2014-2015 Undergraduate Catalog: Courses in Religious Studies (RELS)

Note:  Depending on how respective sections of RELS courses are taught, a course could fulfill the requirement for Cultural Analysis [C], Historical Analysis [H], or Textual Analysis [T] for the B.A. in Religious Studies.  Students must consult the course descriptions circulated each semester to determine which designations have been assigned to a particular course.

RELS 1101. Introduction to Religious Studies. (3) (W)  An introduction to the study of the religious dimensions of human existence. Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement.  (On demand)

RELS 1120. The Bible and Its Interpreters. (3)  An introduction to the history of biblical interpretation from the pre-canonical era to the present. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 2000. Topics in Religious Studies. (1-3)  Credit hours vary with topics.  May be repeated for credit with change of topic. Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement.  (On demand)

RELS 2101. Introduction to Western Religions. (3)  An introduction to Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other selected religions.  Emphasis on the myths, stories, symbols, rituals, ideas, and ethical practices of these religions in their classical formulations and in their contemporary practices. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 2102. Introduction to Asian Religions. (3)  An introduction to Hinduism, Buddhism, and other selected religions such as Confucianism, Daoism, and Islam. Emphasis on the myths, stories, symbols, rituals, ideas, and ethical practices of these religions in their classical formulations and in their contemporary practices.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement.  (On demand)

RELS 2104. Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament. (3)  The Hebrew religious tradition from the perspective of its development in the culture of the ancient Near East. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 2105. New Testament and Christian Origins. (3)  Emergence of Christianity in its cultural context. Analysis of selected early Christian writings in English translation. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement.  (On demand)

RELS 2107. Native American Religions. (3) An introduction to various dimensions of the religious experience of North American First Peoples, including other-than human and human persons; myth and orality, sacred space, time and objects; lifeways and ceremonies; tradition and change. Special emphasis is placed on past and present imaginings of Native American religions. Fulfills the [C] or [H] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 2108. Religion in American Culture. (3) The role of religion in the shaping of American culture. Fulfills the [C] or [H] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 2109. Death and the Afterlife. (3)  A survey of beliefs and rituals relating to dying, death, and the afterlife as found in religious, philosophical, and literary texts and in art and architecture. (On demand)

RELS 2110. Judaism. (3) The development of Jewish religious thought from antiquity to the present. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 2120. Christianity. (3) The world-wide development of the thought and practices of diverse Christian traditions from antiquity to the present. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 2131. Islam. (3) The development of the traditions in Islam with emphasis on Islamic culture, literature, and mysticism. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 2154. Hinduism. (3) The ancient Vedic traditions and the development of Hinduism. Emphasis is on the role of Hinduism in Indian civilization. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 2157. South Asian Buddhism. (3) The historical development of Buddhism during its first 2,500 years with particular emphasis on its diverse manifestations in South Asia. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (Alternate years)

RELS 2166. Daoism. (3)  A thematic and historical exploration of a major indigenous religious tradition of China, with particular attention devoted to early, medieval, and modern practices and worldviews. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 2169. Mahãyãna Buddhism in East Asia. (3)  An exploration of the various ways the religious ideal of the bodhisattva has been imagined and employed in devotional practice in Mahãyãna Buddhist traditions in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and the United States. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 2216. The Modern Middle East. (3)  Cross-listed as HIST 2216. An introduction to the history of this important and dynamic region. The course focuses on the issues that have defined the Middle East in the recent past and provides students with the historical context needed to understand the region, its peoples, and its conflicts in greater depth. Fulfills the [C] or [H] requirement.  (On demand)

RELS 2600. Orientation to the Study of Religion. (3) (W)  Prerequisite:  Religious Studies major.  Required of all majors as early in their program as possible. Examines basic concepts, theories, and approaches that are involved in the critical, academic study of religion. Attention given to basic research materials and to standard writing practices in the discipline. (Fall, Spring)

