Fall 2022

REL 1000: Religion in a Global Context (Multiple Sections)
This course introduces students to the study of religion in its cultural and historical contexts and aims to familiarize students with the multi-faceted role of religion in the world including examination of social, economic, historical, political and ethical factors. Also counts towards Interreligious Studies and International and Global Studies.

REL 1120: Religion and Power (Prof. Monteith)
This course challenges students to think about “religion” as something extending beyond the walls of churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. Instead, this course asks how religion and social power can overlap, blend into, and alter one another. Can religion prompt violence, political movements, and racism? Can social and political circumstances alter religion? This course focuses especially on colonialism, both in its earliest stages as well as contemporary variations on it. Students will also investigate how religious ideals have influenced racial, sexual, and cultural regulation. Also counts towards Interreligious Studies, American Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, and International and Global Studies.

REL 1220: Seeing the Sacred (Prof. Winfield)
Why do religious sites and icons inspire as much violence and destruction as piety and devotion? How do different religious communities imagine and re-present their ideas of the sacred (however defined)? This course examines some of the world’s greatest works of art that have literally shaped our ideas about the category we call “religion.” Among other religious expressions, it considers Hindu gods and goddesses, Buddhist mandalas, modern Jewish performance art, Christian icons, Islamic calligraphy, and Spiritual But Not Religious (SBNR) artistic expressions in and through nature. It also considers the destruction and/or reconstruction of sites and images, especially when religious traditions have interacted with other religious communities throughout history. Also counts towards Interreligious Studies and International and Global Studies.

REL 1280: Religion, Race & Resistance
In this course we examine the role that Christianity played in the construction of the category of race and in the political and economic processes of slavery, colonization, and colonialism that shaped the modern era of global capitalism. We will pay particular attention to the religious history and experience of Native Americans and people of African descent in the United States with an eye toward understanding how religion has been used as both as a weapon to support and enforce racism as well as a source of liberation for Black and Native peoples. Also counts towards Interreligious Studies, African and African-American Studies, Poverty and Social Justice Studies.

REL 1320: Early Christian Literature in Context (Prof. Huber)
This class focuses on the emergence of early Christian literature, including the writings of the New Testament, out of the diverse world of the ancient Mediterranean and especially within the context of first century Judaisms. This course uses the tools of historical and rhetorical analysis to engage in close readings of these varied writings, which include gospels, epistles, and apocalyptic writings.  Also counts towards Classical Studies; Jewish Studies; Interreligious Studies.

REL 1830: Islamic Traditions
This course introduces students to the scripture, doctrines and practices of Islam in the context of Islam’s spread from the Middle East to every region of the modern world. Particular attention will be paid to such issues as communal authority, the Islamic world’s relations with the West and the emergence of new Muslim communities in America and Europe in the 20th and 21st centuries. Also counts towards: African & African-American Studies; Interreligious Studies; Middle East Studies; International/Global Studies; Women’s, Gender, and Sexualities Studies.

REL 1850: Jewish Traditions (Prof. Claussen)
This course traces the history of the Jewish community from its origins in ancient Israel to the present day, considering the evolution of its major ideas and practices as well as the diversity of Jewish cultures throughout the world. A range of classical and contemporary Jewish approaches to theology, ethics, ritual, gender, peoplehood, spirituality, authority and relations with other communities will be explored. Also counts towards International/Global Studies; Interreligious Studies; Jewish Studies; Middle East Studies; Peace and Conflict Studies; Women’s, Gender, and Sexualities Studies.

REL 2920: Approaches to the Study of Religion (Prof. Pennington)
This course is designed to orient students interested in religious studies to the broader landscape of the field. In the process, students will be challenged to examine and compare a variety of methodological approaches to the study of religion. This course will also train students in advanced research and writing in the field. Prerequisite: One course in Religious Studies.

REL 3260: Sex Lives of Saints: Sex, Gender and Ancient Mediterranean Religions (Prof. Huber)
Ancient writings on sex and gender have had an enormous influence on modern Euro-American perspectives. This course explores how ancient Mediterranean religious traditions, including first century Judaism and early Christianity, constructed and regulated gender and sexuality. While the main focus is upon reading ancient primary sources, students will be introduced to contemporary gender theory as well as some of the ways in which ancient traditions continue to impact modern views on gender and sexuality. Advanced Studies; also counts towards Classical Studies; Women’s, Gender, and Sexualities Studies; Jewish Studies.

REL 3360: Religion and War in America (Prof. Monteith)
This course will ask students to engage with the various ways that American religion has contributed to, resisted, and been embedded within U.S. military action. Students will also examine how the historical memory of particular wars can shape religious ideals long after the original events, particularly in the case of the Civil War and World War II. This course will also explore how wartime can highlight the difficulties of separating “religion” and “secularism” into neat categories. Course content ranges from the Civil War to the present day War on Terror. Advanced Studies; also counts towards American Studies.

REL 3570: Sages and Samurai: Religion in the Japanese Experience (Prof. Winfield)
This course explores the historical and contemporary role of religion in Japan. It pays particular attention to primary texts in translation and to the visual and ritual expressions of Shintoism, Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, Christianity and folk religion. In addition, it emphasizes these as vibrant, lived traditions in Japan whose continued relevance can be discerned today. Advanced Studies; also counts towards Asian Studies; International and Global Studies; International Business.

REL 4650: Ghosts, Demons & Ancestors in Asian Religions (Prof. Allocco)
This course focuses on beliefs, practices, and rituals concerning spirits, ghosts, demons, ancestors, and the deified dead in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim traditions of South and Southeast Asia. Together we will explore religious and cultural practices associated with death and funeral rites as well as rituals variously designed to pacify, feed, commemorate, communicate with, install, or expel spirits of many sorts in countries as diverse as India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, and Vietnam. In examining ceremonies led by priests, shamans, and healers we will ask why those who die untimely deaths (e.g., accidents, suicide) are more likely to become ghosts and demons; consider instances where spirits of the deceased may afflict or bless the living; and interrogate the relationship between gender and possession. While our primary focus will be on ethnographic sources and anthropological methodologies, we will also engage the histories of particular places, especially those associated with violence and war as well as interreligious crossing, contact, collaboration, and conflict. Prerequisite: One course in Religious Studies. Advanced Studies; also counts towards Asian Studies; Interreligious Studies.