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Eliminating Suffering: Suicide, Utopia, and Spiritual Practice (EC)

Suffering is a fundamental feature of the human condition. But it has been a central aim of many religious and philosophical thinkers to eliminate it altogether. We will examine the grounds of suffering and investigate the three basic ways in which various thinkers have sought to eradicate it: (1) by avoiding life's problems (from Netflix to suicide); (2) by fixing life's problems (from personal saintliness to political utopianism); or (3) by ceasing to judge anything to be problematic in the first place (from Buddhist spiritual practices to Stoic ones). Finally, we will look at those who insist that suffering should not be eliminated at all.

Instructors
Gabriel M. Citron
Eliminating Suffering: Netflix, Drugs, and Spiritual Practice (EM)

We suffer. Sometimes more, sometimes less - but we all suffer, and often profoundly. What is it about the human condition that seems to make suffering inevitable? What can we do to deal with it? One approach is to try to change the external conditions causing the trouble. A very different approach sees the most important change as being within ourselves. Can we eliminate - or at least assuage - our suffering by changing the way we direct our attention (Netflix...), by changing the way we experience (drugs...), or by changing our manner of desiring (spiritual practices...)? We will approach these questions practically and theoretically.

Instructors
Gabriel M. Citron
Eliminating Suffering: Netflix, Drugs, and Spiritual Practice (EM)

We suffer. Sometimes more, sometimes less - but we all suffer, and often profoundly. What is it about the human condition that seems to make suffering inevitable? What can we do to deal with it? One approach is to try to change the external conditions causing the trouble. A very different approach sees the most important change as being within ourselves. Can we eliminate - or at least assuage - our suffering by changing the way we direct our attention (Netflix...), by changing the way we experience (drugs...), or by changing our manner of desiring (spiritual practices...)? We will approach these questions practically and theoretically.

Instructors
Gabriel M. Citron
Environmental Ethics and Modern Religious Thought (EM)

The current ecological crisis is often attributed to the effects of religion, especially Christianity. Focusing primarily on Christian theology and ethics (with some significant attention to Jewish thought as well), this course surveys and critically analyzes the emergence of religious discourses around environmental and animal ethics. The first half of the course considers recent works in "ecotheology." The second half of the course turns to particular ethical topics: climate change, environmental racism, biodiversity conservation, animal welfare, and food.

Instructors
Ryan M. Darr
Gender Trouble: Transing and Transpassing in Muslim Societies (SA)

This seminar explores the ways in which complex gendered identities have been articulated, challenged, and lived in Muslim societies, past and present. Topics include: gender and "gender trouble" in Classical Islamic thought; intersexed and trans identities; same-sex relationships; colonial and post-colonial gendered discourses; being Muslim and LGBTQ; gendered Western responses to Muslim refugees and migrants. We will address these topics through close reading of primary texts in translation, critical readings of modern scholarship, as well as in explorations of literature, art and media from the Muslim world.

Instructors
Shaun E. Marmon
God and Humanity in Catholic Thought (EM)

The goal of this course is to examine different ways of thinking about God and humanity in the Roman Catholic intellectual tradition, focusing on the Spanish world. We will draw on four figures: St. Theresa of Avila, Francisco Suarez, Jon Sobrino, and Gustavo Guttiérez. We will first examine their views about the nature of humanity, next about the nature of God, and finally about how the two relate, with special attention to the issue of seeming divine indifference to the suffering of the innocent.

Instructors
Daniel K. Rubio
God's Messengers: Prophecy and Revelation in the Islamic Tradition (HA)

Prophecy and revelation are the foundations of Islam. What is the meaning of revelation and of scripture in Islam? Why is the Qur'an considered to be the final revelation? How has the Prophet Muhammad been understood and represented by Muslims in the past and in the present? What role do Muhammad's "brother prophets," including Abraham, Moses and Jesus, play in the Qur'an and in Islamic tradition? Was Mary, mother of Jesus, a prophet? This seminar explores these questions through primary sources in translation as well as through the lens of ritual, sacred geography, images, novels, and film.

Instructors
Shaun E. Marmon
God, Satan, Goddesses, and Monsters: How Their Stories Play in Art, Culture, and Politics (CD or EC)

Each week we'll take up a major theme--creation, the problem of evil; what's human/inhuman/ divine; apocalypse--and explore how their stories, embedded in western culture, have been interpreted for thousands of years--so far! Starting with creation stories from Babylon, Israel, Egypt and Greece, we'll consider how some such stories still shape an amazing range of cultural attitudes toward controversial issues that include sexuality, "the nature of nature," politics, and questions of meaning.

Instructors
Elaine H. Pagels
God, Satan, Goddesses, and Monsters: How Their Stories Play in Art, Culture, and Politics (EC)

Each week we'll take up a major theme--creation, the problem of evil; what's human/inhuman/ divine; apocalypse--and explore how their stories, embedded in western culture, have been interpreted for thousands of years--so far! Starting with creation stories from Babylon, Israel, Egypt and Greece, we'll consider how some such stories still shape an amazing range of cultural attitudes toward controversial issues that include sexuality, "the nature of nature," politics, and questions of meaning.

