Religion

Professors: Betsy Halpern-Amaru, Lawrence H. Mamiya, Deborah Dash Moore; Associate Professors: Mark S. Cladis (Chair), Judith Weisenfeld; Assistant Professors: Marc Michael Epstein, E.H. Rick Jarow, Lynn R. LiDonnici; Post Doctoral Fellow: Jin Park; Lecturer:Tova Weitzman.

The concentration in religion is intended to provide an understanding of major religious traditions, an exposure to a variety of approaches employed within the study of religion, and an opportunity for exploration of diverse problems that religions seek to address.

Requirements for the Concentration: 11 units, including 270, 271, 3 seminars at the 300 level, and a senior thesis or project. It is recommended that students take Religion 270 in the sophomore or junior year. Students are expected to pursue a program of study marked by both breadth and depth. Of courses in Hebrew, 206, 305 and 121 may be counted toward the concentration. After declaring a concentration in religion, no courses taken under the Non-Recorded Option serve to fulfill the requirements.

Senior-year Requirements: 271 and a 300-level senior thesis or project.

It is possible to integrate the study of religion with another concentration by means of a correlate sequence in religion.

Requirements for the Correlate Sequence: 6 units: 1 unit at the 100-level, 3 at the 200-level and two seminars at the 300-level. Various tracks within the correlate sequence may be devised in consultation with a department adviser. After declaring a correlate sequence in religion, no courses taken under the Non-Recorded Option serve to fulfill the requirements.

Advisers: Ms. Amaru, Mr. Epstein, Mr. Cladis, Mr. Jarow, Ms. LiDonnici, Mr. Mamiya, Ms. Moore, and Ms. Weisenfeld.


I. Introductory

[101. The Religious Dimension] (1)

Is religion best described as a personal, inward experience or as a communal, social activity? The course explores the relation between religion, society, and the individual. The second half of the course investigates the ways religions, as social institutions, shape particular notions of the self.

Open to all students.

Not offered in 2000/01.

102a. Love: The Concept and Practice (1)

A study of love (in classical and modern texts and in film) that explores a host of religious and ethical issues. Topics include the potential conflict between divine and human love, and the nature of friendship, romance, and marriage. Focus is on love in the Western world, but the Kamasutraand other Eastern texts furnish a comparative component. Authors will include Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Dante, Simone Weil, and Alice Walker. Mr. Cladis.

120a. Sacred Literature: Strategies of Interpretation (1)

What we learn from any given text is largely determined by interpretative choices we make when we read. In this course, we work with several core religious texts from a variety of traditions, and explore the many "meanings" they may have when regarded from cultural, psychological, and other perspectives. Ms. LiDonnici.

Open only to freshmen. Satisfies requirements for a Freshman Course.

150a and b. Western Religious Traditions (1)

An historical comparative study of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The course focuses on such themes as origins, development, sacred literature, ritual, legal, mystical, and philosophical traditions, and interactions between the three religions. Mr. Epstein and Ms. LiDonnici.

Open to all students.

152b. Eastern Religious Traditions (1)

An introduction to the religions of Asia (including Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist traditions) through a study of their basic doctrines, sensibilities, and practices. The focus is comparative as the course explores numerous themes, including creation (cosmology), revelation, action, fate and destiny, human freedom, the existence of evil, and ultimate values. Mr. Jarow.

Open to all students.

180a. Religions of China, Korea, and Japan (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 180a) An introduction to the religious tradition and culture of East Asia with an emphasis on Buddhism and Confucianism. Attention is paid to issues of Buddhist meditation, Confucian self-motivation, and their relation to society in the modern world. Ms. Park.

181. Religion and American Film (1)

An examination of relationships between religion and American film, with particular attention to interactions between American religious institutions and the film industry, issues of race and gender, and representations of religious beliefs, practices, individuals, and institutions. Films may include:Broken Blossoms, The Jazz Singer, Hallelujah, The Ten Commandments, Gentleman's Agreement, the Exorcist, Daughters of the Dust, the Apostle. Ms. Weisenfeld.


