Religion Department

Professors: Lawrence H. Mamiya, Deborah Dash Mooreab; Associate Professors: Marc Michael Epstein, E.H. Rick Jarow, Lynn R. LiDonnici, Judith Weisenfeld (Chair); Assistant Professors: Michael Walsh; Lecturer: Tova Weitzman; Visiting Instructor: Margaret Leeming.

ab Absent on leave for the year.

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 Religion 270, 271, three 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 the 11 units required for the concentration, no more than two may be at the 100-level. No more than 1 1⁄2 units of field work, independent study, and/or reading courses may count 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: Religion 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. After declaring a correlate sequence in religion, no courses taken under the Non-Recorded Option serve to fulfill the requirements.

Advisers: Mr. Epstein, Mr. Jarow, Mr. Lachter, Ms. Leeming, Ms. LiDonnici, Mr. Mamiya, Ms. Moore, Mr. Walsh, and Ms. Weisenfeld.

I. Introductory

101b. The Religious Dimension (1)

Is religion best described as a personal, inward experience or as a communal, social activity? This course explores the classical approaches to the study of Religion that have developed over the course of the twentieth century.

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. Ms. LiDonnici, instructor to be announced.

Open to all students.

152a and b. Religions of Asia (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 152) This course is an introduction to the religions of Asia (Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Zen, Shinto, etc.) through a study of practices, sites, sensibilites, and doctrines. The focus is comparative as the course explores numerous themes, including creation (cosmology), myth, ritual, action, fate and destiny, human freedom, and ultimate values. Mr. Walsh, Mr. Jarow.

Open to all students except seniors.

181a. God ( 1/2)

Whether we are furious with it, love it, or think it does not exist, the figure that western civilization calls "God" is one of our most powerful root metaphors, an intellectual category that requires interrogation and understanding. As a literary figure, God has a personality, a biography, and a history; and like all of us, a great deal to say (in literature) about how he has been understood and misunderstood. Through analysis of primary materials - biblical, Ugaritic, Canaanite, and Mesopotamian, we explore this complicated figure. Ms. LiDonnici.

One 2-hour period.

II. Intermediate

203b. The Origins and Development of Islamic Literature (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 203) Mr. Mhiri.

204a. Islam in America (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 204) This course examines the historical and social development of Islam in the U.S. from enslaved African Muslims to the present. Topics include: African Muslims, rice cultivation in the South, and slave rebellions; the rise of proto-Islamic movements such as the Nation of Islam; the growth and influence of African-American and immigrant Muslims; Islam and Women; Islam in Prisons; Islam and Architecture and the American war on terror. Mr. Mamiya and Ms. Leeming.

Prerequisite: Any one of the following: Religion 150 or 152; Africana Studies 102 or 105; or permission of the instructors.

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 and challenged in the context of Western intellectual thought from the Enlightenment to the present. Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud, and Buber are some of the thinkers whom we study.

206a: 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. Mr. Moore.

211b. Religions of the Oppressed and Third-World Liberation Movements (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 211) Mr. Mamiya.

[220. 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.

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

Not offered in 2005/06.

221b. Voices from Modern Israel (1)

(Same, as Jewish Studies 221 and Hebrew 221) Ms. Weitzman.

225b. The Hebrew Bible (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies 225) The Hebrew Scriptures exist both in and out of time—in literature of a particular people; out of time as a repository of metaphors through which much in western culture is still expressed. This course pursues both of these dimensions through a study of the religious and literary traditions of ancient Israel and the legacy of these traditions in our own modes of thought. Ms. LiDonnici.

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

Christianity today reflects an amalgamation and interpretation of the many different perspectives reflected in the Christian scriptures. In this course we study the development of the many varieties of early Christianity, and the literature they created. We use critical analysis and historical contextualization to try to identify the earliest Christian message and trace its evolution over the first three centuries. Ms. LiDonnici.

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

230 Creole Religions of the Caribbean (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 230) Ms. Paravisini-Gebert.

[231a. Hindu Traditions] (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 231) 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 2005/06.

