Department of Religious Studies

R S 302 • History Of Religions Of Asia

43605 • Brereton, Joel
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM UTC 3.102
(also listed as ANS 301R, CTI 310)
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This course surveys the central beliefs and patterns of life of living religious traditions of Asia. It will focus particularly on the basic texts or narratives of these traditions, on their essential histories, and on the concepts of humanity, the world, and the divine that are distinctive of each. In addition, the course will explore not only what people believe religiously but also what they do religiously. Therefore, part of the course will consider the ways of life, forms of social action, and rituals practiced by different communities. Not all Asian traditions can be included in a one-semester survey. The traditions chosen have large numbers of adherents, possess particular historical significance, and represent different cultural areas. These include: Hinduism, Islam in South Asia, Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia, Chinese Confucian and Daoist traditions, Shinto, and Buddhism in China and Japan.

Required Texts:
Willard Oxtoby, Roy Amore, (and Amir Hussain), World Religions: Eastern Traditions (3rd or 4th edition)
R.K. Narayan, tr., The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic
Patrick Olivelle, tr., The Buddhacarita: Life of the Buddha (selections provided in class)
Burton Watson, tr., Zhuangzi: Basic Writings [or B. Watson, Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings]
Hiroaki Sato, tr., Basho's Narrow Road: Spring and Autumn Passages.

30%  Two exams (15% each)
45%  Three essays (15% each)
15%  Final essay
10%  Attendance and Participation

R S 304 • Judaism, Christianity, & Islam

43610 • Smith, Geoffrey
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM PAR 1
(also listed as CTI 304, HIS 304R, ISL 311, J S 311)
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This course explores the principal beliefs and practices of Jews, Christians, and Muslims and the historical development of the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  At the same time, the course will provide an introduction to the field of religious studies by exposing students to some of the interdisciplinary methods used to understand religion as a central component of human culture, including historical methods, the study of ritual, and the analysis of ideas.


R S 306C • Comparative Religious Ethics

43620 • Schofer, Jonathan
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM CLA 1.102
(also listed as J S 311)
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The aim of this course is to examine and contemplate ideas about right and wrong, good and bad, excellent and corrupt as they are expressed in different religious traditions and across cultures. We will examine three different approaches to ethics and religion in a globalized world of competing stances: a foundational set of methods in religious ethics, a more specific approach to comparative religious ethics centered on stories, and an account of justice for international and cross-cultural contexts addressing disparities in wealth and power.  Students will learn to adjudicate and assess religions claims regarding what is good and right, differences across religious traditions, foundational narratives of religions, and the grounds for justice.  Topics include war and peace, inequalities in wealth and income, leadership, and more.


Texts: (available at the University Co-Op Bookstore):

  • Fasching and DeChant, Comparative Religious Ethics: A Narrative Approach to Global Ethics (2nd edition)
  • Markham, Do Morals Matter? A Guide to Contemporary Religious Ethics (Wiley Publishing)
  • Sen, The Idea of Justice



  • Three short papers, 2 pages each; each 15% of the course grade (45% total)
  • Midterm exam, closed-book, in-class (25%)
  • Final Exam, closed book, in-class (15%)
  • Class Participation (15%)



R S 310 • Intro To The Study Of Religion

43625 • Landau, Brent
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM CLA 0.128
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This course offers students an introduction to the academic study of religion through the strategic examination of three different religious traditions and several comparative religious concepts. The religious traditions will include: Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam. The comparative religious concepts to be examined will include some or all of the following: myth/ritual; gender and sexuality; holy men and women and their miracles; visions and other anomalous experiences; attitudes toward scientific inquiry; and death, the afterlife, and the end of the world. The course meets the standard for the Global Cultures flag because more than half of the course material deals with cultures of non-U.S. communities—forms of Judaism outside of the U.S., Muslims in the Middle East and Asia, and Buddhists in Asia.

R S 313N • Jewish Civ: 1492 To Present

43640 • Bodian, Marion
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM GAR 1.126
(also listed as EUS 306, HIS 306N, J S 304N)
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This is the second half of a two-semester survey of Jewish civilization, and deals with the period from the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 to the present. It will cover major demographic shifts, the impact of the Reformation, the emergence of new attitudes to Jews, the breakdown of traditional authority and the trend toward secularization. It will deal with the following transformative events: the rise of eastern European Jewry, the spread of kabbalah (a form of mysticism), the entry of Jews into a modern economy, Hassidism, Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah), emancipation, modern antisemitism, Zionism, Jews in the Muslim world, the rise American Jewry, the Holocaust, the establishment of the State of Israel, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The thematic core of the course will be the concepts of exile and return – their various meanings and interpretations as new historical contexts took shape.