II. Intermediate

201b. Religion Gone Wild: Spirituality and the Environment (1)

(Same as Environmental Studies 201) A study of the dynamic relation between religion and nature. Religion, in this course, includes forms of spirituality within and outside the bounds of conventional religious traditions (for example, Buddhism, Christianity, and Jainism, on the one hand; ecofeminism, the literature of nature, and Australian Aboriginal religion, on the other). Topics in this study of religion, ethics, and ecology may include: religious depictions of creation, nature, and the position of humans in the environment; religious aspects of environmental degradation and contemporary ecological movements; environmental justice; and environmentalism as a religion. Mr. Cladis.

Prerequisite: one unit in religion or permission of instructor.

[203a. The Origins and Development of Islamic Literature] (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 203) Ms. Berkley.

Not offered in 2000/01.

[205b. Modern Problems of Belief] (1)

Some say it is impossible to be both a modern and a religious person. What are the assumptions behind this claim? The course explores how religion has been understood in the context of the eclipse of religion in Western culture from the Enlightenment to the present. Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Neitzsche, Freud, and Buber are some of the thinkers whom we study. Mr. Cladis.

Prerequisite: 1 unit in philosophy or religion, or by permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2000/01.

[211a. Religions of the Oppressed and Third-World (1)
Liberation Movements]

(Same as Africana Studies 211) Mr. Mamiya.

Not offered in 2000/01.

215a. Religion and the Arts (1)

An exploration of various aspects, spiritual and political, of the interdependence of art and religious culture from the dawn of human consciousness through postmodernity. May be taken more than once for credit when content changes.

Prerequisite: 1 unit in religion at the 100-level, or by permission of instructor.

220a. Text and Tradition (1)

Study of selected oral and written text(s) and their place(s) in various religious traditions. May be taken more than once for credit when content changes. Ms. Amaru.

Topic for 2000/01: Adam and Eve. A comparative study of Jewish and Christian interpretations of the biblical myth of the first man and woman. This course examines a variety of interpretations and explores the significance of the myth within Western culture.

Prerequisite: 1 unit in religion or by permission of instructor.

225b. The Hebrew Bible (1)

The books of the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) are about a very long and tempestuous relationship between a people and a God. But who are these people, and where did they come from? Why were they chosen, and by whom? What were they chosen for? Where did the biblical books come from, and why are they so influential? In this course we examine these and other questions that relate to the interpretation of one of the most important books of Western civilization. Ms. LiDonnici.

Prerequisite: 1 unit in religion, or by permission of instructor.

227a. The New Testament and Early Christianity (1)

The Christian Scriptures speak with many different voices. Some advocate peace, some rebellion; some praise duty, others a radical rejection of family and all it represents. What was the earliest Christian message, and how did it evolve? How do the texts of the New Testament both reflect and shape the developing Christian communities? This course examines these unique texts and relates them to the religious, cultural, and intellectual realities found by individuals and groups in the Mediterranean world from the first century b.c.e. through the third century c.e. Ms. LiDonnici.

Prerequisite: 1 unit in religion, or by permission of instructor.

[231. Hindu Traditions] (1)

An introduction to the history, practices, myths, ideas and core values that inform Hindu traditions. Beginning with the pre-Vedic period, the course traces major religious practices and developments up to and including the contemporary period. Among topics examined are yoga and upanishadic mysticism, the spiritual paths (marga) of action (karma) knowledge (jnana) and love (bhakti), the worship of (and ideologies surrounding) gods and goddesses, and issues of gender, caste, and ethnicity in both pre- and postmodern times. Mr. Jarow.

Prerequisite: Religion 152 or by permission of instructor.

Alternate years: not offered in 2000/01.

233a. Buddhist Traditions (1)

An introduction to Buddhist traditions, beginning with the major themes that emerged in the first centuries after the historical Buddha and tracing the development of Buddhist thought and practice throughout Asia. The course examines how Buddhist sensibilities have expressed themselves through culturally diverse societies, and how specific Buddhist ideas about human attainment have been (and continue to be) expressed through meditation, the arts, political engagement, and social relations. Various schools of Buddhist thought and practice are examined including Theravada, Mahayana, Tantra, Tibetan, East Asian, and Zen. Mr. Jarow.

