Religion Department

Programs

Major

Correlate Sequence in Religion

Courses

Religion: I. Introductory

100a. Introduction to American Studies (1)

(Same as AMST 100) Topic for 2015/16a: The American Secular: Religion and the Nation-State. Is there a distinct realm in American politics and culture called the secular, a space or a mode of public discourse that is crucially free of and from the category of religion? This class considers the sorts of theoretical and historical moments in American life, letters, and practice that have, on the one hand, insisted the importance and necessity of such a realm, and on the other hand, resisted the very notion that religion should be kept out of the American public square. We ask whether it is possible or even desirable---in our politics, in our public institutions, in ourselves---to conceive of the secular and the religious as radically opposed. We ask if there are better ways to conceive of the secular and the religious in American life, ways that acknowledge their mutual interdependence rather than their exclusivity. Mr. Kahn.

Open to freshmen and sophomores only.

Two 75-minute periods.

101a. An Examined Life: Religious Approaches to Enduring Questions (1)

What is a good life? How do we understand dying and death? Does God exist? Is there evil? Why do we suffer? How do we love? What's the proper way to treat one's neighbor? This class will explore the variety of ways that religious thinkers have responded to these ancient, persistent, and troubling questions about the nature of human existence. Our focus will be on philosophical texts, however we will also consider filmic representations of these problems. Mr. Kahn.

Not offered in 2015/16.

102a. Religion, Media & American Popular Culture (1)

How does the mass media change religious values and behaviors? How might we understand the relationship between American Christians and American culture? Has sports, television or entertainment replaced religion? Is popular culture hostile to faith or is it religious in wholly new and unexpected ways? In this course we explore these questions by looking in detail at American television, film, popular literature and the internet. We also examine how specific religions and religious symbols are expressed in popular culture, what happens when traditional religions borrow pop cultural forms or ideals, and how the American media is abetting a trend towards religious eclecticism and hybridity. Mr. White.

Two 75-minute periods.

104a. Religion, Prisons, and the Civil Rights Movement (1)

(Same as AFRS 104) African American citizenship has long been a contested and bloody battlefield. This course uses the modern Civil Rights Movement to examine the roles the religion and prisons have played in theses battles over African American rights and liberties. In what ways have religious beliefs motivated Americans to uphold narrow definitions of citizenship that exclude people on the basis of race or moved them to boldly challenge those definitions? In a similar fashion, civil rights workers were incarcerated in jails and prisons as a result of their nonviolent protest activities. Their experiences in prisons, they exposed the inhumane conditions and practices existing in many prison settings. More recently, the growth of the mass incarceration of minorities has moved to the forefront of civil and human rights concerns. Is a new Civil Rights Movement needed to challenge the New Jim Crow?

Not offered in 2015/16.

106b. The Confessions of St. Augustine (0.5)

(Same as GRST 106    and MRST 106   ) Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) was born and raised in Roman Africa, converted to Christianity at the age of 32, entered the priesthood, and composed works of theology that greatly influenced the development of Western Christianity. The Confessions, his most famous work and an enduring masterpiece of late Latin literature, is an autobiographical account of a young man's search for happiness and truth, from the sins and errors (as he later viewed them) of his youth---his sexual affairs, friendships, and intellectual enthusiasms---to the mystical experience of his conversion. Augustine captures his journey from confusion to enlightenment in an emotional and innovative style, blending personal recollection, intense soul-searching, biblical quotation, prayer, and philosophical reflection on the meaning of memory and time. The course sets the Confessions in the cultural context of late imperial Rome and examines its unique ideas and literary qualities. Mr. Brown.

All readings are in English translation.

Six-week course.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

107b. Inner Paths: Religion and Contemplative Consciousness (1)

(Same as ASIA 107) The academic study of religion spends a lot of time examining religion as a social and cultural phenomenon. This course takes a different approach. Instead of looking at religion extrinsically (through history, philosophy, sociology, scriptural study, etc.) "Inner Paths" looks at the religious experience itself, as seen through the eyes of saints and mystics from a variety of the world's religious traditions. By listening to and reflecting upon "mystic" and contemplative narratives from adepts of Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Daoist and other traditions we learn to appreciate the commonalities, differences, and nuances of various "inner paths." Readings include John of the Cross, Theresa of Avila, Rabbi Akiba, Rumi, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ramakrishna, and Mirabai. Mr. Jarow.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

120a. God (1)

(Same as JWST 120) 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 metaphor, 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 about how he has been understood and misunderstood. Through analysis of primary materials (Biblical, Ugaritic, Canaanite, Mesopotamian, and Greek) we explore the origin and development of this complicated figure in Biblical literature. Ms. LiDonnici.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

143b. Islamic Traditions (1)

This course is an introduction to the religion of Islam as a lived tradition with a rich variety of expressions from around the world. Designed as a kind of "world tour" this course explores the origins of the Islamic community in the Arabian Peninsula, and then moves across the globe to study the spread of Islam as a global phenomenon. Topics include: revelation, prophethood, scripture, authority, leadership, pilgrimage, law, women's status, the development of Sufi movements, art and architecture. Ms. Muravchick.

