The course surveys six religious traditions founded and developed in Asian including two from India: Hinduism and Buddhism, two from China: Confucianism and Taoism, and two from Japan: Shinto and Japanese New Religions. The survey of each religion includes: 1. a primary or sacred text, 2. contemporary practices in Asia, 3. contemporary practices in America, and 4. depictions in modern media. The course studies how the central tenets and teachings of Asian religions create the cultural roots of contemporary Asian cultures and how these teachings have influenced America's religious diversity.
Major trends and traditions in the arts, literatures and languages, religions and philosophies of China.
This course provides an introduction to the study of Religion and Popular Culture in modern societies. We will study what constitutes "religion" and how definitions of religion change over time. We will examine the ways popular culture becomes "religious" and how religious institutions reflect popular taste and opinion.
The architecture, manuscript illumination, painting and other visual arts of Christianity explored within the contexts of contemporary history.
A study of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, including both ancient and modern developments in their cultural contexts.
This course investigates the various conceptions of love in world religions. We will explore the conceptions of love in Western traditions including Greek, Jewish and Christian traditions as well as conceptions of love in Islam and Buddhism.
An introduction to the religious history and contemporary religious diversity of the region currently known as the American Southwest. The religious landscape of this area includes the traditions of indigenous communities, Spanish colonial descendants, Mexican Americans, Anglos, and immigrants from around the globe. This class will take both an historical and thematic approach to religion in the Southwest exploring the role of religion in colonial expansion (Spain, Mexico, and the United States) and focusing on a variety of topics such as land-based spirituality, shrines, pilgrimage, folk saints, religious syncretism, and new religious movements.
This course is an introduction to the study of gender and religion. We will examine the ways religious roles have been shaped by gender, and how religion has formulated understandings of gender, including gendered representations of the divine.
This course is an introduction to the academic study of Christianity in its global context. We will examine the origins of Christianity and its growth into the largest religion in the world. The course gives particular attention to the diversity of local contexts and local traditions, examining expressions of Christianity throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Students will explore Christianity through a series of case studies, by examining historical sources, material culture, first-hand accounts, and artistic representations.
The objective of this course is to introduce you to the study of the phenomenon called 'religion'. What makes people religious? How is religion defined? What are the different approaches to understanding religion in all of its diversity? Through a reading of texts from diverse backgrounds and approaches, this course will illuminate the complex and multi-dimensional elements of religion, and how the study of religion can open up new ways of seeing the world.
This literature course examines Greek and Roman classical myths and Jewish and Christian biblical stories that have frequently been represented in visual cultures over the centuries in Europe and beyond. When taught as part of a study abroad trip, the course will be customized to provide the literary background of the specific visual material students will view while abroad.
An examination of the intersection between medicine and healing in western healing traditions, from ancient times to the modern era. Key scientific and humanistic questions will be addressed.
Global, comparative analysis of religion and culture in Africa, the Caribbean, U.S., and South America. Impact of African religions in the contemporary world.
Examines American religious ideas, practices, and forms of community from the colonial period to the present. Themes include the interrelation of religion with politics, immigration, gender, and racial and ethnic diversity in the United States.
This course focuses on one Big Question: "How do afterlife beliefs affect the way we live?" It builds connections among the humanities [Religious Studies and Philosophy], the social sciences [Anthropology, Psychology, and Law], and the natural sciences [Medicine] to explore the ways in which religious afterlife beliefs are approached from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Students will analyze a variety of religious afterlife beliefs through case studies, problem-based assignments, and reading/writing genres from the six disciplinary perspectives in order to tackle the Big Question as it relates to their personal, academic, and/or career aspirations.
This course offers a broad introduction to the diversity and complexity of American Indian religious traditions historically and in the contemporary. Students will explore general themes in the study of American Indian religions and spirituality along with analyzing specific examples. Of particular importance are the history and effects of colonialism and missionization on Native people, continuing struggles for religious freedom and cultural survival, and historical and contemporary religious responses to social, cultural, political, and geographical changes.
Introduction to texts, images and activities, both historical and contemporary, that comprise Japanese religion.
Old Testament: legendary and historical narratives, prophetic literature, and poetry.
New Testament: The Gospels, the Epistles of Paul, and Revelation.
This course is designed to introduce students to the history,teachings,and practice of Zen Buddhism in China,Japan, Korea and the United States. The course will discuss Zen from a variety of perspectives but will center around the question of the meaning of history. Zen is a tradition of Buddhism that claims to have inherited and to pass on, in an unbroken historical transmission from patriarch to patriarch, the living experience of the Buddha's enlightenment. The course will discuss how Zen's conception of its history is related to its identity as a special tradition within Buddhism, as well as its basic teachings on the primacy of enlightenment, the role of practice, the nature of the mind, and the limitations of language.
An introduction to religions that originated in India - Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism - as well as other religious traditions in India. The Study Abroad version of the course will focus on the religions and cultures related to the travel locations in India.
This course uses philosophical methods to study religion and religious beliefs in the western tradition. The course provides an introductory survey to questions that have been central to the western philosophical tradition: What is religion? Can reasoning or experience give good grounds for religious belief? Does faith require philosophically sound reasoning? Is it philosophically justified to believe in miracles? What tools does philosophy provide for examining the concept of "God"? How can a good God exist if there's so much suffering in the world? How should humans react to suffering? Is there a conflict between religion and science? How can the diversity of religions be explained? Is religion a good thing for humanity?
