Department of Religious Studies

R S 302 • History Of Religions Of Asia

43375 • Freiberger, Oliver
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM UTC 3.134
GC (also listed as ANS 301R, CTI 306D)
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This course offers a survey of the major religious traditions of Asia (Hinduism, Buddhism in South and East Asia, Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto). It focuses on the historical development of their beliefs, practices, rituals, and customs in social context. The course will combine lectures with class discussions on readings.

 

Grading:

  • Attendance/participation: 20%
  • Two quizzes: 20% (10% each)
  • Two short essays: 20% (10% each)
  • Midterm exam: 20%
  • Final exam: 20%

R S 310 • Intro To The Study Of Religion

43385 • Seales, Chad
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM CAL 100
GC SB
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R S 311 • Early Mesoamerican Religion

43390 • Matsumoto, Mallory
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM GDC 2.402
GCWr
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R S 313C • Intro To The Old Testament

43394 • Wells, Bruce
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM PAR 203
GC (also listed as J S 311, MES 310C)
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R S 313D • Intro To Jewish Studies

43395 • Weinreb, Amelia
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM MEZ 2.124 • Hybrid/Blended
EGC (also listed as J S 301, MES 310)
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R S 313M • Jewish Civ: Begin To 1492

43400 • Schofer, Jonathan
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM PAR 304
GC (also listed as HIS 306N, MES 310)
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This is the first half of a two-semester survey of Jewish civilization, and this semester examines Jewish Civilization from the origins of Ancient Israel to 1500 C.E. All materials are in English translation.  The course addresses the Hebrew Bible and history of Ancient Israel, the Second Temple Period of Judaism, the Talmud and other classical Rabbinic sources, and Geonic as well as Medieval history and literature.  

Grading:

  • two in class exams and short papers

 Texts:

  • Robert Selzer, Jewish People, Jewish Thought
  • Philip Alexander, Textual Sources for the Study of Judaism
  • Jack Suggs, et al, eds., The Oxford Study Bible: Revised English Bible with Apocrypha

R S 314K • Mid East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd-Wb

43405 • Spellberg, Denise
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM • Internet; Synchronous
GC (also listed as HIS 306K, MES 301K)
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This course contains a Global Cultures Flag and surveys the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam through the fifteenth century. Students will be introduced to basic aspects of the political, social, and cultural dimensions of Islamic civilization from Spain to Iran as they changed over time. In mapping this broad view, we will focus attention on how specific historical figures and events contributed to definitions of Islamic identity, community, and authority. Central themes include the emergence of Sunni and Shi`i identities, the relationship of Muslims and non-Muslims, the contributions of Muslim women, and the unique material and intellectual contributions of Islamic civilization to world history and other societies, including the nascent United States.

Texts may include the following:
Amira Bennison, The Great Caliphs.
Jonathan A. C. Brown, Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction
Vernon O. Egger, A History of the Muslim World to 1750, 2nd edition
Selections of primary historical documents in translation online on CANVAS
Selections from additional books online on CANVAS


Grading:
essay exams, quizzes, and take-home exercises/research questions


R S 315N • Intro To The New Testament

43430 • Crews, Caroline
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM MEZ 1.120
GC
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This course focuses on some of the most influential religious texts in human history the 27 texts that were included in the New Testament. In addition, we will also read several other ancient texts that did not make it into the Christian Bible. During the semester we will explore the content of these texts, theories about how they were produced, methods used by scholars to interpret them, and conclusions that specialists reach about their significance. In the process, students will also have a chance to reflect on the general nature of human religiosity.


R S 315N • Intro To The New Testament

43425 • Landau, Brent
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BEL 328
GC
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This course focuses on some of the most influential religious texts in human history the 27 texts that were included in the New Testament. In addition, we will also read several other ancient texts that did not make it into the Christian Bible. During the semester we will explore the content of these texts, theories about how they were produced, methods used by scholars to interpret them, and conclusions that specialists reach about their significance. In the process, students will also have a chance to reflect on the general nature of human religiosity.


R S 319 • Introduction To Islam

43435 • Aghaie, Kamran
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM PAR 1
GC (also listed as ANS 301M, HIS 306N, ISL 310)
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R S 337 • Religion And Society

43445 • Young, Michael
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM RLP 0.128
(also listed as SOC 343)
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This course is an introduction into the sociology of religion. The first half of the course takes a broad, theoretical approach to religion and society. We begin with an exploration of the role the study of religion played in the emergence of sociology as a discipline. We discuss the axial importance of religion to the “classical” social theories of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber, and the philosophy and psychology of Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. We conclude this survey of classical approaches by asking if these modern social theories sell religion short? We round out the first half of the course looking at more recent sociological and anthropological theories of religion.