Two 75-minute periods.

150a and b. Jews, Christians, and Muslims (1)

(Same as JWST 150) 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 among the three religions. Mr. Epstein and Ms. LiDonnici.

Two 75-minute periods.

152a and b. Religions of Asia (1)

(Same as ASIA 152) This course is an introduction to the religions of Asia (Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Zen, Shinto, etc.) through a study of practices, sites, sensibilities, 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. Jarow and Mr. Walsh.

Open to all students except seniors.

Two 75-minute periods.

160a. Relatively Uncertain: A History of Physics, Religion and Popular Culture (1)

(Same as PHYS 160 and STS 160) This course examines the cultural history of key ideas and experiments in physics, looking in particular at how non-scientists understood key concepts such as entropy, relativity, quantum mechanics and the idea of higher or new dimensions. It begins with an assumption that's widely accepted among historians -- namely, that the sciences are a part of culture and are influenced by cultural trends, contemporary concerns and even urgent personal ethical or religious dilemmas. In this course we are attuned to the ways that physicists drew key insights from popular culture and how non-scientists, including religious or spiritual seekers, appropriated (and misappropriated) scientific insights about the origin and nature of the world, its underlying laws and energetic forces, and its ultimate meaning and purpose. Mr. Daly and Mr. White.

Two 75-minute periods.

180b. Islamic Traditions (1)

This course is an introduction to the religion of Islam as a lived tradition with a rich variety of expressions from around the world. Designed as a kind of "world tour" this course explores the origins of the Islamic community in the Arabian Peninsula, and then moves across the globe to study the spread of Islam as a global phenomenon. Topics include: revelation, prophethood, scripture, authority, leadership, pilgrimage, law, women's status, the development of Sufi movements, art and architecture. Ms. Muravchick.

Two 75-minute periods.

183b. Jesus and Christian Origins (1)

There may be no other figure in Western history who has consumed the minds, hearts and imaginations of so many as Jesus - fascinating believers and unbelievers alike.  Can history tell us what Jesus was actually like?  Was he an itinerant, charismatic teacher, a healer and miracle-worker, a social revolutionary - or all of these?  This course examines the texts, conflicts, social movements, and theologies that shaped early Christianity during its formative period.  How did the ecstatic mysticism of a small, obscure minority group become the official religion of the Roman Empire? How did this "success" affect the way Christianity developed afterward, and its attitude toward heresy, authority, and difference? Ms. LiDonnici.

185a. The Bible Before Print (1)

(Same as CLCS 185 and MEDS 185) What is the Bible and how has its physical form changed from antiquity through Gutenberg's first printing around 1455?  Although one of the most influential texts in history, we seldom stop to think about its own history, and in particular the variety of textual, illustrative, and physical forms it has taken.  Yet there were great differences in what constituted "the Bible" and how it was produced, disseminated, read, and discussed throughout antiquity and the medieval period.  This course explores this history by "going to the source" and examining examples in both digital and print facsimile, largely relying on the Bible Collection in the Archives & Special Collections Library.  By looking closely at the Bibles, we will examine all aspects of their makeup--scribal tendencies, binding and format, illustrations, marginalia, and other distinctive features.  Through a variety of writing assignments we will make arguments about their meaning and what they might say about their producers and readers and the meaning of its physical form.  Ms. Bucher.

Both first and second six-week course.

189a. The Bible as Book (1)

(Same as MEDS 189   ) The Bible is one of the most influential texts in Western history, but we seldom stop to think about its own history, and in particular the variety of textual, illustrative, and physical forms it has taken throughout the centuries. Yet if we do, we see that there have been great differences in what constituted "the Bible" and this has affected how it was disseminated, read, and discussed. This course explores this history and these changes, using the Archives & Special Collections Library-where a fabulous Bible collection is housed-as a laboratory. Here we "go to the source" and look closely at various examples to learn about aspects of design such as format, lettering, writing surfaces, illustration, and binding. We also ask questions about the role and meaning of the Bible at particular times and in particular places. Through reading, conversation, and reflection, we develop responses to our questions, and then learn how to convey these responses, clearly and effectively, in written form. Ms. Bucher and Mr. Patkus.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

Religion: II. Intermediate

200b. Regarding Religion (1)

To study religion is to study culture and society, as well as to critically engage and participate in the humanities and social sciences. In this course we compare and critique different approaches to the study of religion and think about the category of religion in relation to other topics and social concerns. Ms. LiDonnici.