Prerequisite: Religion 152 or by permission of instructor.

Alternate years: offered in 2000/01.

236a. Christian Traditions (1)

An exploration of the variety of perspectives within Christian self-understanding as it has developed in the course of Western history. Particular attention is paid to expressions of spirituality both in terms of the individual and of the Christian community. Ms. Amaru.

Prerequisite: 1 unit in religion or history, or by permission of instructor.

243b. Islamic Traditions (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 243). The religion of Islam in its historical expressions, including sectarian developments and Sufi mysticism. Special attention is given to the role of Islam in Africa through Arabic conquest and to the impact of Islam with the Black Muslim movement in American culture. Mr. Mamiya.

Prerequisite: Religion 150, 152, or by permission of instructor.

Alternate years: offered in 2000/01.

245b. Religion and Antisemitism (l)

A study of the intersections of religion and antisemitism that examines antisemitism as a cultural phenomenon within western civilization. The course explores various formulations of antisemitic ideologies with particular attention to such issues as the place of antisemitism/anti-Judaism in the theological development of Christianity; antisemitism and Islam in the West; antisemitism as a unifying political force; and antisemitism as a secular religion in totalitarian and nontotalitarian contexts. Ms. Amaru.

[246b. Jewish Politics and Religion] (1)

(Same as History 246) An exploration of the development of Judaism as a spiritual response to political empowerment and disempowerment in the context of Jewish encounters with the empires of the ancient world. Special attention is given to the themes of land and exile; religion and revolution; messianism; and modes of spiritual empowerment. Ms. Amaru.

Prerequisite: 1 unit in religion or history, or by permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2000/01.

248a. Out of the Ghetto (1)

(Same as History 248) Starting in the seventeenth century, Jews gradually moved out of the physical, political, social, and religious ghettos to which Christian Europe had consigned them. The course explores the implications of such an exodus. It looks at Jewish piety and politics, individuality and community in Europe, North America and northern Africa. Topics include changing gender roles, migration, hasidism, religious reform, and antisemitism. Ms. Moore.

Prerequisite: Religion 150, or 1 unit in history, or by permission of instructor.

[249a. The Jewish Experience in the Twentieth Century] (1)

(Same as History 249) The twentieth century shattered and transformed Jewish life throughout the world altering our understanding of evil and challenging accepted meanings of modernity. This course explores the rise of political and racial antisemitism and its culmination in the Holocaust; the growth of Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel; the transformation of Jews from a largely small-town people into a highly urbanized one. The implication of these eventswhat it has meant for Jews to live in a post-Holocaust world, how Jews interpret political sovereignty, the Jewish response to American lifeform the second part of the course. Ms. Moore.

Prerequisite: Religion 150, or 1 unit in history, or by permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2000/01.

250b. Across Religious Boundaries: Understanding Differences (1)

The study of a selected topic or theme in religious studies that cuts across the boundaries of particular religions, allowing opportunities for comparison as well as contrast of religious traditions, beliefs, values and practices. May be taken more than once for credit when the content changes.

Topic for 2000/01b: Religious Responses to Suffering and Death. This course examines the ways in which various religious traditions theoretically understand and practically encounter suffering and death. Along with exploration into Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist responses to death and dying, the course examines contemporary religious and ethical issues around euthanasia, hospice care, the aids epidemic, near death experiences, and contentions of life after death. The course includes a number of films and guest speakers who are specialists in their fields. Mr. Jarow.

Prerequisite: 1 unit in religion.

255b. Western Mystical Traditions (1)

Textual, phenomenological and theological studies in the religious mysticism of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. May be taken more than once for credit when content changes.

Topic for 2000/01: Kabbalah. A survey of the historical and phenomenological development of the theoretical/theosophical and practical/magical dimensions of the Jewish mystical tradition from its biblical origins to postmodernity. Mr. Epstein.

Prerequisite: one 100-level course or by permission of instructor.

