Department of Religious Studies

R S 302 • History Of Religions Of Asia

41990 • Freiberger, Oliver
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM UTC 3.102
GC (also listed as ANS 301R, CTI 306D)
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This course offers a survey of 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. At the end of the semester, students will have a basic knowledge of the beliefs and practices of those religious traditions, have read important religious texts and discussed issues pertinent to the religions’ adherents, and have a more refined sense of how the category “religion” may be applied. All this enables students to develop a greater awareness of global cultural diversity and will, hopefully, spark the desire to study some of those religions more deeply.

Course materials:

  1. Willard G. Oxtoby, Roy C. Amore, Amir Hussain, eds. World Religions: Eastern Traditions. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
  2. R. K. Narayan, The Mahabharata: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000.
  3. Zhuangzi: Basic Writings, translated by Burton Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.
  4. Readings provided as PDF files on Canvas.

R S 304 • Judaism, Christianity, Islam

41994 • Smith, Geoffrey
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM MEZ 1.122
EGC (also listed as J S 311)
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This course asks students to recognize the ethical implications of the ways we talk about religion – both our own religion (if any) and those of others. Choosing definitions for religion is an ethical choice with social, political, and civic implications; the goal of this course is to assist students in becoming self-conscious about that choice. In so doing, students will improve their ability to tolerate and reduce moral disagreements about religious beliefs and practices, something that is at the heart of practical ethics education. Specifically, the ethical issues in this course encourage students to: • reflect on different definitions of religion, to choose which ones appeal to them, and to explore their implications • analyze the ways in which religions form “communities of memory,” to consider in what ways these communities create boundaries that both enclose and exclude • understand the different ways that religions have historically intersected with with politics, with science, and with culture •consider how these intersections might influence the students’ perceptions of religion and the ways in which religion is presented in contemporary media and popular culture.




  • John Corrigan, Frederick Denny, Carlos Eire, Martin Jaffe, Jews, Christians, Muslims:  A Comparative Introduction to Monotheistic Religions  (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1998)
  • Documents and readings on the Canvas site. 


  • The HarperCollins Study Bible, ed. Wayne Meeks
  • The Qur’an. Trans. M. A. S. Abdel Haleem.  (Oxford, 2004).
  • Grading

The course requirements are the following:

  • Reading response journal: 20% 
  • Short paper on definition of religion: 5%
  • Quizes : 25%
  • Midterm essay: 25%
  • Final essay: 25%


R S 310 • Intro To The Study Of Religion

41995 • Seales, Chad
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BUR 108
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Course Description:

This course is an introduction to the study of the forms, functions, and meanings of religious practices as observed in human cultures. Surveying classical and contemporary approaches, we will examine how scholars have historically defined religion as an interpretive category. It will quickly become clear that few scholars agree on a definition or on a best method for study. This course will encourage you to define your subject of study and construct your own methods of theoretical analysis. To help you with this task, we will work together on specific case studies of religious practices in particular places.

Course Goals:

By the end of this course, students should be able to write an informed definition of religion and articulate a reasonably clear objective for the study of religion; students should be able to distinguish three approaches to the study of religion, critically engage one of those approaches, and use that approach over the course of the semester to interpret case studies and thematic examples of religious experience.


None. This course assumes no prior knowledge of the subject.

R S 310 • Intro To The Study Of Religion

41999 • Wilson, Jeffrey
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM GAR 3.116
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R S 313C • Intro To The Old Testament

42000 • Wells, Bruce
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM MEZ B0.306
GC (also listed as CTI 305G, J S 311, MES 310)
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This course will examine the biblical traditions and texts of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament as products of particular historical and cultural communities—namely, ancient Israel and Judah—and as literary and religious documents. It will look at what we know about where the texts of the Hebrew Bible came from, who wrote them, why they were written, and what changes were made to them over time. The course will treat the texts as both pre-Jewish and pre-Christian, since the vast majority of them were written before Judaism and Christianity came into existence. The course will also consider how an understanding of ancient Near Eastern history and culture can illumine biblical texts and ask to what degree these texts and their authors were influenced by historical and cultural factors.

R S 313D • Intro To Jewish Studies

42005 • Weinreb, Amelia
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM MEZ 2.124
EGC (also listed as ANT 311D, J S 301, MES 310)
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A hybrid two-way interactive course with a combination of classroom lectures and live-streamed discussions

Course Description

This survey course aims to expose students to major themes in Jewish Studies through guest lectures by UT faculty who work in the field. It is recommended for motivated undergraduates in any discipline with an intellectual curiosity about Jewish Studies, but requires no previous knowledge of Jewish religion, ethnicity, or culture. The material in the course is not designed be comprehensive, but rather provides a curated sample of lectures and core topics. This semester, the course is organized around three thematic units: 1) Exile and Diaspora, 2) Jewish Identity, and 3) Jewish Ethics.