RELS 3000. Advanced Topics in Religious Studies. (3)  Treatment of a special topic in religious studies.    May be repeated for credit with change of topic. Same as RELS 3001, but does not fulfill the General Education writing goal.  Fulfills the [C], [H], or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3001. Advanced Topics in Religious StudiesWriting Intensive. (3) (W)  Treatment of a special topic in religious studies.  May be repeated for credit with change of topic. Same as RELS 3001, but fulfills the General Education writing goal.  Fulfills the [C], [H], or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3090. Readings in Primary Texts. (3) Introductory and/or intermediate level readings of ancient and medieval primary source texts in languages such as Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Sanskrit, or Chinese.  May be repeated for credit with change of topic.  Fulfills the [T] requirement.  (On demand)

RELS 3101. Greek Myths and Religions. (3) The gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines in ancient Greek myths and religions; Greek myth and later Western religions; polytheism and monotheism; functions of myth; and contemporary interpretations of Greek myth.  Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3104. Prophecy and Prophetic Literature in Ancient Israel. (3) Prerequisite: RELS 2104 or permission of instructor. An examination of the phenomenon of prophecy in the religion of ancient Israel, with particular attention devoted to the writings about and writings attributed to named prophets in the Hebrew Bible.  Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3107. The Psalms and Wisdom Literature of Israel. (3) Prerequisite: RELS 2104 or permission of instructor. The origin and content of the Psalms and the place of wisdom literature in the development of Hebrew thought. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3111. Women in Judaism. (3) Cross-listed as WGST 3111. A survey of the roles and activities of Jewish women throughout Jewish history, as they are portrayed in a diverse sampling of Jewish religious literature and practice. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3113. Jesus. (3) Recommended: RELS 2105. Jesus and the religion he taught from the point of view of the synoptic gospels. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3115. Early Christianity. (3) The history of Christianity in the 2nd-7th centuries C.E. Topics may include martyrdom and persecution, heresy and orthodoxy, constructions of gender and sexuality in early Christianity, church-state relations, asceticism and monasticism, Constantine and the Christianization of the Roman Empire. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3116. Paul. (3)  A close study of the writings of the apostle Paul in their historical contexts with consideration of the ways in which they played a role in the development of the emerging Christian movement. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3122. Esoteric Traditions. (3) The study of one or more particular expressions of religious esotericism (e.g., Jewish Kabbalah; Hindu Tantra; etc.). Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3129. Christian Controversies. (3) An exploration of Christian responses to ethical, cultural, political, and theological conflicts. The issues are selected to represent a range of time periods in the history of various Christian traditions. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3135. Religion in Nineteenth Century America. (3)  Examination of religious thought, practices, and movements in 19th century America. Fulfills the [C] or [H] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3137. Religion in the African-American Experience. (3) An introduction to the evolution of black religious thought and culture in America during the 20th century. Emphasizes the rise of the Black Church and its expanding role within black urban communities in America. Also addresses the emergence of other religious belief systems in contemporary Black culture such as Voodoo, Santeria, Spiritist churches, the Nation of Islam and even Black Judaism. Issues of race, class, gender, identity, and violence will be points of discussion in light of black religious life. Fulfills the [C] or [H] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3150. African-American Church and Civil Rights. (3) Cross-listed as AFRS 3150. Role of the African-American church in the struggle for human equality. Topics such as radical, moderate, and accommodationist leadership styles; historical development of the Black Church in the South; and the Black Church’s emergence as a foundation for modern civil rights movement. Fulfills the [C] or [H] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3163. The Religious Art and Architecture of India. (3)  The visual art of Hindus, Buddhists, Jainas, and Muslims in the architecture, paintings, and sculptures of India. Fulfills the [C] or [H] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3209. Religion and Literature. (3)  An examination of religious themes and questions as presented in contemporary and traditional literature.  Focus may be on an artist, genre (novel, poetry, drama), or topic.  Although the focus of this course may vary, it may only be taken once for credit.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3210. Religion and Popular Culture. (3)  An examination of the interactions and intertwining of religion and popular culture.  Topics may include, but are not limited to, popular literature, domestic rituals, material and visual cultures, space and place, fan cultures, media, and folklore.  Emphasis on how religion and popular culture shape and are shaped by issues of identity, community, nostalgia, memory, commercialism, capitalism, power, and meaning.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3212. Religion and Film. (3) (W)  An examination of religious identity, alienation, search, discovery, sexuality and death as reflected in recent American movies and foreign films. Film laboratory required.  Although the focus of this course may vary, it may only be taken once for credit.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3213. Jesus on the Silver Screen. (3)  An examination of cinematic representations of Jesus with attention to their relation to the historical, social and political circumstances of their production and to ongoing conversation about the character, meaning and significance of the Jesus story. (On demand)