Required for all majors.

Two 75-minute periods.

204b. Islam in America (1)

(Same as AFRS 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.

Prerequisite: one unit in Religion or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

205b. Religion and Its Critics (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. Mr. Kahn.

Not offered in 2015/16.

206b. Social Change in the Black and Latino Communities (1)

(Same as AFRS 206 and SOCI 206) An examination of social issues in the Black and Latino communities: poverty and welfare, segregated housing, drug addiction, unemployment and underemployment, immigration problems and the prison system. Social change strategies from community organization techniques and poor people's protest movements to more radical urban responses are analyzed. Attention is given to religious resources in social change.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 2.5-hour period.

207a. Christian Ethics and Modern Society (1)

This course is an introduction to Christian ideals of faith, conduct, character, and community, and to modern disputes over their interpretations and applications. Our emphasis is on how Christian thinkers have negotiated the emergence of modern values about authority, rights, equality, and freedom. In what ways have Christian beliefs and moral concepts been consonant with or antagonistic to democratic concerns about gender, race and pluralism? Some of the most prominent Christian ethicists claim a fundamental incompatibility with this democratic ethos. We examine these claims and devote special attention to how Christian thinkers have dealt with the ethics of war, sexuality and the environment. Mr. Kahn.

Two 75-minute periods.

210a. Secularism and Its Discontents (1)

Is there a distinct realm called the secular, which is free of and from the religious? As sons and daughters of the Enlightenment, we've come to think that there is. What sort of philosophical and historical moments have led to the public insistence on a non-religious space? What projects in ethics, politics, and identity have the insistence on the secular authorized? This class both analyzes and contests modern assumptions about secularism and the religious, and asks whether the ideals of secularism have materialized. Is it possible or even desirable to create realms scrubbed free of the religious, in our politics, in our public institutions, or in ourselves? Mr. Kahn.

Not offered in 2015/16.

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

(Same as AFRS 211) A comparative socio-historical analysis of the dialectical relationship between religion and the conditions of oppressed people. The role of religion in both suppression and liberation is considered. Case studies include the cult of Jonestown (Guyana), Central America, the Iranian revolution, South Africa, slave religion, and aspects of feminist theology.

Prerequisite: special permission of the instructor.

This course is taught at the Otisville Correctional Facility.

Not offered in 2015/16.

212a. Western Esotericism (0.5)

Not offered in 2015/16.

213a. The Experience of Freedom (0.5)

(Same as ASIA 213) This six week course looks at the four paths of freedom that have emerged from Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian thought. Concepts and practices we will consider include: karma (the yoga of action), jnana, (the yoga of knowledge), bhakti, (the yoga of love) and tantra, (the yoga of imminent awareness). The focus of this course is on practice in a contemporary context. Mr. Jarow.

Prerequisite: RELI 152.

Not offered in 2015/16.

215a. Religion, Art and Politics (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. Mr. Epstein.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

216a. Israeli Media (1)

(Same as JWST 216) This course provides students with an in-depth understanding of current political, social and religious developments in Israel by reading and analyzing Israeli media including newspapers, web sites, blogs, TV clips and more. During the first part of the course students learn the development of the Israeli media from the birth of Israel until today as well as the connection between different newspapers to different political parties and religious sectors and the role they play in contemporary political and social debates. Through the study of historical texts and current media, students gain an understanding of Israel's complex multi-party political system, key political actors, the economic structure and the differences between the religious and political sectors in Israeli society. Mr. Yoked.

Two 75-minute periods.

217a. Film, Fiction and the Construction of Identity -- Israeli and Palestinian Voices (1)

(Same as JWST 217 and HEBR 217) This course explores the emergence and consolidation of collective identities in modern Israel and Palestine. Through a close examination of Israeli and Palestinian films and literary texts in translation students are introduced to an array of competing and complementing narratives that Israelis and Palestinians have relied on to understand themselves and their relationship to the other. Special attention is given to issues related to class, gender, ethnicity, religion and ideology.

