to which they relate to, and are influenced by, Jewish feminist concerns. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 216
Buddhism of the 99%
Buddhism of the 99% is motivated by three themes: Buddhism of-, by-, and for the people. "Buddhism of the people" focuses on the Buddhisms that are governed by Buddhists themselves to create more representative and inclusive communities (Dalit Buddhist conversion in 1950s India, Black Dharma, and Asian American Buddhists). "Buddhism by the people" showcases the material culture and practices fashioned by Asian Buddhists themselves (temples, amulets, rituals, magic). "Buddhism for the people" spotlights movements that aim to make life better for the 99%, especially those of Buddhist activists who contributed to the rise of socially engaged Buddhism in the 1960s (e.g., Buddhist liberation theology, or closer to home, addressing America's racial karma). Each theme highlights marginalized aspects of Buddhism's history and present, socially and intellectually. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 217
Modern Islam
In this course, we examine ways in which Muslim groups throughout the world have adapted to political or social contexts of the modern world. Topics we'll discuss are Islamic feminism, environmentalism, fundamentalism, and the intersection of race and Islam as well as queerness and Islam. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 220
Islamophobia / The Fear of Islam
This seminar explores the historical roots and contemporary forms of mostly Western anxieties toward Muslims and Islam by critically engaging the following questions: What are the theological, historical, political, and cultural forces that have given rise to negative perceptions of Islam. Based on examples from the U.S., Western Europe, and Asia we will study how the fear of Islam has translated into concrete acts of exclusion and discrimination. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 222
Voodoo: From Africa to our Imaginations
This course focuses on those religious traditions known collectively as "Voodoo." Students will examine powerful displays of spirit possession, rituals in which the ancestors raise from their graves to dance, and secretive ceremonies of devotion, healing, and resistance. Students will explore how Voodoo is practiced and in what ways racial tropes have contributed to the dehumanization of its devotees. With a focus on Benin (West Africa) and Haiti (Caribbean) we will juxtapose Western imaginations and fantasies of Voodoo to the real-lived experiences of practitioners. By examining historical and ethnographic accounts, students will learn how, despite racial stereotyping and anti-Africa sentiments around the globe, Voodoo has become one of the world's more important religions on the global stage today. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 224
American Jewish Literature Since 1865
This course begins with a question: How would one characterize or define the tradition of American Jewish literature since 1865 – the period following the Civil War that also necessarily accounts for the first and second world wars, the polio and AIDS crises in America, U.S. responses to the Holocaust, and ongoing questions about how to balance assimilation with maintaining one’s ethnic identity in U.S. cities large and small. Through close reading of the works of eight canonical American Jewish writers (two poets, two short story writers, two dramatist, and two novelists), we will consider such questions as: What makes these works Jewish? What makes these works American? What makes these works literary? (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 226
Christian Mysticism
An inquiry into the phenomenon of mystical experience exemplified in the Christian tradition as direct encounter with God. The course offers psychological and theological analyses of mysticism and its specifically Christian manifestations. Students will read works from Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Quaker, and sectarian mystics such as Pseudo-Dionysius, Gregory of Nyssa, Bernard, Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila, Jacob Boehme, George Herbert, Simone Weil, and contemporary mystics. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 231
Christianity in the Making
This course will examine the philosophical, cultural, religious and political contexts out of which Christianity emerged from the time of Jesus through the 5th century. Emphasis will be placed on the complexity and diversity of early Christian movements, as well as the process that occurred to establish Christianity as a religion that would dominate the Roman Empire. Topics to be covered will include the writings of the New Testament, Gnostics, martyrdom, desert monasticism and asceticism, the construction of orthodoxy and heresy, women in the early Church, the formation of the biblical canon, and the identity and role of Jesus of Nazareth. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 233
Religion and the Body
Religion is a powerful force in shaping the body. Through ascetic practices, rituals, dietary regimes, tattooing, piercing, and dress, religious traditions imagine, articulate, and transform the body in myriad ways. This course examines discourses and practices of the body in religious traditions throughout the world, with the goal to understand the role of religion in the social construction of the body and the phenomenological experience of embodiment. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 234
Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Thought
The period of classical Chinese civilization produced two major systems of thought that would profoundly influence the course of East Asian history: Confucianism and Daoism. These two systems of thought laid the foundations and set the ideals for social organization and the pursuit of the good life in China up to the present day (often in conversation with a third major force: Buddhism). These systems of thought also spread beyond China to Korea, Vietnam, and Japan, where they had a sustained impact on social, political, and religious history. This course will examine the origins, philosophies, and significant historical developments of Confucianism and Daoism, exploring how their articulations of the cosmos, the state, the human, and the good life influenced the shape and destiny of East Asian cultures. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 235
Faith in American Consumerism
Does this spark joy? Have you ever purged your closet or binged on Netflix? Minimalism and fast fashion, lifestyle brands and big box stores might appear to be agnostic or irreligious, at first glance, but "religion" might provide a useful lens and historical framework for understanding modern consumer culture. In this course, "Is That for Sale? Self, Society, and the Ethics of Stuff," we will explore connections between Christianity, popular culture, and environmental and social ethics, interrogating the religious dimensions of consumerism alongside materialist aspects of Christian spirituality (from textual materials to embodied practices). (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 236
Religion and Race
Race and religion shape the identity of the individual and its surrounding society. But how do they do that? How do race and religion intersect? What role have they played in shaping our politics, cultures, and values? Do race and religion still matter today? This course looks at the ways race and religion have impacted the U.S. Among the many topics we will cover are the founding fathers' understanding of religious freedom and its race-related limits; the role religion played in justifying and objecting to slavery; the emergence of black religious movements; the Civil Rights Movement; and liberation theologies. Students who have taken FYSM 187 may not receive credit for this course. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 238
Fortune Cookie: Eastern Astrology and Divination
In this 13-session crash course, students will engage in both theory and praxis of Eastern astrology and divination. The course will provide an overview of the history, social status, and practice of various astrological and divinatory systems of several Asian societies, specifically China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, and India. We will learn how astrology, within certain periods and certain cultural spheres, was consulted by monarchs, the elites, or sponsored by the state, even up to the present day. In terms of praxis, students will analyze how to read their own birth chart according to one of the Eastern systems. Prior to a survey of these various Eastern systems, the course will briefly introduce students to one Western system, traditional (Hellenistic) astrology, as a point of comparison. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 241
The Bible in Literature and Film
An examination of both biblical texts and recent novels and films, this course will explore how modern culture interacts with its classical sources. From James Baldwin to the Exodus and the Coen brothers to Job, students will begin by surveying the historical contexts of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, and then study how later traditions have aligned and disagreed with their scriptures. Since the course will focus on the ancient and modern works equally, no prerequisites nor prior knowledge of the subject matter is necessary. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 246
Religion in the Roman World
This course examines the practice of Roman religion at Rome and in the provinces from the Archaic Period through the emergence of Christianity in the Empire. Where did the Roman pantheon emerge from? What kinds of buildings did the Romans use to practice cult? And what did it mean to worship the living empire? Through literary sources and material culture, we will develop a framework for understanding the tenets, beliefs, and places of worship when it came to religious practice in the Roman world. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 248
Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Religion
Why do particular embodiments render some people “other” within their religion? How are women represented in religious texts and images? How does gender determine what counts for religiously-sanctioned behavior? This course provides an overview of topics where issues of gender and sexuality intersect with particular religious traditions (including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Native American traditions). Topics include: purity and power, celibacy and virginity, marriage and reproduction, veiling and eating practices, violence and sacrifice, as well as the issue of religious leadership and ordination. This course may count towards the Women, Gender and Sexuality major. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 251