What does it mean to imagine the Buddha? This course guides students in narrating the lives of Buddhist images by tracing their creation and movement in Asia as well as in cultural encounters within Europe and the U.S. Today art critics continue to discuss "Buddhist" elements in the work of iconic artists like Georgia O'Keefe and Mark Rothko, Tibetan mandala coloring books are being used for stress relief, and "Zen" aesthetics inform a broad range of fashion and design platforms. This course provides tools for critically reexamining the categories of "East" and "West" within this cultural moment. Through creative processes such as drawing, writing, and conversation, students interact with diverse imagery such as Chinese painted caves, Himalayan esoteric portraits of enlightened reality, and Japanese temple complexes. They interpret Buddhist texts describing the construction of buddha bodies in art, ritual, and in the mind. Students also engage with the work of contemporary performance artists inspired by Buddhist ideals of discipline and impermanence. Reflecting upon these experiences, students uncover how the categories of "East' and "West" have obscured the understanding of Buddhist art, artists, and communities. They document the ways in which power dynamics of colonialism and Orientalism have been integral to making these categories. In response to their findings, students work together to generate a virtual exhibition reimagining images of Buddhism and telling their stories.
The course is a comprehensive historical survey of the main religious traditions in China, including Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and popular religion. Through lectures, discussions, and reading of select primary and secondary sources, we will explore the formulations and subsequent transformations of key beliefs, doctrines, practices, and institutions that characterized specific religious traditions. We will also examine the patterns of interaction among different traditions, as well as the general character of religious life in both traditional and modern China.
Exploration of central problems of the human condition, such as meaning of life; death; self-deception; authenticity, integrity and responsibility; guilt and shame; love and sexuality.
Origins of Christian Culture in the Art, Literature, and Philosophy in the Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Cultures.
This course examines the history of the great diversity of beliefs, practices, ways of life, and forms of authority among Christians, and especially conflicts about these. Not narrowly theological, the course construes Christianity broadly, treating, for example, society, culture, and art.
In this course, students take a humanistic disciplinary perspective to explore the cultural products of the pre-modern Middle East and answer questions about its historical development. Using primary sources in translation and secondary scholarship, students will explore the context of the rise of Islam; the process of conversion and expansion across the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia; the crystallization of Shi'ism and changing notions of religious authority; and the impact of Turkish migrations and Mongol conquests. They will become familiar with major genres of pre-modern Middle Eastern literary, religious, and scientific writings, and use techniques of close reading to answer questions about those texts' ideological positions and contexts.
This course introduces students to the New Testament in light of the contexts in which it was written and compiled, and as a window into reconstructing the world of early Christianity. The course will also examine how various Christian communities have understood the meaning and authority of the New Testament.
Development of Christian thought from the New Testament through the Protestant Reformation.
Development of Roman Catholic thought from the twentieth century to the present day, with an emphasis on the impact of the Second Vatican Council.
This course explores diverse religious and spiritual conceptions of health in the United States and their relationships to experiences of sickness and healing. It will include a critical examination of historical and contemporary cases in which religious and spiritual views of health have interacted with healthcare systems, including cases of cooperation and conflict.
Study of the question of God from a theological, philosophical, and literary perspective.
Religious beliefs and cult practices in ancient Greece and Rome. All readings in English.
Investigates the emergence of Christianity in the first four centuries of the Greco-Roman milieu.
Traditional and non-traditional concepts of spirituality are examined in Hopi, African-American, European, and American literature, philosophy, visual art and film.
This course provides an overview of the history of Buddhism in Japan. Major themes covered in the course include an integration of indigenous "kami veneration" (Shinto) into a Buddhist theological framework; a doctrinal emphasis placed on the notion of Buddha nature or "original enlightenment" (hongaku); the rise of the so-called Kamakura schools of Buddhism; bureaucratic roles imparted to Buddhist temples during the Tokugawa period; and challenges Buddhism faces in contemporary Japanese society.
Examination of the Epistles in the New Testament in light of the religious and cultural contexts of the Greco-Roman world.
Survey of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature which explores the literary features and sociological significance of apocalyptic thought in Western culture from antiquity to the present.
Small group travel (8-15) to cultural centers of Europe, Asia, and Africa to study the interaction of cultural difference as evidenced in art, architecture, and city structure.
Study of the history and contemporary understanding of Mysticism in the Christian tradition.
The course examines the mythology and practice of medicine in Greek and Roman times from Asclepius to Hippocrates and Galen, medical instruments and procedures, the religious manifestation of healing in Greek and Roman sanctuaries, the votive dedications by patients and cured, midwifery and child care, public hygiene and diseases. The topics cover a large spectrum of the medical practice and public health in the ancient societies of Classical antiquity, as well as how ancient worldviews, including religion and religious practice, shaped health and medicine in Greek and Roman civilization.