Not offered in 2015/16.

218a. Spiritual Seekers in American History & Culture 1880-2008 (1)

This course examines the last 120 years of spiritual seeking in America. It looks in particular at the rise of unchurched believers, how these believers have relocated "the religious" in different parts of culture, what it means to be "spiritual but not religious" today, and the different ways that Americans borrow from or embrace religions such as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. We focus in particular on unexpected places of religious enchantment or "wonder" in our culture, including how science and technology are providing new metaphors for God and spirit. Mr. White.

Not offered in 2015/16.

219a. New and Alternative Religious Movements in the United States (1)

All religions, new and old, have a beginning, and all religions change over time. Even the most established and popular religions today, like Islam and Christianity, began as small, marginalized sects. In this class, we think carefully about how religions develop and change by examining closely religious movements in one of the most vibrant religious nations in world history, modern America. We study radical prophets, doomsday preachers, modern messiahs, social reformers and new spiritual gurus and we talk about how their new religious movements developed and interacted with more mainstream religious currents in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. This course proceeds in a roughly chronological fashion, beginning with new and alternative religions in the nineteenth century and moving on to more recent groups. Some of the questions we consider as we proceed are: Why do new religions begin? Why do people join them? How do they both challenge and conform to wider American norms and values? How should the American legal system respond to them? How do more mainstream believers respond to them? Mr. White.

Not offered in 2015/16.

220a. Text and Traditions (1)

Study of selected oral and written texts and their place in various religious traditions.

May be taken more than once for credit when content changes.

Topic for 2015/16a: Life of Jesus: Contest and Controversy. There may be no other figure in Western history who has consumed the minds,hearts and imaginations of so many as Jesus - fascinating believers and unbelievers alike. Christian communities have always differed greatly from each other in their theologies of Christ, but today historians attempt to side-step theology and discover the Jesus of first-century Palestine. Can history tell us what the historical Jesus was actually like? Was he an itinerant, charismatic teacher, a healer and miracle-worker, or a social revolutionary? In this course, we will examine the techniques and claims of the modern 'Quests for the Historical Jesus' and try to determine what can and can't be known about him, given the limits of the evidence that survives. Ms. LiDonnici.

Prerequisite: one course in Religion.

Open to all students.

Two 75-minute periods.

221a. Voices from Modern Israel (1)

(Same as JWST 221 and HEBR 221) An examination of modern and postmodern Hebrew literature in English translation. The course focuses on Israeli voices of men, women, Jews, Arabs, Ashkenazim and Sephardim, to investigate such topics as memory, identity, alienation, the "other," community, and exile. Authors may include Yizhar, Yehoshua, Oz, Grossman, Kanafani, Almog, Katzir, Liebrecht, Ravikovitch, Zelda, Zach, Amichai, Darish and el-Kassim.

Not offered in 2015/16.

222a. Fashion, Gender, and Politics in the Islamic World (1)

(Same as WMST 222) This course explores concepts of gender and the regulation of the female body within the historical and contemporary Islamic world through the lens of fashion and dress. We will explore how issues of dress, in particular the concept of the veil, have been framed as social, moral, religious, and political conflicts from the earliest period of the Islamic community. The readings are drawn from a wide variety of texts and sources, including: Islamic law, contemporary ethnography, anthropology, feminist critiques, orientalism, and histories. Ms. Muravchick.

Two 75-minute periods.

231a. Hindu Traditions (1)

(Same as ASIA 231) An introduction to the history, practices, myths, ideas and core values that inform Hindu traditions. This year's course focuses on the major systems of Indian philosophy and the spiritual disciplines that accompany them. Among topics examined are yoga, upanishadic monism and dualism, the paths of liberative action (karma), self realization (jnana), divine love (bhakti), and awakened immanence (tantra). Philosophical understandings of the worship of gods and goddesses will be discussed, along with issues of gender, caste, and ethnicity and post modern reinterpretations of the classical tradition. Mr. Jarow.

Prerequisite: 100-level course in Religion, or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

233a. The Buddha in the World (1)

(Same as ASIA 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. Walsh.

Two 75-minute periods.

