Religious Studies

The Department of Religious Studies at Brown University provides students with an understanding of diverse religious traditions, an exposure to a variety of approaches employed within the academic study of religion, as well as an opportunity to explore diverse intellectual, social-theoretical, and ethical issues that arise when one considers the various manifestation of religion in human affairs. While the graduate program in religious studies, with select areas of concentrated strength, is one of the finest in the world, the undergraduate program is broad and creative, serving a large number of students both inside and outside the concentration.

For additional information, please visit the department's website: http://www.brown.edu/academics/religious-studies/

Course usage information

COST 0040. Great Contemplative Traditions of Asia.

Introduction to the critical study of contemplative practices and experiences emphasizing philosophical and scientific analyses of works from the major Asian contemplative traditions of South and East Asian Buddhism and Chinese Daoism in historical context. Theoretical studies of mysticism and studies from the psychological sciences will be included. Additional weekly meditation lab section.

Course usage information

COST 0100. Introduction to Contemplative Studies.

Introduction to the new field of Contemplative Studies focusing on identifying methods human beings have found, across cultures and across time, to concentrate, broaden and deepen conscious awareness. We will study what these methods and experiences entail, how to critically appraise them, how to experience them ourselves, and how they influence the development of empathy, health, and well-being. Prerequisites: None. Preference given to Contemplative Studies Concentrators. Enrollment limit is 40. LILE WRIT

Spr COST0100 S01 25582 W 3:00-5:30(14) (H. Roth)
Spr COST0100 L01 25588 MWF 9:00-9:50 (H. Roth)
Course usage information

COST 0145. Karma, Rebirth and Liberation: Life and Death in South Asian Religions.

Karma, Sanskrit for the "action" that makes up a human life, has been a central concern for the religious traditions of South Asia throughout their history. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism share the belief that after death people are reborn, taking on lives according to their actions in lives previous. In these traditions, liberation from the cycle of rebirth becomes the ultimate goal of human existence. This course examines the ideas of karma, rebirth and liberation in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism from historical, cosmological, ritual, narrative, iconographic and theological points of view. We also look at these ideas in Western culture. DPLL WRIT

Spr COST0145 S01 25941 TTh 2:30-3:50(11) (F. Moore-Gerety)
Course usage information

COST 0200. Meditation and the Brain: Applications in Basic and Clinical Science.

This course draws upon the multi-disciplinary expertise of four instructors to provide a detailed exploration of recent neuroscientific research on meditation combined with guided first-person experiential learning in various meditation practices. The course focuses on the cognitive, affective, and neurophysiological effects of meditation practices and their clinical applications in health, psychiatry and medicine.

We will identify persistent methodological challenges as well as the potential solutions for cutting-edge research that can emerge from an informed interdisciplinary perspective.

Course usage information

COST 0410. Engaged Buddhism.

“Engaged Buddhism” is a term used to describe social activism that applies Buddhist insight and ethics. This course will examine the historical background of engaged Buddhism, explore its central concepts, analyze it theoretically, and look at practical applications. Since many engaged Buddhist movements employ meditation, we will also study, first hand, the effects of meditation on prosocial attitudes in the “Meditation Labs” that are integral to the pedagogy of the course. Preference given to students who have taken RELS 0500 or UNIV 0540 or who have prior coursework in Buddhism. Additional weekly meditation lab section. LILE

Course usage information

COST 0420. The Theory and Practice of Buddhist Meditation.

Examines the theory and practice of Buddhist meditation in historical and modern contexts. Traces this practice from its origins in 6th-century B.C.E. India to its transmission through Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and on to modern insight meditation movements in the West. Students will examine selected textual sources and explore how Buddhist meditation is practiced today, both as an individual practice and as part of broader social institutions. Additional weekly meditation lab section.

