Undergraduate Courses Fall 2022

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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

Traditions Stream Requirement: Does NOT satisfy a traditions requirement; does NOT count as departmental.

Instructors
Wallace D. Best
Roman Religion: Sources and Methods (HA)
Subject associations
CLA 422 / HUM 422 / REL 422

What was/is Roman religion? Our main focus in this course will be the nature, variety, and geographic range of the source material for religious practice in the Mediterranean world of the Roman Republic and Empire (6th c. BCE-5th c. CE). We'll examine how, and with what repercussions, Roman religion set the terms for and changed in response to Rome's expansion into a Mediterranean empire. Finally, we'll think about the place of "Roman religion" in the global history of religion, and the usefulness of the term "religion" to characterize how the Romans related to their gods.

Instructors
Dan-El Padilla Peralta
The History of Christianity in Africa: From St. Mark to Desmond Tutu (HA)
Subject associations
HIS 423 / AFS 424 / REL 423

This course will trace the history of Christianity in Africa from the first to twentieth centuries. We will focus on issues as diverse as the importance of Christians from Africa in the development of central Christian doctrines and institutions, the medieval Christian-Muslim encounter, the modern missionary movement, colonization and decolonization, the role of the church in freedom struggles, and more. We will ask the questions:how does studying the history of Christianity in Africa de-center Europe and the European experience in the history of Christianity? And:What would a global history of Christianity, pre-modern and modern, look like?

Instructors
Jacob S. Dlamini
Jack B. Tannous
Brujería is (not) Witchcraft: Religiosity, Power, and Performance in LatAm and Caribbean Imagination (CD or LA)
Subject associations
LAS 228 / SPA 244 / THR 233 / REL 204

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
Muslims and the Qur'an (EM)
Subject associations
NES 240 / REL 240

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.

Additional description

Traditions Stream Requirement: Islam

Instructors
Muhammad Q. Zaman
Religion and the Public Conversation (CD or SA)
Subject associations
REL 100

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary study of religion and its engagement with society and culture. We will identify where and how religion operates in the public conversation, especially in, but not limited to, the United States. Classes will be focused around topics that intersect with religion in the public conversation such as place, media, race, body, art, and ethics. Students will develop recognition of the different ways people use religion to construct meaning, boundaries, and identity and will demonstrate the ability to engage in informed dialogue around issues of religion.

Additional description

Traditions Stream Requirement: Does NOT satisfy sub-field requirement; does count as departmental.

Instructors
Jenny Wiley Legath
Holy War, Martyrdom and Sacrifice in the Islamic Tradition (EM)
Subject associations
REL 235 / NES 235

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.

Additional description

Traditions Stream Requirement : Islam

Instructors
Shaun E. Marmon
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Their Emergence in Antiquity (EM or HA)
Subject associations
REL 244 / NES 244 / MED 246 / HLS 241

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.

Additional description

Traditions Stream Requirement : Ancient Judaism, Christianity, and Greek and Roman Religions

Instructors
Moulie Vidas
The New Testament and Christian Origins (HA)
Subject associations
REL 251 / HLS 251 / MED 251

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.

Additional description

Traditions Stream Requirement : Ancient Judaism, Christianity, and Greek and Roman Religions

Instructors
Lydia C. Bremer-McCollum
Christian Ethics and Modern Society (CD or EM)
Subject associations
REL 261 / CHV 261

With a focus on contemporary controversies in public life, this course surveys philosophical and theological perspectives on the ethos of liberal democracy oriented toward rights, equality, and freedom. For example, what do Christian beliefs and practices imply about issues related to feminism, racism, nationalism, and pluralism? What is the relationship between religious conviction, morality and law? Special emphasis on selected political and economic problems, bioethics, criminal justice, sexuality, the environment, war, immigration, and the role of religion in American culture.

Additional description

Traditions Stream Requirement : Philosophical and Ethical Approaches to Religion

Satisfies Critical Approaches (CA) Requirement for Majors

Instructors
Eric S. Gregory
Zen Buddhism (CD or EM)
Subject associations
REL 280 / EAS 281

Most people have heard of Zen Buddhism, but what is it? Who gets to define it? This class looks at Zen in China, Korea, Germany, Japan, Vietnam, and the United States through a range of methods from reading classic texts to studying ethnographic accounts. By considering Zen in different times and places, we explore how a religion is shaped by its political and cultural environs. We examine tensions between romanticized ideals and practices on the ground and grapple with how to study complicated and sometimes troubling traditions. Topics include myths, meditation, mindfulness, monastic life, gender, war, and death.

Additional description

Traditions Stream Requirement : Religions of Asia

Instructors
Bryan D. Lowe
The Making of Hinduism (HA)
Subject associations
REL 313 / SAS 313

Hinduism is often regarded as one of the world's most ancient living religions, and its oldest scriptures were composed more than 3000 years ago. It may therefore come as a surprise that people did not start calling themselves Hindus until the 15th century. How should we understand the late appearance of this term as a self-referential category, and what does it tell us about religion in South Asia? In this course, we will trace Hinduism's roots from the earliest period up to the 15th century, examining not only continuity in religious thought and practice but also diversity in the traditions that came to form a single Hindu community.

Additional description

Traditions Stream Requirement : Religions of Asia

Instructors
Guy T. St. Amant
Mind and Meditation (EC)
Subject associations
REL 324

This course examines the philosophy, history, and methods of Buddhist meditation. Primary readings will be Buddhist works on the nature of the mind and the role of meditation on the path to liberation (nirvana). We will ask how traditional Buddhist views have been reshaped by modern teachers, and we will interrogate the significance of current research on meditation in the fields of neuroscience, psychology and the philosophy of mind. In addition to other coursework, students will be practicing meditation and keeping a log and journal.

Additional description

Traditions Stream Requirement : Religions of Asia

Instructors
Jonathan C. Gold
Catholics in America (HA)
Subject associations
REL 365

In this course we explore the institutional, devotional, cultural, and social history of Catholics in America focusing on such themes as church/state relations, religion and politics, gender, race, and sexuality, Catholicism in popular culture, relations between laity and hierarchy, and social reform.

Additional description

Traditions Stream Requirement : Religion in America

Instructors
Madeline Gambino
Junior Colloquium
Subject associations
REL 399

First semester junior majors participate in a colloquium with a member or members of the faculty. In addition to assignments throughout the term that prepare majors to research and write a junior paper (JP), students are expected to produce a five to seven-page JP proposal.

Additional description

Required Colloquium for Junior Majors     

Instructors
Seth A. Perry
Philosophy and the Study of Religion
Subject associations
REL 90

No description available

Instructors
Staff
Islam in South Asia through Literature and Film (LA)
Subject associations
SAS 345 / REL 345

This course is a survey of Islam in the Indian subcontinent. We begin with the earliest Muslim descriptions of India and the rise of Persian poetry to understand how Muslims negotiated life at the frontiers of the Islamic world. Next we trace patterns of patronage and production at the Mughal court and the development of Urdu as a vehicle of literary composition including a discussion of the Progressive Writer's Movement and the "Muslim Social" genre of Hindi cinema. The course concludes with an examination of contemporary novels from Bangladesh and Pakistan. Students will gain an informed perspective on Islam beyond the headlines.

Instructors
Sadaf Jaffer

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