The second half of the course looks at more substantive issues in the sociological study of religion. We discuss the intersection of religion with race, gender, migration, politics, and social movements. We also look at the historical trend of religious participation in the United States. We will discuss if something new is underfoot in the current US religious landscape. We end the course with speculations about future trends in religion and society.

Required Texts (the Dean’s Office will not accept “Course Packet” or “TBA”)

Ludwig Feuerbach, selections from The Essence of Christianity.

Karl Marx, selections on the opiate of the masses and the emancipation of the Jews

Emile Durkheim, selections from The Elementary Forms of Religious Life.

Max Weber, “Social Psychology of Religion”

Friedrich Nietzsche, selections from The Genealogy of Morals

Sigmund Freud, Future of an Illusion.

Rudolph Otto, selections from The Idea of the Holy

Mircea Eliade, selection from The Sacred and the Profane.

Clifford Geertz, “Religion as a cultural system”

William James on conversion, selections from The Varieties of Religious Experience

WEB Du Bois, Souls of Black Folks

Lynn Davidman, Tradition in a Rootless World

Robert Orsi, The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem

Jose Casanova, selections from Public Religions in the Modern World

Michael Walzer, selections from Revolution of the Saints

Michael Young, selections from Bearing Witness Against Sin

Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, selections from The Churching of America, 1776-2005.

Elizabeth Drescher, Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones.

Grading Policy

There will be two examinations of equal weight (each 40% of grade). You will also be required to conduct an interview with a person exploring religious experiences. The interview should be at least thirty minutes long. You will be asked to turn in a transcription of the interview along with an analysis. I will discuss expectations for this requirement in the first few classes of the semester (20% of grade). The two exams will cover material from lectures and the readings.  Although there is some overlap between the lectures and readings, a familiarity with both will be key to the doing well on the two examinations.

I do not use the +/- grading system. Grades are A, B, C, D, or F.


R S 346D • Native American Religions

43450 • Graber, Jennifer
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM PMA 5.112
CD
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Before European colonization, the North American continent featured myriad Indian nations practicing many different religious traditions and ceremonies. In this course, we will examine the religious traditions of several American Indian groups: the Pueblos of the American Southwest, the Wendats of the eastern Woodlands, and the Lakotas of the Plains. We will look at the myths and rituals that composed these nations’ religious identities. We will then examine the ways that contact with Europeans affected their religious beliefs and practices. In turn, we will study how Native American communities have transformed old practices and fashioned new ones since those initial contacts. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to see the diversity among American Indian groups and the way in which religious ideas and practices serve living, changing communities of people. 

TEXTS:

  • Marmon Silko, Ceremony
  • Martin, The Land Looks After Us: A History of Native American Religion
  • Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks
  • Seeman, The Huron-Wendat Feast of the Dead

GRADING:

  • Papers – 40%
  • Exams – 30%
  • Participation – 10%
  • Final project – 20%

R S 346U • History Of Islam In US-Wb

43455 • Spellberg, Denise
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM • Internet; Synchronous
CDIIWr HI (also listed as AMS 370, HIS 350R, ISL 372)
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This course is intended to do three things: provide a brief introduction to Islam for those unfamiliar with the religion and its early history; define the role of Islam and early American views of Muslims in the founding history of this country; and introduce students to major issues concerning contemporary American Muslims. The course surveys the presence of Islam in the United States from the before the colonial era to the twenty-first century through the use of historical documents and contemporary media, with a special focus on the politics of religion and race.
The course is divided into three sections. The first explores the origins of Islam through primary textual examples. The second section focuses on early American views of Islam in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with an emphasis on the earliest Muslims in the United States. The final section of the course analyzes the diversity of the contemporary American Muslim population, together with the politics surrounding notions of race, gender, immigration, and citizenship. Special emphasis placed on the challenges faced by young American Muslims in the twenty-first century.
Objectives and Academic Flags
This course may be used to fulfill three hours of the U.S. history component of the university core curriculum. The course carries 3 University-approved “Flags”: Cultural Diversity (CD), Independent Inquiry (II), and Writing (WR). The aim of courses with a CD flag is to “increase your familiarity with the variety and richness of American cultural experience as it applies to marginalized communities, their history, beliefs, and practices.” The course is designated also as a Writing Flag, which features assignments designed to improve written communication. The Independent Inquiry Flag focuses on communication skills, critical thinking skills, personal responsibility, and social responsibility.

