Spring 2011 Courses

019. Questioning the Modern
Elizabeth Pritchard T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
An examination of late modernity from 1800 to the present, focusing on the vexed relations between the shaping principles of modernity and several of the more violent human undertakings with which it was historically conjoined: enslavement, the subjugation of women, and the Holocaust. How in the light of these matters do we understand modernity’s chief concerns with freedom, autonomy, the self, scientific mastery, and historical progress? Authors and artists may include Kant, Goya, Marx, Manet, Freud, Woolf, Picasso, Du Bois, and Nabokov.
101. Introduction to the Study of Religion
Jorunn Buckley M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
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.
125. Entering Modernity: European Jewry
Susan Tananbaum M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Explores Jewish life through the lenses of history, religion, and ethnicity and examines the processes by which governments and sections of the Jewish community attempted to incorporate Jews and Judaism into European society. Surveys social and economic transformations of Jews, cultural challenges of modernity, varieties of modern Jewish religious expression, political ideologies, the Holocaust, establishment of Israel, and American Jewry through primary and secondary sources, lectures, films, and class discussions.
142. Philosophy of Religion
Scott Sehon M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
Does God exist? Can the existence of God be proven? Can it be disproven? Is it rational to believe in God? What does it mean to say that God exists (or does not exist)? What distinguishes religious beliefs from non-religious beliefs? What is the relation between religion and science? Approaches these and related questions through a variety of historical and contemporary sources, including philosophers, scientists, and theologians.
200. Creating the World: Genesis and Its Interpreters
Dallas Denery M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
Seminar. Examines the history of interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis from the earliest Jewish commentators to the controversies surrounding nineteenth-century evolutionary theory, concluding with an analysis of contemporary literal evangelical exegesis associated with groups like The Discovery Institute and Answers in Genesis (who operate The Creation Museum). Specific topics include the relation between faith and reason, the medieval exegetical tradition and "Sacred Theory."
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.
211. Muslim Women, Islam, and Feminism
Samaa Abdurraqib T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
Interrogates commonly held beliefs about how Islam regards Muslim women. A broad range of Muslim women, some who identify as feminist, others who do not, consider Islam crucial to their gendered identity. There are also feminist women who were born Muslim, some of whom continue to practice Islam, others who do not, who consider Islam as oppressing their gendered identity. Whatever their positions, it is crucial that these women discuss their relationships, as women, to Islam. In this current historical and cultural moment, critics and proponents of Islam often speak on behalf of Muslim women, while Muslim women remain silent. In this class, we will read Muslim women writing, in their own words, about their religious practices, their feminist practices, and how these practices affect their lives and perspectives. We will read novels and poetry by Mohja Kahf, memoirs by Leila Ahmed and Fatima Mernissi, and a wide variety of other articles and texts written by Muslim women.
215. The Hebrew Bible in Its World
Jorunn Buckley M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Close readings of chosen texts in the Hebrew Bible (i.e., the Old Testament), with emphasis on its Near Eastern religious, cultural, and historical context. Attention is given to the Hebrew Bible’s literary forerunners (from c. 4000 B.C.E. onwards) to its “successor,” The Dead Sea Scrolls (c. 200 B.C.E. to 200 A.C.E.). Emphasis on creation and cosmologies, gods, and humans, hierarchies, politics, and rituals.
225. Religion and Political Violence in South Asia
Sunil Goonasekera T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
Religion is a universal phenomenon that touches, if not dominates, daily life and is a force that can compel people to be both perpetrators and victims of violence. Sociological and anthropological studies point to social, political, economic, cultural, legal, and psychological facts that propel individuals and groups to use violence and justify its use by bringing violence into a religious context. Seeks to understand the relationship between religion and violence and the causes and effects of that relationship. Specifically addresses these issues in South Asian cultural systems.
250. Modern Christian Thought
Elizabeth Pritchard T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Acquaints students with the major figures and trajectories of Christian thought since the Enlightenment. Attention given to the inwardization of religion, secularization, miracles, the issue of authority and the relationship between faith and reason, the claims of Christian supremacy, the association of religion and feeling, and the relationship between religion, ethics, and politics. Authors may include Hume, Kant, Hegel, Schleiemacher, Kierkegaard, Barth, Niebuhr, Cone, and McFague.
271. Spirit Come Down: Black Women and Religion
Judith Casselberry M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Primarily focused on Christian denominations: Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal. Examines the religious lives of black women in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. Explores issues of self-representation, memory, material culture, embodiment, and civic and political engagement through autobiographical, historical, literary, anthropological, cinematic, and musical texts.
333. Islam and Science
Robert Morrison M 10:00 - 11:25, W 10:00 - 11:25
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’ self-understanding. Concludes with Muslims’ discussions about modern Islamic science and about the role of Western civilization in the Islamic world. Students with a sufficient knowledge of Arabic may elect to read certain texts in Arabic.