234a. Creole Religions of the Caribbean (1)

(Same as AFRS 234 and LALS 234) The Africa-derived religions of the Caribbean region---Haitian Voodoo, Cuban Santeria, Jamaican Obeah, Rastafarianism, and others---are foundational elements in the cultural development of the islands of the region. This course examines their histories, systems of belief, liturgical practices, and pantheons of spirits, as well as their impact on the history, literature, and music of the region. Ms. Paravisini-Gebert.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

235a. Religion in China (1)

(Same as ASIA 235) An exploration of Chinese religiosity within historical context. We study the seen and unseen worlds of Buddhists, Daoists, and literati, and encounter ghosts, ancestors, ancient oracle bones, gods, demons, buddhas, dragons, imperial politics, the social, and more, all entwined in what became the cultures of China. Some of the questions we will try to answer include: how was the universe imagined in traditional and modern China? What did it mean to be human in China? What is the relationship between religion and culture? What do we mean by 'Chinese religions'? How should Chinese culture be represented? Mr. Walsh.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

237b. The Divine Comedy: With Dante in Heaven (1)

(Same as ITAL 237) The course is an overview of Dante's Paradise as a spiritual journey. We read the Paradise in the cultural and social context of Dante's life and the city of Florence in the late Middle Ages, with special attention to theological, literary and astrological symbolism. Topics explored include: the relationship between love and knowledge; gender and salvation; spirituality and mortality; chaos and cosmos. Critical responses to the poem from the fourteenth-century to the present, as well as discussion of various art-works inspired by this masterpiece, aid us in our study. The course has a multidisciplinary approach and includes music, movement, videos, creative writing and contemplative practices. Conducted in English. Ms. Biagi.

Open to all classes.

Two 75-minute periods.

240b. The World of the Rabbis (1)

(Same as JWST 240)

Prerequisites: JWST 101, JWST 201, RELI 150, or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

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.

Prerequisite: RELI 150, RELI 152, or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

250a. 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 2015/16a: Interpreting Religious Fits, Trances and Visions. (Same as STS 250) This course is an introduction to ways of understanding and interpreting religious experiences. The course analyzes religious experiences from a variety of (mostly American) contexts, with attention to how religious people themselves describe experiences and how scholars try to account for them. It examines moments of sudden conversion, insight or inspiration, nature mysticism, and ritual practices that are performed by Muslims, Christians and others. Mr. White.

Two 75-minute periods.

255b. Western Mystical Traditions (1)

(Same as JWST 255) 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 2015/16b: 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.

Two 75-minute periods.

266b. Religion in America (1)

What are the major cultural and intellectual forces shaping religions in America? How have religious Americans encountered people of other faiths and nationalities? Why have they seen America as both a promised land and a place of bondage, conflict or secularization? What are the main ways that religious Americans think about faith, spirituality, religious diversity and church and state? How might we understand the complexity of these and other issues in a country of so many different religious groups---Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim? Mr. White.

Not offered in 2015/16.

267b. Religion, Culture and Society (1)

The study of the interaction among religion, culture and society.

May be taken more than once when the content changes.

Topic for 2015/16b: Imagining China. (Same as ASIA 267) In this class we examine from a broad comparative perspective some of the many ways China has been imagined - cosmologically, imperially, monastically, textually, mythologically, architecturally, constitutionally - taking into account voices from within and without China, past and present. As we shift from some of the earliest imaginings from within ancient China toward more modern imaginings, colonial representations of China will become a priority as we move into modernity and the formation of the Chinese nation-state. Any imaginings of China must recognize political and cultural diversities as well as a sustained recognition of regionalisms that exist throughout Asia. One of our class objectives will be to better understand what impact acts of imagination have on social formations. Mr. Walsh.

Prerequisite: one course in Religion or Asian Studies, or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

268b. Sociology of Black Religion (1)

(Same as AFRS 268 and SOCI 268) A sociological analysis of a pivotal sector of the Black community, namely the Black churches, sects, and cults. Topics include slave religion, the founding of independent Black churches, the Black musical heritage, Voodoo, the Rastafarians, and the legacies of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. This course is taught to Vassar students and incarcerated men at the Otisville Correctional Facility. It will be taught at the Otisville Correctional Facility. To be announced.

Special permission required.

Not offered in 2015/16.

280a. Re-presenting the Holocaust: Religion, Media, Literature, and the Arts (1)

(Same as JWST 280 and MEDS 280) This course will examine contemporary re-considerations and representations of the Holocaust. What, exactly, was it as an historical and political event?  What are its moral, philosophical, theological and religious implications? How has it been represented via various religious, artistic, political and social mediations? Theoretical and philosophical approaches will comprise selections from the work of James Young, Dominick LaCapra, Marianne Hirsch and Sidra Ezrahi. We will also consider artistic representations in films, literature and graphic novels from the work of Primo Levi, Aaron Appelfeld, and Claude Lanzmann to Art Spiegelman's Maus and Spielberg's Schindler's List. Some central religious and theological issues under consideration will be those of representation, authenticity, appropriateness and uniqueness, the role of memory and post-memory, the problems and limits of language, questions of trauma, and the development of post-Holocaust identities. Ms. Veto.

