Location: Bowdoin / Religion / Courses / Spring 2009


Spring 2009

101. Introduction to the Study of Religion
Robert Morrison M 10:30 - 11:25, W 10:30 - 11:25, F 10:30 - 11:25
Basic concepts, methods, and issues in the study of religion, with special reference to examples comparing and contrasting Eastern 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.

205. Evil in Religious Contexts
Jorunn Buckley M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Uses literary, anthropological, and historical religious 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.

207. Introduction to Judaism
Robert Morrison M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
Surveys Jewish texts, traditions, and beliefs from the end of the Hellenistic period to the origins of the Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Modern Orthodox movements in Europe and America. With an emphasis throughout on the role of historical drama in Jewish practice, pays special attention to the formation of Rabbinic Judaism, medieval Jewish literature and thought, and to how Jews’ historical memory affected their responses to the Enlightenment.

216. The New Testament in Its World
Jorunn Buckley T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
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.

221. Hindu Cultures
John Holt M 6:30 - 9:25
A consideration of various types of individual and communal religious practice and religious expression in Hindu tradition, including ancient ritual sacrifice, mysticism and yoga (meditation), dharma and karma (ethical and political significance), pilgrimage (as inward spiritual journey and outward ritual behavior), puja (worship of deities through seeing, hearing, chanting), rites of passage (birth, adolescence, marriage, and death), etc. Focuses on the nature of symbolic expression and behavior as these can be understood from indigenous theories of religious practice. Religion 220 is recommended as a previous course.

249. Monotheism and Masculinity
Elizabeth Pritchard T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Focuses on the emergence of and continuing elaborations of transcendent monotheism in the Abrahamic traditions. Of particular interest in this examination is the relationship between portrayals of the divine and assumptions about gender, class, and race. Other topics include whether it is possible or permissible to obtain knowledge of the divine (and perhaps be able to see or depict the divine); the relationship between transcendent monotheism, cultural identity, and violence; and the ways in which monotheism informs various renderings of morality and politics. Readings include selections from the Bible, Augustine, Maimonides, Aquinas, Ibn-Arabi, and Luther.

251. Christianity, Culture, and Conflict
Elizabeth Pritchard T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
An introduction to the diversity and contentiousness of Christian thought and practice. This diversity is explored through analyses of the conceptions, rituals, and aesthetic media that serve to interpret and embody understandings of Jesus, authority, body, family, and church. Historical and contemporary materials highlight not only conflicting interpretations of Christianity, but the larger social conflicts that these interpretations reflect, reinforce, or seek to resolve.

318. Pilgrimage: Narrative and Ritual
John Holt W 10:00 - 11:25, F 10:00 - 11:25
Pilgrimage will be examined theoretically in two ways: first, through a comparative study of pilgrimage as a ritualized religious process of sacred space and sacred journey observed in Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism within the historical and cultural contexts of the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, China, and Japan; second, as a narrative literary structure in contemporary fiction and non-fiction in modern South and East Asia. Culminates with each student selecting a pilgrimage site or literary work as the focus of an analytical paper.