Spring 2015 Courses

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REL 1017. Christian Sexual Ethics.
An examination of the themes, varieties, and conflicts of Christian teachings and practices regarding sex and sexuality. Source materials include the Bible, historical analyses, Church dogmatics, legal cases, and ethnographic studies. Topics include celibacy and marriage, the development and status of sexual orientations, natural law, conversion therapy, reproductive rights and technologies, and comparative religious ethics.
REL 1101. Introduction to the Study of Religion.
Basic concepts, methods, and issues in the study of religion, with special reference to examples comparing and contrasting Asian and Western religions. Lectures, films, discussions, and readings in a variety of texts such as scriptures, novels, and autobiographies, along with modern interpretations of religion in ancient and contemporary, Asian and Western contexts.
REL 2204. Science, Magic, and Religion.
Traces the origins of the scientific revolution through the interplay between late-antique and medieval religion, magic, and natural philosophy. Particular attention is paid to the conflict between paganism and Christianity, the meaning and function of religious miracles, the rise and persecution of witchcraft, and Renaissance hermeticism. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.
REL 2207. Modern Judaism.
Investigates the origins, development and current state of modern Judaism. Covers the emergence of modern movements such as Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Hasidic Judaism and explores these movements’ debates over Jewish law and leadership and the connection of these debates to important Jewish texts. Concludes by examining contemporary questions such as Zionism, gender, sexuality, and Jews’ place in a multi-religious country.
REL 2216. The New Testament in Its World.
Situates the Christian New Testament in its Hellenistic cultural context. While the New Testament forms the core of the course, attention is paid to parallels and differences in relation to other Hellenistic religious texts: Jewish, (other) Christian, and pagan. Religious leadership, rituals, secrecy, philosophy of history, and salvation are some of the main themes.
REL 2219. Religion and Fiction in Modern South Asia.
Explains the nexus between religion and society in modern South Asia proffered via the prism of South Asian literature in English. Confined to prose fiction, considering its tendency to attempt approximations of reality. Interrogates how ideas of religion and ideas about religion manifest themselves in literature and affect understanding of south Asian religions among its readership. Does not direct students to seek ‘authentic’ insights into orthodox or doctrinal religion in the literary texts but to explore the tensions between “textual” religion and everyday “lived reality” in South Asia.
REL 2250. Modern Christian Thought.
Acquaints students with the major figures and trajectories of Christian religious thought since the Enlightenment. Gives attention to the inwardization of religion, the issue of authority, the claims of Christian supremacy, the association of religion and feeling, and the relationship between religion, ethics, and politics. Of particular interest are the critiques of religious knowledge claims, subjectivity, and patriarchy.
REL 2271. Spirit Come Down: Religion, Race, and Gender in America.
Examines the ways religion, race, and gender shape people’s lives from the nineteenth century into contemporary times in America, with particular focus on black communities. Explores issues of self-representation, memory, material culture, embodiment, and civic and political engagement through autobiographical, historical, literary, anthropological, cinematic, and musical texts.
REL 2277. Women in South Asia: Images and Experiences.
South Asia undoubtedly presents a paradox with regard to women’s status with its veneration of Devi [Goddess] and ‘Mother’ and endorsement of strong political women, on the one hand, and spectacular, headline-grabbing violence against women on the other. What are the factors that give rise to this seeming paradox? Drawing on a variety of sources, literary and non-literary (from literary and analytical pieces to field reports, documentaries, interviews, personal narratives and oral testimonies), the course introduces students to the forces—cultural and material—that shape women’s life-experiences in South Asia.
REL 3333. Islam and Science.
Surveys the history of science, particularly medicine and astronomy, within Islamic civilization. Pays special attention to discussions of science in religious texts and to broader debates regarding the role of reason in Islam. Emphasizes the significance of this history for Muslims and the role of Western civilization in the Islamic world. Students with a sufficient knowledge of Arabic may elect to read certain texts in Arabic.