The weekly rhythm of the course is generally as follows: On Mondays and Wednesdays, various faculty associated with Jewish Studies will visit the classroom and deliver lectures concentrating on their period, geographical area, and field of research as they relate to the thematic unit at hand. Fridays are a series of lively, fast-paced, interactive meetings, led by students. Students are encouraged to consider course materials comparatively, in view of both their distinct features and their overarching threads, and defend positions through evidence based both on lectures and the course reader. Student discussion leaders, designated in advance, will raise questions, stimulate debate, and integrate ideas into our collective analysis.

Course flags

This course carries both a Global Cultures and Ethics flag. Global Cultures courses are designed to increase your familiarity with cultural groups outside the United States. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of non-U.S. Jewish groups, past and present. Courses carrying the Ethics Flag equip you with the tools necessary for making ethical decisions in your adult and professional life. Courses carrying this flag expose you to ethical issues and to the process of applying ethical reasoning. This course exposes students to Jewish Ethics and its application.

R S 313M • Jewish Civ: Begin To 1492

42010 • Schofer, Jonathan
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM PAR 304
GC (also listed as HIS 306N, J S 304M, MES 310)
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This course is a survey of Jewish civilization from the origins of Ancient Israel to 1500 C.E. All materials are in English translation. The course will address both the history of Jews during this long period, and the most influential writings produced during that time. There will be some focus on the persons and writings that have been most influential for Jewish Civilization over time, including into the modern world. This course is the first half of a two-semester sequence, and another course taught regularly in Spring semester addresses Jewish Civilization from 1492 to the present.

The course will be organized according to an overarching thematic image of “Crisis and Response.” Jewish Civilization over the time period we study, from origins in the later part of the second millennium B.C.E., to the end of the 15th century C.E., encountered key crises including a memory of enslavement in its sacred sources, the need for sovereignty, the loss of sovereignty and a state of exile, and then continued existence only within larger empires for over two millennia. Responses to these crises were varied. In early legends, centuries of slavery were followed by liberation as The Exodus and the establishment of covenantal law (addressed in Unit 1). Later, the need for sovereignty brought the establishment of monarchy and centralized worship at a temple by the kings David and Solomon, and then a continuous period of sovereignty for over four centuries. This sovereignty ended in 587 B.C.E. and initiated the need for continued existence in exile as well as in Persian and Hellenistic polities (addressed in Unit 2). The first century C.E. brought a new crisis with the end of Temple worship due to Roman conquest, and then the most enduring and productive response for Jewish Civilization was the legal and other innovations of Classical Rabbinic Judaism (addressed in Unit 3). In the Middle Ages, the rise of Christian and Muslim empires brought new contexts for Jewish communities, but also new degrees of persecution, and these crises were intimately connected with responses in intellectual and religious life, including the development of philosophy and the mysticism of Kabbalah (addressed in Unit 4).

R S 314K • Mid East: Rel/Cul/Hist Fnd

42015 • Spellberg, Denise
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 101
GC (also listed as HIS 306K, MES 301K)
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This course surveys the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the end of 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 the midst of mapping this broad view, we will focus our 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, and the unique material and intellectual contributions of Islamic civilization to world history and other societies.



  • Jonathan A. C. Brown, Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction
  • Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies (2nd edition, 2002 only)
  • A. Spellberg, Politics, Gender, and th Islamic Past: The Legacy of 'A'isha bint Abi Bakr
  • John Alden Williams, ed., The Word of Islam
  • Xerox packet of documents and articles.



4 exams @ 25% each = 100%.


R S 315 • The Bible & Its Interpreters

42040 • Landau, Brent
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 208
GCWr (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 a month to a close reading of Genesis in its entirety—just us and the text (mostly). We will then proceed to some of the most significant interpretations of Genesis. These will include retellings of parts of Genesis from early Jewish and Christian apocryphal writings; creative and influential readings of Genesis from ancient interpreters the Apostle Paul and Augustine of Hippo; and the use of Genesis narrative in the Quran, the foundational scripture of Islam. We will conclude in the early modern period with one of the greatest works of poetry in English, John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

R S 315 • The Bible & Its Interpreters

42045 • Kaplan, Jonathan
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 103
GCWr (also listed as CTI 304)
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The figure of Moses looms large in biblical tradition, in the religions that revere him (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and in Western thought. In this section of the Bible and its Interpreters, we will examine the figure of Moses in the Bible (with a focus on Exodus and Deuteronomy), the various roles he plays in the biblical tradition including prophet, priest, king, and legislator, and the reception of Moses in Second Temple Judaism (Philo, Dead Sea Scrolls), Christianity, Rabbinic Judaism, and Islam. The later part of the course will explore the way this variegated tradition has been used to inform Western thought through reading selections from representative works such as Machiavelli’s The Prince, Baruch Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise, and Sigmund Freud’s Moses and Monotheism. We will conclude our study of Moses by examining how Moses has been portrayed in American history.