Fall COST0420 S01 16835 TTh 2:30-3:50(03) (J. Davis)
Fall COST0420 L01 16836 TTh 12:00-12:50 (J. Davis)
Course usage information

COST 0425. The History and Practice of Yoga in India and Beyond.

From its roots in premodern India to its current popularity worldwide, yoga has a rich a complex history. As a practice of the mind, body, and spirit, yoga has taken many forms—meditation, chanting, breath control, postures—in order to achieve a range of goals: liberation from rebirth, supernatural powers, strength, pleasure, peace, wellness. As its reputation and commodification have increased, yoga has attracted deep interest, debate, and even controversy. In this course we will study yoga from its earliest texts to its status in the modern world, addressing its historical, religious, social, and political ramifications in many different contexts. WRIT

Fall COST0425 S01 17201 T 4:00-6:30(09) (F. Moore-Gerety)
Course usage information

COST 0450. Stages of the Contemplative Path.

One common metaphor for human life and self-transformation is the journey or the path. Contemplative traditions have also employed this image, offering both concise and expansive maps of the stages of practice and anticipated end goals of the contemplative life. The study of path structures allow us to carefully compare the relationship between specific cognitive, affective, and somatic practices, their resultant states and traits of human experience, and the meaning and value ascribed to them in different historical and cultural contexts.

Course usage information

COST 0480. Buddhist Ethical Theory.

Discussions of ethical questions in the classical Buddhist philosophical literature focus not only on how one should act, but also – perhaps more fundamentally – on which habits of mind and heart should be cultivated. In this course, students will (1) gain an understanding of Buddhist approaches to ethical questions, (2) learn to compare Buddhist approaches to ethical questions and ethical theorizing with prominent approaches in Western philosophy, and (3) examine whether and how classical Buddhist approaches to ethical questions might improve on and move forward contemporary discussions in the philosophical literature on ethics, and in society more broadly.

Course usage information

COST 0530. Laozi and the Daodejing.

Introduction to classical Daoism, one of the two indigenous religions of China, through the history, philosophy, and contemplative practices found in its famous foundational work, the Daodejing. Through careful study of this text and its many early iterations, including the recently discovered manuscript versions from Ma-wang-tui and from Guodian and early commentaries, we will attempt to reconstruct the intellectual and experiential elements on which this tradition was based. Pre-requisites: None. Permission given to students who’ve completed: COST/UNIV 0540, or RELS 0040, or RELS 0120. Otherwise: Permission of Instructor. Limit: 10.

Spr COST0530 S01 25597 Th 4:00-6:30(17) (H. Roth)
Spr COST0530 L01 25667 TTh 2:30-3:30 (H. Roth)
Course usage information

COST 0540. Introduction to Contemplative Studies.

Introduction to the new field of Contemplative Studies focusing on identifying methods human beings have found, across cultures and across time, to concentrate, broaden and deepen conscious awareness. We will study what these methods and experiences entail, how to critically appraise them, how to experience them ourselves, and how they influence the development of empathy, health, and well-being. Prerequisites: None. Preference given to Contemplative Studies Concentrators. Meditation lab included. Enrollment limit is 20. LILE WRIT

Course usage information

COST 0550. Tibetan Buddhism and the West.

This course traces the history and development of the various lineages of Tibetan Buddhism from its origins in Indian Buddhism through to encounters between Tibet and the West in the modern period. The course investigates the religious, political, and geographical conditions in Tibet that influenced the development of some of the unique characteristics of the lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. The course explores key doctrines, practices, institutions, and religious leaders of the major lineages, and delves into key events in the modern period, beginning with the age of missionaries and explorers and ending with the Cultural Revolution and subsequent diaspora.

Course usage information

COST 0650. Psychology and Philosophy of Happiness (PHIL 0650).

Interested students must register for PHIL 0650.

Fall COST0650 S01 16769 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

COST 0855. The Bhagavad Gītā (CLAS 0855).

Interested students must register for CLAS 0855.