Eli Barnavi, A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People: From the Time of the Patriarchs to the Present.

Paul Mendes-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz, eds., The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History.

First mid-term (20%), second mid-term (20%), two quizzes (10% each), final exam (40%)

R S 315 • The Bible & Its Interpreters

43645 • Landau, Brent
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM CLA 0.106
(also listed as CTI 304)
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Among all the influential texts found in the Bible, none has had such an enormous impact on world history and culture as the Book of Genesis has. This may be somewhat surprising: given the fact that Christianity is the world’s largest religion, one might expect that one of the Gospels of the New Testament would be the most influential. Yet Genesis, with its
tales of the strange world that existed before the Flood and its recounting of the exploits— sometimes morally questionable—of Israel’s patriarchs, exercised such a hold on the imagination of the earliest Christians that many New Testament writings can actually be seen as extended ruminations on the implications of the Genesis narrative…as can many other great works of literature and art from antiquity to the present. This course will explore the incredibly diverse ways that human beings have sought to make meaning out of this book. We will begin by devoting more than two months to a close reading of Genesis in its entirety—just us and the text (mostly). We will then proceed to examine several significant ancient interpretations of Genesis. We will investigate: a retelling of the strange story of “sons of God” mating with human women (from Gen 6:1-4) as found in the Book of the Watchers; the “reversal” of Genesis’s creation story found in the Gnostic Christian writing Apocryphon of John; Genesis in the writings of Augustine, arguably the greatest Christian theologian of all time; and the use of Genesis narratives in the Quran, the foundational scripture of Islam.

R S 315 • The Bible & Its Interpreters

43650 • Yoo, Philip
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM BEN 1.102
(also listed as CTI 304)
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What, according to the Bible, is required of us? What is our response to the deity? What is our place in the cosmos? With these questions in mind, this course seeks to cultivate both an understanding of the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament) and the New Testament and how biblical writers and subsequent interpreters grappled with notions of divine command and human obligation. We pursue this aim through close readings of the biblical texts themselves and the reception of biblical figures, themes, and ideas among its many interpreters. We begin by examining the historical sense of the Hebrew Bible as a product of the ancient Near East. We will then examine the practice of biblical interpretation among the competing Jewish ideologies at the turn of the Common Era, out of which emerged the early Christians and the New Testament. The later part of the course will highlight some of the major Jewish and Christian interpreters of the Bible in the pre-modern and modern periods and how, through their own view of “scripturalism”, these interpreters understood and formulated responses to questions of human nature, humanity’s relationship to the supernatural, and the meaning of life.



  • The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version. Edited by Michael D. Coogan, Marc Z. Brettler, and Carol Newsom. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. (indicated by NOAB in the Plan of Study, below)
  • Course Pack with selections from Readings from Philo, Dead Sea Scrolls, Rabbinic Literature, Qur’anic Literature, Maimonides, Augustine, Luther, Spinoza, Mendelsohn, Kierkegaard, and others.



  • Attendance (10%)
  • 5 short reading reports (2% each or 10%)
  • 2 short papers (15% each or 30%)
  • rewrite of one paper (25%)
  • final exam (25%)

R S 315N • Intro To The New Testament

43654 • Kim, Jin Young
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 308
(also listed as C C 304C, CTI 310)
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This course introduces students to the academic study of the writings that today comprise the Christian New Testament. We will begin by introducing different scholarly approaches to NT and a brief historical overview of the Second Temple Judaism and the Roman Empire as the background for understanding NT. In the first segment of the course we will focus on the Pauline letters to understand the Apostle Paul and the specific historical, political, and religious situations of the earliest churches as reflected in each letter. The second segment of the course covers the gospels and the synoptic problem. Here we ask how each text reinterprets the significance of Jesus and formulates religious identity within its own historical and communal context. The last segment of the course discusses the Book of Revelation, selections of non-Pauline epistles, and few extra-canonical writings that have significance in understanding the NT. Here we also think about the development of the New Testament as a canon. The primary goal of this course is to introduce students to the major critical issues in the interpretation of NT and a set of analytical tools for assessing biblical texts on their own.    

R S 316U • Hist Of Religion In The US

43664 • Doran, Justin
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM JES A303A
(also listed as AMS 315, HIS 317L)
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This course explores religious creativity in the United States as a contact point in the American hemisphere. We will look at how Americans made sense of different religions that they came into contact with over the course of Greater America’s five-hundred-year history of cultural cross-pollination. From a broad reading of thesecontact points, we will develop an understanding of how the systems of U.S. secularism and denominationalism structured contact between
religious groups and how new religious movements emerged in response to that contact. With a focus on their religious practices, we will consider the traditions of African diasporic religion, Native American religion, charismatic Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Zen Buddhism, and American folk spiritualties.