R S 315 • The Bible & Its Interpreters

42035 • Yoo, Philip
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM GAR 0.120
GCWr (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 their writings. 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.

R S 315 • The Bible & Its Interpreters

42030 • Yoo, Philip
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM GAR 1.134
GCWr (also listed as CTI 304)
show description

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 their writings. 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.

R S 315 • The Bible & Its Interpreters

42050 • Bjoeru, Oeyvind
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM MEZ 2.122
GCWr (also listed as CTI 304)
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R S 315K • Russian Icons/Propaganda

42055 • Lutsyshyna, Oksana
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM CBA 4.344
GC (also listed as REE 302D)
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Description: “Russian Icons & Propaganda” is a course about signs, symbols, and the contexts that give them meaning. The particular types of signs and symbols that we examine in this lower division course are religious iconography and political propaganda. Our exploration involves many of the sites where these images are found (e.g. cathedrals, public spaces, private homes, etc.) and many of the various media in which they occur (e.g. paintings, posters, sculpture, television, film, etc.). While it would certainly be possible to study icons and propaganda separately, these two sets of symbols share a context that allows us to consider them together: Russia. Without a context, symbols are just pictures – maybe not even that! Within a context, however, they function in many of the same ways that language does. Signs and symbols convey meaning, and as with language, the more developed the system, the more information it is possible for them to convey. As we discover through the course, the “languages” of Russian icons and of propaganda are quite developed and very much alive. Moreover, the amount of overlap between them might seem surprising… but it shouldn’t. The reason for this is that the imagery – the “language” – of Russian propaganda often borrowed from the already-existing symbolism of Russian religious iconography. And while the signs and symbols of Russian propaganda have since developed along their own paths, they still have much in common. In many ways, to understand one of these symbolic systems is to understand them both.

The symbolism of Russian Orthodox iconography reached its impressive capacity to convey meaning in part because of a need to teach often complicated religious ideas to illiterate peasants before (and even during) the twentieth century. By pulling heavily from a system of symbols that the Russian masses already understood, propagandists were able to enter the scene with symbolically sophisticated messages that their intended audience could already read. In this course students learn to read the signs and symbols of icons and propaganda in their Russian context. From subway ceilings to cathedral walls, living room shrines to murals on municipal buildings, and kids’ cartoons to epic film, students will engage with the both the symbols and their contexts using basic semiotic (symbols) and discursive (contextual) techniques for analyzing and interpreting meaning in these two fascinating and surprisingly similar systems of representation.


  • 4 short mid-unit online quizzes 5% each
  • 4 unit tests 15% each
  • Group project proposal 5%
  • Peer evaluations of group projects 5%
  • Final group project 10%

Required Texts:

 Bonnell, Victoria E. Iconography of Power: Soviet Political Posters under Lenin and Stalin. Berkeley [u.a.: Univ. of California Press, 2007.

Hall, Stuart, Jessica Evans, and Sean Nixon. Representation: Edited by Stuart Hall, Jessie Evans and Sean Nixon. London: Sage Publications, 2013.

Stanley, Jason. How Propaganda Works. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017.

Tarasov, O I. U, and R R. Milner-Gulland. Icon and Devotion: Sacred Spaces in Imperial Russia. London: Reaktion Books, 2014.

R S 315N • Intro To The New Testament

42060 • Harrington, Adeline
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM MEZ 1.120
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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.


  • The Harper Collins Study Bible, NRSV including apocryphal and deuterocanonical books, Student Edition; Harper Collins, 2006 (ISBN 978-0-06-078683-0).
  • Mitchell Reddish, An Introduction to the Gospels, Abingdon Press, 1997 (ISBN: 0687004489).
  • E. P. Sanders, Paul: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford Univ. Press, 2001 (ISBN 0192854518).


  • 25% Paper, approximately 700 words.
  • 30% Exams, 2 @ approx. 15% each
  • 25% Final exam
  • 10% Attendance and participation
  • 10% Misc. small tasks.

R S 315N • Intro To The New Testament

42065 • Landau, Brent
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM CAL 100
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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.


  • The Harper Collins Study Bible, NRSV including apocryphal and deuterocanonical books, Student Edition; Harper Collins, 2006 (ISBN 978-0-06-078683-0).
  • Mitchell Reddish, An Introduction to the Gospels, Abingdon Press, 1997 (ISBN: 0687004489).
  • E. P. Sanders, Paul: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford Univ. Press, 2001 (ISBN 0192854518).