South Asian Religions and Marginal Beings
Religions articulate zones of concern within which notions of care and ethics take shape, such as the self, the family, and the community. Zones have boundaries that push others towards the edges: they become marginal beings. This course will examine zones of concern and marginal beings in South Asian religions, including studies of caste, poverty, animals, and disability. The goal is to move from learning about South Asian religions to learning from them, bringing our own concerns about marginality and social justice to the table. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 256
Introduction to Buddhism
This is a beginner's guide to Buddhism. In the first half of the course, students will learn about the tradition's history, development, geographic spread across Asia, and core concepts. Some key doctrines that influenced its philosophy and intellectual history are also covered. We then explore some popular practices of Buddhism throughout Asia, from its early days to contemporary times. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 257
Brutal Buddhism: Buddhism & Violence
Buddhist-sanctioned violence is often met with incredulous reception. Why? Buddhists, including monks, are human, too. Students will research cases related to Buddhism and brutality, including the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar; the rising influence of fascists monks; Buddhist militarization during the Cold War; and monks's self-immolation, another kind of brutality. While these cases focus on Buddhist agencies of violence, war, and terror, we must also consider political, economic, and socio-cultural factors. Students will pursue original research that moves beyond limiting questions such as, "How do we reconcile Buddhism and violence?", or "What justification is given for Buddhists to condone such acts?". While we address these concerns, this course rather emphasizes considerations on how Buddhism, like any other religion (indeed, any "-ism"), can be weaponized. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 260
Meditation, Medicine, and the Mind
This course examines the relationship between traditional meditation practices and their contemporary applications in therapeutic, clinical, and neuropsychological settings. We will question to what extent contemporary practices remain true to the historical traditions, and to what extent such a question even matters. If a meditative practice works in a clinical setting, without recourse to traditional understanding, is such an application valid? In what ways do modern institutions - the marketplace, the clinic, the laboratory - alter the way meditation is translated into the contemporary world? Readings will range across classic Asian texts, modern meditation manuals, and research from the fields of medicine and neuroscience. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 275
Existentialism and Religion
This course engages some of the most basic questions of human existence, as understood by a wide variety of philosophers, artists, poets, and theologians in the 19th and 20th centuries. What does it mean to be human? How do we lead authentic lives? We examine the many ways in which existentialism can be understood as a critical engagement with basic philosophical, theological and social assumptions in regnant Western thought: rationalism, religion and moral positivism. We look at some of the major themes of existentialism (contingency, ambiguity, death and finitude, absurdity and authenticity) and how they constitute what it is to exist as a person. Finally, we examine different examples of religious existentialism. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 281
Anthropology of Religion
Introduction to the foundations of religion through an examination of religious phenomena prevalent in traditional cultures. Some of the topics covered in this course include a critical examination of the idea of primitivity, the concepts of space and time, myths, symbols, ideas related to God, man, death, and rituals such as rites of passage, magic, sorcery, witchcraft, and divination. (May be counted toward anthropology and international studies/global studies.) (GLB5)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 284
The Mystic Path of Islam
For over a thousand years, Sufism has been a dynamic expression of the inner quest for God-consciousness in Islam. Sufis have often expressed their devotion in literary form: from poetry and ecstatic utterances to metaphysical theoretical prose works. This class explores the emergence of Sufism from the Qur'an and the life and words or the Prophet Muhammad, and traces its historical development from the formative period to the age of trans-national Sufi orders. The course will study key constructs of this tradition: the relationship between God and humankind, the stages of the spiritual path, contemplative disciplines, the idea of sainthood, ethical perfection, the psychology of love, the idea of the feminine, and Sufi aesthetics. It also considers the modern expression (and transformation) of Sufism in the United States. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 286
Islam in America