  • Malinche: A Novel by Laura Esquivel
  • Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions by Richard Erdoes and John (Fire) Lame Deer
  • The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac


  • Unit exams
  • Wikipedia articles
  • Final essay

R S 316U • Hist Of Religion In The US

43660 • Amoruso, Michael
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM MEZ 1.216
(also listed as AMS 315, HIS 317L)
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This class introduces students to the history of religions in the United States. With a strong emphasis on religious diversity, this course explores the variety of religious traditions that have flourished in the United States—not only Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism, but also ones like Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American religions, and New Age and “metaphysical traditions.” We also consider the challenges practitioners of these numerically smaller religions have faced as they confronted the religious norms set by the dominant style of Protestant Christianity. Beginning with the pre-colonial period and ending in the present day, this course will give students a broad overview of American religious life, and will address themes like gender, war, politics, economy, science, and immigration. Students will also develop the conceptual tools to analyze the ongoing dynamics of religious dominance and diversity—as well as to think critically about the way religious history is narrated—in this country.
  • Catharine Albanese, America: Religions & Religion.
  • Exams
  • Attendance
  • Class participation
  • Weekly intellectual journals

R S 318 • The Rise Of Christianity

43665 • White, L
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM GEA 105
(also listed as C C 318, CTI 310, J S 311)
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Start with questions and then look for answers.

1.   What is the earliest writing in the New Testament? What was the latest?

2.   What does it mean to call Jesus of Nazareth an apocalyptic Jewish prophet?

3.   When did the followers of Jesus begin to call themselves “Christians”?

4.   What were they called before that time?  And why does it matter?

Whether or not you think you know the answers to all or some of these questions, you may still want to follow the basic path of historical discovery they hint at.    This course brings together two main lines of history:  first that of Jesus and the early Christian movement itself, and second, that of the “book” (more precisely the “books,” meaning the New Testament), that tell that story.   How did it happen?  Where did they come from?  When did they begin to call themselves “Christians,” and why did they do so?  And finally, what changed along the way?  All of these are part of the story, and it is, without doubt, a story that has had a major impact on all later western history. 

            This course is designed to acquaint students with the sources, issues, and methods in studying the development of the earliest Christian movement, primarily in  the New Testament period.  It will survey the development of the Christian movement, from its beginnings as a reforming sect within first century Judaism until it became a major cult in the Roman world, by looking at two intersecting sets of factors:  the world situation during the period of its origins and the forces which gave it its peculiar social and theological shape.  In particular, attention will be given to critical examination of the New Testament writings themselves, in order to "place" them in their proper historical context and to reconstruct some of the major phases and factors in the development of the movement.   In the light of this critical reconstruction, sociological and anthropological methods will be introduced into the historical discussion; topics will include: sociological formation and development of sectarian groups; gender, status, group dynamics, and boundary maintenance in diaspora communities; and the evolution of organizational structures in cultural contexts.   

            For the most part the primary sources for the course will be the New Testament writings themselves.  It will be necessary, therefore, for each student to have access to a good, modern version of the New Testament (and preferably the whole Bible, including the Apocrypha). For study purposes, comparison of different translations is encouraged.  The other course books (listed below) provide a guide to the early Christian writings and the early history of the movement.   



  • A BIBLE (at least the NEW TESTAMENT, preferably in a good modern translation) [Recommended:Harper-Collins Study Bible, 2nd ed.;New Revised Standard Version]
  • L. Michael White, From Jesus to Christianity  (Harper, 2004) pb. [Optional:  L. Michael White, De Jesús al christianismo  (EVD, 2007; Spanish language edition of above)]
  • Alan F. Segal, Rebecca’s Children:  Judaism and Christianity in the Roman World (Harvard UP, 1986) pb.
  • A Xerox packet of additional readings to accompany the syllabus                                           



Final course grade will be based on the average of three in-class Exams (worth 20% each) and a cumulative Final Exam (worth 40%).

R S 341 • Krishna In Indian Lit

43672 • Snell, Rupert
Meets TTH 5:00PM-6:30PM MEZ 2.122
(also listed as ANS 372)
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This course investigates Krishna as an expression of the divine, especially as viewed through the many devotional traditions that came to pervade Indian culture from medieval times. Krishna is both the philosophical counselor of the Bhagavad Gita and, with quite a different character and emphasis, is the “divine lover” whose amorous games on the Yamuna riverbank are described in the Sanskrit Bhagavata Purana and its myriad vernacular retellings. We will study texts in translation from both traditions, with an emphasis on north Indian portrayals of Krishna in poetry and art. Temple traditions, performance styles, and sectarian movements will be introduced and discussed, as will the various ways in which Krishna is equated with (or differentiated from) both Rama and Vishnu. Students who wish to study devotional texts in the original Hindi should consult the instructor about enrolling in the parallel HIN 130D class, which will introduce poetry in the Braj Bhasha dialect of Hindi.