  • 25% Paper, approximately 700 words.
  • 30% Exams, 2 @ approx. 15% each
  • 25% Final exam
  • 10% Attendance and participation
  • 10% Misc. small tasks.

R S 325 • Prophet Of Islam: Life/Times

42070 • Aghaie, Kamran
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM UTC 4.110
GC (also listed as HIS 364G, ISL 340)
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Medina, and the conquest of Mecca. We will seek to understand the social and political background to the Prophet’s message and the impact of that message on his historical context. We will focus on the doctrinal, social and political positions adopted by the Prophet and their impact on later Muslim society. Furthermore, we will analyze the different approaches taken by historians in interpreting and understanding the Prophets life.


Watt, Muhammad, Oxford University Press Martin Lings, Muhammad. Islamic Texts Society Annemarrie Schimmel. And Muhammad is his messenger: the veneration of the Prophet in Islamic piety

R S 337 • Religion And Society

42075 • Young, Michael
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM RLP 0.102
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R S 341 • Buddhist Art

42078 • Langberg, Hillary
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM DFA 2.204
GC VP (also listed as ANS 372)
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R S 341 • Classical Indian Literature

42079 • Selby, Martha
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 302
GCWr (also listed as ANS 320, C L 323)
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This writing-intensive course will provide the student with a comprehensive overview of narrative literature and poetry composed in the three classical languages of India (Old Tamil, Sanskrit, and Prakrit). We will begin with a study of aesthetic conventions. First, we will examine rasa theory as it is spelled out in the Sanskrit Natyashastra, and we will then move on to dhvani or “poetic resonance” as an analytical category described by the theoreticians Anandavardhana and Abhinavagupta. We will then read excerpts from the Tolkappiyam, the earliest extant Tamil text on phonetics, grammar, and poetry, paying special attention to the sections on poetic convention and generic taxonomies. This will give us the means to study poetry produced in India’s classical period. In tandem with our explorations of literary convention, we will read a wide variety of poems from various collections from the Sanskrit and Prakrit traditions, and will then read selections from the eight anthologies of classical Tamil that treat akam (romantic/erotic) and puram (heroic/ethical) themes. We will then move on to an exploration of epic and story literature from the Sanskrit and Tamil languages.


R S 341G • Yoga As Philos And Practice

42080 • Phillips, Stephen
Meets MWF 3:00PM-4:00PM WAG 308
GC (also listed as 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 • Amer Jewish Material Cul

42095 • Seriff, Suzanne
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WCP 4.118
(also listed as ANT 325L, J S 365)
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This upper level course explores the multiple ways in which Jews in America publically depict themselves — or are depicted by non-Jews — in American museums and other public institutions such as world’s fairs, archives, synagogues, and historic homes, now and over the past century. We will focus especially on the material culture — books, artifacts, architecture, ceremonial objects, jewelry, souvenirs, cookbooks, head coverings, sports memorabilia, and everyday household objects — through which these institutions and exhibitions tell stories and make meaning about Jews in America. Following material culture scholar, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, we will pose the question, “What does it mean to show?”— or, in this case, to show, “Jewishly?” Is there such a thing as a “Jewish Museum?” What—and who—are they for? Are they just a holding place for relics of the past? Do they perpetuate the idea that Jews are a vibrant, complex, but strange people that used to dwell amongst us, but don’t anymore? We will take a look “behind the scenes” of these institutions to explore the powerful messages conveyed not only by the objects themselves but by the specific ways in which these objects are grouped, labeled, interpreted and displayed for a public audience— both Jewish and non-Jewish alike. What is the role of museums and other such institutions to define or construct the parameters of a people’s life, religion, civilization, history, or culture? Drawing from the fields of folklore, anthropology, American Studies, Jewish studies, religious studies, and museum studies, we will consider how makers, owners, users, curators, collectors, and civic leaders re-create and re-negotiate new meanings for Jewish material culture objects, especially as they are carefully lifted from their originally intended contexts of prayer, celebration, memorialization, or commemoration, and re-purposed for a new life of education, entertainment, aesthetic enjoyment, performance, or exhibition in American museums and public institutions. This class includes field trips, guest speakers, and fieldwork-based research for a final class presentation.

R S 346 • History Of Islam In The US

42100 • Spellberg, Denise
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 0.132
CDWr 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; define the role of Islam and views of Muslims in the early 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 colonial era to the twenty-first century through the use of historical documents and contemporary media. 

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. The course is designated as a Writing Flag with a series of assignments designed to improve written communication, including one peer review exercise. 


