REL 105 The Religion of Islam

Professor: J. Brockopp

CRN: 91669 Distribution: C

Time: Tue Th 9:00 am ­ 10:20 am OLIN 201

This survey course covers the history of Islam, from the birth of its Prophet to the emergence of the modern nation-state. It explores the major components of the religion (including Islamic law, mysticism, and theology), the requirements for believers, and central themes such as monotheism, prophethood, ritual and society. The course is concerned more with the history of the religion than with modern Islam as such, although it has relevance for understanding contemporary Muslim attitudes.

REL 117 Creating Hinduism

Professor: B. Clough

CRN: 91688 Distribution: A/C

Time: Tue Th 10:30 am ­ 12:00 pm LC 210

Cross-listed: Classical Studies

The purpose of this course is to provide an historical overview of the series of religious movements in India we now call "Hinduism." Through the reading of mythological, philosophical and poetic primary texts, as well as historical and anthropological studies, we will show how such a tradition was constructed through a set of ongoing tensions: between ascetic and sacrificer, between villager and city-dweller, between outcaste and brahmin, between poet and philosopher, between colonized and colonizer, and between "secular" citizen and "religious" citizen. In tracing these tensions throughout Indian history, we will (1) examine the roots of Indian tradition; (2) master the basic terminology of Indian thought; (3) use that terminology to study the development of Indian philosophy and popular religious movements; and (4) examine the religious and political significance of contemporary practice in India, such as worship and pilgrimage.

REL 206 Judeo-Christian Relations for a New Millenium

Professor: B. Chilton/J. Neusner

CRN: 91891 Distribution: A/C

Time: Tue 10:30 am ­ 12:30 pm LC 206

Cross-listed: Jewish Studies

Our course will seek to deepen and broaden public understanding of the role of religion in American society today. Catholicism, Judaism, and Protestantism are among the most important factors in the development of public policy and intellectual debate in the period after the Cold War, and yet the understanding of their mutual relations has remained halting and largely technical. In the period since the Holocaust, it has been possible for Judaism and Christianity to engage one another, without rancorous debate, in a sustained attempt at mutual understanding. Now we must move on to the critical question: how can Christians and Jews live in harmony while they disagree on the most fundamental tenets of their religions? Our conference is designed to identify and address those profoundly contested issues: What separates us as we speak of God and humanity and the shaping of society? The course will focus on a conference, but what makes the Bard conference most compelling is its focus on undergraduate students. It is our intention to integrate traditional classroom experience with the conference format. Higher education in the past, even within institutions like Bard which are dedicated to teaching, has been slow to develop ways to bring the settling of the classroom and the conference together. For successful dialogue to occur, students must become engaged in exploring fundamental religious matters. Our experience leads us to believe that students will be directly enriched by the national discussion we are proposing to conduct. At the same time, student participation would help us to achieve our purpose of mounting an accessible and exciting discussion of the issues and challenges before us rather than a purely academic conference.

REL 215 Trading Places: Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity

Professor: B. Chilton/J. Neusner

CRN: 91892 Distribution: A/C

Time: M 2:50 pm ­ 4:50 pm LC 120

Cross-listed: Jewish Studies

At the beginning of the common era, Judaism presented a view of God which was so appealing in its rationality, it competed seriously with various philosophical schools for the loyalty of educated people in the Graeco-Roman world. Christianity, meanwhile, appeared to be a marginal group, neither fully Judaic nor seriously philosophical. Six centuries later, the Talmud emerged as the model of Judaism, and the creeds defined the limits and the core of Christianity. By that time, Judaism and Christianity had traded places. Christianity was the principal religion of the Empire, and philosophy was its most powerful vehicle for conversion; Judaism was seen as a local anomaly, its traditions grounded in customary use rather than reflection. Special emphasis will be given to the archaeology of Jerusalem, in anticipation of a study tour in January.

REL 222 Japanese Religions

Professor: B. Clough

CRN: 91686 Distribution: A/C

Time: M W 10:30 am ­ 12:00 pm OLIN 203

Cross-listed: Asian Studies, History

This course will examine the history of Japanese religions as a continuous stream of synthesis of elements from the Shinto, Buddhist, Taoist, and Neo-Confucian systems, and prominent folk traditions like shamanism, mountain asceticism, and divination. The course will cover major religious developments in Japanese history, such as the early clan mythologies of the Jomon and Yayoi peoples, the Shinto-Buddhist syncretism and union of Buddhism with the emperor's law in the Asuka and Nara periods, the establishment of sectarian Buddhism under the Kamakura and Ashikaga shogunates, the influence of Neo-Confucianism and Christianity in the Tokugawa era, the establishment of Shinto as state religion and persecution of Buddhism by the Meiji regime, and the triumph of non-elite "new religions" following World War II. In addition to the subject of relations between religion and state which so pervades this field, we will also investigate such significant ongoing themes as aesthetic expressions of religious thought and notions of embodiment in religious practice.

REL 232 Cairo: Microcosm of the Islamic World

Professor: J. Brockopp

CRN: 91687 Distribution: C

Time: M W 1:20 pm ­ 2:40 pm OLIN 204

Cross-listed: Medieval Studies

Founded by a Shicite sect in 969 C.E., Cairo (al-Q_hira) has grown to become the largest city in Africa in addition to being the capital of the Arab world. This complex metropolis is home to a diverse population of Copts, Muslims, diplomats and film stars, who live in a museum of sorts, surrounded by the mosques, synagogues and pyramids of generations passed. The course will take an interdisciplinary approach to studying this fascinating city, using architecture, literature, history and film to probe its riches. Topics will include: public and private space; decorative arts; intellectual life; religious conflicts; and the life of non-Muslim minorities, while keeping track of parallel developments in the rest of the Islamic world. Two additional opportunities will be provided for interested students: first, an Arabic tutorial will be offered for qualified students who wish to read the historical and literary accounts in their original language; second, students may apply to join a three-week seminar over intersession in Jerusalem and Cairo. Preference will be given to students with background in Islam.

REL 246 Feminism and Islam

Professor: J. Brockopp

CRN: 91689 Distribution: A/C

Time: Tue Th 1:20 pm ­ 2:40 pm OLIN 310

Cross-listed: Gender Studies

The veil, polygamy, arranged marriages--these are the images many Westerners have when they envision women in the Islamic world. While the images may be accurate, their interpretation by Muslim and Western feminists may be radically different. Given these divergent views, the question arises whether Muslim women and other women can speak to one another? And if so, what would they say? This course will approach this question by first examining several issues: the role of multicultural voices in the feminist movement; the critique of Islamic society by Western feminists and human rights activists; and the concerns raised by Muslim feminists about their relationship to other women throughout the world. The course will attempt to place Western and Muslim feminists in dialogue with one another, seeking to develop a deep understanding of the place of women in modern Islamic society, as well as to probe questions of oppression and agency. Readings will draw from feminist philosophy, novels, case studies and legal theory.

REL 335 Modern Jewish Philosophy

Professor: M. Paley

CRN: 91933 Distribution: A/C

Time: Wed 10:30 am - 12:30 pm ASP 302

Cross-listed: Jewish Studies

Modern Jewish Philosophy has been understood as the "philosophy of encounter". This theme ties together many different thinkers as they tried to come to grips with a century full of Jewish tragedy and triumph. The course will consider how Jewish philosophy was shaped by modernity, the holocaust, Zionism and the search for spirituality through modern approaches to mysticism. We will explore the thought of Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, J.B. Soloveitchik, Emmanuel Levinas, Gershom Scholem and Abraham Joshua Heschel. The class will be text based and will assume some philosophical background.