Required Readings include
Moustafa Bayoumi, How Does It Feel To Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America (2008).
Jonathan Brown, Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction (2011)
Edward E. Curtis, IV, Muslims in America: A Short History (2009) (selections on Canvas)
Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, A History of Islam in America (2010) (selections on Canvas)
Shabana Mir, Muslim American Women on Campus: Undergraduate Social Life and Identity (2014).
Other reading selections posted on Canvas

Attendance Required: Unexcused absences result in deduction of points from the final grade. Requirements will likely include:
Quiz/Weekly discussion leadership 20%
First Essay 20%
Second Essay, with group work component, 20%
Biography final version 20%
Oral presentation of final research, 20%


R S 353K • Law/Justice In The Bible

43474 • Wells, Bruce
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM GEA 114
GC (also listed as CTI 354L, J S 363, MES 342)
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This course examines the legal traditions of the Torah (Pentateuch) and what they reveal about the practice of law and justice in ancient Israel and the wider biblical world. It then explores the law and legal systems of the broader ancient Near East in order to see how the biblical traditions relate to ideas and practices attested in other societies in the region.Theories concerning ethics and justicewill also be used to provide context for understanding conceptions oflaw and justice in the ancient worldand especially in the Hebrew Bible. Legal topics such as marriage, family structures, litigation, debt, slavery, homicide, theft, false accusation, contracts, and other matters will be examined. The course acquaints students with how various biblical traditions developed over time to form the foundation for later rabbinic and Christian ethical thought.


R S 357V • Holocaust Aftereffects

43480 • Bos, Pascale
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM BUR 337
GC (also listed as C L 323, EUS 346, GSD 360, J S 365, WGS 340)
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In this course, we specifically examine the significant influence of American Hollywood representations of the Holocaust as they have shaped and are reflective of the American cultural memory of the Holocaust. In contrast to Europe where the events of the Holocaust took place and were witnessed personally, knowledge of the events in the United States has been from its earliest inception been mediated by cinematic images, be it of a documentary nature – newsreel footage of the opening of the concentration camps in 1945 - or of a more fictionalized nature. By tracing how Hollywood has shaped a uniquely American way of viewing the Holocaust, and while contrasting this at times with other (European) film traditions, we consider in some depth what particular American cultural or political considerations, sensibilities, and concerns, led to the production of certain films in different decades and not others, how certain genres and cinematic techniques work and why they became popular, and why particular movies became blockbusters while others did not. 

Grading:

  • Attendance/participation/prep (15%)
  • Film Precis (10%)
  • Website evaluation (10%)
  • Response paper (10%)
  • Class presentation (10%)
  • Final Project (45%)

R S 358F • French Emp: The West/Islam

43490 • Brower, Benjamin
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM GAR 1.126
GC (also listed as HIS 364Q, ISL 372)
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Modern French imperialism advanced its claims to power through a division of the world into two parts. In the Mediterranean world this thinking erected a frontier running across the middle of the sea. In the north there was Europe or the “West,” and in the south there was “Islam” or the “East.” The former was home to civilization and progress and the later was a backward place in need of regeneration. For their part, Muslims who fell under French domination or influence deployed their own divisions.  They reproduced parts of French concepts in a complex dialogue with their own history. The goals was to set Muslims towards a future that was modern, but authentic. Therefore throughout the Mediterranean, French imperialism triggered a “civilizing mission” to renew or revitalize society, by force if necessary. Many parts of this thinking have survived the colonial era and mark attitudes in contemporary France and the Middle East. Religion is generally offered as the decisive category determining these divisions, a so-called “clash of civilizations,” with Muslim societies set off as somehow incompatible with secular Europe.  Our task in this course will be to critically consider how these cultural and political frontiers developed, and their use in contests for power. The focus will be on modern France and the Middle Eastern countries that fell under French rule, particularly Algeria, but the course will examine these questions within a broader trans-national context across several historical periods into the present.


R S 359D • Islm Early Mod Wrld Rlg/Cul

43495 • Moin, A
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM GAR 3.116
GC (also listed as HIS 367S, ISL 373, MES 343)
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This course examines 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.


