Undergraduate Course Archive

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The University: Its History and Purpose (EC)

This course offers students philosophical and historical foundations for participating in contemporary debates about higher education. The first half of the course surveys the history of thought about learning, education, and scholarship as well as the emergence of academic institutions in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States; the second half examines a series of contemporary issues and debates in and on higher education. Throughout the course, we will pay special attention to Princeton's past, present, and future.

Instructors
Moulie Vidas
In the Shadow of Swords: War, Martyrdom and the Afterlife in Islam (EM)

How were just war, holy war, and martyrdom imagined and enacted over the centuries in Islamic societies? How do concepts of the afterlife inform attitudes towards war and martyrdom? We begin in the Late Antique world with a survey of noble death, martyrdom, holy war, and just war, in the Roman, Jewish and Christian traditions. We explore these topics in the Islamic tradition through case studies: the Arab conquests, the Crusades, Spain and the Reconquista, the Iran-Iraq war and contemporary jihadist movements. We use primary sources in translation (including fiction and poetry) and, for modern period, films and internet.

Instructors
Shaun E. Marmon
Holy War, Martyrdom and Sacrifice in the Islamic Tradition (EM)

How were just war, holy war, and martyrdom imagined and enacted over the centuries in Islamic societies? How do concepts of the afterlife inform attitudes towards war and martyrdom? We begin in the Late Antique world with a survey of noble death, martyrdom, holy war, and just war, in the Roman, Jewish and Christian traditions. We explore these topics in the Islamic tradition through case studies: the Arab conquests, the Crusades, Spain and the Reconquista, the Iran-Iraq war and contemporary jihadist movements. We use primary sources in translation (including fiction and poetry) and, for modern period, films and internet.

Instructors
Shaun E. Marmon
Holy War, Martyrdom and Sacrifice in the Islamic Tradition (EM)

How were just war, holy war, and martyrdom imagined and enacted over the centuries in Islamic societies? How do concepts of the afterlife inform attitudes towards war and martyrdom? We begin in the Late Antique world with a survey of noble death, martyrdom, holy war, and just war, in the Roman, Jewish and Christian traditions. We explore these topics in the Islamic tradition through case studies: the Arab conquests, the Crusades, Spain and the Reconquista, the Iran-Iraq war and contemporary jihadist movements. We use primary sources in translation (including fiction and poetry) and, for modern period, films and internet.

Instructors
Shaun E. Marmon
Introduction to Islam (SA)

This course is an introduction to Islam survey for undergraduates. The course is framed in terms of Muslims' self-understanding and includes pre-modern, modern, and contemporary sources. It begins in pre-Islamic Arabia and ends with contemporary material. We will use a variety of media, including art, music, and film to emphasize the varieties of Muslim experience and explore the contestations and adaptations of what it means to be Muslim.

Instructors
Rebecca L. Faulkner
Sufism: The Mystical Tradition of Islam (EM)

In Western media and popular discourse, Sufism, or the mystical tradition in Islam, is often portrayed as the 'soft-side' of Islam and contrasted with the harsh 'legalism' of the Shari`a or Islamic law. In this class, we will try to interrupt this portrayal through a rigorous exercise of textual and conceptual interrogation. We will explore the institutional and intellectual history, meditation and disciplinary practices, poetry and literature, as well as orientalist and neo-imperialist representations of Sufism. A major emphasis of this course will be on closely reading and analyzing Sufi texts from a range of genres in translation.

Instructors
Tehseen Thaver
Introduction to Islamic Ethics (EM)

This course examines Sufism or what is often called the mystical tradition in Islam. Sufism represents one of the most important intellectual, social, and political traditions in Muslim thought and practice. This course engages multiple aspects of Sufism including its institutional and intellectual history, metaphysics and cosmology, meditation and disciplinary practices, poetry and literature, modern debates over the limits of normative Sufism, and orientalist and neo-imperialist representations of Sufism. A major focus of this course will be on close readings of primary texts, all in translation.

Instructors
Tehseen Thaver
Sufism (EM)

This course examines Sufism or what is often called the mystical tradition in Islam. In Western media and popular discourse, Sufism is often portrayed as the 'soft-side' of Islam that is contrasted with the harsh 'legalism' of the Shari`a or Islamic law. In this class, we will try to interrupt this portrayal through a rigorous exercise of textual and conceptual interrogation. Using primary Sufi texts and sources of Euro-American scholarship on Sufism, we will explore the institutional and intellectual history, meditation and disciplinary practices, poetry and literature, as well as orientalist and neo-imperialist representations of Sufism.

Instructors
Tehseen Thaver
Sufism (EM)

This course examines Sufism or what is often called the mystical tradition in Islam. In Western media and popular discourse, Sufism is often portrayed as the 'soft-side' of Islam that is contrasted with the harsh 'legalism' of the Shari`a or Islamic law. In this class, we will try to interrupt this portrayal through a rigorous exercise of textual and conceptual interrogation. Using primary Sufi texts and sources of Euro-American scholarship on Sufism, we will explore the institutional and intellectual history, meditation and disciplinary practices, poetry and literature, as well as orientalist and neo-imperialist representations of Sufism.

Instructors
Tehseen Thaver
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Their Emergence in Antiquity (EM or HA)

This course traces the emergence of the traditions we now call Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: their first communities, texts, images, and values. Students will learn to examine their histories critically, identify patterns across traditions, uncover the way these traditions shaped one another, trace the developments of beliefs and practices from their earlier forms, and analyze the social and political factors that informed these developments.