This course provides an overview of the history of Shinto in Japan. Recent scholarship has problematized the simplistic characterization of Shinto as the "indigenous religion of Japan." The course introduces students to the on-going scholarly debate over the category of "Shinto" and dissects from a historical perspective modern appropriations of Shinto discourses in relation to modernization, nationalism, and Japan's "self-image" in the world.
This course is a study of religion, mythology, and popular culture in North American culture, with a focus on the role of saints in the Catholic tradition, on the one hand, and the role of the hero in ancient Greco-Roman traditions, as well as contemporary Marvel and DC universes. Admired and revered in their respective cultures, the saint and the superhero are otherworldly figures for their devotees, capable of miraculous, amazing, and superhuman feats. Neither the laws of nature nor the conventions and norms of society circumscribe the actions and powers of such figures; they overturn common standards of reason and science, and operate in a region of reality that is filled with wonder and marvel, a deeper and more expansive universe than meets the eye. Both figures, too, are capable of extraordinary acts of selflessness and compassion, acts that exceed everyday ethical norms. In addition to exploring the points of contact between the two, this class will consider the phenomena and traits that are distinctive to each one, with the saint belonging to a Christian universe and the hero to Greco-Roman and non-Christian worlds. Ultimately, the class is interested in what the saint and superhero can tell us about fundamental existential questions: What does it mean to be human? What can we know about the universe? What ethical principles should we live by, and why should we embrace ethics in the first place? How does the figure of saint or superhero articulate, address, and respond to perceived injustices and wrongs in the world? How does the representation of the superheroes' gender, class, and race influence the identity and purpose of the superhero? Can the examples of saints and superheroes inspire or thwart human development? How is God, and the Gods, understood in these traditions?
What do witches in colonial Guatemala, nuns in a Mexican convent, born-again gang members in El Salvador, Catholics seeking in-vitro fertilization in Ecuador, and lesbian practitioners of Candomble in Brazil have in common? Their experiences tell us something about the complex intersection of sex, gender, and religion in Latin America. This course draws on anthropological methods and scholarship to consider two central questions: (1) How do religious ideologies and institutions shape sexuality and gender in Latin America? (2) How do Latin Americans contest gender norms, patriarchy, and heteronormativity through their religious practices, thus contributing to larger processes of social change? To address these questions, this class focuses on the social scientific study of diverse religious communities in Latin America from the pre-Columbian past to the present.
Korean culture, despite its important position in East Asian history, tends to be neglected in academia because it is located between China and Japan in both geographical and intellectual perspectives. This course not only introduces general historical information about Korean culture, but also considers its influence on Japanese religious and philosophical traditions, and even on Chinese culture. Such analyses will proceed from the following main topics: Shamanism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucian philosophy, religious discourse during war time, "new" religions in both North and South Korea in the modern era, and Korean religions beyond Korea.
This course aims at a broad analysis of the enthralling history and legacies of the Tudor and Stuart dynasties that ruled England from 1458 to 1714. The objective is to understand how in a quarter century the radical political and religious events, and figures, transformed the social, political and religious structures of England, giving birth to the foundation of England as a united kingdom, and significant world power. The course begins by focusing on the Tudors with emphasis on Henry VIII and the English Reformation, the return to Catholicism under Mary Tudor, the creation of a new Anglican Church under Elizabeth I and its unforeseen consequences. From there, it explores the Stuarts, with attention to the catastrophic English Revolution culminating in the public execution of King Charles I in 1649, and the rise of the English republic that ended with the restoration of monarchy in 1660. The course then reflects on the transformation of the English state following the elite coup d'etat of 1688, the Glorious Revolution, a fundamental watershed that cleared the way for a constitutional monarchy, parliamentary sovereignty, and religious toleration in England.
This course examines religion and gender through the study of women in Judaism. How do scholars construct a history of women in ancient Judaism when Jewish sacred texts are written by and for men? How have modern Jewish women accommodated feminist ideals without undermining the authority of the established tradition? What impact has the feminist movement had on Jewish communal institutions in the United States and Israel? In this course, we explore these questions and others by examining the influence Jewish religious beliefs and practices have played in the formation of Jewish women's identities, image and their understanding of power and authority. Students study the role of women in the formation of Judaism and Jewish society as a culturally constructed and historically changing category through archaeology, biblical studies, rabbinics, theology, folklore, social and political movements.
Religion as a social institution with special reference to industrial societies.
Explores the relationship between the Hindu goddess traditions, women, and the feminist spirituality movement in order to complicate the relationship that is often assumed to exist between women, goddesses, and power.
Considers the place of women in multicultural U.S. society by placing them in historical perspective with regard to religious communities. Pursues historical encounters between women and their religions.
This course focuses on the history and doctrine of Eastern Christianity from its origins in the early Church through today, emphasizing the cultural manifestations of Orthodox doctrine: liturgy, iconography, pious practice. We will compare Eastern Orthodoxy to Western Christianity (Catholicism and Protestantism), and will examine various different national Churches within Eastern Orthodoxy (i.e., Byzantine, Bulgarian, Serbian, Modern Greek, the older "Oriental" Churches, etc.), with a primary focus on Russia. Eastern Orthodox Christianity is often perceived as being one of the more 'mystical' of Christian traditions, and we will explore the Orthodox vision of 'the mystical life', examining its basis in history and contemporary experience. We will also ask about the significance of Church doctrine and practice for the development of culture as a whole in the areas of the world in which Eastern Christianity predominates, and the ways in which that culture both differs from and relates to what we (perhaps inaccurately) call "Western" civilization. In general, Orthodox practice relies heavily on the senses, and the course is designed to be experiential. To that end, we will make at least one field trip to a local Orthodox Church during the course of the semester.