Fall COST0855 S01 16636 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

COST 0990. Concepts of the Self in Classical Indian Literature (CLAS 0990).

Interested students must register for CLAS 0990.

Spr COST0990 S01 25467 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

COST 1020. Cognitive Neuroscience of Meditation.

The course will focus on the history and development of neuroscientific studies of meditation. We will examine the various technological innovations that drove this research, EEG, PET/fMRI, and MEG and the central scientific and philosophical challenges presented by it, including: the epistemological status of correlating subjective measures with brain function; the challenges of carrying out and analyzing data from a longitudinal meditation training study; the nature of neuroplasticity; how the brain’s default network is affected by meditation; the neural oscillatory correlates of attentional processes in meditation; how the James-Lang hypothesis is affected by these cognitive neuroscientific studies. Instructor permission required.

Spr COST1020 S01 25971 T 4:00-6:30(16) (C. Kerr)
Course usage information

COST 1080. Meditation, Mindfulness and Health.

This course provides an overview on the relation of meditation and mindfulness (the ability to attend in a nonjudgmental way to one’s own physical and mental processes during ordinary, everyday tasks) with various health outcomes and disease risk factors such as depression, anxiety, pain management, diet, substance use, and cardiovascular disease. Mechanisms by which mindfulness may influence health will be addressed. The course will assess studies in the field for methodological rigor, and students will be taught strengths and weaknesses of current research. Students will be taught various mindfulness practices including direct experience with mindfulness meditation.

Course usage information

COST 1441. Zen Meditation in China, Korea, and Japan.

Intensive study of the development of Zen Meditation in China, Korea and Japan featuring historical origins in Indian Mahayana Buddhism and Chinese Daoism. Historical and social contextualization will be balanced by first-person investigations. Examines both kôan and silent illumination methods. Weekly seminars on representative texts in translation; labs will experiment with meditation techniques directly drawn from the readings. Students register for both seminar and lab. Topic for 2016: Chinese Chan. Prerequisite: EAST 1950F, EAST 1950S, RELS 0040, RELS 0100, RELS 0500, RELS 1430, RELS 1440, or UNIV 0540; or instructor's permission. Enrollment limited to 12.

Course usage information

COST 1442. The History, Philosophy, and Practice of Rinzai Zen Buddhism.

Follows Rinzai Zen Buddhism from origins in India to developments in China to its transmission to Japan and eventual transplanting to the West. Course will examine the nature of cultural and historical influences on the practices and adaptations through the Asian and American contexts, including the secular pedagogy of Contemplative Studies. This is a 2016 GELT course. This course has an experiential learning component that includes travel to Japan for on-site learning. Students admitted to thecourse must be able to travel to Japan in January of 2017. Permission of instructor required. Enrollment limit: 5. Priority Given To: Students with declared Contemplative Studies or Religious Studies or East Asian Studies Concentration and who have taken three of the following courses: RELS 0040, RELS 0290E, RELS 0500, RELS 0520; UNIV 0090, UNIV 0456, UNIV 0540, UNIV 1000, UNIV 1950; prior coursework in Buddhism or Japanese Religions at Brown will also be considered. Additional weekly meditation lab section.

Fall COST1442 S01 16534 Th 4:00-6:30(04) (H. Roth)
Fall COST1442 L01 16537 MWF 9:00-9:50 (H. Roth)
Course usage information

COST 1520. Consciousness.

Topics will include: (i) the different features of various types of consciousness; (ii) dualist, physicalist, and representationalist theories of experience; (iii) the nature of pain and other bodily sensations; (iv) the nature of conscious thought; (v) the qualitative dimension of perception; (vi) introspection; (vii) the roles of attention and working memory in perceptual consciousness; (viii) blindsight, inattentional blindness, hemineglect, and related phenomena; (ix) the unconscious; and (x) what it is for a state of consciousness to be unified. WRIT

Course usage information

COST 1770. Philosophy of Mind.