R S 368C • When Christ Was King

43515 • Butler, Matthew
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM MEZ 1.120
II (also listed as HIS 347P, LAS 366)
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This seminar focuses on the history of Catholicism in twentieth-century Mexico, often seen as Latin America’s most “Catholic” nation. Chronologically, the course runs approximately from the Revolution of 1910 to the constitutional reforms of the 1990s that restored the Church’s legal standing in Mexico. Conceptually, the seminar will explore both the political and institutional aspects of Catholicism; at the same time, however, we will stress that the Church is a diverse community of believers that is actively engaged in interpreting and transforming the social world on religious lines. Individual seminar topics will include Catholic responses to economic modernisation and the postrevolutionary persecutions of the 1920s and 1930s; the Church’s role both in underpinning and undermining the one-party (PRI) state of the post-1940 period; Catholicism’s contribution (via guadalupanismo) to the creation of a Mexican national identity; the role played by Liberation Theology in driving the neo-Zapatista revolt in the southern state of Chiapas; and Church responses to democratic reform and the onset of religious pluralism. As well as discussing secondary readings, students will analyse a number of significant primary documents in class and also complete a final project using primary documents.

Texts:
Class reader
Matthew Butler, Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico’s Cristero Rebellion: Michoacán, 1927-1929 (2004)
Jason Dormady, Primitive Revolution: Restorationist Religion and the Idea of the Mexican Revolution, 1940-1968 (2011)

Grading:
In-class participation (20%)
Reading reviews (x4 @ 10%) = 40%
Research for final paper (10%)
Final paper (30%)


R S 373G • Goddesses World Relig/Cul

43520 • Selby, Martha
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BUR 108
GC (also listed as ANS 340F, ANT 322J, WGS 340)
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This course will provide a historical and cross-cultural overview of the relationship between feminine and religious cultural expressions through comparative examinations and analyses of various goddess figures in world religions. We will begin our study in Asia; specifically in India, where goddess worship is a vital part of contemporary Hinduism in all parts of the subcontinent. From the goddesses of the Hindu tradition (Kālī and Lakṣmī, for example), we will move on to female figures in the Jain and Buddhist Mahāyāna pantheons (such as Kuan-Yin, popular in China, Korea, and Japan), and then on to some of the goddesses of western antiquity (Inanna, Isis, Athena, and Aphrodite), including a brief consideration of Mary in her various goddess aspects. We will end the course with a brief study of “neo-pagan” goddess worship in America. Issues relating to gender, sexuality, power, and violence (domestic and political) will be emphasized as themes throughout the course.

 


R S 373M • Biomedicine/Ethics/Culture

43530 • Traphagan, John
Meets TTH 8:00AM-9:30AM BUR 116
EGCWr (also listed as ANS 361)
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This course examines moral dilemmas that have been generated or intensified by recent advances in medical technology. We will explore ethical questions related to topics such as allocation of medical resources, stem cell research and cloning, organ transplantation, abortion, human experimentation, genetic screening, in vitro fertilization, pharmaceutical use and distribution, prolonging life and the right to die, suicide, euthanasia, and diagnosis and treatment of illnesses such as Alzheimer disease, AIDS, and mental disorders. These topics will be considered from a global perspective emphasizing how cultural values inform ethical decision-making and how different ethical/cultural systems address and define moral issues that arise in relation to medical care. We will consider ethical theories that have been used in the West to consider medical practice and compare these with approaches in non-Western cultures such as Japan. The course will emphasize use of case studies to explore issues in medical ethics and to develop the ability to apply ethical theories in ways sensitive to variations in cultural values.


R S 375S • What Is Religion?

43535 • Matsumoto, Mallory
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM GAR 0.128
IIWr
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Please visit the Religious Studies advisor's office for more information.


R S 383C • Violence/Sovereignty/Relig

43554 • Crosson, Jonathan
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM CMA 3.134
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R S 383M • Thry & Meth In Study Of Relig

43555 • Schofer, Jonathan
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM BUR 554
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This seminar introduces graduate students to the field by considering the history of theories and methods in the study of religion. We concentrate on three fundamental questions: 1) How have scholars defined “religion”?; 2) How have they studied it?; and 3) How have they narrated the field’s history? Focusing on the period between the 1870s and the 1970s, especially the decades before and after the turn of the twentieth century, we read “classic” texts and consider multiple approaches—anthropological, psychological, historical, phenomenological, geographical, and sociological. We also identify some lineages in the study of religion that have been obscured in most of the histories.  Considering more recent trajectories and issues in the study of religion since the 1970s, we end by looking at a few works on gender studies, cognitive science, spatial analysis, poststructuralism, and postcolonial theory. Along the way, we will read a wide range of interpreters, including works by David Hume, Herbert of Cherbury, Hannah Adams, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, F. Max Müller, Morris Jastrow, E. B. Tylor, James Frazer, William James, Sigmund Freud, Emil Durkheim, Max Weber, Rudolph Otto, G. Van der Leeuw, Mircea Eliade, Jonathan Z. Smith, Victor Turner, Clifford Geertz, Talal Asad, Timothy Fitzgerald, Russell McCutcheon, Ursula King, Karen McCarthy Brown, Harvey Whitehouse, Edward Said, David Chidester, and Richard King.