  • Robert J. Allison, The Crescent Obscured: The United States and the Muslim World, 1776-1815
  • Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, A History of Islam in America
  • Jonathan Brown, Muhammad: A Very Short History
  • John Esposito, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam, first edition
  • John Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, 4th edition
  • Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Jane I. Smith, and Kathleen M. Moore, Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today
  • Michael Muhammad Knight, Blue-Eyed Devil: A Road Odyssey
  • Xerox documents in a course packet
  • All books on sale at the University Co-op and on reserve at PCL
  • Xerox document packet available at Speedway in Dobie Mall and on reserve at PCL


  • Quiz 10%
  • First Essay 20%
  • Second Essay 20%
  • Biography peer-reviewed first draft, 5%
  • Biography final version 20%
  • Final Essay 20%

R S 346 • Latina/O Spirituality

42089 • Gonzalez-Martin, Rachel
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM BUR 128
CDIIWr (also listed as AMS 370, MAS 340S)
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This course introduces students to the religious and spiritual practices of diverse Latina/o populations living in the United States. Students will work with primary and secondary texts, ethnographic film and museum exhibitions to examine the diverse ways in which Latina/o communities’ create spiritual meaning in their lives. It will examine the religious and spiritual practices from the vantage point of transition and change as a way of understanding larger aspects of cultural and social change within 21st century U.S. Latina/o publics. This course incorporates materials and theoretical approaches relevant to multiple diasporic Latina/o communities including Afro Latino and Indigenous migrant communities. Students will learn about the diverse aspects of Latina/o spiritual, from the history of Latina/o Catholicism, to influences of West African ritual, to the rise of Latina/o Muslim conversion in the United States. It will expressly look at cultural productions from the vantage points of gender and race politics, and incorporate the spiritual tradition of women, queer communities, and various “othered” Latina/o identifying community members.


  • Aponte, Edward David. 2012. Santo!: Varieties of Latina/o Spirituality. New York: Orbis.  
  • Baez, Edward J. "Spirituality and the Gay Latino Client." Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services 4, no. 2 (1996): 69-81.  
  • Daniel, Yvonne. 2005. Dancing Wisdom: Embodied Knowledge in Haitian Vodou, Cuban Yoruba, and Bahian Candomble. Urbana: University of Illinois Press Otero, Solimar. 2014.  
  • Yemoja: Gender, Sexuality, and Creativity in the Latina/o and Afro-Atlantic Diasporas. Albany: State University of New York Press.  
  • Perez, Laura E. 2007. Chicana Art: The Politics of Spiritual and Aesthetic Altarities. Durham: Duke University Press  
  • Rodriguez, Roberto C. 2014. Our Sacred Maíz Is Our Mother: Indigeneity and Belonging in the Americas. Tucson: University of Arizona Press  
  • Romero Cash, Marie. 1998. Living Shrines: Home Altars of New Mexico. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press


  • Minute Papers/Attendance 10%  
  • 3 Film/Art-Exhibit Reviews 15%  
  • Project Proposal & Annotated Bibliography 20%  
  • Midterm Exam 20%  
  • Final Exam 15%  
  • Final Project 20%

R S 346M • Music/Religus Identities US

42105 • Roberts, Jason
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM PAR 303
CDWr (also listed as AMS 325E)
show description

Music can play an important part in the formation of a religious identity. How a religious community uses its voices, the words it sings, which instruments are deemed acceptable, and aspects of music such as melody, harmony, polyphony, and rhythm all combine in specific ways that are recognized as “religious,” or more specifically, as belonging to a particular religious tradition (or not!). Additionally, musical performance conventions – the physical embodiment of religious music – can reflect religious conceptions of the individual in relation to the divine as well as to his or her community. Likewise, the music rejected by a given religious community (“the Devil’s music!”) can be as defining as the music it embraces. From Catholic Gregorian chant, to Jewish camp songs, from African-American gospel music to Sacred Harp singing, from Lutheran hymns to Islamic recitation, and including many other traditions, this upper-division, undergraduate course explores the diversity of the American experience of religious identity through its musical traditions. Come ready to read and discuss but also ready to listen to and sing some of the music we will talk about. One of our tools for exploring the relationship of religious music to religious identity is “theory of the body” and an important part of understanding embodiment is experiencing it! This course includes includes both writing and "cultural diversity in America" flags.


Basis for evaluation:

  • Short observer paper (3-5 pages) 10%
  • Short participant observer paper (3-5 pages) 10% 
  • Short paper (3-5 pages), basic theoretical analysis of in-class example: Syncretism/Anti-syncretism theory 20%
  • Short paper (3-5 pages), basic theoretical analysis of in-class example: theory of the body 20%
  • Final paper: abstract 250 words 5%
  • Final paper: peer editing of abstract (on Canvas) 5%
  • Final paper: first page, for initial feedback 5%
  • Final paper (12-15 pages), due on exam day 25%


Required Texts:

  • Bohlman, Philip V, Edith W. Blumhofer, and Maria M. Chow. Music in American Religious Experience. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Fraser, Mariam, and Monica Greco. The Body: A Reader. London: Routledge, 2005.
  • Hoffman, Lawrence A, and Janet R. Walton. Sacred Sound and Social Change: Liturgical Music in Jewish and Christian Experience. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992.
  • Leopold, Anita M, and Jeppe S. Jensen. Syncretism in Religion: A Reader. New York: Routledge, 2005.