Instructors
Moulie Vidas
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Their Emergence in Antiquity (HA)

The period studied in this course saw wide-ranging transformations that inform religion and culture to this day, such as the emergence of the traditions now called Judaism, Christianity and Islam, a spread in allegiance to a single God, and a decline in public animal sacrifice. The course will introduce students to a critical examination of these changes. We will learn to identify patterns across different traditions, uncover the ways these traditions shaped one another, trace the development of beliefs from their earliest forms, and analyze the social and political context of these changes.

Instructors
Moulie Vidas
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Their Emergence in Antiquity (HA)

The period studied in this course saw wide-ranging transformations that inform religion and culture to this day, such as the emergence of the traditions now called Judaism, Christianity and Islam, a spread in allegiance to a single God, and a decline in public animal sacrifice. The course will introduce students to a critical examination of these changes. We will learn to identify patterns across different traditions, uncover the ways these traditions shaped one another, trace the development of beliefs from their earliest forms, and analyze the social and political context of these changes.

Instructors
Moulie Vidas
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Their Emergence in Antiquity (HA)

The period studied in this course saw wide-ranging transformations that inform religion and culture to this day, such as the emergence of the traditions now called Judaism, Christianity and Islam, a spread in allegiance to a single God, and a decline in public animal sacrifice. The course will introduce students to a critical examination of these changes. We will learn to identify patterns across different traditions, uncover the ways these traditions shaped one another, trace the development of beliefs from their earliest forms, and analyze the social and political context of these changes.

Instructors
Moulie Vidas
Ancient Judaism from Alexander to the Rise of Islam (HA)

This course offers an introduction to the development of ancient Judaism during the eventful millennium from the establishment of the Torah as the constitution of the Jewish people in the fifth century BCE--an event that some have seen as marking the transition from biblical religion to Judaism--to the completion of the other great canonical Jewish document, the Babylonian Talmud, in perhaps the sixth century CE.

Instructors
Martha Himmelfarb
Ancient Judaism from Alexander to the Rise of Islam (HA)

This course offers an introduction to ancient Judaism during the fascinating and eventful long millennium that gave rise to both Judaism and Christianity as we know them today. It traces the development of competing visions of Judaism from the establishment of the Torah as a sort of constitution for the Jewish people in the fifth century BCE to the completion of the Babylonian Talmud, the work that more than any other shapes later Jewish culture, in perhaps the sixth century CE. Classes will center on the discussion of primary texts, and the development of the skills of close reading will be a major focus.

Instructors
Martha Himmelfarb
Ancient Judaism from Alexander to the Rise of Islam (HA)

This course offers an introduction to the development of ancient Judaism during the eventful millennium from the establishment of the Torah as the constitution of the Jewish people in the fifth century BCE--an event that some have seen as marking the transition from biblical religion to Judaism--to the completion of the other great canonical Jewish document, the Babylonian Talmud, in perhaps the sixth century CE.

Instructors
Martha Himmelfarb
Religion and the African American Political Imagination (EM)

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the historically complex relationship between "religion" and "the political" in African American life. For instance, is there a non-political religious identity? And, how does the "religious" identity of an African American atheist, Christian, Jew, Muslim, or naturalist affect their "political" imagination? These questions will guide us as we engage in close readings of texts from a variety of genres (historical, theoretical, and literary) that capture the dynamics of African American experiences, religion, and thought.

Instructors
Kevin A. Wolfe
Christianity in the Roman Empire: Secret Rituals, Mystery Cults, and Apocalyptic Prophets (HA)

How did Jesus' earliest followers interpret his life and death? What were secret initiation rites and love feast gatherings about? How did women participate in leadership? How did the Roman government react to this movement and why did Jesus' followers suffer martyrdom? How did early Christians think about the end of the world, and what did they do when it did not happen? This course is an introduction to the Jesus movement in the context of the Roman Empire and early Judaism. We examine texts in the New Testament (the Christian Bible) and other relevant sources, such as lost gospels, Dead Sea scrolls, and aspects of material culture.

Instructors
AnneMarie Luijendijk
Christianity in the Roman Empire: Secret Rituals, Mystery Cults, and Apocalyptic Prophets (HA)

How did Jesus' earliest followers interpret his life and death? What were secret initiation rites and love feast gatherings about? How did women participate in leadership? How did the Roman government react to this movement and why did Jesus' followers suffer martyrdom? How did early Christians think about the end of the world, and what did they do when it did not happen? This course is an introduction to the Jesus movement in the context of the Roman Empire and early Judaism. We examine texts in the New Testament (the Christian Bible) and other relevant sources, such as lost gospels, Dead Sea scrolls, and aspects of material culture.

Instructors
Matthew Larsen
The New Testament and Christian Origins (HA)

How did Jesus' earliest followers interpret his life and death? What were secret initiation rites and love feast gatherings about? How did women participate in leadership? How did the Roman government react to this movement and why did Jesus' followers suffer martyrdom? How did early Christians think about the end of the world, and what did they do when it did not happen? This course is an introduction to the Jesus movement in the context of the Roman Empire and early Judaism. We examine texts in the New Testament (the Christian Bible) and other relevant sources, such as lost gospels, Dead Sea scrolls, and aspects of material culture.

Instructors
Lydia C. Bremer-McCollum