92243

REL 103

 BuddhisM

Dominique Townsend

 T  Th    11:50-1:10 pm

OLIN 204

MBV

D+J

HUM

DIFF

Cross-listed: Asian Studies  For more than 2,500 years Buddhist thought and practice have evolved around the central problem of suffering and the possibility of liberation. The importance of cultivating compassion and wisdom and the reality of death are among Buddhism’s guiding concerns. Across diverse cultural landscapes, Buddhism comprises a wide array of philosophical perspectives, ethical values, social hierarchies, and ritual technologies. It is linked to worldly politics, institutions, and charismatic personalities. At the same time, it is geared towards renunciation. Buddhism’s various faces can seem inconsistent, and they are frequently out of keeping with popular conceptions. This course offers an introduction to Buddhism’s foundational themes, practices, and worldviews within the framework of religious studies. Beginning with Buddhism’s origination in India, we will trace its spread and development throughout Asia. We will also consider its more recent developments globally. There are no prerequisites for this course. Class size: 22

 

92244

REL 106

 Islam

Matthew Lynch

M  W      11:50-1:10 pm

HEG 308

MBV

HUM

Cross-listed: Global & International Studies;  Middle Eastern Studies  An examination of the intellectual and lived traditions of Islam. This course introduces students to themes, materials, practices, texts and beliefs within and/or related to the religious tradition of Islam. We will study the founding of Islam by the Prophet Muhammad, as well as legal, ethical, and mystical responses to the Qur’an, Hadith, and other Islamic texts. We will also learn about different varieties of Islam, such as Sunnism and Shi’ism. We will utilize a variety of sources including primary sources (in translation), historical works, anthropological and literary sources, and films to guide our discussion. The course will emphasize material, visual, and other forms of interactive learning. Themes of gender, sexuality, mysticism, art, and ritual will be explored. This course will also provide students a solid theoretical foundation to larger conceptual questions and categories pertinent to the academic study of religion, and to the humanities more broadly. Class size: 20

 

92245

REL 111

 The Hebrew Bible

David Nelson

M  W      11:50-1:10 pm

OLIN 101

MBV

HUM

Cross-listed: Jewish Studies; Theology  The Hebrew Bible is arguably one of the most important works of Western culture. This course will survey the text, meaning, historical background and ancient near eastern literary and cultural context of the Hebrew Bible, and will provide a crucial introduction to all further studies of the three Abrahamic faiths. We will examine the interplay between history and myth, the various forms and purposes of biblical law, the phenomenon of biblical prophecy, and the diverse literary genres that are found within the Bible. Our goal will be to understand the work as a religious, historical, legal, and narrative work that reflected the society from which all of later Judaism, Christianity and Islam grew.  Class size: 20

 

92247

REL 216

 Jewish Mysticism

Samuel Secunda

M  W      3:10-4:30 pm

OLIN 203

SA

SSCI

Cross-listed: Jewish Studies; Theology  Where is God? What is language? What is love? What is evil? These are just a few of the questions that have preoccupied the Jewish mystical tradition, beginning with its late antique visionary origins, and continuing with the poetic meditations of the Zohar, the systematic speculations of Lurianic Kabbalah, and on to the heretical ecstasies of Jewish false messiahs, the Hassidic movement, and more recent intersections with New Age. We will read primary Jewish mystical texts (in translation), secondary works of scholarship, especially the foundational scholarship of Gershom Scholem, and important tertiary texts, such as the correspondence that Scholem maintained with Hannah Arendt, which touched upon Jewish mysticism and its contemporary significance. Class size: 22

 

