Fall 2023

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 1280: Religion, Race & Resistance (Prof. Otieno)
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, Peace and Conflict Studies, American Studies.

REL 1710: God and Politics (Prof. Pakdil)
In everyday occurrences, one can witness various intersections between religion and politics in different settings, including religious and political leaders interfering in politics and religion, respectively. Through the concepts of secularization, social justice, health, fundamentalism, violence, social cohesion, religious and political leaders engage with each other. This course explores such moments in human experience from cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspectives and investigates practices in religious and political leadership across time and space. It selects case studies from a diverse group of religious and political leaders, examining how political and religious leaders influence—and are influenced by—religion and politics. Also counts towards International and Global Studies.

REL 1820: Hindu Traditions (Prof. Pennington)
This course introduces students to Hindu religious traditions and traces their development from Vedic times to the present day. Special emphasis will be placed on the diversity of theological orientations that characterize classical and contemporary Hinduism and are articulated across a broad spectrum of textual traditions, ritual expressions and social practices. Also counts towards: Asian Studies; International and Global Studies; Interreligious Studies.

REL 1830: Islamic Traditions (Prof. Marcus-Sells)
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 2920: Approaches to the Study of Religion (Prof. Marcus-Sells)
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 3300: Religion and American Popular Culture (Prof. Monteith)
This course starts with the position that “religion” cannot be neatly confined to “beliefs,” “institutions,” or “worship,” but rather that “religion” is an expansive concept that can be found in many unexpected places. One such place is the realm of popular culture. Students in this course will explore and analyze the ways that movies, television, sports, novels, and other types of popular culture can shape, cultivate, interact with, and even serve as religion. Advanced Studies; also counts towards American Studies.

REL 3590: Religion and Healing (Prof. Winfield)
This course examines the intersection of religion and healing in the Asian context. It considers alternatives to the biomedical model of healing, and investigates the historical and sociological factors that have linked religious specialists to physical and psychological well-being. Primary and secondary source readings from Hindu, Buddhist, and/or Daoist traditions will provide students with theoretical frameworks for rethinking our definitions of “religion” and “the body,” and consideration of the religious dimensions of non-western therapeutic modalities in contemporary America will provide students with opportunities for original research and critical analysis. Advanced Studies; also counts towards Asian Studies and Public Health (Sociocultural track elective).

REL 4641: Africa in the Religious Imagination (Prof. Marcus-Sells)
The continent that we call “Africa,” was first described as such by explorers and missionaries who lived outside of its borders, and particularly by writers working from within the Christian and Islamic traditions. In contrast, prior to the colonial period, people living on the continent of Africa very rarely thought of themselves as “Africans.” This course will explore this dynamic between insider and outsider accounts of Africa. We will examine the utopian, dystopian, and racialized constructions of “Africa” in religious literature, from Muslim traders, to European explorers, to American missionaries and look at the various ways that people living on the continent have understood their own identities and traditions. Advanced Studies; also counts towards African & African-American Studies; Interreligious Studies; International/Global Studies.