An examination of the role of religion and science in the construction of human worldviews and beliefs, in historical and contemporary contexts.
Explores the relationship of women and Christianity in history and literature. Examines multiple images and ideals of womanhood in Christian history; women's influence in shaping cultures and thought; feminism and fundamentalism in Christianity.
Explores the parallel and intersecting paths that both Jewish and Christian communities have taken toward theologies of self-identity.
This course will explore diverse Buddhist communities in North America, including local expressions of Buddhism. Students will learn about Buddhist perspectives and practices and how these have been transmitted from Asia to the Americas over the past two centuries, with an emphasis on contemporary forms of North American Buddhism.
Intellectual foundations of Taoism in its two classical sources, the Lao Tzu and the Chuang Tzu, and a sampling of the varieties of religious practice which developed later.
This course explores Holocaust memory and representation in Europe, Israel and the United States through various media and genres from diaries, memoirs and oral testimonies to Yiddish and Hebrew poetry, second generation graphic novels and film to memorial gardens and resistance monuments, archives and museums. We engage with some of the most fundamental questions of memory and Holocaust trauma from multiple perspectives and contexts. Is it possible to communicate the horrors of the concentration camp? Who has the right to speak about the Holocaust? How does "Jewish" memory of the Holocaust shape our understanding of the history of Nazism, genocide, World War II and its aftermath? In what ways, has Holocaust memory become associated with movements for historical justice and human rights, in particular, in the United States?
Major forms of Buddhist meditation from both the South Asian and East Asian traditions, with emphasis on the nature of meditation as a variety of religious experience.
This course provides an overview of Islamic intellectual history from the origins of Islam to the present day. The course is divided into three units: 1) Classical Islam and religious sciences; 2) Classical Islamic thought more broadly; 3) Modern Islamic thought. Students will be introduced to Islamic scriptures as well as original writings in translation by preeminent figures of the Islamic tradition and will learn how Muslim thinkers engaged issues concerning scriptural authority, theology, mysticism, human happiness and flourishing, politics, colonialism and gender. The course approaches these writings with particular attention to analysis of the concepts central to Islamic thought and their interconnections, and to the forms of expression through which these concepts are presented to envisioned audiences. Throughout the course, emphasis will be placed on the implications of the ideas we study for values pertaining to justice, social hierarchy and inequality, freedom and domination. Ideas regarding the nature of human existence and its place within the universe always have relation to social life and order. Examining this relation in Islamic thought will involve probing our own notions on these matters and their implications in our own social life.
This course is a study of popular culture and religion in African-American and Latin@ communities, with a focus on the place of rap music in the cultural identity of these traditions. The class will begin with a study of some major themes in cultural studies concerning identity, class, race, and gender in addition to a study of the role of religion in Black and Latin@ communities. We will consider the approaches and self-understandings of identity and culture in rap music with special attention to the voices of protest, resistance, and spirituality among rap artists.
This course is a survey of psychological theory and research investigating religious beliefs, experiences, and practices.
An examination of Jesus as an historical figure shaped in the various images of the cultures depicting him. The class will analyze Jesus as the subject of recent scholarly debates as well as his portrayals in 20th century art, film, and literature.
This course provides students with a critical understanding of the histories and cultures of the Persian-speaking world, which includes the communities in Persian, Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Iraq, United States, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Canada, and European countries. This course introduces students to the Persian civilization from a variety of approaches. This course will help students to engage with major historical and cultural developments in Persian history and civilization. In light of the disciplinary methodologies related to those fields, students will study the texts and material culture of Iran in order to understand historical, literary, and political developments within their social contexts. Eventually, students will gain an understanding of how Persia developed into a world power, how it was divided, and how it continued to exist as a cultural concept. Students will read texts in English, watch films, and experience music, dance, and food. Through a comparative and critical approach, the course will also examine the value and limitations of theoretical perspectives offered by related disciplines such as literary, political science, religion, and cultural studies. Teaching will include lectures, discussions, and learner-centered activities using cooperative learning techniques. There will be live and interactive performances in some of the sessions on food and dance. Readings will be accompanied by short video and/or audio clips. All learning materials including articles, chapters, films, audios, etc. will be uploaded on the course's website and D2L.
Critical, thematic exegesis of indigenous African and Christian contributions to African American religions. Analyzes role of religion in resisting oppression and racial injustice.
Will examine the role of the visual, material, literary, and performance arts in the construction of religious knowledge in the religious traditions of India. The primary focus will be the historical development of the arts and aesthetic styles in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Jainism, Sikhism, and Christianity in South Asia.
An investigation of modern psychological theories and their relevance to ancient Greek and Roman myths. All readings in English.
Overview of the traditional Hindu narratives found in the Vedic, epic, and puranic literature and in their many forms in regional literary and artistic forms, and the narratives influence on culture, philosophy, literature, and folklore.