R S 352 • Ritual & Religion In Korea

42110 • Oppenheim, Robert
Meets TTH 5:00PM-6:30PM GAR 0.128
GC (also listed as ANS 340)
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This course will examine major religious traditions of Korea, focusing on history and contemporary practice rather than origins, philosophical systems, or textual bases.  Topics will include shamanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, and new religions, each of which will be considered from a variety of anthropological, sociological, and historical angles. We will also explore the relation between religion and politics mostly from the late 19th century to the present.  In the process, we shall seek also to ask a variety of broad empirical and conceptual questions.  How have religions in Korea been understood and used by various parties, and with what consequences?  Is “religion” a universal concept?  Can religion help explain political or economic change?  What intersections do religions have with ethics or with transnational imaginaries?

R S 352D • Japan Relig/Westrn Imagintn

42115 • Traphagan, John
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM CMA 5.190
GC (also listed as ANS 340C, ANT 324D)
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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.

R S 353 • Law/Justice In The Bible

42120 • Wells, Bruce
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM PAR 203
GC (also listed as MES 342)
show description

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 reuse of these traditions in other portions of the Hebrew Bible and the growth of related traditions in prophetic and wisdom literature. Legal and ethical theories will also be used to provide context for understanding ideas about law and justice in the ancient world. 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 353E • Beyond The New Testament

42125 • Landau, Brent
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 105
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Study of the early Christian writings that were not included in the Christian Bible. Examines issues such as the effect of narrative, religion and violence, gendered expectations for women and men, the uses of fantasy literature, and religious authority.

R S 357 • The Church And The Jews

42145 • Bodian, Marion
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM GAR 1.126
GC (also listed as EUS 346, HIS 362G, J S 364)
show description

This course will examine the complex relationship between the Church and the Jews over two thousand years. It will analyze Christian ideas and policies regarding Jews as expressed in both elite and popular culture. We’ll examine various sources, including theological texts, canon law, church art, and popular preaching. We’ll consider how the Church’s powerful anti-Jewish teachings provided a basis for restrictive legislation and violence against Jews, even if Church authorities sometimes acted to protect Jewish communities. The course emphasize the factors that led to striking changes in attitudes and policies over time, with emphasis on how the theological legacy was adapted in the face of changing realities. It will examine the consequences of the Protestant Reformation and conclude with a look at the radical shift in the perspective of the Catholic Church in the 1960s, with the documents issued by Vatican II.


  • Revised Standard Version of the Bible (any edition)
  • The course will make used of a website designed specifically for it by the instructor. The website includes many of the readings. Other assigned readings will be posted on Canvas.


  • Class attendance and participation (10%)
  • participation on Discussion Board (20%)
  • two 1-3 pp. assignments (20%)
  • mid-term exam (20%)
  • final exam (30%)


R S 358 • Gender Pol In Islamic World

42153 • Charrad, Mounira
Meets MW 5:00PM-6:30PM WCP 5.118
GCWr (also listed as ISL 373, MES 341, SOC 336G, WGS 340)
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The course is devoted to the study of gender politics in the Islamic world. It is designed to help students gain a better knowledge of the Islamic world and, at the same time, increase their understanding of major sociological concepts such as gender, social organization, culture, and politics. It shows how culture is mediated by politics, resulting in diverse interpretations of the cultural tradition and in different policies with respect to gender. We start by examining the themes and issues that are part of the common denominator of the Islamic tradition.  We then consider how the diversity can be explained. The focus is on women’s rights, which have been a key political issue in several countries and internationally. We also discuss current events and the Arab Spring.

Texts:  TBA

Grading and Requirements:

This course carries the Global Cultures flag. Global Cultures courses are designed to increase your familiarity with cultural groups outside the United States. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of at least one non-U.S. cultural group, past or present.

This course carries the Writing Flag. Writing Flag courses are designed to give students experience with writing in an academic discipline. In this class, you can expect to write regularly during the semester, complete substantial writing projects, and receive feedback from your instructor to help you improve your writing. You will also have the opportunity to revise one or more assignments, and you may be asked to read and discuss your peers’ work. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from your written work. Writing Flag classes meet the Core Communications objectives of Critical Thinking, Communication, Teamwork, and Personal Responsibility, established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.