Two 75-minute periods.

281a. Religion, Art, and Politics (0.5)

Nowadays, we accept the idea that religion, like so much else, is political. It makes sense, then, that visual culture, which can be used, situated, manipulated and exploited in the service of religion can serve to affirm and in some cases to subvert the political messages of religion. This class serves as an introduction to the wider field of religion and the arts, exploring examples of both the collisions and collusions of religion, art and politics. The course will concentrate on the intercultural polemics between Judaism and Christianity as exemplary of the larger issues at stake.

Second six-week course.

Two-75 minute periods.

282a. Walking With God: Mystical Approaches in Genesis (0.5)

(Same as JWST 282) The biblical book of Genesis is the font and origin of so many ideas and scenarios that are intrinsic to culture, from theodicy (wondering why bad things occur in the world) to sibling rivalry, from the gender binary to the concepts of the Self and the Other. The stories are too important to be ignored, too bizarre to be taken literally, and too inconsistent to be explained with any coherent logic. Into the breach step the mystics-Jewish, Christian and Muslim- interpreting and reinterpreting these primal texts, turning and turning them until they become mirrors of the soul, of society and of the very inner life, so to speak, of Divinity. Mr. Epstein.

Second six-week course.

Two 75-minute periods.

283a. Queering Judaism: Contemporary Issues (1)

(Same as JWST 283) Jews in postmodernity encounter myriad challenges to traditional religious structures in the areas of sex and gender, family life, social life and political power - to name just a few.  We will explore how these challenges were dealt with by a variety of strata of contemporary Jewish society in Europe, Israel and America, charting the various negotiations between religious observances and openness to changing social values among a variety of Jewish groups. Ms. Veto.

Two 75-minute periods.

290a or b. Field Work (0.5to1)

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.

298a or b. Independent Work (0.5to1)

The department.

Prerequisite: one semester of appropriate intermediate work in the field of study proposed.

Permission of instructor required.

Religion: III. Advanced

300a. Senior Seminar (1)

An exploration of critical issues in the study of religion. Mr. Kahn.

Senior Religion majors only.

One 2-hour period.

301b. Senior Thesis (0.5)

Written under the supervision of a member of the department; taken in the Spring semester. Permission required.

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

(Same as AFRS 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. To be announced.

Prerequisite:  AFRS 268, or two units in Religion or Africana Studies at the 200-level, or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

315b. 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.

Not offered in 2015/16.

317b. The Bible as Book: Manuscript and Printed Editions (1)

(Same as HIST 317 and MEDS 317) The Bible has been one of the most influential texts in Western history. Yet there are great differences in what constituted "the Bible" and how it has been produced, disseminated, read, and discussed across the centuries and across cultures. Drawing from the perspective of the history of the book, this seminar provides an opportunity to examine and consider key moments in the production and transmission of biblical texts from Egypt, Asia Minor, and Palestine in Antiquity, to editions of the bible produced in Europe, England, and America, from the early middle ages to the present. Examples include Codex Sinaiticus, the Vienna Genesis, Codex Amiatinus, the Lorsch Gospels, the Winchester Bible, Bible Moralisée, the Biblia Pauperum, the Wycliffe Bible, the Gutenberg Bible, translations of Erasmus and Luther, the Geneva Bible, the King James Bible, the Eliot Indian Bible, the Woman's Bible, bibles of fine presses, family bibles, childrens' bibles, and recent translations. We discuss current scholarship relating to these and other editions, but our approach is largely empirical; by looking closely at books and considering all aspects of their makeup (such as scribal tendencies, binding and format, typography, illustrations, texts and translations, commentaries and paratexts), we try to gain an understanding of the social, economic, cultural and political factors behind the appearance of particular bibles, and also the nature of their influence in particular places. In order to "go to the source," we rely heavily on examples from the Bible Collection in the Archives & Special Collections Library.

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 2015/16a: Satan. As the personification of our greatest fears, Satan can appear as the ultimate alien monster or as our kindly old neighbor. Satan is a multifaceted symbol, a counter-cultural figure that may represent rebellion against hegemonic power, our feelings about that rebellion, or even sometimes about power itself. But he also has a role in the law, a dimension with devastating consequences for individuals at many periods in history. In the seminar, we will trace the development of the figure of Satan in Western culture through biblical, early Jewish, early Christian, early modern and contemporary sources. Ms. LiDonnici.