Archer, W.G. The loves of Krishna in Indian painting and poetry. London, Allen and Unwin, 1957.

Barz, Richard, The Bhakti sect of Vallabhacharya. Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1992.

Bryant, Edwin F. (trans.) Krishna : the beautiful legend of God ; ?r?mad Bh?gavata Pur?n?a, Book X. London, Penguin, 2003.

Bryant, Edwin F. (ed.), Krishna: a source-book. Oxford, OUP, 2007.

Bryant, Kenneth E., Poems to the child-god : structures and strategies in the poetry of Surdas. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1978.

Hawley, John Stratton, Krishna, the butter thief. Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1983.

Jayadeva, trans. Barbara Stoller Miller,  Love song of the dark lord : Jayadeva's Gitagovinda. Various editions. Kinsley, David R., The divine player : a study of Krsna lila. Delhi,  Motilal Banarsidass, 1979.

Miller, Barbara Stoler (ed. & trans.) The Bhagavad-Gita : Krishna's counsel in time of war. New York, Columbia University Press, 1986.



Class discussion — 20%

Weekly response papers — 20%

Two essays @ 20% = 40%

Book review — 20%

R S 341G • Yoga As Philos And Practice

43675 • Phillips, Stephen
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM GAR 1.126
(also listed as ANS 372, PHL 356)
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This course surveys the origins of yogic practices in early Indian civilization and traces the development of Yoga philosophies through the Upanishads, BHAGAVAD GITA, YOGA-SUTRA, Buddhist, Jaina, and tantric texts, as well as works of neo-Vedanta. We shall try to identify a set of claims common to all classical advocates of yoga. We shall look at both classical and modern defenses and criticisms, especially of alleged metaphysical and psychological underpinnings of the practices. No previous background in Indian philosophy is necessary, but students with no previous course work in philosophy or in psychology should contact the instructor.

R S 346 • Religion/Social Justice U.s.

43680 • Seales, Chad
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM GAR 2.128
(also listed as AMS 327)
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Course Description:


This course takes as its topic the grand questions of religious practice and social change: Why is the world the way it is? And how has religion helped make it so? How can we change the world for the better? And does religion help us, or hinder us, in that pursuit? To answer those questions, we will pay particular attention to disruptive religious practices. That is, religions as practiced by those often deemed on the edge of society, outside the mainstream, or in the minority. These will include religious practices constitutive of social movements addressing Organized Labor, Civil Rights, Environmentalism, Sustainable Food Systems, and Racial and Economic Justice. Surveying these movements, we will examine the material relationships between religion and social justice in the United States. We will compare the ways modern religion carries within itself the material possibility of liberated consciousness, radical democracy, and social equality, even as it often postpones these promises to the next life, or the next millennium, and ultimately reinforces the status quo.



  • Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette, ed. Religion and Social Justice for Immigrants. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2007.


  • Carmichael, Stokely, Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, and John Edgar Wideman. Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichel. Reprint edition. Scribner, 2005.


  • Carter, Heath W. Union Made: Working People and the Rise of Social Christianity in Chicago. Oxford University Press, 2015.


  • Fones-Wolf, Elizabeth, and Ken Fones-Wolf. Struggle for the Soul of the Postwar South: White Evangelical Protestants and Operations Dixie. University of Illinois Press, 2015.


  • King, Jr., Martin Luther and Cornel West. The Radical King. Beacon Press, 2016.


  • Taylor, Dorceta. Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility. NYU Press, 2014.


  • Johnson, Lucas F. Religion and Sustainability: Social Movements and the Politics of the Environment. Routledge, 2014.


  • Dubois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folks. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1903.




  • Class Preparation Participation Exercises (30%)
  • Reading Journal (30%)
  • Two In-class Essays (40%)

R S 352 • Japan Rel & Westrn Imagination

43685 • Traphagan, John
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM CMA 3.114
(also listed as ANS 340, ANT 324L)
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This course focuses on how Japanese religious traditions, particularly Zen, have been viewed from the perspective of people living in non-Japanese societies since the end of World War II. Using Ruth Benedict’s book The Chrysanthemum and the Sword as a starting point, we will explore different ways in which non-Japanese have imagined Japanese religious and ethical ideas and both explained Japanese behavior and adopted (often stereotyped) ideas about Japan into their writings about philosophy and life.



