Undergraduate Course Archive

Filters

The Power of Images in Late Antiquity: Jewish Art in Its Historical Contexts (LA)

This course explores the long and rich tradition of Jewish image making and the history of Jewish thought on the power of images in religious life, from the Hebrew Bible through the end of antiquity. We concentrate particularly on Jewish engagement with the visual cultures of the surrounding Greek, Roman, and Christian societies. In spring 2023, we will focus on the new archaeological discoveries in the Roman village of Huqoq in the Galilee, which have transformed our understanding of the place of art in Judaism. Students who take the course will have the opportunity to participate in the Huqoq Excavation Project in summer 2023.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Elementary Biblical Hebrew I

Students will achieve a basic ability to read the Hebrew Bible in the original language. During the semester, students will learn the script and the grammar, develop a working vocabulary, and read a selection of Biblical passages. The course is designed for beginners with little or no previous knowledge of the language. Students with extensive experience in the language should contact the instructor about course alternatives.

Instructors
Philip Zhakevich
Elementary Biblical Hebrew I

Students will achieve a basic ability to read the Hebrew Bible in the original language. During the semester, students will learn the script and the grammar, develop a working vocabulary, and read a selection of Biblical passages. The course is designed for beginners with little or no previous knowledge of the language. Students with extensive experience in the language should contact the instructor about course alternatives.

Instructors
Laura E. Quick
Martyrdom and Religious Violence in the Ancient Mediterranean World (HA)

This course explores the relationship between religion and violence in the ancient Mediterranean world. We will investigate how the shifting discourses and practices of religiously-motivated violence directed both at the self and the other shaped the social, cultural and political histories of specific groups within ancient Mediterranean society. Of special interest will be the emergence of Jewish and Christian traditions of martyrdom against their biblical and Graeco-Roman backgrounds and the impact of the Christianization of the Roman Empire on the relationship between political power, religiously-motivated violence, and communal identity.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
History of Passover: From Moses to Jesus to Harry Potter (HA)

This course explores the history of Passover, from its ancient origins to its modern variations. Students will reflect on Jewish ideas of redemption as represented in art, food, memory, and ritual. Tracing the evolution of the holiday and its meaning, we will consider: sacrifice in its ancient Near Eastern context; Passover's centrality in the development of Christianity; ritual disparity between varying Jewish ethnicities; and non-traditional Haggadahs composed over the last hundred years. In a semester-long project, students have the option to write, create, and/or perform a representation of the main themes of the course.

Instructors
David Sclar
Pagans, Jews, and Christians in the Ancient World (CD or HA)

This course considers the social and cultural encounters between religious/ethnic groups in the ancient Mediterranean world. It aims to challenge the idea that these groups (for example, Greeks, Jews, Romans, Christians) had stable boundaries or that they spoke with a unified and authoritative voice. The dynamic and even fluid relationships among these groups had a deep impact on the nature of religious life during the formative period of Late Antiquity and beyond. The course will thus explore religious contact and conflict, proximity and separation, dialogue and prejudice-both ancient and modern.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Brujería is (not) Witchcraft: Religiosity, Power, and Performance in LatAm and Caribbean Imagination (CD or LA)

This course explores Latin American and Caribbean culture and its connections with Europe and Africa through references to witches, witchcraft, and other forms of religion and power exercised by women, including practices from Santería, Palo Monte and other Afro-Caribbean religions. With a wide lens on how many women and queer bodies have been considered deviants, dangerous, and deemed punishable, this class will look at how colonialism and its aftermath shaped discourses around religion in the Americas, and how legal documents, visual arts, film, novels, and theater, have represented and contested those discourses and bodies.

Instructors
Lilianne Lugo Herrera
Jerusalem Contested: A City's History from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives (HA)

Jerusalem is considered a holy city to three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In this course, students will learn the history of Jerusalem from its founding in pre-biblical times until the present. Over the course of the semester, we will ask: What makes space sacred and how does a city become holy? What has been at stake - religiously, theologically, politically, nationally - in the many battles over Jerusalem? Is a city that is so deeply contested doomed to endless tension or does history offer more hopeful precedents?

Instructors
Jonathan M. Gribetz
Muslims and the Qur'an (EM)

A broad-ranging introduction to pre-modern, modern, and contemporary Islam in light of how Muslims have approached their foundational religious text, the Qur'an. Topics include: Muhammad and the emergence of Islam; theology, law and ethics; war and peace; mysticism; women and gender; and modern debates on Islamic reform. We shall examine the varied contexts in which Muslims have interpreted their sacred text, their agreements and disagreements on what it means and, more broadly, their often competing understandings of Islam and of what it is to be a Muslim.

