Spring 2012 Courses

101. Introduction to the Study of Religion
Robert Morrison M 9:30 - 10:25, W 9:30 - 10:25, F 9:30 - 10:25
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.
204. Science, Magic, and Religion
Dallas Denery M 8:00 - 9:25, W 8:00 - 9:25
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. History 110 or some background in pre-Enlightenment European history, religion or philosophy recommended.
205. Evil in Religious Contexts
Jorunn Buckley M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
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.
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. Readings include 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 about their religious practices, their feminist practices, and how these practices affect their lives and perspectives.
223. Mahayana Buddhism
John Holt T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Studies the emergence of Mahayana Buddhist worldviews as reflected in primary sources of Indian, Chinese, and Japanese origins. Buddhist texts include the Buddhacarita (“Life of Buddha”), the Sukhavati Vyuha (“Discourse on the ‘Pure Land’”), the Vajraccedika Sutra (the “Diamond-Cutter”), the Prajnaparamitra-hrdaya Sutra (“Heart Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom”), the Saddharmapundarika Sutra (the “Lotus Sutra”), and the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, among others.
237. Judaism Under Islam
Robert Morrison M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
Since the rise of Islam in the early seventh century C.E., Jews have lived in the Islamic world. The historical experience of these Jews has shaped their religious traditions in ways that have touched Jews worldwide. Places developments in Jewish liturgy, thought, and identity within the context of Islamic civilization. Answers the question of how Jews perceive themselves and Judaism with regard to Muslims and Islam. Analyzes the significance of the Jewish experience under Islam for current debates in Judaism and in Middle East politics.
255. Christianity in the United States: Conflict, Continuity, and Change Since 1860
David Howlett T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
Christianity is one of the most dynamic and diverse cultural forms in the contemporary United States. Starting with the American Civil War, follows those groups who self-identify as Christians in America up to the present date. Focuses on popular movements, theological and social conflicts, and changing devotional practices, as well as analyzes how Christianity is refracted differently through the lens of class, age, race, gender, and sexual orientation. A distanced but sympathetic engagement with the peoples who have transformed the United States through devotion to ever-changing forms of American Christianities.
271. Spirit Come Down: Black Women and Religion
Judith Casselberry T 2:30 - 3:55, TH 2:30 - 3:55
Explores issues of self-representation, memory, material culture, embodiment, and civic and political engagement through autobiographical, historical, literary, anthropological, cinematic, and musical texts. Primarily focused on Christian denominations: Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal. Examines the religious lives of black women in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America.
275. Comparative Mystical Traditions
Jorunn Buckley T 1:00 - 2:25, TH 1:00 - 2:25
Taking a clue from the Greek verb behind the term “mysticism,” “to see inwardly” (muein), studies primary texts—some “classical,” others less well known—with a specific focus on Jewish, Hellenistic, Christian, and Islamic materials. Avoiding “universal” ideas about mystical traditions, places mystical aspects within their specific religious traditions. Focuses on the language(s) of mysticism: how are mystical techniques, training regimens, and experiences expressed in their respective religious-cultural frameworks? Mysticism is seen as separate from modern “self-help” therapies and other ego-enhancing systems. Religious-political aspects of mysticism are treated, especially with respect to certain types of medieval European Christian mysticism.
278. Sacred Journeys, Holy Shrines: Pilgrimage in World Religiions
David Howlett W 6:30 - 9:25
Surveys pilgrimage practices in major world religions and new religious movements. Analyzes how pilgrimage intersects with questions of national identity, religious orthodoxy and heterodoxy, “the secular,” and popular culture. From resistance to British colonialism by pilgrims at the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad to practices of “secular pilgrimage” at the Paris tomb of Jim Morrison, case studies reflect the diverse ways that humans engage travel, shrines, and constructions of the sacred.
344. Religious Culture and Politics in Southeast Asia
John Holt M 6:30 - 9:25
An examination and discussion of the ways in which changes in political economy and society have fostered fundamental changes in the religious cultures of modern Southeast Asia. Questions include: How have conceptions of power embedded in the traditional Buddhist concepts of the mandala and kingship been sustained or contested in contemporary Thai, Burmese, Lao, and Khmer politics? How have contemporary machinations of governments in Burma, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia contributed to transformations in religious culture? How have religious ideas and practices abetted resistance to state hegemony in the highland communities of Burma, Laos, and Thailand? How are the deaths of war combatants and civilians remembered and commemorated in Vietnam and Cambodia?