232b. Imagining the Dao: Daoism and Chinese Culture (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 232) Daoism is frequently described as being the indigenous religious tradition of China. As a tradition Daoism has shaped and been shaped by a number of cultural forces. This course explores some of the imaginings of what Daoism is, what is the dao, and who are Daoists. We study Daoist health practices, sociopolitical visions, spells for controlling ghosts and deities, cosmic wanderings, and intense monastic practice. Mr. Walsh.

233a. Buddhist Traditions (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 233) 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.

235a. Religions of China (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 235) This course introduces the vast range of religious beliefs and practices of China. We look at the myriad worlds of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism and meet with ghosts, ancestors, ancient oracle bones, gods, demons, Buddhas, dragons, imperial politics, the social, and more, all entwined in what became the traditions of China. Some of the questions we try to answer include: how was the universe imagined in traditional China? What did it mean to be human in China? What was the meaning of life? What cultural impact did religious traditions have on Chinese culture. What do we mean by “Chinese religions”? How should Chinese culture be represented? What was /is the impact of Chinese religions on the “West” and vice versa? Mr. Walsh.

[241a. Gender and Sexuality in Judaism] (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies 241) In this course we examine some of the basic assumptions about the nature of gender and sexuality, with a particular focus on the role that these issues play in the history of Judaism. Starting with the Bible and ending with the contemporary period, we examine how questions about gender difference, gender roles, sexuality, embodiment, and sexual empowerment have influenced Judaism over the course of its history.

243b. Islamic Traditions (1)

An exploration of Islamic history, with special attention to issues of prophecy, religious leadership, mythology and sacred scriptures. Among the topics examined are Islamic law, theology and philosophy, as well as the varied expressions of Islamic religious values and ritual, especially Shi’ism, Sufism, and orthodox Sunnism. Particular attention is given to women in Islam and to Islamic architecture. Ms. Leeming.

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

Alternate years: offered in 2005/06.

245a. Jewish Traditions (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies 245) An exploration of Jewish practice and belief in all its variety. The course traces the evolution of various “Judaisms” through each one’s approaches to the text of scripture and its interpretations, Jewish law and the observance of the commandments. It analyzes the Jewish life-cycle, calendar and holidays from a phenomenological perspective, and traces the development of the conceptualization of God, Torah, and the People and Land of Israel in Jewish life, thought, and culture from antiquity through the present day. Mr. Epstein.

Prerequisites: Religion 150, Jewish Studies 101, 201 or permission.

[248a. Out of the Ghetto] (1)

(Same as History 248 and Jewish Studies 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.

Not offered in 2005/06.

[249a. Diaspora and Zion] (1)

(Same as History 249 and Jewish Studies 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 events—what it has meant for Jews to live in a post-Holocaust world, how Jews interpret political sovereignty, the Jewish response to American life—form the second part of the course. Ms. Moore.

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

Not offered in 2005/06.

250a and b. 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 2005/06b: Religious Responses to Suffering and Death. This is 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.

Topic for 2005/06b: Western Esotericism. Westerners have tended to look East in their quest for enlightenment, often ignoring substantial Western mystical and esoteric traditions of long standing and with claims of venerable pedigree, including astrology, tarot, magic, alchemy, Christian Qabala and Masonry from the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance and into the New Age. We explore these and other paths, situating them within the spectrum of esotericism in general, examining their claims of connection with ancient Greece and Egypt, biblical and medieval Judaism, and earliest Christianity, exploring their influence on literature and the arts, and evaluating their structure, their phenomenology and their abiding attraction. Mr. Epstein, Mr. Jarow.

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. Mr. Lachter.

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

266a. 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.

[267b. Religion, Culture and Society] (1)

(Same as Sociology 267) 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.

Not offered in 2005/06.

[268b. Sociology of Black Religion] (1)

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

Not offered in 2005/06.

[269. The Holocaust] (1)

(Same as History 269 and Jewish Studies 269)

Not offered in 2005/06.

270b. Departmental Colloquium (1⁄2)

Joint exploration of methods in the study of religion. The department, Ms. Weisenfeld.

Permission required.

One weekly 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. Ms. Weisenfeld.

Senior religion majors only. Permission required.