RELS 3215. Religion and Sexuality. (3)  Cross-listed as WGST 3215.  An examination of the role of religious discourses and practices in shaping, understanding and evaluating sexual practices, desires and identities.  Although the focus of this course may vary, it may only be taken once for credit.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3220. Religion and Masculinity. (3)  Cross-listed as WGST 3216.  An examination of the role of religious discourses and practices in shaping, regulating and evaluating masculine identities and practices.  Although the focus of this course may vary, it may only be taken once for credit.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3230. Race, Religion and Murder. (3)  An introduction to the intersection of race, religion, and violence in American culture.  Addresses how Judeo-Christian, Islamic, and Asian traditions have been used to justify and even condone acts of violence against women, children, and peoples of color. Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3232. Islam in the African-American Experience. (3)  An examination of the historical practices of Islam and its varied forms within African-American culture.  A key component of the course centers around the narratives of Nobel Drew Ali, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, Wraith Dean Muhammad, and Louis Farrakhan.  Also has a gendered component looking at the leadership of black women within Islam, the Nation of Islam, and Moorish Science. Fulfills the [C] or [H] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3242. Philosophy of Religion. (3)  Cross-listed as PHIL 3530.  Philosophical implications of religious experience, including the definitions, development, and diverse forms of the problems of belief and reason in modern thought. Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3244. Natural, Unnatural, Supernatural. (3)  Does God exist?  What are God’s attributes?  Do miracles happen?  Is there life after death?  Where does evil come from in a world created “good”?  What is “the human condition”?  This course sets these questions in historical perspective in the West but focuses primarily on answers proposed by modern thinkers.

RELS 3250. The Power of Mourning. (3)  A theoretical examination of mourning and the ethical/political implications of mourning for our understanding of power, agency, and hope. Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement.  (On demand)

RELS 3300. The Performance of Healing. (3)  An examination of practices of healing and their concomitant discourses of illness, health, body, society, and cosmos across selected religious and secular traditions.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 3400. Applied Research/Field Work. (3) Prerequisite: Religious Studies major or minor, 9 earned credit hours in religious studies, and permission of instructor.  Research and in-service training in business or community-based organizations.  Specific content based on contract between student, supervising professor and cooperating organization.  Fulfills the [C], [H], or [T] requirement.  Approximately 120 contact hours for the semester.  (On demand)

RELS 3450. Study Abroad for Religious Studies Majors. (3-6) Prerequisite: Permission of department. The examination of an approved topic in the context of study abroad.  Fulfills the [C], [H], or [T] requirement.  (On demand)

RELS 4000. Seminar in Religious Studies. (3) Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.  May be repeated for credit.  (On demand)

RELS 4010. Major Figure in Religious Studies. (3) (W)  A focused examination of the life and works of a major figure, or small set of related figures, and their significance for the study of religion.  May be repeated for credit for different figures.  Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 4020. Major Text in Religious Studies. (3)  A focused examination of an important primary text, or small range of primary texts, in the study of religion.  The text may be a sacred text from a religious tradition or a theoretical text important in the study of religion. May be repeated for credit for different texts.  Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 4030. Major Period in Religious History. (3)  A focused examination of a discreet and important period in religious history.  The course will examine social, political, cultural, artistic and economic dimensions of a given period with respect to how they shaped, and were shaped by, religion.  May be repeated for credit for different periods. Fulfills the [H] requirement.  (On demand)

