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100-level courses are open to all students. They are either broad-based introductory courses that address multiple traditions or courses that have a more narrow focus.

200-level courses are specific to a tradition or methodology. They are open to all students and do not have prerequisites, unless otherwise indicated.

300-level courses have prerequisites as specified.

A reading knowledge of foreign languages, both modern and classical, is highly desirable for those students planning to major in religion. For more information on language study, see Language Courses under the requirements for the major.

100-Level Courses

REL 106 Women and Religion
Lois Dubin and Vera Shevzov
TTh 1 - 2:20 pm

An exploration of the roles played by religion in women’s private and public lives, as shaped by and expressed in sacred texts, symbols, rituals, and institutional structures. Experiences of Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Wiccan women facing religious authority and exercising agency. We will consider topics such as feminism and gender in the study of religion; God-talk and goddesses; women’s bodies and sexuality; family, motherhood and celibacy; leadership and ordination; critiques of traditions, creative adaptations, and new religious movements. Sources will include novels, films, poetry, and visual images in addition to scriptural and religious texts. Enrollment limited to 35. {L}{H} 4 credits

REL 110 Colloquium: The Holy Land
Suleiman Mourad
MW 1:10 - 2:30 pm

This course will examine the concept of the “Holy Land” according to the religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It will explore the ways the Holy Land has been defined and sanctified in scripture and in works of art, architecture, literature, poetry, and film. It will also explore the ways that political monarchs have tried to tap into the sanctity of the Holy Land to promote their own legitimacy. The course will emphasize the significance of the common heritage of the Holy Land, as well as how it has inspired religious and political conflict. Enrollment limited to 20. {H} 4 credits

200-Level Courses

Religious Studies: Philosophical, Critical, and Comparative

HST 219 (c) Race, Religion and Nation in Modern East Asia, 1500-Present
Garrett Washington
TTh 1 - 2:50 pm

As their nations struggled to find their places in a new world order dominated by the West, East Asians saw the variety, visibility and impacts of religion explode in their everyday lives. From European Jesuits in China to American Protestants in Japan to Japanese Buddhists in Korea to the place of religion in racial and national identity formation and state building, religion has been a powerful factor in modern East Asia over the past five centuries. To understand these developments, we read from a broad range of sources that illustrate East Asian religious heterogeneity and its intellectual, sociocultural and political repercussions. (E) {H} 4 credits

PHI 214 Religion and Contemporary Science
Sam Ruhmkorff
MWF 11 - 12:10 pm

This course examines resonances between religion and contemporary scientific understandings of the world. Topics include new arguments for and against the existence of God based on current physics and biology; scientific explanations of religious experience and the ubiquity of religious practice; the “new atheism” of authors such as Richard Dawkins, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Daniel Dennett; whether theories such as intelligent design qualify as science; and whether those who believe in God and miracles can accept current scientific theories. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy, religion, logic, or the sciences or permission of the instructor. (E) {M} 4 credits

Biblical Literature

REL 213 Prophecy in Ancient Israel
Joel Kaminsky
MW 1:10 - 2:30 pm

A survey of the institution of prophecy and the individuals who functioned as prophets in the Hebrew Bible. Emphasis on the following issues: What types of people became prophets? What did prophets speak about? What role did prophets play in society? Did prophets deliver different or even conflicting messages? Can one tell a true from a false prophet? {H}{L} 4 credits

Jewish Traditions

REL/JUD 225 Jewish Civilization: Food and Foodways
Lois Dubin
TTh 3-4:20 pm

Same as JUD 125. An introduction to Jewish civilization from a variety of perspectives (religion, history, politics, philosophy, literature and culture) organized around different themes; the theme for spring 2015 is Food and Foodways. Consideration of core ideas, texts, and practices that have animated Jews and Judaism from antiquity to the present, with attention to both classical and modern formulations. {H}{L} 4 credits

Christian Traditions

REL 236 Eastern Christianity
Vera Shevzov
TTh 10:30 - 11:50 am

An introduction to the history and spirituality of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, with focus on the Byzantine and Russian traditions. Topics include the meanings and markers of tradition; icons and ritual; the spiritual elder and monastic culture; points of difference with Catholicism and Protestantism. Given that Eastern Christianity has made an unexpected comeback in post-Soviet society and culture, this course also examines contemporary Orthodox discourse on such issues as human rights, modernization, globalization and church/state relations. Readings from ancient and contemporary mystical, philosophical, liturgical, literary and political sources. Occasional films. {H} 4 credits