Questions concerning the nature of mentality and its relation to the body. Selections from the following topics: mind and behavior, mind as the brain, mind as a computing machine, thought and language, action and mental causation, intentionality and consciousness, the nature of mental representation, emotion and volition, the nature and possibility of a science of mind. Prerequisite: at least one course in philosophy (2 or more preferred) or a background in cognitive science.

Course usage information

COST 1870. Neuroethics (SCSO 1700P).

Interested students must register for SCSO 1700P.

Spr COST1870 S01 25603 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

COST 1910. Individual Study Project – Semester 1.

COST Individual Study Project Semester 1, directed reading and research arranged with individual faculty. Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.

Course usage information

COST 1920. Individual Study Project - Semester 2.

COST Individual Study Project Semester 2, directed reading and research arranged with individual faculty. Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.

Course usage information

COST 1950. Capstone Seminar in Contemplative Studies.

Enables concentrators to synthesize their knowledge of the field of Contemplative Studies and its current principal issues, and learn how to most effectively conduct research and writing on their Capstone Projects. Students will write their Capstone Independent Research Project in this course under the direction of their Capstone Advisor, in most cases a member of the Contemplative Studies Core Faculty. Students accepted to pursue Honors will use this course as the first semester of a two-semester Honors sequence. The second semester will be an independent reading and research course with their Honors Advisor. LILE

Fall COST1950 S01 16461 W 3:00-5:30(17) (H. Roth)
Fall COST1950 L01 16462 MWF 2:00-2:50 (H. Roth)
Course usage information

COST 1980. Thesis Preparation.

Required of seniors in the honors program, (second semester of two-semester sequence that includes COST 1950 in first semester). Open to others only by permission of the Director. Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.

Course usage information

RELS 0010. Approaches to Religion.

An introduction to the study of religion by examining selected examples of religious belief and practice from around the world and exploring some theoretical tools with which to think about them. LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0011. Faith and Violence.

Explores the relationship between religious texts and rhetoric and violence. How do sacred texts promote or discourage violence, and how have later religious communities understood (and continue to understand) these texts? While the course will focus mainly on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, occasional Asian examples will be used. No prerequisites.

Course usage information

RELS 0015. Sacred Stories.

What do stories do? How do stories underlie who we are, where we are, or why our world is as it is? Ancient religious stories have been formative for western culture in all of its expressions, lasting into our modern, secularized times. Sacred stories underlie how we think about life, death, suffering, or joy. How do they work? This course will examine narrativity - the telling, sharing, and contesting of stories - as a means for constructing and maintaining religious identity, community, and world view in western history. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim materials. Lecture and discussion. DPLL LILE WRIT

Fall RELS0015 S01 16531 MWF 12:00-12:50(12) (S. Harvey)
Course usage information

RELS 0025. Wealth: Religious Approaches.

This course will survey religious approaches to the acquisition and use of wealth: How do religious thinkers understand the notion of ownership and private property? Is the fact of ownership of significant possessions seen as a moral good or an impediment to the spiritual life? Are there better or worse ways to acquire wealth? To spend it? The course will focus primarily on Judaism and Christianity, although examples from Islam and perhaps eastern religions will be brought in as appropriate. Topics to be covered will include religious understandings of poverty, charity, finance, and the link between religion and capitalism. DPLL LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0030. The Apocalyptic Imagination.

This course will explore the origins and nature of apocalypticism. Beginning with modern apocalyptic thought in ancient Jewish writings (including the Books of Daniel and Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible), we will explore the socio-historical context for ancient Jewish visionary ascent texts, early Christian apocalypses (including the Book of Revelation) and later interpretations and use of ancient "prophecy" concerning the end of the world. This course includes a close reading of ancient texts and an analysis of the 2012 apocalyptic imagination through popular literature and movies.

Course usage information

RELS 0035. The Bible and Moral Debate (JUDS 0060).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0060.