92248

REL 227

 Zoroastrianism

Samuel Secunda

M  W      6:20-7:40 pm

OLIN 201

MBV

HUM

DIFF

Cross-listed: Asian Studies; Middle Eastern Studies; Theology  A multifaceted engagement with the Iranian religion, Zoroastrianism. This course will examine the literature, history, ritual, myth, theology, and identity of Zoroastrianism as a dynamic tradition which intersected with other traditions -  such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – and various political entities –  such as the Sasanian, Roman and Abbasid Empires, and British Colonialism. The focus of the course will be primarily on ancient Zoroastrianism, and on the classical textual tradition, especially the Avesta and Middle Persian literature. We will also examine Zoroastrianism in Colonial India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and across the Diaspora; look at the great variety of Zoroastrian responses to modernity; and consider the appearance of Zoroastrianism in modern media, including film, works of modern philosophy (mostly famously, Nietzsche) and novels. Apart from opening a window into an influential, if little understood, religious tradition, studying Zoroastrianism will allow us to consider key issues in the study of religion, such as the dynamics of influence and the evolution of religions.  NOTE:  No previous knowledge of the topic is expected, even as engagement with any of the major religious traditions will be illuminated by the study of Zoroastrianism. Class size: 22

 

92246

REL 244

 yogis, monks, and dharma kings: Religious Cultures of Early India

Richard Davis

 T  Th    11:50-1:10 pm

ALBEE 106

MBV

HUM

Cross-listed: Asian Studies; Classical Studies  Mahatma Gandhi spoke of early India as the “nursery of religions.”  Certainly the millennium of classical India (500 BCE to 500 CE) was a time of intense religious innovation in India, during which Buddhism and Jainism established themselves as new religions and the older Vedic order was transformed into Hinduism.  Religious seekers pioneered the spiritual techniques that have come to be practiced in the United States, after considerable alteration, as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.  This course will examine the religious debates of the period, the social organizations of the Buddhist monastic order and the Brahmin class, the ascetic non-violence of the Jains, and the search for a righteous form of political rule.  Emphasis in the course will be on engagement with primary written sources from classical India, such as the Vedic Upanishads, the earliest Buddhist sutras, the edicts of Emperor Ashoka, and Hindu epic poetry.  Archeological remains will also provide primary sources, including the Ashokan pillars, Buddhist stupa sculpture, and the earliest Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain icons.   Class size: 16

 

92250

REL 317

 Sacred Pursuits

Dominique Townsend

 T           1:30-3:50 pm

RKC 200

MBV

HUM

This course, which is required for all religion majors, introduces students to theories and methods relevant to the academic study of religion. Course readings include both historical and contemporary studies that demonstrate a variety of approaches to interrogating religion as an object of study. Central themes will include religious experience, ritual experience, modernity, ritual practice, gender, tradition and secularism. Class size: 15

 

92331

REL 334

 QUR’AN

Matthew Lynch

  Th        1:30 pm – 3:50 pm

OLIN 303

MBV

HUM

 

Cross-listed: Medieval Studies, Middle Eastern Studies   This course will involve a close reading of the Qur’anic text and a study of different translations. We will explore the history of the Qur’an’s compilation and codification, its major themes, structure, and literary aspects. This course will also go beyond approaching scripture as a bounded, collected, literary text, by examining the ritual, experiential and material encounters between the Qur’an and Muslim communities. Some of the questions that we will address in this class are:  How does the Qur’an operate within societies and what are its multiple functions? How are the controversial verses often associated with the Qur’an interpreted?  How do modern understandings of “scripture,” “sacrality,” “text,” and “meaning” determine, dominate, and perhaps limit the way we engage with premodern sacred material? There are no prerequisites for this class. Class size: 15

 

92258

REL COL

 Religion Colloquium

Richard Davis

M           5:30-6:30 pm

OLIN 205

MBV

D+J

HUM

Cross-listed: Theology  2 credits The religion colloquium is a two-credit course open to all students, but required of religion moderands. The purpose of the colloquium is to foster a community of scholarship among students and faculty interested in the study of religion, and to prepare public presentations of independent research. The colloquium is designed to encourage interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives on topics of particular interest.

Class size: 22

 

 

Cross-listed course:

92297

JS / HIST 101

 INTRODUCTION TO JEWISH STUDIES

Cecile Kuznitz

 T  Th    3:10 pm – 4:30 pm

OLIN 308

MBV

D+J

HUM

DIFF