Instructors
Elaine H. Pagels
God, Satan, Goddesses, and Monsters: How Their Stories Play in Art, Culture, and Politics (EC)

Each week we'll take up a major theme--creation, the problem of evil; what's human/inhuman/ divine; apocalypse--and explore how their stories, embedded in western culture, have been interpreted for thousands of years--so far! Starting with creation stories from Babylon, Israel, Egypt and Greece, we'll consider how some such stories still shape an amazing range of cultural attitudes toward controversial issues that include sexuality, "the nature of nature," politics, and questions of meaning.

Instructors
Elaine H. Pagels
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Hebrew Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, the Passover Haggadah, Maimonides's Guide for the Perplexed, the Zohar, and Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. We will pay particular attention to the role of interpretation in forming Jewish tradition.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Hebrew Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, the Passover Haggadah, Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed, the Zohar, and Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. We will pay particular attention to the roles of reading and interpretation in forming the Jewish tradition.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Hebrew Bible, Midrash, Talmud, the Passover Haggadah, medieval Bible commentaries (Rashi, Nahmanides), Maimonides's Mishnah Torah (code of Jewish Law), and the Zohar, the central work of Kabbaah (medieval Jewish mysticism). We will pay particular attention to the role of interpretation in forming Jewish tradition.

Instructors
Martha Himmelfarb
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, Maimonides's legal and philosophical work, the Zohar, and Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. We will pay particular attention to the role of interpretation in forming Jewish tradition.

Instructors
Yaacob Dweck
Moulie Vidas
Great Books of the Jewish Tradition (HA)

This course is intended to introduce students to the classical Jewish tradition through a close reading of portions of some of its great books, including the Hebrew Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, the Passover Haggadah, Maimonides's Guide for the Perplexed, the Zohar, and Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. We will pay particular attention to the role of interpretation in forming Jewish tradition.

Instructors
Ra'anan S. Boustan
Harlots and Heroines: Readings in the Books of Esther and Ruth (SA)

We will read the books of Ruth and Esther in the original Hebrew, considering aspects of translation and Hebrew grammar and syntax, as well as the historical, literary and religious contexts of the books. Particular attention will be paid to the role of women in the larger societal context of ancient Israel, as well as the development of the genre of the Jewish novella in the Second Temple Period.

Instructors
Laura E. Quick
Hindu Ethical and Political Thought (EM)

A course in questions of justice, civic virtue, and good governance, as addressed by Indian thinkers ancient and modern. Is politics a realm of ethical action? What are the ideal virtues of a king or minister? What legitimate justifications for violence are there, if any? Should we be concerned primarily with duties (deontology) or the effects of our actions (consequentialism)? Course readings include the Mahabharata, The Law Code of Manu, Gandhi's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, B.R. Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste, and V.D. Savarkar's Hindutva: Who is a Hindu.

Instructors
Andrew J. Nicholson
Hinduism: Visions and Ideas (LA)

Through texts, visual art, observation of ritual practices we will take a close look at Hinduism. We will explore its major ideas, myths, rituals, narratives, its predecessors and opponents at different historical stages. At every stage we will observe how the insiders understood their relationship with the world, their moral and religious duties, and the right organization of society. We will discuss social, philosophical, and ideological tensions within Hinduism and its dialog with outsiders. We will explore the Indus Valley civilization, the Vedas, early and classical Hinduism, and different systems of Hindu philosophy.

Instructors
Nataliya Yanchevskaya
Hip Hop, Reggae, and Religion (EM)

In this course, we will examine music and the religio-political imagination of the Black Atlantic, focusing on Jamaica and the US. We will examine the ways that the various cultures of hip-hop and reggae offer critique to our contemporary religious and political arrangements. Listening to the perspectives expressed in these cultural formations we will question whether the music provides a prophetic challenge to the status quo. Giving attention to the music, from the Negro Spirituals, to contemporary Hip Hop and Dancehall, we will contextualize it with an interest in understanding the relationship between their religious and political visions.

Instructors
Kevin A. Wolfe
Hip Hop, Reggae, and Religion (EM)

In this course, we will examine music and the religio-political imagination of the Black Atlantic, focusing on Jamaica and the US. We will examine the ways that the various cultures of hip-hop and reggae offer critique to our contemporary religious and political arrangements. Listening to the perspectives expressed in these cultural formations we will question whether the music provides a prophetic challenge to the status quo. Giving attention to the music, from the Negro Spirituals, to contemporary Hip Hop and Dancehall, we will contextualize it with an interest in understanding the relationship between their religious and political visions.

Instructors
Kevin A. Wolfe

Undergraduate

Fall 2022

Spring 2022

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