We will discuss and deconstruct works by authors such as Alan Watts, Eugene Herrigel, (Zen in the Art of Archery), and Robert Pirsig (Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) as a framework for thinking about how Japanese religious and ethical ideas have been imagined in the West.



  • Weekly reading reaction papers, 30%
  • Final, take home exam, 40%
  • Group project, 30% 

R S 353 • Interp Jesus' Death & Resur

43700 • Landau, Brent
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM MEZ B0.306
(also listed as C C 348)
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The narratives of Jesus' death and resurrection stand at the center of the Christian religion. All four New Testament gospels contain accounts of these events; yet it is surprising how many differences there are between them. Similarly, Christians and others have come to strikingly diverse conclusions about the significance, historicity, and ultimate meanings of these events. This course will examine the narratives of Jesus' death and resurrection and their subsequent interpretation over the last two thousand years. We will begin with a very close comparative reading of the passion narratives and resurrection appearance stories of the canonical gospels. We will then examine other notable interpretations of these stories, including: accounts from early Christian apocryphal gospels; the early Christian development of models for understanding the significance of Jesus' death, including the atonement theory; Islamic revisions of the crucifixion narrative and their possible historical origins; and contemporary debates about the historicity of the resurrection, the adequacy of classical atonement theories, and the relevance of the mode of Jesus' death for the practice of capital punishment.



  • Attendance/Participation (20%)
  • Two Take-Home Exams (40%)
  • Final Research Paper (40%)



  • Raymond Brown, The Death of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives. 2 volumes. Yale University Press, 1998.
  • Francis Moloney, The Resurrection of the Messiah: A Narrative Commentary on the Resurrection Accounts in the Four Gospels. Paulist Press, 2013.
  • James Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Orbis, 2013.
  • Mark Lewis Taylor, The Executed God: The Way of the Cross in Lockdown America. Fortress, 2001.
  • Other readings available as PDFs on Canvas website.

R S 357 • Jewish Mystical Thought

43710 • Schofer, Jonathan
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM CLA 0.108
(also listed as C L 323, CTI 375, J S 363)
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This class explores mysticism, intimate and intense contact with or knowledge of the divine, in the writings of Judaism.  We will consider how mysticism was practiced and understood over the history of Judaism from the medieval period to the present day, and its social, political, and religious significance.  We will begin in the 20th century, when both scholars and Jewish communities asserted that the practice of mysticism is crucial to understand and to integrate into Jewish vitality.  From these modern proponents of both the study and practice of mysticism, we will turn to the canonical work of Kabbalah, the Zohar of medieval Spain, with attention both to its earlier roots and inspiration, and to its own distinct claims regarding the cosmos and regarding sacred history.  The rest of the course will address the ramifications of the Zohar, its influence in Europe and the Middle East, back to the present. Throughout the class, we will consider the relation between mystical writing, communities that cultivate mysticism, and the individuals that convey mystical experience.



  • Martin Buber, Hasidism and Modern Man
  • Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim
  • Moshe Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives
  • Moshe Idel, Hasidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic
  • Zohar: Pritzker Edition, Volume 1 (translated by Daniel Matt)


Grading Policy:

  • Three short papers, 2 pages each; each 15% of the course grade (45% total)
  • Midterm exam, closed-book, in-class (25%)
  • Final Exam, closed book, in-class (15%)
  • Class Participation (15%)

R S 357 • Satan And The Idea Of Evil

43720 • Lang, Elon
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM MEZ 1.216
(also listed as CTI 345)
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Since antiquity, writers have attempted to understand and define the idea of evil by giving it a voice. From the perspective of the Devil, some of the world's greatest creative thinkers have sought to challenge the intellectual resolve and rigor of their faiths while encouraging their characters and audiences to query the strength and doctrine of their own beliefs. As a result, through temptation narratives, morality dramas, cultural satires, and Faustian dilemmas, explorations of “the Adversary” have yielded some of the most compelling stories and characters ever imagined. In this course students will become familiar with the history and breadth of Satan’s role as a character (or merely background presence) in literature while developing close-reading techniques for literary analysis that can be applied across diverse eras, forms, and genres. Students will be asked to strengthen their critical reading and writing skills and to consider how our class topic can help illuminate aspects of our present-day culture and its history. Students will also attend a performance of the contemporary play, Let the Right One In, by the National Theater of Scotland and participate in a public question and answer session with the actors.