The course will include a combination of short papers and one research paper on a relevant topic of the student’s choice.


R S 358 • Graf/Pstr Art: Islam World

42160 • Shirazi, Faegheh
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM PAR 308
GC (also listed as ANT 324L, ISL 373, MES 342, WGS 340)
show description

Please check back for updates.

R S 358 • Islamic Theology

42155 • Azam, Hina
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM RLP 0.118
GCWr (also listed as CTI 375, ISL 340, MEL 321, MES 342)
show description

Islamic Theology may be understood as that branch of knowledge that comprises the way that Muslims have conceived the natures of God, humanity and the natural world, as well as the relationships between these three.  Muslim contemplation of these subjects has given rise to a number of debates and doctrines.  Some of these have had to do with issues such as the relationship between human will and the divine will, or the origins of sin.  Other disputes have had to do with the nature of governance and the role of the ruler in effecting salvation.  These disputes led to the formation of the various theological-political sects, such as Sunnism and Shi‘ism.  Yet another area of questioning has had to do with the limits of rational knowledge and possibility of meta-cognitive experience of God, or what is known as Sufism. These three classical areas of inquiry – that is, political theory (including sectarian differences), systematic theology (kalam) and mystical theology (Sufism) – will form the main areas of focus in this course.  This is an upper-division discussion- and writing- based course that assumes a prior understanding of Islam. Thus, a major portion of the grade will be based on class participation and the quality of written work. 

Course Requirements and Grading

1 Initial writing exercise, 2%                                            5 Short papers, 14% each, 70% total                                                                 Attendance, 14%                                                               Preparedness & participation, 14%                                          

Course Textbooks

Patricia Crone, God's Rule -- Government and Islam

Majid Fakhry, Islamic Philosophy (Beginner's Guides)

John Renard, The Knowledge of God in Classical Sufism

Additional readings will be available through Canvas.

R S 358 • Veiling In The Muslim World

42150 • Shirazi, Faegheh
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM PAR 203
GC (also listed as ANS 372, ISL 372, WGS 340)
show description

Please check back for updates.

R S 365 • The Book Of Job

42169 • Yoo, Philip
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM MEZ 1.210
GC (also listed as CTI 375, J S 363, MES 342)
show description

Although widely known as the story of the innocent sufferer, the book of Job is far less known in its details. Scrutinizing the conventional view of a righteous and moral world order under the deity’s full control, the book of Job puts humans to the test as it addresses whether or not people can remain upright when aggrieved. The book of Job also puts the deity (God) to the test as it weighs the deity’s negligence in failing to deal properly with the wicked and the righteous. As a literary work composed in the the distant past, we will consider the book of Job's quality as ‘wisdom literature’ as we carefully examine the words, experiences, and actions of its characters as well as consider who, if anyone, had the knowledge to offer the “correct” explanation for God’s (in)actions. This course will also explore how the book of Job continues to speak to past and present thinkers who, through their very own experiences, grapple with the problem of evil and its continued presence in a world that is created and ordered by the deity, one who we want to be good.


  • Any one of New Oxford Annotated Bible, 5th ed (2018); or 4th ed (2010); or Jewish Study Bible, 2nd ed (2014); or Harper Collins Study Bible, rev. ed (2006).
  • Larrimore, Mark. The Book of Job: A Biography (Princeton University Press, 2013).
  • Wiesel, Elie. Night (Hill and Wang, 2006).
  • Selected readings from Testament of Job; Qur’an; Milton; Maimonides; Calvin; Luther; Kant; Frost


  • Attendance and participation (15%);
  • Short reading reports (5 x 5% each = 25%);
  • Paper proposal (10%); Draft Paper (15%);
  • In-class presentation (5%);
  • Final Paper (30%)

R S 373C • Relg Ethics/Human Rights

42175 • Schofer, Jonathan
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 304
E (also listed as GOV 365N, J S 365)
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Course Description:

Do religions support human rights or conflict with human rights?   This course examines the grounds for human rights, and the relations between rights and religions.  Can religions reinforce human rights to protect against genocide, torture and disappearances, hate speech, and discrimination?  Can religious leadership within religions effectively combat violence against women, even when the violence is upheld by that same religion?   Students will study religions as providing grounds for human rights, as sometimes challenging conceptions of human rights, and as needing protections through human rights.  With this basis in the relations between religion and human rights, students will study the significance of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations, and the following application of international human rights since the mid-twentieth century.