One two-hour period bi-monthly.

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.

297.06. Women and Religion in the United States (1⁄2)

Ms. Weisenfeld.

297.07. Perspectives on the Study of Religion (1⁄2)

Ms. LiDonnici.

297.08. Quran in Translation (1⁄2)

Ms. Leeming

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

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.

310b. Politics and Religion: Tradition and Modernization in the (1)

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: offered in 2005/06.

315 Religion and American Culture. (1)

Advanced study in selected aspects of the history of religions in the United States. May be taken more than once for credit when the content changes.

Topic for 2005/06b: Evangelicalism in America. Evangelical Protestantism has had a powerful impact on the religious, political, and popular cultures of the United States. This course explores the variety of theological and institutional manifestations of Evangelicalism, with particular attention to the participation of evangelicals in American politics, evangelical popular culture, gender and sexuality, evangelical approaches to religious diversity, and racial diversity within Evangelicalism in the United States. Ms. Weisenfeld.

Prerequisites: Religion 150, 266, or by permission of the instructor.

320b. 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 2005/06a: The Battle for Paul. The paradox of Paul is that, while he is the only New Testament writer to speak so personally and to tell us so much about himself, he is also, perhaps for this very reason, one of the most hotly contested and variably defined figures in the history of Christianity. The battle for Paul has been going on ever since the second century CE, and shows no present signs of diminishing. In this course we study Paul’s own writing, and the writing of those who tried (and try) to correct, adopt, praise, transform or efface him. Ms. LiDonnici.

Prerequisite: 200-level coursework in Christianity or Early Judaism.

Permission of the instructor required.

Topic for 2005/06b: The Imagined and Material in Chinese Textuality.To what extent does a text represent everyday life? What degree of tension exists between a reality constructed via a textual symbolic logic and the lived material experience of religious practitioners? We explore these questions in several genres of Chinese textuality such as Buddhist sutras, the novel, Journey to the West (Xiyou ji), several Confucian classics, as well as texts presenting prescribed gender roles in society. All of our readings are primary texts from which a particular idea of society was imagined and constituted. Mr. Walsh.

Prerequisite: Religion/Asian Studies 152, 232, 233, 235 or Philosophy 110, 210 or by permission of instructor.

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

(Same as Jewish Studies 346) Advanced study in selected aspects of Jewish thought and history. May be taken more than once for credit when the content changes.

Topic for 2005/06b: Lost Tribes and Far Flung Diasporas. To what extent does a text represent everyday life? What degree of tension exists between a reality constructed via a textual symbolic logic and the lived material experience of religious practitioners? We explore these questions in several genres of Chinese textuality such as Buddhist sutras, the novel, Journey to the West (Xiyou ji), several Confucian classics, as well as texts presenting prescribed gender roles in society. All of our readings are primary texts from which a particular idea of society was imagined and constituted. Mr. Epstein.

Prerequisites: Religion 150, Jewish Studies 101, 201 or permission of instructor.

[350a and b. Comparative Studies in Religion] (1)

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.

Not offered in 2005/06.

355a. The Politics of Sacred Centers (1)

This course examines how “sacred centers” are produced, maintained, and how they function in different religious environments. In focusing on specific cultic objects, temples, sacred places, etc., we study culturally complex centers such as Banares in India, Beijing in China, Jerusalem in Israel, and Washington D.C. in America, and raise questions about their sacrality and role in their respective religious environments. Some of our questions include: what is a sacred center? Are places inherently sacred or are they made that way through human action? What roles do sacred centers play in both local and global cultures? Mr. Walsh.

[365b. Gods of the City: Religion in America] (1)

(Same as Urban Studies 365) An exploration of the relationship between religious expressions and urban life in the United States. This course asks what happens to religion in American cities and whether there are distinctly urban religious experiences and practices. It inquires about the relationship between religious behavior and urban popular culture, religious power and urban politics, religious idioms and the routines of daily urban life. Particular attention is given to ethnic and religious diversity. Ms. Moore.

Prerequisites: 1 unit at 200 level or by permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2005/06.

385a. Asian Healing Traditions (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 385) Mr. Jarow.