Undergraduate Course Archive

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The History of Black Gospel Music (LA)
Subject associations
AAS 305 / REL 391

This course will trace the history of black gospel music from its origins in the American South to its modern origins in 1930s Chicago and into the 1990s mainstream. Critically analyzing various compositions and the artists that performed them, we will explore the ways the music has reflected and reproached the extant cultural climate. We will be particularly concerned with the four major historical eras from which black gospel music developed: the slave era; Reconstruction; the Great Migration, and the era of Civil Rights.

Instructors
Wallace D. Best
The History of Black Gospel Music (LA)
Subject associations
AAS 305 / REL 391 / MUS 354 / AMS 355

This course will trace the history of black gospel music from its origins in the American South to its modern origins in 1930s Chicago and into the 1990s mainstream. Critically analyzing various compositions and the artists that performed them, we will explore the ways the music has reflected and reproached the extant cultural climate. We will be particularly concerned with the four major historical eras from which black gospel music developed: the slave era; Reconstruction; the Great Migration, and the era of Civil Rights.

Instructors
Wallace D. Best
Healing & Justice: The Virgin Mary in African Literature & Art (CD or LA)
Subject associations
AAS 314 / COM 398 / REL 303 / AFS 321

The Virgin Mary is the world's most storied person. Countless tales have been told about the miracles she has performed for the faithful who call upon her. Although many assume that African literature was only oral, not written, until the arrival of Europeans, Africans began writing stories about her by 1200 CE in the languages of Ethiopic, Coptic, & Arabic. This course explores this body of medieval African literature and paintings, preserved in African Christian monasteries, studying their themes of healing, reparative justice, & personal ethics in a violent world. It develops skills in the digital humanities & comparative literary studies.

Instructors
Wendy Laura Belcher
Black Women and Spiritual Narrative (LA)
Subject associations
AAS 318 / REL 318 / GSS 375

This course will analyze the narrative accounts of African American women since the nineteenth century. Working from the hypothesis that religious metaphor and symbolism have figured prominently in black women's writing (& writing about black women) across literary genres, we will explore the various ways black women have used their narratives not only to disclose the intimacies of their religious faith, but also to understand and to critique their social context. We will discuss the themes, institutions, and structures that have traditionally shaped black women's experiences, as well as the theologies black women have developed in response.

Instructors
Wallace D. Best
Black Women and Spiritual Narrative (LA)
Subject associations
AAS 318 / REL 318 / GSS 375

This course will analyze the narrative accounts of African American women since the nineteenth century. Working from the hypothesis that religious metaphor and symbolism have figured prominently in Black women's writing (& writing about Black women) across literary genres, we will explore the various ways Black women have used their narratives not only to disclose the intimacies of their religious faith, but also to understand and to critique their social context. We will discuss the themes, institutions, and structures that have traditionally shaped Black women's experiences, as well as the theologies Black women have developed in response.

Additional description

Area of Study Requirement: Religion in America

Instructors
Wallace D. Best
Black Rage and Black Power (HA)
Subject associations
AAS 321 / REL 321

This course examines the various pieties of the Black Power Era. We chart the explicit and implicit utopian visions of the politics of the period that, at once, criticized established Black religious institutions and articulated alternative ways of imagining salvation. We also explore the attempt by Black theologians to translate the prophetic Black church tradition into the idiom of Black power. We aim to keep in view the significance of the Black Power era for understanding the changing role and place of Black religion in Black public life.

Instructors
Eddie S. Glaude
Sexuality and Religion in America (SA)
Subject associations
AAS 358 / REL 379 / GSS 359

Sexuality has long been a contested and contentious issue within American religions, yet only recently have scholars and practitioners begun to forthrightly address it. This course will explore the emerging literature on sexuality and religion as a way to understand how approaches to sex and sexuality within "sacred spaces" have shaped private behavior and public opinion. We will give particular attention to American Evangelical and Catholic religious expressions for the way they have been especially influential in framing (and inhibiting) sexual discourse and practices in the US and throughout the world.