  • Required readings will be drawn from several periods of English and American literature and European literature in translation. Specifically, texts may include selections from:
  • The Bible
  • Virgil’s Aeneid
  • Medieval English poetry, drama, and mystical writing
  • Dante's Inferno
  • Marlowe's Dr. Faustus
  • Goethe’s Faust
  • Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained
  • William Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell
  • Charles Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown
  • James Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
  • Mark Twain's No. 44—The Mysterious Stranger
  • C. S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters
  • David Grieg’s The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart
  • Jack Thorne and John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In (play)


Students' final projects may involve the analysis of another modern novel, the development of a creative exploration of Satan’s nature, or a detailed comparative analysis of themes across several texts in our class.


Assignments and their weights*:

Class-participation, attendance, response papers, and online discussions (20%)

1 long final paper or creative project (20%)

4 short essays plus at least 1 revision (60%)


*Grading Policy: participation assignments and essay drafts are graded on the basis of completion, revision grades replace original grades when applicable, and essays are assigned point values based on their relative weight in the overall course total (e.g. for a short essay worth 15% of the final grade, an “A” essay will receive either 14 or 15 points, a “B” will receive either 12 or 13, etc.). 100 total points are possible for the course.

R S 358 • Islam Early Mod World:rel/Cult

43755 • Moin, A
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PAR 206
(also listed as HIS 364G, ISL 372, ISL 373, MES 343)
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In this course, we will examine the religious and cultural developments across the Islamic world between the thirteenth and the eighteenth centuries, stemming from the rise of the Mongols and the end of the caliphate. After the Mongols destroyed the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad in 1258 and established their rule in large swathes of Asia, the Islamic world entered an era of momentous change. In Iran, Central Asia, and parts of the Middle East, Muslim religious identities experienced a phase of “confessional ambiguity,” marked by the widespread veneration of saints and shrines. To explore the significance of these shifts, we will focus on three themes: the spread of a new type of devotional, shrine-centered, Sufi Islam across Muslim Asia and the Indian Ocean world; the development of a new style of Islamic sovereignty that replaced the caliphate; and the rise of new forms of knowledge, both scientific and artistic, sponsored by the early modern Muslim empires of the Ottomans, Safavids, and the Mughals.


  • Stephen Dale, The Muslim Empires of the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals
  • Nile Green, Sufism: A Global History
  • Clifford Geertz: Islam Observed
  • Additional readings provided by instructor


  • Attendance: 10%
  • Quiz:10%
  • Essay: (6 pages) 20%
  • Mid-term: 30%
  • Final: 30%

R S 358 • Sex/Sexuality Muslim World

43740 • Shirazi, Faegheh
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PAR 101
(also listed as ANS 372, ISL 372, SOC 321K, WGS 335)
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Although issues about sexuality are assumed to be personal, private, and intimate, they are a significant part of the public and political fabric of our society, particularly those nations that are ruled by the religious constitutions or in which religion plays an important role within the culture of the society. Sexuality is related to our status and rights as citizens. For the most part sexual jurisprudence and the issue of sexuality in Islam are covered in the Qur`an (Holy scripture), and in the sayings of prophet Muhammad (hadith), and in the rulings of religious leaders (fatwa). However, there are multiple “Islamic” views on sexuality. The schools of law vary, for instance, in the rulings about the permissibility of the use of contraceptives, abortion, fertility treatment, and acceptance of homosexuality, lesbianism, transsexuality, bisexuality, cross-dressing, and gender re-assignment. In addition, numerous cultural interventions could be responsible for interpretation of sexual behavior of a given society.

In general permissible sexual relationships as described in Islamic sources speak about the pleasure of sex as a normal human desire and explain that sex is a great way for the couples involved to show their love and caring for each other. At the same time there are prohibitions against extra marital sexual relations, and any other form of sexual relationship that is outside the legal and religious binds of marriage between a man and a woman is strictly forbidden.  

This course will introduce students to readings on sexual behavior in several Islamic countries and among Muslims by examining Islamic Sharia (religious law) in literature, scientific biological, psychological, sociological, anthropological studies as well as in the arena of art, and film industry.


Two-volume reader packet prepared by the instructor


Regular Attendance 5%

One time in Class presentation from assigned readings 10%

Four quizzes = 15% (lowest grade will be dropped)

Midterm Exam= 35%

Exam Two= 35%


R S 358 • Shia Islam

43745 • Hyder, Syed
Meets W 4:00PM-7:00PM CLA 0.112
(also listed as ANS 340, ISL 340)
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This interdisciplinary survey class will provide insights into how the first century of Islamic history inaugurated debates concerning authority, piety, and justice and how these debates have continued since then. The social forces and ideologies that ultimately shaped Shiism will be of particular interest to us as we explore allegiances to various members of the Prophet Muhammad' s family, beginning with his son-in-law, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib. Whereas the first part of the semester will be devoted to history and theology, the second part will lead students to appreciate how Shias have expressed devotion through the arts, especially through music, poetry, painting, and drama. Issues of gender, modernity, colonialism and imperialism will be woven into the fabric of the course. A central point of importance for our discussion will be the variations within Shiism. Toward this end, the students will learn about the Zaydi, Isma'il, and Imami communities and the ways in which the members of these communities derive understandings of their faith. 


