Spring 2014 Courses

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REL 1101. Introduction to the Study of Religion.
Elizabeth Pritchard.
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 2205. Evil in Religious Contexts.
Jorunn Buckley.
Uses literary, anthropological, and historical examples in order to investigate religious views of “evil” to ask: “Evil” to whom, for/against whom, under what circumstances? Is “evil” a given, and does it have an unquestioned, autonomous existence? Deals with evil as religious/cultural constructs. Among the issues are witchcraft, demons, political-religious-demagogic leaders and their followers, and religious ideologies of murderous-suicidal groups. Sources range from the early medieval Beowulf to present-day extreme forms of Christianity and Islam, covering various time-periods and geographical locales. Not theological or conceptual-abstract; focuses on pragmatics.
REL 2210. Esoteric Themes in Islamic Thought.
Robert Morrison.
Explores, historically, the development and growth of Sufism and other esoteric movements of Islam. Questions that will arise include: Do these esoteric and mystical ideas supplant or complement the exoteric practices and beliefs of Islam? Why is Sufism important for Sufis? How do we study religious ideas that thrive, sometimes, on defying description?
REL 2220. Hindu Literatures.
John Holt and Sree Holt.
A reading and discussion of translated classical Hindu literature, including the Rg Veda, Upanishads, Yoga Sutra, the epics Ramayana, Mahabharata (including the Bhagavad Gita), Devi Mahatmya and the Cilapatikaram, etc. Focuses on development of various types of religious worldviews and religious experiences as reflected in classical Sanskrit and vernacular literature of India.
REL 2232. Approaches to the Qur'an.
Robert Morrison.
Explores a variety of approaches to and interpretations of the Qur’an, the foundational text of Islam. Special attention will be paid to the Qur’an’s doctrines, to the Qur’an’s role in Islamic law, to the Qur’an’s relationship to the Bible, and to the Qur’an’s historical context. While the Qur’an will be read entirely in English translation, explores the role of the Arabic Qur’an in the lives of Muslims worldwide.
REL 2247. Global Pentecostalism: The Roots and Routes of Twentieth Century Christianity.
Judith Casselberry.
Seminar. Pentecostalism is a form of Christianity centered on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals speak in tongues, heal, prophesize, see visions, and exorcise demons. By many accounts, Pentecostalism is the fastest-growing religion in the world. While the Pentecostal population is difficult to count, current estimates place the world’s total number of adherents at close to 600 million, of whom 75% are women. With particular attention to its intersections with gender, ethnicity, and class, explores the religion’s appeal; its impact on devotees’ lives; and resultant local, regional, and global implications. Case studies include the Americas, the Caribbean, and Africa.
REL 2258. Citizenship and Religion in America.
Elizabeth Pritchard.
A critical examination of the criteria, practices, and spaces that constitute citizenship in the United States. It is also designed to be an exercise in citizenship. This course will be held at a Maine Correctional Facility (Maine Correctional Center in Windham, Maine). It will be composed of Bowdoin students (“outside students”) and inmates (“inside students”). All students have citizenship in common, but they will have differing relationships to and understandings of this status based on their nation state membership, residence and location, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, race, religion, political participation, and membership in the labor force. Readings and discussions are designed to provoke extended analysis of the entitlements and exclusions of citizenship.
REL 2288. Religious Culture and Politics in Southeast Asia.
John Holt.
An examination of the ways in which changes in political economies and societies of Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia have fostered changes in the predominantly Theravada Buddhist religious cultures of modern Southeast Asia. Focuses include how civil wars in Sri Lanka and Burma, revolutions in Laos and Cambodia, and the ideology of kingship in Thailand have elicited changes in the public practice of religion. Previous credit in Religion 2222 {222} (same as Asian Studies 2554 {242}) is highly recommended.