Islamic Traditions

REL 246 Islamic Thought and the Challenge of Modernity
Suleiman Mourad
MW 9 - 10:20 am

Major themes addressed by Muslim thinkers since the 18th century, such as Islamic reform and revival, the encounters with colonialism and imperialism, nationalism and other modern ideologies; and Islamic discussions of modernity, liberalism, conservatism, fundamentalism and militancy. Reading of primary sources in translation. {H} 4 credits

REL 247 The Qur’an
Suleiman Mourad
MWF 11 am - 12:10 pm

The Qur’an, according to the majority of Muslims, is God’s word revealed to Muhammad through angel Gabriel over a period of 22 years (610–632 CE). This course will introduce students to Islam’s scriptural text: its content, form, structure, and history. It will also situate the Qur’an in the larger frame of the genre of Scripture: What does it mean for a text to be revealed? As such the course will both study the Qur’an as a 7th-century product and as a text that has a history of reception among Muslims with variant levels of impact on the formulation of salvation history, law and legal theory, theology, ritual, intellectual trends, and art and popular culture. {H}{L} 4 credits

Buddhist Traditions

REL 260 Buddhist Thought
Constance Kassor
MW 1:10 - 2:30 pm

Enduring patterns of Buddhist thought concerning the interpretations of self, world, nature, good and evil, love, wisdom, time and enlightenment as revealed through major primary texts, contemporary writings and films. Enrollment limited to 35. {H} 4 credits

REL 269 Buddhism Along the Silk Road
Rick Taupier
M 7-9 pm

This course will trace early Buddhism on the Indian sub-continent and its evolution through Central Asia along the Silk Road. We will consider the emergence of the Mahayana (Great Vehicle) and Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle) Buddhist traditions and their development as they moved into Central and East Asian territories. We will examine Buddhism among the Chinese Northern Wei, Tang and Yuan dynasties, among the Turkic Uighurs and the ethnic Tibetan Tanguts, and finally the eastern and western Mongols and sub-groups who practiced Buddhism within the Russian Empire. (E){H} 2 credits

South Asian Traditions

REL 278 Religion in the Himalayas: Coexistence, Conflict and Change
Constance Kassor
MW 9 - 10:20 am

This course examines the religious life of the Himalayan regions of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan, paying particular attention to issues surrounding the construction of religious identity. Through text, film, and art, we will explore practices in Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and local traditions, and investigate the ways in which these practices negotiate political change and modernization. Topics include gender (in)equality in religious institutions and practices, insider/outsider representations of communities, and the intersection of religion and politics. (E){H} 4 credits

Religion in the Americas

None offered this semester.

300-Level Courses


REL 304 Happiness: Buddhist and Psychological Understandings of Personal Well-Being
Jamie Hubbard and Philip Peake
Th 3 - 4:50 pm

Same as PSY 304. What is happiness? What is personal well-being? How are they achieved? This course will examine the core ideas of the Buddhist science of mind and how they are being studied and employed by psychologists, neuroscientists, cognitive scientists and psychotherapists. The focus of the course is the notion of “happiness,” its cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary definition as well as the techniques advocated for its achievement by both the Buddhist and the psychologist. Prerequisite: PSY 111 or REL 105; or one course in Buddhist traditions; or permission of an instructor. Enrollment limited to 15 juniors and seniors. {S} {N} 4 credits

REL 310 Hebrew Bible
Topic: Sibling Rivalries: Israel and The Other
Joel Kaminsky
T 3- 4:50 pm

This course examines the biblical idea of divine election, the notion that God specially favors certain individuals and nations, a notion that sits at the heart of ancient Israel’s theological self-understanding. Beginning with the narratives of sibling rivalry in Genesis and then turning to other relevant texts from the Hebrew Bible (read in English), as well as on occasion from the New Testament and rabbinic literature, we explore how the Hebrew Bible conceives of election, what it entails for those chosen and what this implies about the three-way relationship among God, Israel and the nations of the world. Prerequisite: REL 162, REL 215, any other college-level Bible course, or permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 12. {H}{L} 4 credits