This course will examine how the three genres of Zen Buddhism, the tea ceremony/tea culture, and poetry, have been presented over time as not only compatible, but as representative expressions of each other. We will consider the contemporaneous cultural, historical, and political factors that contributed to the formation of this discourse. We will also hold up to critical scrutiny the very concept of "genre" in pre-modern East Asia, as well as the distinction between "Zen Buddhism" and what may be termed "Zen culture." We will also investigate in depth how modern commentators such as Okakura Tenshin, Suzuki Daisetsu, and Hisamatsu Shin'ichi's dialogue with the West and Western models informed the now ingrained idea that the tea ceremony represents an artistic, aesthetic, and spiritual nexus of the other two genres, and indeed of East Asian Culture as a whole.
How did Tibetans adapt Buddhism to create a distinctly Tibetan tradition? How did Buddhism come to Tibetan soil, and how did it evolve over time? Sources from the domains of art, ritual, philosophy, and literature, especially biography, will play an important role in our explorations. We will contemplate questions surrounding individual, religious, and cultural identity, and of the role of women. We will conclude by examining further transformations of Tibetan Buddhism in exile and in western settings like Tucson.
Is Buddhism a tradition of healing? In what ways has Buddhism been involved in reviving, sustaining, and curing human individuals? This course explores relationships and encounters between Buddhism and the domains of religion, science, and medicine. It considers historical relationships between Buddhism and traditional medicine in Asia as well as contemporary Western discourses involving Buddhism in popular culture, psychology, and spirituality. Finally, it invites a critical approach to the current dialogue between Buddhism and science. In the process, it reveals hidden assumptions behind commodifying `mindfulness' and the quest to document the therapeutic impact of meditation upon health, happiness, and success in the modern age. Students will have the opportunity to apply the ideas they have learned through analysis of relevant initiatives at the U of A such as the Neuropsychology, Emotion, and Meditation [NEM] Lab and the Center for Compassion Studies as well as of broader Tucson community events like the Gem Show.
This course explores the relationships between humans, religious traditions, and the environment. We will examine how a variety of religious traditions have shaped human relationships with nature, how the natural world has influenced religious beliefs and practices, and how religions influence people's understanding of and responses to climate change.
Concentrating mostly on early Celtic Christianity and its later struggles with Roman Christianity, this class examines art, literature and theology from the myths of the ancient Celts to the revivals of the present day.
In this course, students will analyze attitudes towards sexuality in major world religions, both globally and in the context of the United States.
This course investigates how consciousness of "the West" as a rival cultural entity emerged in Muslim societies, and how the West has been represented and evaluated by Muslim intellectuals from the colonial period to current debates over US hegemony and globalization.
In this course we examine the philosophy, practice, historical roots, and development of yoga. Students are asked to use and reflect on the disciplinary perspectives of the historian to examine premodern primary texts (in English translation) that provide a window into the origins of yoga, as well as the perspectives of the anthropologist and cultural critic to examine contemporary yoga practices. Students will compare and contrast perspectives of Indian yogis and contemporary international yoga influencers in order to understand how the experience of yoga differs across time and culture and how social systems of power and inequality are both subverted and reinforced by yoga and its practitioners.
Survey of major political, socioeconomic, and cultural developments in the history of Diaspora Jewry: Modern Jewish history.
Survey of major political, socioeconomic, and cultural developments in the history of Diaspora Jewry from the Middle ages to the French Revolution.
Rise of Islam, creation of Islamic society, relationship of religion and politics.
Evolution and global spread of Muslim societies, modernization and its problems.
Survey of the history and religion of ancient Israel. Biblical period through the Babylonian Exile; introduction to the Hebrew Bible.
Survey of the history and religion of ancient Israel. Ezra-Nehemiah to the Roman Empire, with emphasis on the formation of rabbinic Judaism.
Socio-economic and intellectual roots of modern anti-Semitism, evolution of Nazi policy, the world of death camps, responses of Axis and Allied governments, and responses of the Jews.
This course surveys the global history and theory of witchcraft and the occult from antiquity to the twentieth century, with a focus on events and practices in the West. We will study various notions of magic and demonology, their intersection with witchcraft trials and witch hunting, the role of religion, shifts in ideas about torture and the law, re-emergence of the occult in 19th-century, the development of Wicca and the cult of the goddess, and persistent concerns over witchcraft in countries such as Angola in the 20th and 21st centuries. We will explore what different societies considered good evidence of the supernatural and how shifting standards of proof and rationality have affected popular understandings of the occult and witchcraft through the centuries. While witchcraft is often associated today with women, we will not focus exclusively on women's experiences. Instead we will investigate the experiences of both sexes with the supernatural and how gender perceptions influenced the construction of ideas about witchcraft. Our examination of the past will be historical in method, but we will also address legal, medical, and anthropological questions in our study. Students will read and interpret original documents and other original sources, learning to understand assumptions about the world that may seem strange to us.
Introduction to major cultural figures of German speaking countries who have seen, imagined, or experienced what role religion may or can play in human life. An introduction to the religious discourse from the German Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century, with an emphasis on the emergence of tolerance.