Spr RELS0035 S01 25731 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

RELS 0040. Great Contemplative Traditions of Asia.

Introduction to the critical study of contemplative practices and experiences emphasizing philosophical and scientific analyses of works from the major Asian contemplative traditions of South and East Asian Buddhism and Chinese Daoism in historical context. Theoretical studies of mysticism and studies from the psychological sciences will be included. Additional weekly meditation lab section.

Course usage information

RELS 0045. Buddhism and Death.

Death is universal but seldom discussed in contemporary culture. In this class we will address how the varieties of Buddhist religion represent and understand dying, death, and the afterlife. Using images, films, and texts, we will ask, How should we die? How does death influence the living? Is there an afterlife? What should be done with dead bodies? The class will move between theories and practices, and past and current events. Coming to terms with these diverse materials may reveal to us some of our own assumptions about death, dying, and the afterlife. LILE WRIT

Fall RELS0045 S01 16924 MWF 11:00-11:50(02) (J. Protass)
Course usage information

RELS 0050. Love: The Concept and Practice.

A study of love (in classical and modern texts and in film) that provides a window into a host of religious, philosophical, and ethical issues. Topics include the potential conflict between divine and human love, between transcendent and earthly love, and the nature of friendship, romance, marriage, and love at the crossroads. Although the scope is love in the West, the Kamasutra and other texts furnish a comparative component. LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0052. Love and Reason.

Love often seems dramatically unreasonable, and reason can seem coldly rational in a way that excludes any emotion or passion even akin to love. The supposed opposition between love and reason has been used by Christian and secular thinkers throughout modernity to organize ways of knowing and to criticize claims of faith, belief, and desire. But are love and reason really so distinct? Can love be reasoned, and even reasonable? Can reason be aided by love, and even driven by it? This course offers an advanced introduction to modern Western philosophy and Christian thought through these questions and themes.

Course usage information

RELS 0055. Modern Problems of Belief.

Some say it is impossible to be both a modern person and a religious person. What are the assumptions behind this claim? And what is it about the modern (or postmodern) era that, according to some, has made religion difficult to believe in? These questions will be discussed as we explore the ways religion has been understood in Western culture from the Enlightenment to the present. We will read such influential thinkers as Hume, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Durkheim, Buber, and Woody Allen. Each figure has left a decisive mark on the way we think about religion. LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0056. Spiritual But Not Religious: Making Spirituality in America.

When someone calls themselves "spiritual," what does that mean? This course answers that question by exploring the wide range of ideas, practices, and desires that have come to make up the concept of spirituality. Inviting students to consider why spirituality seems "not religious," this course examines such phenomena as yoga, faith healing, hip hop, shopping, self-help books, psychology, surveys, and protest movements. Through such phenomena, this course will enable students to recognize how Americans have made sense of their own lives and institutional attachments through continually changing technologies of race, pluralism, science, capitalism, and secularism. DPLL LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0058. Christianity and Culture.

The aim of this introductory level lecture course is to interrogate the relationship between culture and religion. The foundation for our study will be exemplary works by major cultural critics and theologians since the early 19th century. Our focus will be on forms of cultural criticism put forward by interdisciplinary thinkers that attempted to gain a better grasp of both modern social crises and sources of communal joy. The course shall rehearse debates in cultural studies, theology, postmodernism, and politics.

Course usage information

RELS 0061. Reason and Religion (PHIL 0040).

Interested students must register for PHIL 0040.

Course usage information

RELS 0065. On Being Human: Religious and Philosophical Conceptions of Self.

An examination of classic and contemporary views on the nature of human existence. Central themes include human freedom, the relation between reason and emotion, and the significance of personal history and memory. We also ask how conceptions of who we are shape views about how we should live. Sources include religious and philosophical texts as well as recent films. LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0068. Religion and Torture.