[256b. Religion and Popular Culture] (1)

While the study of religion encompasses the construction of dogma and theology by a clerical elite, it also concerns itself with the popular and phenomenological manifestions of religious culture. This course examines various popular movements in the history of religion as well as the reception of theology and dogma by the masses, and the repercussions of class, race and gender relationships on interreligious and intrareligious conflict and collusion. May be taken more than once for credit when content changes.

Prerequisite: 1 unit in Religion, or by permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2000/01.

266. Religion in America (1)

An historical introduction to the study of religion in America, focusing on religious innovation and change, especially the introduction and creation of new religions and religious movements and redefinition of boundaries of margins and mainstream in American religious life. Topics include the role of religion in politics, culture, ethnic group life, and the social construction of gender. Ms. Weisenfeld.

Prerequisite: 1 unit in religion, or by permission of instructor.

267a. Religion, Culture and Society (1)

An examination of the interaction between religion, society, and culture in the work of classical theorists such as Freud, Marx, Durkheim and Weber, and in the writings of modern theorists like Berger, Luckman, Bellah, and Geertz. Students learn to apply theoretical concepts to the data of new religious movements in American society. Mr. Mamiya.

Prerequisite: 1 unit at the 100-level in religion, 1 unit at the 100-level in anthropology or sociology, or by permission of instructor.

268b. Sociology of Black Religion (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 268 and Sociology 268) Mr. Mamiya.

270b. Departmental Colloquium (1/2)

Joint exploration of methods in the study of religion. The department, Mr. Cladis.

Permission required.

One two-hour period during the first half of the semester.

271a. Advanced Methods in the Study of Religion (1/2)

A continued exploration of methods in the study of religion and their application to research questions. Mr. Cladis.

Senior religion majors only. Permission required.

One two-hour period bi-monthly.

281b. Women in the Asian Imagination (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 281b) A critical investigation of the images of women in East Asian religions (e.g., Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism and Shamanism) and their influences on the positions of women in East Asian societies and cultures. Ms. Park.

282. African-American Religion (1)

A survey of the history of religion among Americans of African descent from slavery to the present. Major topics include: African religious backgrounds and transformations in the Atlantic world, religions under slavery, the rise of the independent black churches, black women and religion, new religious movements, folk traditions, music, and religion and the Civil Rights Movement. Ms. Weisenfeld.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

Supervised field work in the community in cooperation with the field work office. The department.

By permission, with any unit in religion as prerequisite and work in other social sciences recommended.

Reading Courses

Prerequisite: 1 unit in religion or as specified.

Permission required.

[297.01. Feminism and Theology] (1/2)

Mr. Cladis.

Not offered in 2000/01.

297.03. Buddhist Texts in Translation (1/2)

Mr. Jarow.

Prerequisite: Religion 233.

297.04. Hindu Texts in Translation (1/2)

Mr. Jarow.

Prequisite: Religion 231.

[297.05. The Qumran Scrolls ("Dead Sea Scrolls")] (1/2)

Ms. Amaru.

Prerequisite: Religion 225 or 246.

Not offered in 2000/01.

297.06. Religion and the Black Experience (1/2)

Mr. Mamiya.

297.07. The Method to Our Madness: Introductory Methods in the (1/2)

Study of Religion

Ms. LiDonnici.

298a or b. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

The department.

Prerequisite: One semester of appropriate intermediate work in the field of study proposed. Permission of instructor required.


III. Advanced

Prerequisite for all 300-level courses unless otherwise specified: 1 unit at the 200-level or permission of instructor.

300b. Senior Thesis or Project (1)

An essay or other project in religion written under the supervision of a member of the department. Normally taken in the second semester, and in the first only under special circumstances.

Permission required.

301b. Religion and Critical Thought (1)

An examination of philosophical and social theoretical issues in religious thought and practice. Topics may include the rationality of religious belief, attempts to explain the origin and persistence of religion, or problems in the interpretation of religion. May be taken more than once for credit when the content changes.

Topic for 2000/01: Reason Within the Bounds of Religion. An investigation of the intellectual status of religious thought, posing such questions: Is religious belief reasonable? Does it need to be? Can it respond to the challenges of Darwin or Marx? Mr. Cladis.