This course examines religious beliefs in Africa in order to illuminate connections between religion and culture on that continent, and to examine the relationship between religio-culture and the socio-economic and political forces that shape contemporary African societies.
This course examines the rich and fascinating civilizations of the Bronze and Iron Age Levant, with a particular focus on Israel and Judah in the Iron Age (1200-587 BCE). The course contextualizes the Levant in its Near Eastern setting, examines international relations and domestic politics, social structure, religion, gender, the development of technology and literacy, daily life and more. The critical tools used for this intriguing investigation include archaeology, history, biblical and other textual studies, anthropology, feminist studies.
Course will survey the history, textual and archaeological remains of ancient Judaism and the beginnings of Christianity in ancient Judaea from 336 BCE to 135 CE. Special emphasis will focus on how archaeology contributes to the understanding of the history and texts of Ancient Judaism and the New Testament.
Examines the changing relationship between Islam and politics from the time of the Prophet to the present day.
This course examines and discusses the dynamism of Indigenous religions in the world, particularly in North America and Africa, Buddhism, and Christianity. It will consider common themes in each tradition and illuminate areas of distinction.
This course examines various definitions of anti-Semitism and traces the history of anti-Semitism (or "anti-Judaism") from the earliest arguments between Christianizing Jews and Judaizing Christians to the birth of Islam, through the period of Muslim expansion and the Crusades, to the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, and the Holocaust. It looks at the differences among various types of Christian anti-Semitism, Muslim anti-Semitism, and Jewish anti-Semitism, and concludes with a look at contemporary forms of anti-Semitism.
Overview of ethnic and religious minorities in the contemporary Middle East, study of ethnic and religious diversity and its origin and manifestations in the modern Middle East. Examination of how the concept of religious and ethnic minority has emerged as a key factor in state policies towards minorities as well as the cultural, economic, political, religious, and educational lives of its people.
Throughout the modern development of what has been called "spirituality" in the United States, Asian Pacific Americans along with Asian and Pacific Islander religions have been integral. In the mid-nineteenth century, Asian Pacific American (APA) immigrants brought their religions, and towards the end of the nineteenth century non-APAs enthusiastically brought APA religious teachers to the mainland United States. In the twentieth century, this mixture of APA people and religions continued to reach new communities and develop into independent US-based religions; eventually, these influenced the emergence of more individualistic, non-traditional forms of religion - popularly called 'spirituality.' These lines of influence crisscrossed over the decades, leading to a complex mixture of interests, investments, discourses, and depictions of different racial groups. As a result, this course's examination of Asian and Pacific religions in US-based spirituality engages questions about its definition in distinction to the term 'religion' and in relationship to the social dynamics of race. The course explores its presence in diverse locations such as medicine, theatre, environmental activism, and children's video games.
Qualified students working on an individual basis with professors who have agreed to supervise such work.
Qualified students working on an individual basis with professors who have agreed to supervise such work.
This course involves in depth study of early Christian texts together with related contemporary Jewish and Greco-Roman literature. Students will engage in careful analysis of individual texts in the New Testament and from the first four centuries of the Common Era, focusing on questions of genre, authorship, and meaning. Alongside these, students will examine writings by contemporary Jewish, Greek, and Roman authors (e.g., Philo, Josephus, Seneca, and Plutarch) as illustrative of the wider literary and religious culture. For students who have completed GRK 201, an option for readings in ancient Greek will be available as part of the course.
Early Christian and late antique literatures document one of the most significant periods of the human past. This period witnessed and helped to inaugurate the gradual transformation of classical society, government, and religion into three distinct cultures-the Medieval West, Byzantine, and Islamic. The western Mediterranean formed a European, Christian society made up of distinct European nations. In the eastern Mediterranean, the Roman Empire continued as the "Byzantine Empire," and the seventh century saw the birth of another major world religion, Islam, along with the Islamic caliphate. Early Christian and late antique literatures are characterized by a rich interdisciplinarity, but the social, religious, and political impact of Christianity is at the core of the Latin literature of this period. One particular focus of the course will be the "conflict" between Christian and pagan Latin literature- the problem of how to reconcile the literary inheritance of the pagan past with the Christian present. The texts of Tertullian and Jerome are the loci classici for the discussion of Christian attitudes to pagan literature and culture, a theme we will address first in their texts and then in all subsequent readings. Although our course will include source readings from the wider Latin West (e.g. North Africa and Gaul), our focus will be upon the dramatic transformation of fourth-century Rome into the Primatial See of the Catholic Church and the destination of religious pilgrimage-the new Jerusalem.
Buddhism in China, Korea and Japan with emphasis on the relationship between East Asian Buddhist thought and practice and the various historical contexts in which they emerged.
This is a discussion-based seminar that focuses on theoretical approaches to the body and religion. Using Transgender Studies, Intersex Studies, Disability Studies, and Critical Race Theory, we will examine how religions approach the body. Graduate-level requirements include a 20-25 page paper that cites at least five academic sources. They will present their research to the class. They will pick a reading from the syllabus and facilitate class discussion on that reading.
