Religion Department

Requirements for the Concentration: A minimum of 11 units, including Religion 200.  Three seminars are required (two 300-level courses and the Senior Seminar, Religion 300). Students are required to take Religion 200 by the end of their junior year and it is highly recommended that they take these courses in their sophomore year. Students are expected to pursue a program of study marked by both breadth and depth. Of the 11 units required for the concentration, normally no more than two may be at the 100-level. However, students may petition for an additional 100-level course to be counted toward the concentration. No more than 1 unit of fieldwork and/or independent study 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: All Seniors are required to take Religion 300, the Senior Seminar, in the Fall semester of their senior year.

Thesis Option: If a senior elects to do a thesis and has departmental approval they can do so by completing Religion 301. The thesis option is a year-long undertaking and should develop the work begun in the Senior Seminar. Students who complete a thesis are eligible for departmental honors. The Senior Seminar receives a letter grade. The Senior Thesis is graded Distinction, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory. Petitions for exemption from these requirements, granted only in special circumstances, must be submitted to the chair in writing by the first day of classes in the A semester of the senior year.

Requirements for the Correlate Sequence: The Religion Department offers a correlate sequence in the study of religion which allows students to pursue study in an area of significant interest outside of their field of concentration. The sequence requires 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.

I. Introductory

100. 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.

Not offered in 2013/14.

101b. 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.

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

(Same as Africana Studies 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? Mr. Mamiya.

105a. Unsettling America (1)

Topic for 2013/14a: The American Secular: Religion and the Nation-State. (Same as American Studies 105) Is there a distinct realm in American politics and culture called the secular, a space or a mode of pubic 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 will 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 will 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.

Two 75-minute periods.

125. The Hebrew Bible (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies 125) The Bible is one of the most important foundational documents of Western civilization. This course surveys the literature of the Hebrew Bible (Christian ‘Old Testament') within the historical, religious and literary context of ancient Israel and its neighbors. What social and religious forces created these books, and how did they shape the lives of the ancient Israelites, their descendants, and all those they influenced for three thousand years? All texts are read in English translation. Ms. LiDonnici.

Not offered in 2013/14.

127b. The New Testament and Early Christianity(1)

This course examines the conflicts, social movements, theologies, texts and individuals that shaped early Christianity during its formative period, from the first through the fifth centuries CE. 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 difference, heresy, and authority?

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

(Same as Jewish Studies 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. Leeming.

Two 75-minute periods.

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, 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. Walsh.

Open to all students except seniors.

Two 75-minute periods.

180a. God (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies 180) 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 about how he has been understood and misunderstood. Through analysis of primary materials - biblical, Ugaritic, Canaanite, and Mesopotamian, we will explore the origin and development of this complicated figure in Biblical literature. Ms. LiDonnici.

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

Two 75-minute periods.

182a. Relatively Uncertain: A History of Physics, Religion and Popular Culture (1)

(Same as Physics and Science, Technology and Society 182) This course will examine 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 will be 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.

184a. Earthly Gods, Heavenly Creatures (1)

This course explores the idea of the sacred as manifested in public garden spaces: Eden, The Taj Mahal, Versailles, The Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, Brooklyn public parks, California Japanese-style wedding gardens, and Vassar College. This course stems from a longtime interest in gardens/gardening but more specifically in humans and their interactions and relationships with nature and their own imagination. I am particularly drawn to human attempts (especially by those in power) to display and control nature, imitate paradise through buildings and more ephemeral architecture, and reinforce or even create morals and culture through garden construction. The course begins with an examination of the words sacred and profane as discussed in the history of religious studies and then through our case studies attempts to answer questions about these gardens’ spiritual, religious, and/or secular value to society. We will take one field trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art where there will be a life-size Mughal-style garden on exhibit this fall. Ms. Leeming.

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

Two 75-minute periods.

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.

204. 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. Ms. Leeming.

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

Not offered in 2013/14.

205. 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 2013/14.

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

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

One 2.5-hour period

207. 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.

Prerequisite: one 100-level Religion class.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

210. 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 2013/14.

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

(Same as Africana Studies 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. This course is taught at the Otisville Correctional Facility. Mr. Mamiya.

Special permission of the instructor.

212. Western Esotericism (1/2)

Not offered in 2013/14.

213. The Experience of Freedom (1/2)

(Same as Asian Studies 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: Religion 152.

Not offered in 2013/14.

215. Religion, Art and Politics (1)

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 will explore examples of the collusions of religion, art and politics, as well as their collisions in the productions of majority and minority culture in Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the West, from antiquity to postmodernity. Mr. Epstein.

Prerequisite: any 100- or 200-level course in Art or Religion.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

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

(Same as Jewish Studies and Hebrew 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. Ms. Weitzman.

218. 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 2013/14.

219. 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 2013/14.

220b. 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.

Open to all students.

Topic for 2013/14b: Contest and Controversy about the Life of Jesus. 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.

Two 75-minute periods.

221. Voices from Modern Israel (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies and Hebrew 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. Ms. Weitzman.

Not offered in 2013/14.