  • Asani, Ali. 'The Ginan Literature of the Ismailis of Indo-Pakistan: Its Origins, Characteristics, and Themes', in D.L. Eck and F. Mallison, ed., Devotion Divine:Bhakti Traditionsfrom  the Regions of India. Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1991, pp. 1-18.
  • Asani, Ali. Ecstasy and Enlightenme nt:The Ismaiii Devotional Literature of South Asia.

London: I.B. Tauris, 2002 .

  • Aghaie, Kamran . The Women of Karbala. Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2005.
    • Haider, Najam. Shi'i Islam: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
  • Hunsberger, Alice C. N asir Khusraw, The Ruby of Badakhshan: A Portrait of the Persian Poet, Traveller and Philosopher. London : I.B. Tauris, 2000.
  • Kohlberg, Etan. 'From lmamiyya to Ithna-'Ashariyya,' BSOAS, 39 (1976), pp. 521-534.
  • Madelung, Wilferd. The Succession to M uhammad: A1Studyof the Early Caliphate.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.            

  • Madelung, Wilferd. 'lmama', E/2, vol. 3, pp. 1163-1169.
  • Madel ung, Wilferd. 'Zaydiyya', E/ 2, vol. 11, pp. 477-481.
  • Madelung, Wilferd. 'Zayd b. 'Ali', E/2, vol. 11, pp. 473-474.
  • Mortel, Richard. 'Zaydi Shi'ism and the Hasanid Sharifs of Mecca', /]M ES, 19 (1987), pp.


  • Mottahedeh, Roy. The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran . Oxford:

Oneworld, 2000.

  • Amir-Moezzi, Mohammad Ali. The Spirituality  of Shi'i Islam: Beliefs and Practices.

London: J.B. Tauris, 2011.

  • Nasr, S. Vali. The Shia Revival How Conflicts Within Islam will Shapethe Future. New

York: W.W. Norton, 2006.

  • Sobhani, Ayatollah J affer. Doctrines of Shi'i Islam:A Compendium of Imami Beliefs and

Practices, tr. and ed. Reza Shah-Kazemi. London: I. B. Tauris, 2001.

  • Lalani, Arzina. Early Shi'i Thought:The Teachings of M uhammad al-Baqir. London: I. B.

Tauris, 2000.

  • Nanji, Azim. "Ismailism," Islamic Spirituality: Foundation s, ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr

(Routledge & Keegan Paul Ltd., London), pp. 179-198.

http:/ /www . ssets/pdf /na n ji   ismailism.pdf

  • Shackle, Christopher and Zawahir Moir. Ismaili Hymnsfrom South Asia: An Introduction to

the Ginans. Rev. ed. Richmond : Curzon, 2000.

  • Sanders, Paula. Ritual, Politics and the City in Fatimid Cairo.Albany, NY: SUNY Press,


  • Virani, Shafique. 'The Eagle Returns: Evidence of Continued lsma'ili Activity at Alam ut

and in the South Caspian Region Following the Mongol Conquest',]AOS, 123 (2003), pp. 351-370.



10% Book Review

15% Attendance and Participation

50% 2 Exams

25% Final presentation on research topic

R S 358 • Veiling In The Muslim World

43750 • Shirazi, Faegheh
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM PAR 101
(also listed as ANS 372, ANT 324L, ISL 372, MEL 321, SOC 321K, WGS 340)
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This course will deal with the cultural significance and historical practices of veiling, “Hijab”, in the Muslim world. The issue of veiling as it relates to women has been subject to different interpretations and viewed from various perspectives, and with recent political developments and the resurgence of Islam, the debate over it and over women’s roles in Muslim countries has taken various shapes.  A number of Muslim countries are going back to their Islamic traditions and implementing a code of behavior that involves some form of veiling in Public /or segregation to various degrees for women. In some Muslim nations women are re-veiling on their own. In others, women resist the enforcement of such practices. We will examine the various perspectives, interpretations and practices relating to Hijab in the Muslim world with respect to politics, religion, feminism, culture, new wave of women converts and the phenomenon of “Islamic fashion” as a marketing tool.    