 

Prerequisites: one 200-level in Religion or Jewish Studies, or permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

321a. Cult Archaeology, Fantastic Frauds, and Pseudoscientific Beliefs About the Past (1)

Why do archaeology and the idea of ancient religion inspire so many theories about aliens, lost civilizations, dark conspiracies, apocalyptic predictions, and mysterious technologies? This course engages this question and the growing critical literature about cult archaeology and popular contemporary myths about ancient religions and cultures. We investigate the origins of so-called alternative archaeological theories, look at the types of 'evidence' used to create them, and examine the reasons and rationales that lead people to invent, disseminate, and believe them, and explore the effect of these theories on the general understanding of history, religion and science.Ms. LiDonnici.

Prerequisite: at least one 200-level course in Religion, or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 2-hour period.

330a and b. Religion, Critical Theory and Politics (1)

Advanced study in selected aspects of religion and contemporary philosophical and political theory. May be taken more than once for credit when content changes.

Topic for 2015/16a: States of Emergency: Religion, Empire, and Sovereignty. (Same as ASIA 330) In this seminar we explore connections between ostensibly normative, modern, discursive, and universal categories, such as human rights, religion, and various protected freedoms, along with the language of nation-states (constitutional language, legal discourse, etc.), claims to sovereignty, territorialization and the sanctioned violence that goes along with all the above. Though this class is comparative and global in its coverage, we give special attention to China. Some questions we consider include the following: Why do so many nation-state constitutions claim to be secular but enshrine religion as an inalienable human right? Is there really a separation between church and state? Why is sovereignty inherently so violent? Is there a connection between religion and violence? Do human rights in fact do what they claim? Mr. Walsh.

Topic for 2015/16b: Race and Political Theory. (Same as AFRS 330) In recent years, "political theology" has emerged as a crucial notion in the humanities. Most narrowly, political theology refers to Carl Schmitt's claim that all "significant political concepts" of the modern nation-state have theological and religious roots. Until very recently, theorists of political theology have ignored the ways in which race functions as a significant political concept of the state. This seminar will explore the intersection between race and political theology. We will examine multiple conceptions of political theology. And we will ask most centrally: In what ways are constructions of race rooted in theological concepts and histories? We will ask this question both from the perspective of the state as well as from accounts of African American experience in historical and literary texts. We will consider writings by Carl Schmitt, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison, Albert Raboteau, and Toni Morrison. Mr. Kahn.

One 2-hour period.

332a. Tantra Seminar (1)

(Same as ASIA 332) Topic for 2015/16a: The Serpent Power: Tantric Esotericism. This seminar offers the opportunity to study one text, the Sat Cakra Nirupana, translated by Arthur Avalon as The Serpent Power. By going through this work line by line, and by looking at critical works on Tantra as well, we closely examine esoteric Indian theories of language and the power of mantra, visualization, the relationship of mind and body, yogic anatomy and energy dynamics, and the place and purpose of imagination in spiritual practice. Mr. Jarow.

Prerequisite: one 100-level course in Asian Studies or Religion.

One 2-hour period.

340a. Women in the Classical Jewish Tradition (1)

Not offered in 2015/16.

341a. The Goddess Traditions of India, China and Tibet (1)

(Same as ASIA 341) 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.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 2-hour period.

345a. Violent Frontiers: Colonialism and Religion in the Nineteenth Century (1)

(Same as ASIA 345) What is the relationship between religion and colonialism and how has this relationship shaped the contemporary world? During the nineteenth century the category of religion was imagined and applied in different ways around the globe. When colonialists undertook to 'civilize' a people, specific understandings of religion were at the core of their undertakings. By the mid-nineteenth century, Europe's territorial energy was focused on Asia and Africa. Themes for discussion include various nineteenth-century interpretations of religion, the relationship between empire and culture, the notion of frontier religion, and the imagination and production of society. Mr. Walsh.

Not offered in 2015/16.

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 2015/16b: Jews & Art. (Same as JWST 346) This course investigates the ways in which Jews have used visual culture to express religious ideas and address political circumstances, primarily in the premodern era. It interrogates the ideas of creation and creativity, the permissibility or impermissibility of the image in Judaism, the authorship of "Jewish" visual culture and whether/why this matters, the construction of individual and communal Jewish identity through art, architecture, and texts, and relations-collusions as well as collisions- between Jews and non-Jews as they play out in the realm of visual and material culture. Mr. Epstein.