222a. Gender and Islam: Religious Authority, Feminisms, and The Muslim Body (1)

(Same as Women's Studies 222) Many pious women and men grapple daily with their religiosity and its sometimes wary relationship with modern life. Islam is often portrayed as both a religion and “way of life” fundamentally incompatible with modernity and since the colonial period Muslim women, in particular, have been the symbolic repository of ideas about “Islam” in general. Muslims’ religiosity is often described in terms of its social backwardness, women’s subordination to patriarchal norms, and “fundamentalist” tendencies. This course seeks to question certain assumptions in feminist and liberal thought about gender and women’s freedom and autonomy. We will examine a variety of issues including the role of religious arguments in framing gender, bodily practices, political and intimate violence, sexualities, and Islamic feminisms. Islam will be treated as a rich body of discourses and practices growing, nurtured, and challenged by women and men, Muslims and non-Muslims. Ms. Leeming.

Prerequisite: any 100-level Religion or Women's Studies course, or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

230. Creole Religions of the Caribbean (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 230) 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 2013/14.

231a. Hindu Traditions (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 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.

233. The Buddha in the World (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.

Not offered in 2013/14.

235. Religion in China (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 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 2012/13.

240. The World of the Rabbis (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies 240)

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

Not offered in 2013/14.

243. 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 permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2013/14.

250b. Across Religious Boundaries (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 2013/14b: Zen and the West (Same as Asian Studies 250) This course focuses on the encounter between Buddhist ideas and postmodern paradigms in both Science and the Humanities. How do Buddhist theories of perception relate to current paradigms in Theoretical Physics and Cognitive Science? What light does the Buddhist encounter with the West shed upon issues of gender, equality, and social justice? How have Buddhist teachings related to the teachings of major Western religions? Mr. Jarow.

Topic for 2013/14b: Myth and Ritual in Film. Through ten important films of the 20th century this course seeks to explore, cross-culturally, the theme of the heroic quest in its various forms (e.g., the Christian, Shinto, Taoist, psychological, Atheist or techno quest) as a vital element in mythology and religious ritual. This theme would encompass other concepts such as human's confrontation with mortality, the idea of good vs. evil, and pilgrimage. The course would begin with an examination of selected theories of myth and ritual and their importance to the study of religion. Throughout the semester the class continues to examine and question film as a cultural object and a viable cross-cultural medium for the study of religion. Ms. Leeming.

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

Two 75-minute periods.

255. 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.

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

Not offered in 2013/14.

266. 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 2013/14.

267. 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: one unit at the 100-level in Religion, one unit at the 100-level in Anthropology or Sociology, or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2013/14.

268. Sociology of Black Religion (1)

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

Special permission required.

Not offered in 2013/14.

280b. Queering Judaism: Contemporary Issues (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies 280) 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 observance and openness to changing social values among a variety of Jewish groups. Ms. Veto.

Two 75-minute periods.

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.

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

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 (1/2)

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

Permission required.

310. 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 two units in Religion or Africana Studies at the 200-level, or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2013/14.

315a. 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 2013/14a: Spiritual Seekers in American History & Culture, 1880 - 2008 This seminar examines the last 120 years of spiritual seeking in America. It looks in particular at the rise of unchurched believers in the U.S., 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.

One 2-hour period.

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 2013/14a: Satan. (Same as Jewish Studies 320) 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 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 course in Religion or Jewish Studies, or permission of the instructor.

330b. 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 2013/14b: Unquantifiable Goods: Religion and Democratic Life. This seminar in religious ethics will examine the way certain goods of human life; i.e., grief, love, hope, reverence, beauty, anger, human rights, resist easy quantification and are deeply relevant to our public lives together. How do humans struggle to articulate and express these goods to each other? Given that these goods are not facilely quantifiable, how are they appropriately expressed publically and politically? Texts by Reinhold Niebhur, Hannah Arendt, Albert Camus, and Cornel West will all be considered. Mr. Kahn.

340. Women in the Classical Jewish Tradition (1)

Not offered in 2013/14.

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

(Same as Asian Studies 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.

One 2-hour period.

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

(Same as Asian Studies 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 2013/14.

346. 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.

Not offered in 2012/13.

350b. 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 2013/14b: Dreams, Myths, and Visions in the Religious Imagination. This seminar focuses on the understanding and utilization of dreams and myths in Eastern and Western religious traditions. It explores dream and visionary passages in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic works as well as traditional interpretations of dreams, and their attendant myths in India and Tibet. In addition to working with traditional commentaries and interpretations, the course considers contemporary theoretical approaches from structuralist and post-structuralist sources, depth psychology, and cognitive science. Readings include passages from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Book of Revelation, the Qur'an, the Bhagvata-Purana, and The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Critical materials include the works of Tsong Kha Pa, Freud, Jung, Laberge, and others. Mr. Jarow.

Prerequisites: Anyone other than Religion seniors must ask special permission.

One 2-hour period.

355. 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 2013/14.

381a. Martin and Malcolm: Religion and Social Change in America (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 381) The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Minister Malcolm X have been the towering figures of African American history over the past sixty years. This course examines their social class background, life histories, autobiographies, writings, speeches and actions. Relevant biographies and FBI documents also are examined. The unusual circumstances of their assassinations are probed. The course highlights the role of religion in their lives and their strategies for social change in America. This course is taught at the Otisville Correctional Facility. Mr. Mamiya.

Special permission of the instructor is required.

385. Asian Healing Traditions (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 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: Religion 231 or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2013/14.

388. The Spiritual Gifts of Modern India (1)

(Same as Asian Studies 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. Mr. Jarow.

Prerequisites: Religion 152 and /or 231 (231 gets priority) or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2013/14.

399. Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)