Prerequisites:  Upper Division Standing


Active participation (assigned article with discussion questions/ is a group activity) 10%

Regular Class Attendance 5%

3 quizzes (Lowest grade will be dropped) 20%

Midterm Exam 30%

Final Research Paper (20%), and Oral Presentation %15 (This is a group activity)


1- Reader Packet. 


 Faegheh Shirazi. The Veil Unveiled: Hijab in Modern Culture. University Press of Florida, 2001, 2003 

 ** I suggest that you to order this book as soon as possible on line from any vender that you normally purchase your books. I have been pleased with since I am always able to find used books in good conditions. Another good book store with discount prices will be Half Price Books.

I will announce when the Reader Packet is ready for purchase. We will start with the text first.

R S 360 • Jesus, Africa, And History

43760 • Chery, Tshepo
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM CLA 0.104
(also listed as AFR 372G)
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Explores the cultural, historical, linguistic, artistic, philosophical, and other intellectual traditions emerging from within Africa and as developed, reinterpreted, or reimagined in diasporic contexts. Exploration of the history of Christianity in Africa, from antiquity to the present, including the ways in which African interpretations and religious expressions of Christianity are presented in this history.

R S 365 • Ancient Greek Religion

43767 • Perlman, Paula
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 112
(also listed as C C 348)
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This course will investigate the practices, premises, and cultural contexts of ancient Greek religion using a variety of ancient sources and modern approaches. Among the topics we will consider are:

  • the nature of the evidence
  • the Mediterranean context
  • continuity and change
  • divine poiesis
  • sacred space
  • festivals
  • religion, philosophy, and science
  • personal piety
  • prophecy, divination, and dreams

The format will be a combination of lectures, discussion, and student presentations.

R S 373 • Religions In Contact

43769 • Freiberger, Oliver
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM SAC 5.102
(also listed as ANS 340)
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What happens when religions come in contact with each other? This course discusses the ways in which religious actors respond to challenges posed by the encounter with people, beliefs, or practices which, for them, do not belong to their own religion. Such responses range from curiosity, dialog, or acceptance to apologetics, hostile polemics, or persecution. By examining case studies, primarily taken from premodern South Asia (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Islam), we will discuss various forms of rhetorical and practical responses to the “religious other.” Part of this discussion is an analysis of the respective motives, which, in addition to religious conviction, can also be related to competition over economic resources, social status, and political power.   The course will introduce students to related theories and scholarly categories, such as religious othering; appropriation and influence; syncretism and synthesis; hybridity; mission; religious tolerance and intolerance; inclusivism, exclusivism, and pluralism, and more. These will be critically discussed and tested on the case studies. The goal of the course is to gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which religions grapple with religious plurality, draw boundaries – or ignore them –, and form religious identities.



Dundas, Conversion to Jainism (2003);

Granoff, My Rituals, My Gods (2001);

Holt, The Buddhist Visnu (2004);

Lorenzen, Kabir Panth: Heretics to Hindus (1981);

Mohammed, Following the Pir (2012);

Talbot, Inscribing the Other, Inscribing the Self (1995);

Ulrich, Food Fights (2007);




in-class presentation;

reading responses;

research essay

R S 373 • Science/Magic/Religion

43770 • Crosson, Jonathan
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM WEL 2.312
(also listed as AFR 372G, AMS 327, ANT 324L)
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In this course, we will interrogate the concepts of magic, science, and religion as culturally and historically constructed categories.  We will critically examine how the construction of science and religion, as well as the opposition of empirical knowledge and belief, were central to both the Enlightenment and the formation of the social and natural sciences.  Drawing on recent critiques of these foundational distinctions, we will question common-sense understandings of these categories and their relations, exploring the following questions:

  • How did the experimental sciences emerge out practices of “natural magic” or evidence law?
  • How do our notions of religion and science reflect certain assumptions?  What are other ways of categorizing practices we might deem as religion or science?
  • How have the divisions between science, magic and religion, or between rationality and superstition, undergirded projects of modernity, colonization, and development?



  • Danny Burton and David Grandy.  Magic, Mystery, and Science.
  • George Saliba.  Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance.
  • Helen Verran.  Science and an African Logic.
  • Karol Weaver.  Medical Revolutionaries:  The Enslaved Healers of Eighteenth Century Saint Domingue.
  • Harry West.  Ethnographic Sorcery.



  • Eight Reading Quizzes (35%)
  • Topic, Research Question, and Thesis Statement (5%)
  • Revised Thesis Statement + Draft of Introduction + Outline of Paper (10 %)
  • Final Paper (30%)
  • Participation in Class Discussions (10%)
  • Oral Presentation (10%)