[310b. Politics and Religion: Tradition and Modernization (1)
in the Third World]

(Same as Africana Studies 310) An examination of the central problem facing all Third-World and developing countries, the confrontation between the process of modernization and religious tradition and custom. Along with social, economic, and political aspects, the course focuses on the problems of cultural identity and crises of meaning raised by the modernization process. Selected case studies are drawn from Africa and Asia. Mr. Mamiya.

Prerequisite: Sociology/Religion 261 or Africana Studies 268, or 2 units in Religion or Africana Studies at the 200-level, or by permission of instructor.

Alternate years: not offered in 2000/01.

320a. Studies in Sacred Texts (1)

Examination of selected themes and texts in sacred literature. May be taken more than once when content changes.

Topic for 2000/01: The Matriarchs and Their Sisters. An examination of the "heroine" typologies in Hebrew Scriptures and Apolcrypha. Analysis of selected characterizations in the biblical literature and exploration of the portrayals as interpreted and reinterpreted in modern western art, music, and literature. Ms. Amaru.

320b. Studies in Sacred Texts (1)

Topic for 2000/01: The Historical Jesus: Constructs and Conflicts.Christian communities have always differed from each other in their theologies of Christ, but our times have seen the extension of these debates into historical writing and secular humanism. In this course, we examine the sources. We also focus upon the many biographies of Jesus, and on how a secular Christ is being constructed in a postmodern world. Ms. LiDonnici.

346b. Studies in Jewish Thought and History (1)

Advanced study in selected aspects of Jewish thought and history. May be taken more than once for credit when the content changes.

Topic for 2000/01b: Portraits of Biblical Women. An examination of the portrayals of women in Hebrew Scriptures and a study of how the characterizations are reinterpreted and the portraits reworked in post-biblical Jewish literature. Ms. Amaru.

350a. Comparative Studies in Religion (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 350) An examination of selected themes, issues, or approaches used in illuminating the religious dimensions and dynamics within particular cultures and societies, with attention to the benefits and limits of the comparative method. Past seminars have focused on such topics as myth, ritual, mysticism, and iconography. May be taken more than once for credit when content changes.

Topic for 2000/01: The Goddess Traditions of India, China and Tibet. Beginning with a study of the Great Mother Goddess tradition of India and its branching out into China and Tibet, this course considers the history, myths and practices associated with the various goddess traditions in Hinduism and Buddhism. The relationship of the goddess and her worship to issues of gender, caste, and ethics, and spiritual practice are also considered. Mr. Jarow.

382. Religion and Constructs of Race (1)

An examination of ways in which "race" has functioned in the American context as a prism through which people have understood and experienced their own religious lives and interpreted the religions of others. Topics include American explanations of race in the Bible, religion and slavery, religious constructions of whiteness, religion and race in popular culture, and the comparative example of religion and race in South Africa. Ms. Weisenfeld.


Hebrew Language and Literature


I. Introductory

105a-106b. Elementary Hebrew (1)

Introduction to the language. Basic phonics and grammatical structures. Stress on development of reading comprehension, simple composition, and conversational skills. For Hebrew 105, no background in the language is assumed; admission to Hebrew 106 is possible with the demonstration of previous work equivalent to Hebrew 105. Ms. Weitzman.

May not be counted toward fulfillment of requirements for concentration.

Open to all students.

221b. Voices from Modern Israel (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies 221)

Prerequisite: One 100-level course or permission of instructor.


II. Intermediate

205a, 206b. Continuing Hebrew (1)

Formal study of Hebrew language with emphasis on oral practice and writing skills. Ms. Weitzman.

Prerequisite: Hebrew 105-106, or equivalent of two years in high school.

298. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)


III. Advanced Hebrew

305a. Advanced Hebrew (1)

Expansion of language proficiency through intensified study of cultural and literary texts, including poetry, prose, essays, newspapers, films, songs. Extensive discussion of issues related to contemporary Israel. Ms. Weitzman.

Prerequisite: Hebrew 205/206 or equivalent.