RELS 4040. Major Approach to the Study of Religion. (3)  A focused examination of an influential classic or contemporary approach to the study of religion, or small set of related approaches.  The course will focus on close reading of primary texts and developing students’ critical engagement with the texts, through writing and discussion.  May be repeated for credit for different approaches.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 4107. Early Judaism. (3) Prerequisite: RELS 2104 or 2105 or 3110 or permission of instructor. Comparative historical and literary study of the varieties of Judaism evidenced during late antiquity (circa 70-640 C.E.), with special attention devoted to the information and development of rabbinic Judaism.  Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 4108. Medieval Judaism. (3) Prerequisite: RELS 2104 or 3110 or permission of instructor. Comparative historical and literary study of the varieties of Judaism evidenced in Western Europe, the Byzantine Empire, and Islamicate realms from approximately 640 C.E. to approximately 1492 C.E.  Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 4109. Modern Judaism. (3) Prerequisites: RELS 3110, RELS 4107, RELS 4108, or permission of instructor. Historical and conceptual study of Judaism and Jewish experience in Europe, America, and Israel, from the 16th century to the present, with special attention paid to the development of denominations, Zionism, and the Holocaust. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement.  (On demand)

RELS 4110. Contemporary Jewish Thought. (3) An examination of philosophy, religion, morality, politics, sociality, culture, family, and self-identity, in the light of modern and recent Jewish thought.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 4121. Medieval and Reformation Christianity. (3) An examination of Christian thought and practice from the early Middle Ages (c. 500 CE) through the reformations of the sixteenth century. Fulfills the [H] or [T] requirement.  (On demand)

RELS 4125. Witches, Saints, and Heretics. (3)  An examination of the categories “normal” and “deviant” as formulated in select cultural traditions.  Focus will be on examining constructions of individual identity and cultural boundaries through close reading of primary texts alongside recent films, works of fiction, and scholarly interpretations.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 4127. Material Christianity. (3) An examination of the ways individuals and groups throughout the Christian tradition have invested material objects with sanctity and power. Much of the course will be devoted to exploring theoretical models and theological warrants for practices related to objects.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 4150. Religion in the Contemporary United States. (3)  An examination of selected topics and issues concerning contemporary American religion and culture.  Topics may include, but are not limited to, religion and politics, the numerical decline of some religious groups and the explosive growth of others, the increased visibility of combinative religious practices and beliefs, new religious movements, and the intertwining of religions, popular culture, and consumer capitalism.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 4160. Religion as Social. (3)  An examination of theories and approaches which focus on religion as social.  Attention will be paid to both classical and contemporary social theories of religion. (On demand)

RELS 4201. Religion, Morality and Justice. (3)  An exploration of the ethical and social dimensions of selected religious traditions in their cultural contexts.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 4300. Religion and the Body. (3)  An examination of the relationship between religious discourses and practices and the perceptions and experiences of an embodied subject.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 4340. Theories of Sacrifice. (3)  An examination of classical and contemporary understandings of the history, meaning and cultural significance of sacrifice.  Fulfills the [C] or [H] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 4400. Method and Theory in the Study of Religion. (3)  A close examination of primary texts representing influential classical and contemporary approaches to the study of religion.  Attention given to student writing and oral presentation skills.  Required of all honors students.  Fulfills the [C] or [T] requirement. (On demand)

RELS 4600. Senior Seminar. (3) (O,W)  Required of majors in final year of studies. (Fall, Spring)

RELS 4700. Honors Thesis. (3) Prerequisite:  Permission of instructor and approval of a proposal through the Honors College Application to Candidacy process the semester prior to taking the course.  Required of all honors students.  May be repeated for credit one time.  (On demand)

RELS 4800. Independent Studies. (1-3) Prerequisite: permission of instructor.  May be repeated for credit.  (On demand)