The debates about the moral and legal status of torture have acquired a new urgency since 9/11. People are now questioning the consensus of law and human rights declarations that torture is never permissible. Indeed, some argue that in extreme cases, it may be obligatory to torture a captive for information that could save many lives. This class explores the recent debates about torture from secular and religious perspectives. It also deals with more general themes related to torture: What are the nature and effects of pain? Are human beings sacred, and does sacredness involve a prohibition against torture? LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0070. Religious Thought in Modern Literature.

Examination of themes and issues of Western moral and religious thought as represented in imaginative literature. Focuses on structures and problems of moral selfhood and religious commitment. Special attention to: project of selfhood and its significance; evil and subversion of self and community; ideas of faith, love, and redemption.

Course usage information

RELS 0071. Believers, Agnostics, and Atheists in Contemporary Fiction (JUDS 0050A).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0050A.

Fall RELS0071 S01 17409 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

RELS 0072. Finding Wisdom in Asian Classics.

An introduction to the most influential religious writings of South and East Asia. These “Great Books of the East” depict the values, ritual concerns, symbols, and philosophical speculations of the major religious communities of ancient and medieval India, Tibet, China, and Japan. Emphasis will be on key ideas with an eye to their broader significance. Readings may be drawn from the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Analects, Dao De Jing, Journey to the West, and Life of Milarepa, among others. No prerequisites. DPLL LILE

Spr RELS0072 S01 25795 TTh 1:00-2:20(10) (J. Sawada)
Course usage information

RELS 0075. Reel Religion: Representations of Religions in Film.

Religious practices, beliefs, and experiences are given diverse representations in film. In this course, we study some of these representations, with particular attention to critical issues in the interpretation of both religion and film, and references to major themes in the relevant religious traditions and literatures. Representative films include Star Wars 3: The Return of the Jedi; The Name of the Rose; The Chosen; The Handmaid's Tale, The Cup, The Matrix, Witness and Water. No prerequisites. DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0080. Gender, Power, God(s).

A comparison of women's and men's practices, experiences and beliefs, focusing on patterns observable in a range of religions. Special attention paid to the ways religions participate in diverse constructions of gender (ideas about masculine and feminine), and how these relate to the construction and exercise of power and authority. Specific traditions and historical periods studied vary from year to year. Examples may include: leadership in African American churches; Buddhist monastics; early Christian asceticism; evangelical Christian organizations; medieval and early modern Christian witchcraft accusations; Hindu devotions for husbands and brothers; the turn to orthodoxy among contemporary Jewish women and men; the mosque movement in contemporary Islam; village kamis in Okinawa (Japan); the Shakers, Zar and Bori possession in North Africa and the Caribbean. DPLL LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0085A. From Amsterdam to Istanbul: Christians, Moslems, and Jews (JUDS 0050E).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0050E.

Course usage information

RELS 0085B. Dead and Loving It: The Cult of the Saints in the Eastern Mediterranean (CLAS 0210P).

Interested students must register for CLAS 0210P.

Course usage information

RELS 0085C. Foreigners, Refugees, and the Ethics of Minority (JUDS 0061).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0061.

Spr RELS0085C S01 25714 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

RELS 0085D. Religion, Politics, and Culture in America (HIST 0253).

Interested students must register for HIST 0253.

Fall RELS0085D S01 17445 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

RELS 0087. Religion in America.

From Native American traditions and Puritan migrations in the seventeenth century to Barack Obama's "crypto-Islam" and debates over gay rights in the twenty-first: American history is religious history. For centuries, religion has shaped how Americans have carried out their everyday lives, interacted with others, understood themselves, and perceived the wider world. Focusing primarily on religious life in the United States, this course invites students to explore the relationship between religion and society in North America by addressing key questions and critical tensions surrounding such issues as race, ethnicity, science, gender, capitalism, pluralism, sexuality, and secularism.

Course usage information

RELS 0090A. Death in the Greek and Biblical Traditions.