Islam has become the fastest growing and most ethnically diverse religious group in the United States. This course is divided into two parts: the first provides an historical survey of Islam in America, from its discovery to the present; the second part examines contemporary issues of Muslim American communities and their interactions with American society at large. Topics include religious movements among African-American and immigrant groups, educational, cultural and youth initiatives, Sufism, civil rights groups, progressive Muslims, women's and feminist movements, and Islam in popular culture and in the media. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 288
Religion, Politics, and Policy
The old saying goes, "Never discuss religion and politics in polite company." Yet, from theological views on abortion to the Black liberation struggle, it is hard to avoid intersections of religion and politics, especially as they relate to gender and race. In this course, we examine these examples and more to ask why religion and politics are so intertwined and pervasive in our global society, and what they have to do with racial and gendered power. We focus on the United States and consider religious studies and public policy perspectives. We conclude by examining our local context. (HUM)
1.00 units, Lecture
RELG 304
Material Religion
This course explores the ways in which individuals from a variety of religious traditions experience religious belief, enact religious practice, and relate to the so-called “Divine” through material culture. Students will examine themes such as relics, clothing, bodies, blood, architecture, shrines, and charms. By reading ethnographic and theoretical texts, this course helps students to consider the role that material religion plays in enhancing or complicating prayer, ritual, and everyday religious piety. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 308
Jewish Spirituality and Mysticism
This class examines Jewish spiritual expression across the ages. Special attention will be paid to the relationship between Jewish mysticism and spiritual expression. The goal is not to be exhaustive but rather to engage with important themes and ideas, and to provide a foundation and the keys for further study. Questions we will consider include: How has Jewish spirituality evolved over time? How have historical developments and the wider culture in which Jews lived informed this evolution? How has modernity shaped Jewish spirituality? How have women historically related differently to Jewish spirituality than men? In what ways is Jewish spirituality as manifested in America continuous and discontinuous of its manifestations elsewhere? This course has no prerequisites, so don't worry if you have little or no prior knowledge of Judaism. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 312
This course explores the central figure in Christianity, Jesus of Nazareth What are his major theological innovations? How did his religious messages diverge from the Judaism practiced at the time? Why did his followers understand him to be the founder of an entirely new religion? By examining the New Testament Gospels and some non-canonical literature from the period, we will study both the historical Jesus and the powerful religious movement he began. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 316
The Book of Genesis
Description An examination into the biblical book of Genesis, this seminar will study the famous text from three distinct perspectives. The course will begin with the literary-critical impulse to divide the book along source divisions; it will then move to explore the comparative method suggested by Ancient Near Eastern analogues; and conclude with theological approaches that insist on reading Genesis as the opening note in a larger canonical collection. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 317
Anthropology of Magic, Sorcery, and Witchcraft
Anthropologists have explained, documented, and positioned magic, sorcery, and witchcraft as modern strategies designed to empower individuals to cope with and master an ever-globalizing world. Students will explore magic from around the globe and consider the complex relationships that exist between magic, materiality, and other cultural phenomena such as intimacy, family, and capitalism. In so doing, this class will position magic as a meaningful cultural practice that is critical to understanding how people mobilize complex symbolic systems and non-human beings to manage increasing concerns over social inequity, global economic insecurity, and distrust. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 321
Buddhist Materiality: “Stuff” and Spirits
If Buddhism preaches non-attachment, what is “Buddhist materiality”? Shouldn’t Buddhists be free of material things? Or, rather, who says they should be?In this course, we take Buddhist “stuff” seriously. Students are encouraged to look beyond modernist ideals of Buddhism as a “rational tradition” of only monks, manuscripts, and mindfulness. To do this, we must decolonialize Buddhism. Then, we consider the agency of nonhumans, not just of humans (i.e., we cover theories of Material Religion). Students will engage in object analysis and close-looking of Buddhist art objects and spirits. Things act upon us, and we(re)act upon them. They shape identity, create meaning, and maintain relationships. Things are never just things. They help us understand what people do in Buddhism, not just what they believe. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 323
Buddhist Economics