R S 375S • Radical Religion: Ascetics

42180 • Freiberger, Oliver
Meets W 4:00PM-7:00PM PAR 310
GCIIWr (also listed as ANS 379)
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Radical Religion: Ascetics and Holy Persons

Asceticism, as a concept and a way of life, exists in many religious traditions. Ascetics commit to bodily restraints that can be manifold and are practiced at various levels of intensity. From specific food restraints (for example, vegetarianism) to fasting to death; from celibacy to self-castration; from wearing simple robes to going naked; from shaving one’s head to severe self-mutilation; from living in a monastic community to locking one-self in a cell to constant wandering. Using case studies from various religions, this course discusses the concepts, practices, and goals associated with this radical way of life. It also introduces students to scholarly approaches to asceticism, which includes theories of the body and of culture more generally. Other topics discussed in class are the social status of the ascetic; asceticism and gender; asceticism and devotion; and asceticism and violence. Historical examples will be taken primarily from South Asia (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism) and Mediterranean late antiquity (Greek/Roman religions, Christianity, Judaism).

At the end of the semester, students (1) will have gained historical knowledge about the discussed ascetic traditions; (2) will have learned to critically analyze historical cases of ascetics and holy persons and sort out soteriological, performative, devotional, social, and other dimensions; (3) will have developed an awareness of how categories like asceticism are defined, constructed, and employed in the study of religion, including the risks and benefits; and (4) will be able to relate the gained insights to our contemporary world.


This course carries three flags: Global Cultures, Writing, and Independent Inquiry.

R S 375S • The Crusades

42185 • Newman, Martha
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:30AM GAR 0.128
GCIIWr (also listed as AHC 330, HIS 344S)
show description

What were the crusades? Was a crusade an armed pilgrimage, holy war, or a war of conquest? What motivated those who fought and those supported these expeditions? What were the political, cultural, and religious developments that led to the crusades and what were their legacies both in Europe and in the eastern Mediterranean? This class explores these questions by examining both accounts of crusades written by medieval authors and modern historians' interpretations of these documents. In the process, we will investigate religious encounters between eastern and western Christians, Christian heretics, Jews, Muslims, and polytheists; political, military, and cultural changes of the high middle ages; and the ways that crusading ideas and symbols have been reused in contemporary politics and popular culture.


  • Susanna Throop, The Crusades, An Epitome (Leeds: Kismet Press, 2018)
  • The Crusades:  A Reader  ed. S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt (Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 2014)
  • Selected documents and articles in a reader.


Class attendance, preparation and reading worksheets, discussion, and in-class work: 30%

Research paper on a topic of a student's choice (15 pages): 70%

  •  Library Assignment/ Annotated bibliography 5%
  •  Source analysis 5%
  •  Draft 20%
  •  Oral presentation 10%
  •  Peer Review of others 5%
  •  Final draft 30%

R S 383M • Thry & Meth In Study Of Relig

42210 • Moin, A
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM BUR 554
show description

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.



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).]


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

42215 • Seales, Chad
Meets F 12:00PM-3:00PM BUR 554
show description

Please see the graduate coordinator for more information.

R S 385L • Early Jewish/Christn Lit II

42220 • Friesen, Steven
Meets W 2:00PM-5:00PM BUR 554
show description

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 387M • Biblical Greek Acts

42225 • Smith, Geoffrey
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM BUR 554
show description

Please see graduate coordinator for more details.

R S 387M • Coptic Language/Literature

42230 • Smith, Geoffrey
show description

Please see graduate coordinator for more details.

R S 390T • Shi'i Islam

42235 • Aghaie, Kamran
Meets T 3:30PM-6:30PM CAL 422
(also listed as MES 385)
show description

This course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the historical development of the Shi‘i branch of Islam. The course will explore historiographical debates surrounding the emergence and early development of Shi‘ism, as well as Sunni-Shi‘i polemics. This will be followed by an analysis of the historical evolution of popular Shi‘i beliefs and ritual practices. Students will learn about the different Shi‘i sectarian divisions, along with schools of law and theology. Finally, students will learn about the important changes Shi‘ism has undergone during the modern period. The course will be organized partly in accordance with historical chronology and partly along thematic lines. In addition to being exposed to the secondary literature, students will be required to read original texts or primary documents, either in the original language or in translation (depending on the student’s language skills).

R S 391L • Appro To Study Relig Lat Amer

42239 • Burnett, Virginia
Meets W 9:00AM-12:00PM SRH 1.313
(also listed as HIS 386K, LAS 386)
show description

This course will offer a broad exploration of the main literature and theories that pertain to religion in Latin America. The course will take a historical, chronological approach, examining topics such as indigenous religions before Contact, the “Spiritual conquest” of the Americas, the hybridization of religious experience in the Americas, and the religious dimensions of the African diaspora. It will also explore and theorize the historical and modern religious transnationalism, from pilgrimage to shrines to missionaries and international televangelism.  Finally, it will interrogate the interaction between religion and (post) modernity in Latin America and the Caribbean.