Religion Department

Professors: Mark S. Cladis, Lawrence H. Mamiyab, Deborah Dash Moore; Associate Professors: Marc Michael Epstein, Lynn R. LiDonnici, Judith Weisenfeld (Chair); Assistant Professors: E.H. Rick Jarowb, Michael Walsh; Lecturer: Tova Weitzman; Adjunct Instructors: Hartley Lachter, Margaret Leeming.

b Absent on leave, second semester.

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. Cladis, 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. Mr. Lachter.

Not offered in 2004/05.

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 Kamasutra and other Eastern texts furnish a comparative component. Authors include Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Dante, Simone Weil, and Alice Walker. Mr. Cladis.

131a. God ( 1/2)

(Same as Jewish Studies 131) 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 for six weeks during the first half of the semester.

132b. Satan ( 1/2)

Satan is “good to think” with: a binary opposite for the ultimate good (however it is defined); a tricky lawyer whose job is to trip men up; a counter cultural figure representing both rebellion against hegemonic power, and our feelings about that rebellion. Satan is also, in religious literature, sometimes a useful stand-in for one’s enemies, taking on their shape and opinions. In this course, we trace the development of the figure of Satan through biblical, early Jewish, early Christian and other mythological sources. Ms. LiDonnici.

One 2-hour period for six weeks during the first half of the semester.

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. Lachter, Ms. Leeming.

Open to all students.

152a. 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.

Open to all students except seniors.

[160b. 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.

Not offered in 2004/05.

184a. Evil in Modern Thought and Practice (1)

What is evil and what should we do about it? Who or what is responsible for bad things happening to good people? How are we to live in an imperfect world? Moral and natural evils pose challenges to the religious belief in a good creation/benevolent God and to the modern faith in a perfectible Human Nature/Historical Progress. Philosophers, religious thinkers, and others have meditated on the role of God, human beings, and society in producing, preventing, and resisting evil. This class is an introduction to modern ethics, philosophy of religion, and contemporary Christian and Jewish though through the lens of the problem of evil. We read short meditations on suffering, cruelty, tragedy, and responsibility, all with an eye to the practical project of fighting evil(s). Mr. Ratzman

II. Intermediate

201a. 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.

[202a. Perspectives of the Study of Religion] (1)

“Method,” in the context of religious studies, is actually a process of self-discovery through which we become conscious of underlying attitudes and predispositions, both in ourselves and in our authorities. These influence our thinking, research, and understanding of the phenomenon “religion”-in all its many forms. In this course, we learn, and have a chance to evaluate, some of the basic ideas and approaches to the study of religion that have appealed to scholars of religion throughout history. We examine how many of these approaches continue to affect our own processes of thought and interpretation today. Ms. LiDonnici.

Not offered in 2004/05.

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

(Same as Africana Studies 203) Instructor to be announced.

205b. Modern Problems of Belief (1)

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

(Same as Africana Studies 211) Mr. Mamiya.

Not offered in 2004/05.

[215b. 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. Mr. Epstein.

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

Not offered in 2004/05.

220a. Jewish Diversity in the Greco-Roman World (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies 220a) In the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman periods (300 BCE-200 CE), Jews lived many different lives-in and out of the promised land; stable and chaotic; invested in and rejecting of the world as they knew it; assimilating and “orthodox.” In this class, we study the texts and other artifacts through which the many voices from early Judaism survive until today, probing the religious, historical, literary and cultural forces that shaped the people and their texts. Readings include the so-called Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Jewish apocalyptic texts, examples from the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Philo. Ms. LiDonnici.

220b. Religions of the Greco-Roman World (1)

This course explores the diverse forms, practices and ideas on the religious landscape of the greater Mediterranean in the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman periods. This world was one of great religious, cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and political diversity, a social environment rarely approximated until our own time. The religions of the Greco-Roman world addressed this life situation in an idiom which was completely different from our own, but which contributed to the development of our modem views in distinct if surprising ways. Ms. LiDonnici.

Prerequisites: One unit in Religion or permission of instructor.

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 books of the Hebrew Bible 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.

Not offered in 2004/05.

227a. Christian Origins (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.

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: offered in 2004/05.

[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.

Not offered in 2004/05.

233b. 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. Walsh.

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.

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 2004/05.

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.

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.

[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.

Prerequisite: 1 unit in religion.

Not offered in 2004/05.

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. Ms. Leeming.

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

[260b. African-American Religion] (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 260b.) 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, religion under slavery, the rise of independent black churches, black women and religion, new religious movements, folk traditions, music, and religion and the Civil Rights Movement. Ms. Weisenfeld.

