Fall 2012

  • AMERICAN RELIGIOUS HISTORY
    Instructor: David Hackett
  • RELIGION AND SUSTAINABILITY (REL 2071)
    Instructor: Whitney Sanford

This course examines the relationship between religion and sustainability and explores how the world’s different religious traditions address the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability. Topics include social and environmental justice, sustainable consumption, and sustainable agriculture. Case studies will highlight multiple religious perspectives, especially those from Latin America and south Asia. This course meets the requirements for Gordon Rule 2.

  • NEW TESTAMENT (REL 2240)
    Instructor: James Mueller
  • RELIGIONS OF ASIA (REL 2317)
    Instructor: Travis Smith

This introductory course surveys a broad range of religious practices and ideas of various Asian traditions, including Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto. These religious traditions play significant roles in the history, cultures, and literatures of India (and other countries of South Asia), Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and East Asia (China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan). In this course, students are exposed to various religious perspectives, which are often quite different from their own contemporary viewpoints. The only prerequisites for this class are an open mind and a commitment to engage in the academic study of religion. Such a broad survey does not require previous study or personal knowledge of a particular religion or of the languages, cultures, or histories of Asia. By taking a comparative rather than competitive approach to learning about a wide range of important religious worldviews in diverse historical and cultural contexts, this course provides a convenient starting point for those who want to explore Asian religions.

  • INTRODUCTION TO ISLAM (REL 2362)
    Instructor: Terje Ostebo
  • INTRODUCTION TO WORLD RELIGIONS (REL 2300)
  • RELIGION AND HEALING (REL 2930)
    Instructor: Robin Wright

The focus of the course will be on different types of ‘non-conventional’ healers and healing practices . We will discuss cross-cultural notions of the body, ritual performance in healing, the importance of sound and music in healing, and the relations of healing practices to cosmology and sacred narratives. We shall discuss the notion of ‘efficacy’ in relation to each case, the cosmo-logic behind the diagnosis, and the transformations of self and meaning that emerge during or from a cure. The indigenous healing traditions we will include: (1) Native American. (2) African and African-derived traditions; (3) charismatic Christianity and Pentecostalism; (4) Asian and east Asian religious pluralism. What relations does each maintain with conventional western bio-medicine? Is our current national health system capable of incorporating some forms of spirituality into its practice?

  • INTRODUCTION TO JEWISH STUDIES (REL 2930)
    Instructor: Dragan Kujundzic
  • RELIGION AND SOCIETY (REL 3140)
    Instructor: Alysia Radder
  • SEX, GENDER, AND THE HEBREW BIBLE (REL 3291)
    Instructor: Robert Kawashima
  • CHINESE RELIGION (REL 3318)
    Instructor: Mario Poceski
  • RELIGIONS OF LATIN AMERICA (REL 3381)
    Instructor: Kerri Blumenthal

This course provides a survey of the main religious traditions in Latin America, namely, indigenous religions, Catholicism in its various forms, Protestantism, and African-based religions, including Brazilian Candomblé, Cuban Santería, and Haitian Vodou. Through a comparative study of these religious traditions, the course seeks not only to identify commonalities, but to highlight theological, ritual, and symbolic specificities. Special emphasis will be placed on the issue of syncretism, that is, the on-going cross-fertilization among various religions, which has given the Latin American religious arena its particular flavor. We will also focus on the social and political roles religion plays in contemporary Latin America, exploring the ways in which those at the margins of society (i.e., the poor, women, Latin Americans of African descent, and indigenous people) use religious beliefs, practices, and institutions to make sense of rapid social change and globalization.

  • AMERICAN CATHOLICISM (REL 3563)
    Instructor: David Hackett
  • ANIMALS AND SOCIETY (REL 3938, HONORS)
    Instructor: Anna Peterson

Nonhuman animals play central roles in virtually every human society, but until recently they have received little serious scholarly attention. This course introduces students to the rapidly growing interdisciplinary field of human-animal studies. We will draw on readings and resources from the humanities and social sciences to explore the ways that both wild and domesticated animals have interacted with humans in diverse cultures and times.

Specific topics will include animals in religious ritual and mythology; the changing historical importance of domesticated animals; the moral and philosophical dimensions of human-animal relations; and contemporary research in cognitive ethology (animal behavior). This class meets the writing requirements for Gordon Rule 6.

  • CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHA (REL 3938)
    Instructor: James Mueller
  • INDIGENOUS RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD (REL 3938)
    Instructor: Robin Wright

Indigenous Religious Traditions from the Americas (North, Central, South), Australia and Melanesia, Africa, Korea. Emphasis on indigenous authors, indigenous religious specialists, cosmogony, cosmology, relationality, and eschatology.

  • RELIGION AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT (REL 3938)
    Instructor: Zoharah Simmons
  • VAMPIRE STORIES (REL 3938)
    Instructor: Dragan Kujundzic
  • ANIMAL ETHICS (REL 4177; REL 5937)
    Instructor: Anna Peterson

This class will provide advanced students in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and veterinary medicine with the tools to think critically about the many ethical issues involved in human interactions with animals, both wild and domesticated. Readings and discussions will cover a variety of ethical perspectives and issues. We will examine the major theoretical frameworks for thinking about the value of animals and human duties toward them, including rights-based, Utilitarian, feminist, and religious approaches. We will read the work of major theorists such as Peter Singer, Tom Regan, Carol Adams, Baird Callicott, and Andrew Linzey, among others. We will also discuss some of the historical roots of the animal welfare movement and its links to other social and environmental movements.

In addition to philosophical readings, we will examine a number of case studies on contemporary issues including feral cats, ecological restoration, animal agriculture, biomedical research, and companion animals. Students will have the opportunity to connect their work in this course to their own research projects or to develop new projects during this semester.

This class is open to graduate students in any relevant discipline and to advanced undergraduates. The undergraduate section of this class is Gordon Rule 4.

  • PENTATEUCH 1 (REL 4421)
    Instructor: Robert Kawashima
  • WOMAN AND ISLAM (REL 4361)
    Instructor: Zoharah Simmons
  • MODERN ISLAMIC THOUGHT (REL 4367)
    Instructor: Zoharah Simmons
  • SENIOR SEMINAR: BEING GANDHI (REL 4933)
    Instructor: Whitney Sanford

Mohandas K. Gandhi has become an icon for social justice for leaders around the world. This course explores how groups, movements, and individuals from different religious traditions have incorporated Gandhian social thought, including non-violence, civil disobedience, and voluntary simplicity, into the context of their own traditions. Topics include, but are not limited to, Buddhist activist Thich Nhat Hanh, the U.S. Civil Rights movement, including Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Zapatistas.

  • CHINESE CLASSICS: DAOIST, CONFUCIAN, BUDDHIST (REL 4936)
    Instructor: Mario Poceski
  • RELIGION AND REFORM IN AFRICA (REL 4936)
    Instructor: Terje Ostebo