 

Texts

Eric J. Sharpe, Comparative Religion: A History (Chicago: Open Court, 1986); David Hume, The Natural History of Religion (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1956); William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Penguin, 1982); Peter Gay, ed., The Freud Reader (New York: Norton, 1989); W. S. F. Pickering, ed., Durkheim on Religion  AAR Texts and Translations Series (Atlanta: Scholars Press; New York, 1994: distributed by Oxford University Press); Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion (Boston: Beacon, 1964; 1993). Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane (New York: Harvest, 1959); Victor Turner, The Ritual Process (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1969); Karen McCarthy Brown, Mama Lola, updated edition (Berkeley: University of California, 2001); Harvey Whitehouse, Modes of Religiosity: A Cognitive Theory of Religious Transmission (Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2004); Richard King, Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India, and ‘The Mystic East’ (London: Routledge, 1999); Thomas A. Tweed, Crossing and Dwelling: A Theory of Religion (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006).

Recommended Text: Daniel Pals, Eight Theories of Religion, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006). Pals is highly recommended. [Another volume that might help those who feel they need a bit more introduction to cultural theory is Philip Smith’s Cultural Theory: An Introduction (2001).]

Grading

Assessment will be based on the following: 1) ANALYSIS PAPERS (15% each): Three critical analysis papers (two to three pages each) that consider one of the assigned texts. One of these three papers must describe and assess one of the narrative histories of the field (See the list of narratives below). 2) CLASS ORIENTATION (10%): One 12-15 minute class presentation that introduces the other members of the seminar to the assigned readings for the day. 3) FIELD OR SUBFIELD PAPER (10%): One two to three-page analysis of how one of the assigned texts, or in some cases it could be a recommended text, has been used or criticized in your own discipline or area of specialization. 4) OVERVIEW (30%): One overview or analysis of the history of the study of religion (from three to five pages, or its equivalent). This can take any form that seems most helpful to you and suits your learning style. It could be an historical narrative, thematic analysis, diagram, chart, table, video, web page, data base, blog, chronology, or it could combine multiple forms of visual and verbal representation. 5) PARTICIPATION (5%): Regular attendance and informed participation in the seminar.


R S 384D • Doctrl Smnr In Religious Stds

43560 • Freiberger, Oliver
Meets M 4:00PM-7:00PM BUR 554
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Advanced seminar designed to introduce students to the profession of religious studies. Includes development and preparation of a dissertation proposal, placing scholarship within a broader theoretical context,and pedagogical issues in teaching religious studies at the undergraduate college level.


R S 385L • Early Jewish/Christn Lit II

43565 • Smith, Geoffrey
Meets TH 2:00PM-5:00PM BUR 554
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The Early Jewish and Christian Literature Survey  (RS 385 K & L) is a graduate level, genre-based critical review over two semesters covering the period from the 3rd century bce to the 5th century ce.  Survey II (RS 385 L) deals with a range of narrative texts from this period, focusing primarily on novels, acts, gospels, martyrdoms, and histories.  The goals of the seminar include: to develop a historically contextualized understanding of important examples of these genres; to become acquainted with the related secondary literature; to develop fluency with theories about narrative; and to engage in analysis of the texts. 


R S 390T • Shii Islam: History & Resis

43569 • Hyder, Syed
Meets W 6:00PM-9:00PM WCH 4.118
(also listed as ANS 390)
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Please see the graduate coordinator for more information.


R S 391N • Appro To Study Of Relig In US

43575 • Graber, Jennifer
Meets M 1:00PM-4:00PM BUR 554
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In this graduate reading seminar, we will study the historiography of religion in the United States, including classic works in the field and works by contemporary scholars. The course surveys scholarship based on a variety of methods, including history, anthropology, ethnohistory, and sociology. 

Texts:

Texts include, but are not limited to:

  • David Hall's  Lived Religion in America: Toward a History of Practice (1997)
  • Jon Butler's, Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People (1992)
  • Robert A. Orsi's, The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880-1950 (1985)
  • Kathy Brekus's, Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America (2013)
  • Edward J. Curtis's, The Burden of Black Religion (2008)
  • Tracy Fessenden's, Culture and Redemption: Religion, the Secular, and American Literature (2006)
  • Saba Mahmood's, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject (2011)




R S 679HB • Honors Tutorial Course

43545
IIWr
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