A comparative analysis of ideas about death and the afterlife as they emerge from the cultural legacy of ancient Greece, Israel and West Asia. Topics include the abode of the dead; ghosts; necromancy; ancestor cults and hero cults; burial and mourning rites; impurity of death; suicide; the literature of death. Seminar format, with emphasis on close reading of primary texts. All readings in translation. FYS

Course usage information

RELS 0090B. Hindu and Christian Modes of Loving Devotion.

Explores two modes of devotion prominent in the medieval West and in medieval and modern India, both centering on the human incarnation of divinity, as Jesus Christ and as Krishna. The first considers the divine as child and plays on the paradox of the omnipotent God of the universe as a seemingly helpless infant. In the second, God is conceived as a lover and erotic passion serves as an image and avenue of religious realization. Enrollment limited to 20 first-year students. FYS DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0090D. Jewish and Christian Women in Antiquity.

What do we know about Jewish and Christian women in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean, and what difference does this make for the study of early Judaism, early Christianity and women's history and religions more broadly? An examination of literary, documentary and archaeological sources from the later Hellenistic period through the late Roman period, with generous assistance from recent scholarship and particular attention to issues of theory in women's and gender studies, and in religious studies. FYS

Course usage information

RELS 0090E. Faith and Violence.

Explores the relationship between religious texts and rhetoric and violence. How do sacred texts promote or discourage violence, and how have later religious communities understood (and continue to understand) these texts? While the course will focus mainly on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, occasional Asian examples will be used. No prerequisites. Reserved for First Year students. Enrollment limited to 20. Instructor permission required. FYS WRIT LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0090F. Friendship in the Ancient World.

How have ancient societies understood friendship, and how do ancient ideas about friendship differ from or resemble those of contemporary Westerners? This seminar, a comparative investigation of the ways in which friendship has been represented in the Hebrew Bible, Mesopotamian literature, and Greco-Roman texts, will addresses these and other questions through study of materials such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Book of Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel (on Jonathan and David), the Wisdom of Ben Sira (Sirach), and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students. FYS WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0090G. Women and Religion in Classical India: From Commoner to Queen, Courtesan and Nun.

Classical Indian religious law books present a rather grim view of the options of women. Famously, for example, they declare that women can have no independence—religious, legal or otherwise. As girls, they are under the authority of their fathers; as wives, the authority of the husbands; and as widows, that of their sons. The seminar will look at a variety of other sources—Buddhist and Jain texts and stories, classical Indian plays and literature, and, importantly, a range of inscriptions which record the behavior of actual Indian women—to see if this view was anything more than theory. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students. FYS

Course usage information

RELS 0090H. The Bible and Social Media.

The success of the Protestant Reformation has been linked to the invention of the printing press. The Bible's translation into vernacular languages and its mass production meant that for the first time, people could read and interpret the scriptures outside the Church. Now, the internet and social media such as Facebook and Twitter give people a new way to access, interpret, and use the Bible at home. This course will examine the Bible's use within social media in American culture. We'll look at tweeting the Bible, blogging, podcasting, and the popularity of Bible memes through sites like tumblr and reddit. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students. FYS

Course usage information

RELS 0090I. Radical Romantics: Politics, Ecology, and Religion.

We will endeavor to create an intimate community of learning as we jointly explore political, environmental, and religious aspects of Romanticism (especially British Romanticism). It has become commonplace to think of Romanticism as nostalgic notions of the pastoral or narcissistic reports of the individual’s private gaze on the sublime. In contrast to this approach, we will focus on the radical political and environmental perspectives embedded within Romantic religious and poetic sensibilities. In the process, we will reflect on how this Romantic heritage can serve as a contemporary public resource for the cultivation of interrelated environmental and democratic beliefs and practices. FYS WRIT LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0090J. Death and Afterlife in the Biblical Tradition.

A close analysis of the development of ideas about death and the afterlife in the Hebrew Bible and in the literatures of Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity. