New religions, food, and animals oh my! — Spring 2017 courses

Can you believe it? Football season is flying by, Thanksgiving break is just around the corner, and it’s time to register for Spring classes.

As you register for Spring coursework in the coming weeks we wanted to make sure you had all the relevant information on courses offered through #UFreligion (you can find the full course listings HERE, which will help you register for the courses you see below).

We may be biased, but we have a great line-up of classes that meet religion requirements (for our awesome majors and minors), diversity requirements, electives, and more!

Here are a few courses we want to highlight and bring to your attention. If you have any questions please feel free to CONTACT US.

New Approaches to Islam and Muslim Societies after Orientalism – Dr. Benjamin Soares

The main objective of this graduate seminar will be to critically examine some of the major contemporary approaches to the study of Islam and Muslim societies in their complexity and diversity. After considering how classical social theory has been used in the study of Islam and Muslim societies, we will focus most of our attention on developments in recent scholarship in Islamic studies, history, and anthropology that one might characterize as post-Orientalist in orientation. Through the close reading of texts in which various contemporary theoretical models and assumptions have been applied to different thematic areas, including the study of Islamic education, intellectual traditions, law, Islamic religious practice, religious encounters, politics, the environment, and public life more generally, we will assess such approaches to the study and understanding of Islam and Muslim societies past and present.

Religions in Latin America – Dr. Anna Peterson

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-3-50-38-pmThis class will familiarize students with important historical developments and contemporary expressions of religion in Latin America and the Caribbean. Latin American religions are diverse and complex, vastly different from the stereotyped image of a “Catholic continent.” No single course could cover the entire range of religious experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean, but this class will introduce graduate students to some of the more significant and interesting varieties of religious life in Latin America, with particular attention to the role of religion in social and cultural change. Readings and discussion will explore religion from the pre-colonial period to the present, covering a wide range of traditions, countries, and theoretical perspectives.

on-nowCults and New Religious Movements — Sarah “Moxy” Moczygemba

Have you and your friends ever argued about the authenticity of a religion like the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Cults and New Religious Movements will explore groups referred to as NRMs. Topics include: why groups get labeled as cults, media portrayal versus insider self- understanding, and the methods scholars utilize when studying NRMs.

Religion, Nature, and Society — Dr. Whitney A. Sanford

This course explores relationships between religion, nature and society as a means to understand how these relationships reflect and shape social relations among people. This course covers an important set of theories and methods in the study of religion and nature and approaches to studying the relationships between societies and nonhuman nature and will introduce students to those approaches by focusing in classic readings that underlie subsequent scholarship.

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-3-52-02-pmIslam in Europe — Jep Stockmans

This course is an introductory course that aims to provide the students with a basic knowledge on the presence of Muslims in Europe and all the issues that surround this presence. The course starts out with a thorough historical background, looking at early encounters and the early presence of Islam in Europe. Hereafter the course moves on to discuss more contemporary issues such as: marginalization, secularism, clash of civilizations, and orientalism. The emphasis will be on depicting the obstacles with which Muslims in the West are confronted. However, the socio-political situation of Europe will also be discussed in order to frame these obstacles within the broader European context. Centrally this course will concern itself with how these issues create polemical and practical divides in Europe as well as the practical consequences of these divides.

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-3-52-27-pmReligion & Animals — Dr. Anna Peterson

This course examines the place of non-human animals in the cosmologies and ethical systems, as well as in practices and institutions, in various religious traditions. Non-human animals have been important in most religions, playing diverse roles as subjects of myth, objects of sacrifice or worship, and symbols and members of communities. We will explore the interpretations and roles of animals in different religions both to illuminate important elements of the religions themselves and to understand the roles of non-human animals in human history and culture generally. Specific topics in the course will include mythical and symbolic animals, animal totems, ritual and sacrifice, ethical concerns about human treatment of animals, relations to domestic/companion animals, and scientific perspectives. Requirements will include full participation in class discussions as well as a number of writing assignments. Students registered for the graduate section will have several additional reading and writing requirements.

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-2-24-36-pmIslam in the Americas — Ken Chitwood

Why does Islam matter in the Americas? When did it arrive here? What values, practices, traditions, & tensions exist within its histories & social dynamics in the West? How can we study Muslim communities in this hemisphere? This course will place Latin America, the Caribbean, & North America within a broader Islamic framework & locate Muslims of various backgrounds & experiences within the hemisphere from the 1500s to today, from Cape Columbia, Canada to Catamarca, Argentina, & many periods & places in between. READ MORE ABOUT THE COURSE HERE.

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-3-51-50-pmReligion & Food — Dr. Whitney A. Sanford

Food is one of the most critical, yet understudied, aspects of human experience. Most of us like to eat, and food is a tangible way in which we articulate our religious, ethical and moral selves. Religious values shape how we feast and fast, and feed the deities and feed ourselves. This course will explore the relationship between food and religion by (1) investigating food in the context of specific religious traditions, e.g. Hinduism; and (2) examining food as a moral and ethical category in religious and secular contexts, e.g., organic and locavore. Topics include, but are not limited to, food and ritual; feasting and fasting; religion, food and sustainability, and food and faith in the American South.