Instructors
Wallace D. Best
Sexuality and Religion in America (CD or HA)
Subject associations
AAS 358 / REL 379 / GSS 359

Sexuality has long been a contested and contentious issue within most American religions, yet only recently have scholars begun to address it forthrightly. This course will explore the emerging literature on sexuality and religion as a way to understand how approaches to sex and sexuality within "sacred spaces" have shaped private behavior and public opinion. We will give particular attention to African American religious traditions, American evangelicalism, and Catholicism more broadly for the way they have been especially influential in framing (and inhibiting) sexual discourse and practices within the United States.

Instructors
Wallace D. Best
Migration and the Literary Imagination (LA)
Subject associations
AAS 365 / REL 362

This course will explore the various meanings of The Great Migration and mobility found in 20th century African American literature. Through careful historical and literary analysis, we will examine the significant impact migration has had on African American writers and the ways it has framed their literary representations of modern Black life.

Additional description

Does NOT satisfy sub-field requirement; does NOT count as departmental. Majors may petition to count this as a cognate course (in addition to the 9 required courses for the major).

Instructors
Wallace D. Best
Migration and the Literary Imagination (LA)
Subject associations
AAS 365 / REL 362

This course will explore the various meanings of The Great Migration and mobility found in 20th century African American literature. Through careful historical and literary analysis, we will examine the significant impact migration has had on African American writers and the ways it has framed their literary representations of modern Black life.

Additional description

Area of Study Requirement: Does NOT satisfy a traditions requirement; does NOT count as departmental.

Instructors
Wallace D. Best
Jews Across the Americas (CD or HA)
Subject associations
AMS 257 / JDS 257 / REL 205

This course examines the diversity of the American Jewish experiences in South America, North America, and the Caribbean. Moving from the early colonial era to the present, we will examine Jewish life using historical, literary, religious, and cultural evidence. This course offers an introduction to the methods of digital humanities and will culminate in each student creating an online digital exhibit using ArtSteps. Special attention will be paid to the experiences of women as well as multiracial Jews and Jews of color.

Instructors
Staff
Islam in/and America: Race, Religion, and Gender in the United States (CD or SA)
Subject associations
AMS 351 / GSS 427 / AAS 345 / REL 393

What is American Islam and who are U.S. Muslims? This seminar employs lectures, discussions, and a diverse array of texts, including novels, scholarly works, films, arts, music, and much more, to respond to this question, revealing how a focus on Islam and Muslims in the U.S. produces critical counter-narratives of race, religion, and gender in the United States from the colonial era to the present.

Additional description

Does NOT satisfy sub-field requirement; does NOT count as departmental. Majors may petition to count this as a cognate course (in addition to the 9 required courses for the major).

Instructors
Sylvia Chan-Malik
Anthropology of Religion: The Afterlives of Religion (CD or SA)
Subject associations
ANT 217 / HLS 216 / REL 218

While 20th c. proclamations on the death of religion were clearly ill-conceived, the concept of religion has languished in anthropology for some time. This course provides a post-mortem, while also exploring new ways of understanding the influence of mystery and divinity on social life. We begin with classic theories of religion and major critiques before exploring traditions like Orthodox Christianity, Santería/Ocha and Hinduism alongside UFO cultures and immortalist associations. Readings pair ethnography from the Mediterranean to Melanesia with new theoretical approaches, asking students to read religion and non-religion against the grain.

Instructors
Clayton Goodgame
The Icon (LA)
Subject associations
ART 310 / HLS 354 / MED 307 / REL 305

In this class we will examine the history, function, theory and meaning of the icon. We will also examine the icon's influence upon the discourses of Modernism. A more practical aspect of this class is that participants in the course will work with the Princeton University Art Museum's icon collection and with its collection of icon painter's preparatory drawings. The class will provide participants with a broad grounding in questions pertaining to the icon.