Prerequisite: any 100-level Religion course.

One 2-hour period.

350b. Comparative Studies in Religion (1)

In this course we examine closely religious rituals and how they are used to understand or approach the divine. We focus in particular on ritual prayer, meditation, spirit possession and other practices of listening or speaking to God(s).  The course examines these practices across a number of cultures and religious traditions.

Topic for 2015/16b: Material Culture of the Crusades. This course explores the role of material culture in the study of religion generally, and the status of portable objects during the age of crusade. Each week revolves around a specific object as a case-study, supported through the reading of primary texts in translation, secondary scholarship and depictions of the crusades in film, as well as museum gallery and exhibition designs for the display of these materials. Objects from both the Christian and Muslim communities are examined, as well as items which seem to defy easy identification with either religious tradition. This upper-level seminar is designed for students who have taken at least one course in Christianity, Islam, or Medieval Art. Ms. Muravchick.

Prerequisites: one Religion course in Christianity or Islam, or one Art History course.

Topic for 2015/16b: Ritual, Religion, and the Supernatural. In this course we examine closely religious rituals and how they are used to understand or approach the divine. We focus in particular on ritual prayer, meditation, spirit possession and other practices of listening or speaking to God(s). The course will examine these practices across a number of cultures and religious traditions. Mr. White.

Prerequisite:  must be junior or senior or permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

355b. The Politics of Sacred Space (1)

This course examines the relationship between notions of spatial and temporal orientation and connects these to the fundamental importance of sacrality in human action and existence. Some of our questions include: what is sacred space? What is a sacred center? How are places made sacred through human action? To what extent is sacrality a matter of emplacement? What role does sacred space play in local and global environments? Mr. Walsh.

Not offered in 2015/16.

381a. The Bible as Book: Manuscript and Printed Editions (1)

(Same as MEDS 381   ) The Bible has been one of the most influential texts in Western history. Yet there are great differences in what constituted "the Bible" and how it has been produced, disseminated, read, and discussed across the centuries and across cultures. Drawing from the perspective of the history of the book, this seminar provides an opportunity to examine and consider key moments in the production and transmission of biblical texts from Egypt, Asia Minor, and Palestine in Antiquity, to editions of the bible produced in Europe, England, and America, from the early middle ages to the present. Examples include Codex Sinaiticus, the Vienna GenesisCodex Amiatinus, the Lorsch Gospels, the Winchester BibleBible Moralisée, the Biblia Pauperum, the Wycliffe Bible, the Gutenberg Bible, translations of Erasmus and Luther, the Geneva Bible, the King James Bible, the Eliot Indian Bible, the Woman's Bible, bibles of fine presses, family bibles, childrens' bibles, and recent translations. We discuss current scholarship relating to these and other editions, but our approach is largely empirical; by looking closely at books and considering all aspects of their makeup (such as scribal tendencies, binding and format, typography, illustrations, texts and translations, commentaries and paratexts), we try to gain an understanding of the social, economic, cultural and political factors behind the appearance of particular bibles, and also the nature of their influence in particular places. In order to "go to the source," we rely heavily on examples from the Bible Collection in the Archives & Special Collections Library. Ms. Bucher and Mr. Patkus.

Not offered in 2015/16.

One 2-hour period.

385a. Asian Healing Traditions (1)

(Same as ASIA 385) This seminar offers a comprehensive view of the traditional medical systems and healing modalities of India and China and examines the cultural values they participate in and propound. It also includes a "laboratory" in which hands-on disciplines (such as yoga and qi-gong) are practiced and understood within their traditional contexts. From a study of classical Ayur Vedic texts, Daoist alchemical manuals, shamanic processes and their diverse structural systems, the seminar explores the relationship between healing systems, religious teachings, and social realities. It looks at ways in which the value and practices of traditional medical and healing systems continue in Asia and the West. Mr. Jarow.

Prerequisite: RELI 231 or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

388a. The Spiritual Gifts of Modern India (1)

(Same as ASIA 388   ) Since Swami Vivekananda brought the message of "raja yoga" to the Parliament of World Religions on the shores of Lake Michigan in 1893, a number of spiritual teachers from India have achieved notoriety on the world stage and have had a major impact in the formulation of a world and secular "spirituality" in our time. Through phenomenological and historical studies, as well as through close reading and study of primary texts, this course considers the works of these major figures, including Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharshi, Ananda Mayi Ma, and Bhagavan Sri Osho Rajneesh.

399a. Senior Independent Work (0.5to1)