Department of Religious Studies

R S F346E • Religion And Film

83275 • Seales, Chad
Meets MTWTHF 10:00AM-11:30AM RLM 5.124
(also listed as AMS F321)
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This course surveys representations of religious beliefs, practices, persons, and institutions in

popular film. Focusing on the media consumption of box office movies in the United

States, we will examine how religion is imagined in film and how that religious imagination

relates to social constructions of national, ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual identities.

Although we will briefly address some of the technical aspects of film production, our

primary concern will be to interpret the ways in which films portray religion against the

backdrop of American history. We will use the vehicle of the silver screen to reflect on how

a shared religious imagination has shaped the way we understand ourselves as Americans.

To note, this class has a writing flag, which means you will be required to submit three types

of written work for instructor evaluation and peer comment. With the goal of improving

writing skills and critical thinking, you will keep a reading response journal which you will

use for the basis of class discussion, you will submit two short essays for instructor

comments, and you will revise those essays based on those comments.

Course Goal:

By the end of this course, students should be able to think, discuss, and write critically about

film from a religious studies perspective. Students should be able to identify a range of

religious traditions as depicted in film, compare and contrast those depictions, and situate

them within a larger narrative of American religious history.

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


Readings are posted on Canvas. Films are on reserve in the Fine Arts Library. We will

discuss the readings and films in class. You will be responsible for reading materials and

viewing films before the class meeting that they are discussed. For weeks when we will

discuss more than one film, you will pick one of the films to watch ahead of time.

R S F353 • Angel/Demon/Magic Early Cen

83280 • Smith, Geoffrey
Meets MTWTHF 1:00PM-2:30PM RLM 6.112
(also listed as MEL F321, MES F342)
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Course Description:

The world as early Christians imagined it was a spiritual universe inhabited by angels and demons. These lesser gods were thought to govern the mundane affairs experienced by Christians, day-to-day matters like health, wealth, love, and revenge. But how did Christians come to view the world in this way? How did angelology and demonology influence the ways that Christians thought about the world around them? And to what extent did Christians use magic to manipulate the spiritual world? We will consider these and other questions in this survey of early Christian views of angels, demons, and magic. All primary sources will be read in translation.


  • M. Meyer and R. Smith, Ancient Christian Magic
  • H.D. Betz, The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation
  • The Oxford Annotated Bible


  • 3 short essays: 45% (15% each)
  • Final paper: 40%
  • Attendance and participation: 15%

R S S319 • Introduction To Islam

Meets MTWTHF 10:00AM-11:30AM GDC 6.202
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The objective of this course is to give students a foundational understanding of Islam and Muslims, in terms of beliefs, practices, and culture. In order to achieve this three-part objective, we will read materials from various perspectives and of different genres. We will devote some time to Islamic history, because even if a religion is conceived in terms of universals and ideals, its actual manifestation is always tempered by historical, cultural and social context. We will explore the meaning of Islam as a worldview and a moral system through examining its doctrinal, ritual, philosophical, ethical and spiritual dimensions.

This course is designed for students with no prior knowledge of Islam.

R S S335 • Jesus In Hist And Tradition

83330 • Landau, Brent
Meets MTWTHF 10:00AM-11:30AM CMA 5.190
(also listed as C C S348)
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This class examines what can be known about the historical individual known as Jesus of

Nazareth and how later Christian tradition and popular culture constructs him. We will

begin by studying the earliest Christian gospels to see how much they can tell us about the

historical Jesus. We will then examine and critique one New Testament scholar’s

influential but controversial reconstruction of the historical Jesus. Next, we will study

some alternative historical reconstructions of Jesus and see how scholars of early

Christianity respond to them. Finally, we will chart how early Christians eventually came to

believe that Jesus was God.

Writing Flag:

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.