Instructors
Charlie Barber
The Icon (LA)
Subject associations
ART 310 / HLS 354 / MED 307 / REL 305

In this class we will examine the history, function, theory and meaning of the icon. We will also examine the icon's influence upon the discourses of Modernism. A more practical aspect of this class is that participants in the course will work with the Princeton University Art Museum's icon collection and with its collection of icon painter's preparatory drawings. The class will provide participants with a broad grounding in questions pertaining to the icon.

Additional description

Does NOT satisfy sub-field requirement; does NOT count as departmental. Majors may petition to count this as a cognate course (in addition to the 9 required courses for the major).

Instructors
Justin L. Willson
The Archaeology of Jerusalem: Selected Topics (LA)
Subject associations
ART 409 / REL 409

In this course we will explore, discuss and dispute key archaeological topics pertaining to various aspects of the material multicultures of Jerusalem, from the time of Alexander the Great until its surrender to the Muslem Caliph, 'Umar. During these centuries, Jerusalem grew from a small city into "by far the most famous city, not of Judæa only, but of the East." It became the central sacred locale of the Jewish people, and the cradle of Christianity. During these times, it was twice a pagan city -Antioch in Jerusalem and Aelia Capitolina.

Instructors
Haim Goldfus
Art, Culture, and Identity in Medieval Spain (LA)
Subject associations
ART 431 / MED 431 / REL 431

Before the suppression of non-Christians in Spain and Portugal after 1492, three vibrant medieval cultures inhabited the peninsula: Muslims based in Al-Andalus, Christians based in the northern Spanish kingdoms, and Sephardic Jews throughout both realms. Their coexistence transformed their visual culture in ways that resonated well beyond Iberian borders, from Atlantic colonialism to modern identity politics. This course asks how the contacts, conflicts and compromises provoked by "living with" each other shaped artistic traditions and cultural identity in a land both enriched and destabilized by its own diversity.

Instructors
Pamela A. Patton
Ethics of Eating (EM)
Subject associations
CHV 395 / PHI 399 / REL 396

We are what we eat--morally as well as molecularly. So how should concerns about animals, workers, the environment, and the local inform our food choices? Can we develop viable foodways for growing populations while respecting ethnic, religious, class, and access differences? The goal of this course is not to prescribe answers to these questions, but to give students the tools required to reflect on them effectively. These tools include a knowledge of the main ethical theories in philosophy, and a grasp of key empirical issues regarding food production, distribution, and disposal. Includes guest lectures, instructor-led small-group sessions.

Instructors
Andrew Chignell
Perfect Being Theology: Problems and Prospects (EM)
Subject associations
CHV 410 / REL 403 / PHI 410

This course will be a critical examination of a method known as Perfect Being Theology. Most associated with Anselm of Canterbury, Perfect Being Theology attempts to determine the attributes of a divine being from the supposition of its absolute perfection. Common in all of the Abrahamic faiths, it is increasingly popular among philosophers of religion. The course asks questions: what kinds of inference do practitioners of perfect being theology make? What presuppositions underlie the method, and do they face challenges from the facts of religious diversity? Are there alternative theological methods that have been overlooked or ignored?

Additional description

Does NOT satisfy sub-field requirement; does NOT count as departmental. Majors may petition to count this as a cognate course (in addition to the 9 required courses for the major).

Instructors
Daniel K. Rubio
Magic and Witchcraft in the Ancient World (HA or LA)
Subject associations
CLA 234 / REL 248

In this course we will investigate ancient ideas about magic, alternative divine powers, and the relationship between practitioners and clients in this system. Interest in magic and its promise to influence the world is shared across socio-economic classes, and appears in literary texts from Greek epic to Roman novels as well as in material finds including magical papyri, gold Orphic tablets, curses scratched on lead and other charmed objects. We will consider this material in light of modern theoretical approaches to magic, witches and the uncanny in order to see where these ancient practices fit into the current scholarship.

Instructors
Melissa Haynes