Traditional Indian Medicine, or TIM, is a concept that refers to Indigenous knowledges expressed through the varied healing systems in Indigenous communities. This course will pay particular attention to American Indian nations and healing knowledges that are intersecting and intertwined relationships with the natural world, the Indigenous body and the sacred. We will examine both how Indigenous healing systems have persisted as well as responded to social conditions, such as genocide, colonization and historical, as well as contemporary, forms of oppression. Topics include intergenerational trauma as well as how resilience is expressed in practices of wellbeing, healing and self-determination. We will also explore TIM as containing systems of healing that may/may not operate in conjunction with allopathic medicine. This course takes a transdisciplinary approach, incorporating readings from American Indian/Indigenous studies and health to explore a complex portfolio of American Indian/Indigenous wellbeing.
This course examines the creation and evolution of a new cultural and cartographical construct Europe during the Middle Ages (roughly from the fourth century through the sixteenth century) within the context of world history. Among the topics we will explore are religious conversion and conflict, the creation of group identities, the development of secular and ecclesiastical authority, and the cultural, intellectual, and technological achievements of the Middle Ages.
Major institutions and trends in Europe from the breakup of the Roman World to the 14th century.
This course is designed to offer tools for engaging religious and cultural diversity within healthcare settings, which includes consideration of religious patients, religious healthcare workers, faith-based healthcare institutions, and the impact of religious communities on healthcare laws and services. To develop skills for navigating intercultural differences, students will practice applying academic approaches to religion to health-related case studies.
This course critically explores the categories of "religion," "spirituality," and "the sacred" as they relate to American Indian communities, traditions, lifeways, histories, narratives, ceremony, and land. Focusing on both the plurality of indigenous lifeways and shared characteristics, some major topics that will be examined include the role of religion both in the colonization of Native people as well as in resistance to colonization, the importance of land/place/ecosystem and conceptions of sacred space, and issues of religious freedom and the fight for traditional land. Throughout we will analyze the efficacy of the terms "religion" and "spirituality" as well as engage with concerns regarding the academic study of Native American religions more broadly.
Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries with special emphasis on Italy as the seat of the Renaissance. Topics include the city states, humanism, the Church in an age of Schism and secularization, Renaissance art, the New Monarchies and European exploration and imperialism.
The course objectives are (1) to acquaint students with traditional literature and contemporary research on Islamic movements, and 2) to introduce students to the historical and ideological basis of an emerging globalized political Islam.
The Reformation in thought and action both from the perspective of its religious origins and of the political and social conditions. Analysis of its impact on sixteenth century Europe including the spread of Protestant reformation and its companion movement, counter-reformation.
Comparative approaches to the study of religion, systems of ritual and symbolization in the primitive world, shamanism and possession, religious movements, and religion in the modern world.
This course will study the history and intersections of religion and literature in Latin America.
This course examines the rise of Mormonism as a uniquely "American" religious phenomenon, examining Mormons' engagement with social, political, economic, and sexual dynamics in American life from the nineteenth century to the present day. Mormon history provides a lens for examining key topics in American religious history, including the creation, maintenance, and fragmentation of New Religious Movements; religious violence; church/state relations; constructions of race, gender, and sexuality; modern sacred space; and the globalization of religion.
A critical study of philosophical and religious theories regarding the role of God in the existence of evil, the sources of these theories in sacred texts of monotheistic religions, and the relationship between religion and violence in contemporary global cultures.
This course therefore concentrates on the evidence for Greek sanctuary sites between 1000 and 600 B.C. We examine the excavated material from numerous sanctuary sites, including architectural remains (temples and/or altars), votive offerings of bronze and clay, and any other evidence revealing religious practices during these formative years. The role the sanctuaries played in society is also considered with a view to their political, social, economic and spiritual implications for Archaic Greek life.
This course presents an examination of the origins and early evolution of images of the afterlife among the ancient peoples of the Mediterranean basin and Near East. The course will focus on ancient Israelite, biblical, and early Jewish and Christian images. Later developments of these images within Western religions will also be discussed.
This course discusses the impact of globalization on the environment and ecology, with a particular focus on indigenous cultures and religions in the context of environmental instability.
This course will be an in-depth exploration of the history of the religious traditions of India. We will frame the course through the earliest extant religious materials from the Harappan Civilization and the Vedic literary corpus and the philosophical ferment of the Upanisads and the Sramanas (Jainism and Buddhism). From there we will look at the emergence of Puranic Hinduism in the medieval period as it vied with Buddhism and Jainism for imperial and popular patronage. Finally, we will investigate the dialogue and evolution of Indian religions during the period of Muslim kingdoms and European colonialism.
This course examines Dante's masterpiece, "The Divine Comedy", the poet's life and other works. The primary focus is on "The Divine Comedy" and its influence on European literature and culture. Other texts will be included.
Surveys the ideology, symbolism, and major themes of Jewish mysticism as evidenced in several prominent mystical texts. The core of this course will be reading the texts in English translation and the development of skills in reading and understanding a Jewish mystical text.
The characteristic features of Hebrew poetry. The literary development of these writings and their function in the Israelite cult. Examples of biblical poetry outside the book of Psalms also considered.
Origin and development of Sufism and its impact on Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.
Examination of the roles women have played throughout Islamic history and of the changing discourse in the Islamic community about women and their roles.
This course is an intensive investigation of the life of the ancient Israelite woman. It presents a multidisciplinary approach toward reconstructing the social, economic, religious and political life of women in Iron Age Israel. Through readings and class discussion, students will explore the ways in which women contributed to their society throughout the eras of the Judges and of the United and Divided Monarchies (1200-587 BCE). Because women traditionally have been undervalued and marginalized, until recently little attention was devoted to this vitally important and stimulating topic. In consequence, students will be challenged to utilize multiple sources in their reconstruction of the lives of Israelite women. The sources used in this class will include (but not be limited to) archaeological, historical and art historical data, the witness of the Hebrew Bible and other pertinent texts, and anthropological and ethnographic studies of the roles of women in pre-industrial and Middle eastern societies.
The Inquisition in Spanish, European, & ethnic history: its bureaucracy and procedures; its festivities, its victims, New and Old Christians; and witches. Social, economic, and demographic context.
The course objectives are (1) to introduce students to the world of the Jewish communities in Islamic countries and (2) to acquaint students with the culture and history of Jewish communities of the Islamic world and the characteristics of Middle Eastern and North African Judaism.
An exploration of the encounter of Protestant ideas with the dawning of modernity from 1789 to World War I.
Major topics in world religion, religion and culture, and philosophy of religion.
An exploration of debates and arguments in European and American philosophy, theology and the history of ideas in response to the rational project of the Enlightenment, from the sixteenth century to the present.
The evolving relationship between law and religion has had a profound influence on American political life and discourse since the country's founding. This course is designed to develop familiarity with that history and the resulting major tenets of the First Amendment's religion clauses. Taking as our starting point the concept of the separation of church and state, we examine what this idea has meant in U.S. Constitutional law. Class time will be structured around in-depth study of the Constitution and of Supreme Court precedents, and will integrate these formative Supreme Court decisions and decisions from state and lower federal courts into the social and historical contexts from which they derive meaning. In addition, the course will survey the scholarly treatment of such threshold questions as the meaning of "religion" in society, and will evaluate the evolving notion of religious liberty in a pluralistic society. We conclude with an examination of current legal debates and cases and of the prominent role of religious discourse about law, social change, politics and culture in today's society.
This course explores Judaism from Late Antiquity through the beginning of the Middle Ages. Rather than a traditional survey format, we will cover this period through historical, literary, and cultural approaches to primary literature (including focus on rabbinic literature) organized thematically. Throughout, we will read primary and secondary sources on two levels: exploring the historical and literary narratives they weave about this period in Jewish history, while paying close attention to their rhetorical choices. We discuss rabbinic self-representation simultaneously as we analyze the ways historical narratives and primary texts have been mobilized in the contemporary Jewish clime. Finally, we will treat the question of how this body of literature came to be of such central importance in Jewish culture.
What is ritual? Tantric Buddhism employs ritual in radical ways to work towards the goal of enlightenment in this very lifetime. This course provides an introduction to the principles of tantric ritual, including themes of guru devotion, rites of consecration, vows of secrecy, and visualization practice. In particular, the course guides students in contemplating what it means to imagine oneself as a deity as a means of attaining enlightenment. The importance of ritual to the practice of Tantric Buddhism invites us to reflect upon the larger significance of "ritual" for understanding tantra, Buddhism, and religion at large. The course culminates in an in-class colloquium aimed at defining ritual in dialogue with tantric materials.
Buddhism in China, Korea and Japan with emphasis on the relationship between East Asian Buddhist thought and practice and the various historical contexts in which they emerged.
A selective survey of Japanese religious history from earliest times through the 11th century. Topics covered may include prehistoric religions; the development of Shinto; Nara-period state Buddhism; tantric Buddhism in the Heian period; and spirit possession and exorcism.
Selective survey of the history of religions in Japan from the 11th century through the 16th. Topics covered may include the medieval worldview; apocalyptic thought and related practices; Pure Land Buddhism; Zen; and proselytization and religious competition in medieval Japan.
A selective survey of the history of Japanese religion from the 16th century through the present. Topics may include Shinto and Buddhism; Christianity and its suppression; Edo-period official and popular religion; State Shinto; and Japan's "new religions" and "new new religions."
Examines the positive (curing, harmony with the natural world, etc.) aspects of Indian religions. Indian medicine men may participate in the course at various junctures.
Specialized work on an individual basis, consisting of instruction and practice in actual service in a department, program, or discipline. Requires faculty member approval, preceptor application on file with department.
This course treats topics within the study of religion in ancient Greece, Rome, and neighboring cultures. Knowledge of primary languages is not required, but for qualified students there may be optional readings in primary languages, such as in Greek and/or Latin.
This course focuses on Islamic Law and Society, topics such as the life and teachings of Muhammad, political and theological controversies, and the classical tradition of Islam.
A culminating experience for majors involving a substantive project that demonstrates a synthesis of learning accumulated in the major, including broadly comprehensive knowledge of the discipline and its methodologies. Senior standing required.
An honors thesis is required of all the students graduating with honors. Students ordinarily sign up for this course as a two-semester sequence. The first semester the student performs research under the supervision of a faculty member; the second semester the student writes an honors thesis.
Qualified students working on an individual basis with professors who have agreed to supervise such work.