Fall 2011 Courses

014. Heresy and Orthodoxy
Jorunn Buckley M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
This writing-intensive course focuses on readings in heretical texts, orthodox creeds, and scholarly treatments of the religious-ideological construction of heresy and orthodoxy. Fundamentally, heresy is dangerous precisely because of its proximity to orthodoxy. Examples focus on Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions; attention is given to categories such as dogma vs. freedom, pure vs. impure, society vs. individual. Facets of present-day debates on fundamentalism are included.
027. Astral Religion in the Near East and Classical Antiquity
Robert Morrison M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
Investigates astral religion and its relationship to astrological forecasting. Begins with a study of early astronomy, ancient Near Eastern omen texts, and the role of celestial bodies in ancient Near Eastern religion. Moves to classical expositions of astrology such as the Tetrabiblos and critics of astrological forecasting such as Cicero. Concludes with the reception of astrology in Islamic civilization and the role of astral causation in Islamic thought.
110. Mormonism: Prophets, Polygamy, and Proselytizing
David Howlett T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
Investigates how Mormons have gone from an upstart, persecuted sect to participants in the conservative mainstream of American religion and culture. Topics for discussion include the Mormon creation of new scriptures; the role and evolution of prophets; religious violence; conflict between church and state; the dynamics of religious schism; temple spaces and the politics of secrecy; polygamy and the family; constructions of race, gender, and sexuality; missions and evangelism; modern pilgrimage; and the globalization of an American religion. Along the way, we will encounter the ever-changing public faces of Mormonism(s), from Joseph Smith to Glenn Beck.
201. Black Women, Politics, Music, and the Divine
Judith Casselberry T 6:30 - 9:25
Seminar. Examines the convergence of politics and spirituality in the musical work of contemporary Black women singer-songwriters in the United States. Analyzes material that interrogates and articulates the intersections of gender, race, class, and sexuality, generated across a range of religious and spiritual terrains with African diasporic/Black Atlantic spiritual moorings, including Christianity, Islam, and Yoruba. Focuses on material that reveals a womanist (Black feminist) perspective by considering the ways resistant identities shape and are shaped by artistic production. Employs an interdisciplinary approach by incorporating ethnomusicology, anthropology, literature, history, and performance and social theory. Explores the work of Shirley Caesar, The Clark Sisters, Me’shell Ndegeocello, Abby Lincoln, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Dianne Reeves, among others.
208. Islam
Robert Morrison M 9:30 - 10:25, W 9:30 - 10:25, F 9:30 - 10:25
With an emphasis on primary sources, pursues major themes in Islamic civilization from the revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammad until the present. From philosophy to political Islam, and from mysticism to Muslims in America, explores the diversity of a rapidly growing religious tradition.
216. The New Testament in its World
Jorunn Buckley M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
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.
222. Theravada Buddhism
John Holt M 6:30 - 9:25
An examination of the major trajectories of Buddhist religious thought and practice as understood from a reading of primary and secondary texts drawn from the Theravada traditions of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Burma.
289. Construction of the Goddess and Deification of Women in Hindu Religious Tradition
Sree Holt T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Focuses include (1) an examination of the manner in which the power of the feminine has been expressed mythologically and theologically in Hinduism; (2) how various categories of goddesses can be seen or not as the forms of the “great goddess”; and (3) how Hindu women have been deified, a process that implicates the relationship between the goddess and women. Students read a range of works, primary sources such as Devi Mahatmya, biographies and myths of deified women, and recent scholarship on goddesses and deified women.
390. Theories about Religion
John Holt T 1:00 - 3:55
Seminar focused on how religion has been explained and interpreted from a variety of intellectual and academic perspectives from the sixteenth century to the present. In addition to a historical overview of religion’s interpretation and explanation, the focus also includes consideration of postmodern critiques and the problem of religion and violence in the contemporary world.