Instructors
Muhammad Q. Zaman
Muslims and the Qur'an (EM)

A broad-ranging introduction to pre-modern, modern, and contemporary Islam in light of how Muslims have approached their foundational religious text, the Qur'an. Topics include: Muhammad and the emergence of Islam; theology, law and ethics; war and peace; mysticism; women and gender; and modern debates on Islamic reform. We shall examine the varied contexts in which Muslims have interpreted their sacred text, their agreements and disagreements on what it means and, more broadly, their often competing understandings of Islam and of what it is to be a Muslim.

Instructors
Muhammad Q. Zaman
Muslims and the Qur'an (EM)

A broad-ranging introduction to pre-modern, modern, and contemporary Islam in light of how Muslims have approached their foundational religious text, the Qur'an. Topics include: Muhammad and the emergence of Islam; theology, law and ethics; war and peace; mysticism; women and gender; and modern debates on Islamic reform. We shall examine the varied contexts in which Muslims have interpreted their sacred text, their agreements and disagreements on what it means and, more broadly, their often competing understandings of Islam and of what it is to be a Muslim.

Instructors
Muhammad Q. Zaman
Introduction to Islamic Theology (HA)

This course is a general survey of the main principles of Islamic doctrine. It focuses on the Muslim theological discourse on the concepts of God and His attributes, man and nature, the world to come, revelation and prophethood, diversity of religions, and the possibility and actuality of miracles.

Instructors
Hossein Modarressi
Introduction to Islamic Theology (HA)

This course is a general survey of the main principles of Islamic doctrine. It focuses on the Muslim theological discourse on the concepts of God and His attributes, man and nature, the world to come, revelation and prophethood, diversity of religions, and the possibility and actuality of miracles.

Instructors
Hossein Modarressi
Introduction to Islamic Theology (HA)

This course is a general survey of the main principles of Islamic doctrine. It focuses on the Muslim theological discourse on the concepts of God and His attributes, man and nature, the world to come, revelation and prophethood, diversity of religions, and the possibility and actuality of miracles.

Instructors
Hossein Modarressi
Marriage and Monotheism: Men, Women, and God in Near Eastern Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (EM)

The decline of marriage in recent decades is often tied to the decline of religion. But why should marriage, a contractual relationship centered on sex and property, be seen as a religious practice? This seminar considers the varied and surprising ways in which the great monotheistic traditions of the Near East came to connect certain forms of human marriage - or their rejection- to divine devotion, and considers how marriage worked in societies shaped by these traditions. Spanning biblical Israel to the medieval Islamic world, this course will introduce you to the historical study of Near Eastern religions and to the field of family history.

Instructors
Eve Krakowski
Marriage and Monotheism: Men, Women, and God in Near Eastern Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (EM)

The decline of marriage in recent decades is often tied to the decline of religion. But why should marriage, a contractual relationship centered on sex and property, be seen as a religious practice? This seminar considers the varied and surprising ways in which the great monotheistic traditions of the Near East came to connect certain forms of human marriage - or their rejection- to divine devotion, and considers how marriage worked in societies shaped by these traditions. Spanning biblical Israel to the medieval Islamic world, this course will introduce you to the historical study of Near Eastern religions and to the field of family history.

Instructors
Eve Krakowski
Kierkegaard Everywhere (EM)

We will study the life and work of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). His mission as an author begins with a journal entry he wrote while overlooking the sea north of Copenhagen: "What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. What matters is to find a purpose." We will follow in Kierkegaard's footsteps, both literally and figuratively.

Instructors
Hans P. Halvorson
Kierkegaard in Copenhagen (EM)

We will study the life and work of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). His mission as an author begins with a journal entry he wrote while overlooking the sea north of Copenhagen: "What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. What matters is to find a purpose." We will follow in Kierkegaard's footsteps, both literally and figuratively.

Instructors
Hans P. Halvorson
Kierkegaard Everywhere (EM)

We will study the life and work of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). His mission as an author begins with a journal entry he wrote while overlooking the sea north of Copenhagen: "What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. What matters is to find a purpose." We will follow in Kierkegaard's footsteps, both literally and figuratively.

Instructors
Hans P. Halvorson
Politics and Religion (EM)

We revisit some of the basic normative questions to do with religion and democratic politics: how can democratic polities be protected from religion, and how can religion be protected from politics? Might certain forms of democratic politics depend on religious sources? In particular, might liberal democracy actually "live off" religious sentiments in ways that many liberal theorists fail to acknowledge? Does even the religiously neutral state need a "civil religion" of some sort or other to preserve its moral foundations?

Instructors
Jan-Werner Müller