Not offered in 2004/05.

[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. Moore.

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

Not offered in 2004/05.

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. Moore.

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.

Not offered in 2004/05.

269. The Holocaust (1)

(Same as History 269 and Jewish Studies 269)

270b. Departmental Colloquium ( 1/2)

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

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. Ms. Weisenfeld.

Senior religion majors only. Permission required.

One two-hour period bi-monthly.

281. Jewish Philosophy (1)

(Sames as Jewish Studies 281 and Philosophy 281)

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.

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

Mr. Cladis.

Not offered in 2004/05.

[297.03. Buddhist Texts in Translation] ( 1/2)

Mr. Jarow.

Prerequisite: Religion 233.

Not offered in 2004/05.

[297.04. Hindu Texts in Translation] ( 1/2)

Mr. Jarow.

Prequisite: Religion 231.

Not offered in 2004/05.

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

Mr. Mamiya.

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

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. Cladis.

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.

[301a. 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. Mr. Lachter.

Not offered in 2004/05.

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

(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 2004/05.

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 2004/05a: Gnostic Literature. Gnostic belief is based in paradox, and Gnostic groups themselves present an historical paradox: both fiercely exclusivistic and widely popular; both ascetic and libertine. The debate about Gnosticism shaped the development of almost every variety of Christianity, altering the direction of many discussions, especially about grace, the human body, belief, and salvation. In this course, we study the main sources of Gnostic literature in the historical context of the first four Christian centuries, and analyze both the beliefs of the Gnostics themselves, and the sharply negative reactions of their opponents. Through this we work towards an understanding of the nature of Christian Gnosticism and its impact on the shape of the Christian tradition. Ms. LiDonnici.

Prerequisite: 200-level course work in Christianity or Early Judaism. Permission of the instructor required.

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. Mr. Lachter and Mr. Moore.

Topic for 2004/05: Hasidism (Same as Jewish Studies 346) Distinguished in dress, language and culture, today’s Hasidic community is synonymous for most of us with “ultra-orthodox” Judaism. But surprising as it seems, the Hasidic movement, was, from its very inception the first and most revolutionary modern reform movement in Judaism. In both philosophy and practice, Hasidism and their charismatic spiritual leaders infused the Jewish religious culture with new life while simultaneously and boldly undermining some of the structure of the religion which were previously deemed central and inviolate. In doing so, this radical movement both challenged the status quo of the times and anticipated later reforms to the Jewish tradition. 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.

Topic for 2004/05a: The Aesthetics of Enlightenment. This seminar examines the relationship between “mystical experience” and its variant forms of expression through language. By closely following specific Asian and Western “poetic journeys” the course explores possibilities of expressing the ineffable, paying particular attention to “poetic strategies” in face of that which defies representation. While working with texts in their English translations, there is exposure to some works in their original languages. Issues surrounding translation are always taken into account, and students are encouraged to work in the original language of the text whenever possible. Readings include Rumi, Mira, Blake, Yeats, Bhasho, etc. Mr. Jarow.

Prerequisites: Religion 152 and (1) 100 level in Religion or permission of instructure.

Topic for 2004/05a: Religion and the Arts. This seminar focuses on the relationship between the visual arts and religious concepts in Jewish and Christian society: How is art instrumental in imagining and manifesting the sacred? What is a legitimate visual aid to worship, and what is deemed to constitute idolatry? What implications do the incarnation and embodiment of Divinity have for the creation of art, and what problems does art face in depicting an incarnate God? Finally, given the concept of a deity made flesh among human beings, how have various groups depicted the same incarnate divine figure? Mr. Epstein.

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

Topic for 2004/05b: Violent Frontiers: Colonialism and Religion in the Nineteenth Century. What is the relationship between religion and colonialism and how has this relationship shaped the contemporary world? During the nineteenth century the concept 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 violent undertakings. By the mid- nineteenth century, Europe’s territorial energy was focused on Asia and Africa, two vast regions where religious and colonial practices collided and often colluded in fascinating ways. This seminar explores some of the ways religion was construed in the nineteenth century-and how this impacted the way in which we think with and use the term today-as well as look at specific case studies of religio-colonial interactions in China and Southern Africa. Themes for discussion include among others various nineteenth-century interpretations of religion, the relationship between economic and capitalist ideologies, the notion of frontier religion, and the imagination and production of society. Mr. Walsh.

[355b. 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.

Not offered in 2004/05.

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.

[384a. Literature of India] (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 384) Mr. Jarow.

Not offered in 2004/05.