Television shows like "Shark Tank", featuring a panel of investors (a.k.a., sharks) who consider propositions from aspiring entrepreneurs, evinces that popular culture values only the making of profit. Beyond profits and intended consumer benefits, what are the repercussions of commercial products and services? How does it contribute to structural violence? What is the Buddhist response to commerce and its effects on individuals, society, and ecology? Is B-econ an alternative to capitalism? We review case studies of Bhutan's "Gross Domestic Happiness" and Thailand's "Sufficiency Economy". Students will devise resolutions for real-world issues, employing Buddhist concepts (e.g., non-self, interconnectedness), and participate in extensive meditation and a social-media cleanse. No prior knowledge of Buddhism necessary. (HUMW)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 324
Suffering Religion: Pain and its Transformations
What does religion have to say about suffering and its function in the spiritual life – is it a “natural” part of human existence, divine gift or punishment, or a preventable tragedy? What does it mean when religion is experienced as suffering or as trauma? This course explores these questions within the Greco-Roman, Jewish and Christian traditions. After introducing some of the classic texts on suffering, the course examines suffering as both a logical and a moral problem for religious thought. It then considers some of the resources that religious traditions have brought to bear on different kinds of suffering – physical pain, trauma, grief or loss, and mental suffering or depression. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 326
Religion and Prisons
Protestant reformers started American prisons as a benevolent alternative to torture. Christian morality still underlies American laws of repentance-even the name penitentiary comes from religion. Yet, in our era of mass incarceration, America incarcerates more people than any other country, disproportionately imprisoning people of color. This course conceives of incarceration broadly to ask: whom do we punish and why? Whom does the American state consider worth saving and how? And, what can religion nevertheless offer people who are incarcerated? Sources include a court case against evangelical reform programs, poetry from the Japanese American incarceration, and visionary fiction for prison abolition. (HUM)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 327
Religion & Environmental Justice
This course examines various environmental crises that confront humanity today and how these crises are being addressed by religious traditions from around the world, including Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and indigenous traditions in Africa and the Americas. We will look at contemporary case studies for each tradition to explore how activist groups around the world rely on their respective religious teachings as the foundation for their activism toward local, regional, and global environmental justice. (GLB2)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 374
From the Courtroom to the Classroom: Religion, Race & Public Education
Why are religion and race perennial issues in public schools when the U.S. Supreme Court declared school segregation and school prayer unconstitutional over half a century ago? And, how are religion and race connected in educational history? In this course, we explore these questions by studying court cases, policies, and grassroots campaigns on topics such as public school Bible-reading, book banning, and holiday celebrations. In doing so, we evaluate how the intersecting colonial histories of American religion, race, and education have made public schools key sites for the moral formation of American children, and therefore, of negotiating American identity. (SOC)
1.00 units, Seminar
RELG 399
Independent Study
Advanced work on an approved project under the guidance of a faculty member. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for enrollment. (HUM)
0.50 units min / 2.00 units max, Independent Study
RELG 419
Research Assistant
Submission of the special registration form, available online, and the approval of the instructor are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
RELG 466
Teaching Assistantship
Submission of the special registration form, available online, and the approval of the instructor are required for enrollment. Guidelines are available in the College Bulletin. (0.5 - 1 course credit)
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
RELG 497
Senior Thesis
Submission of the special registration form and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for enrollment in this single-semester thesis. (WEB)
1.00 units, Independent Study
RELG 498
Senior Thesis Part 1
This course is the first part of a two semester, two credit thesis. Submission of the special registration form and the approval of the thesis adviser and the director are required for enrollment. The registration form is required for each semester of this year-long thesis. (WEB)
1.00 units, Independent Study
RELG 499
Senior Thesis Part 2
This course is the second part of a two semester, two credit thesis. Submission of the special registration form and the approval of the thesis adviser and the director are required for enrollment. The registration form is required for each semester of this year-long thesis. (WEB)
1.00 units, Independent Study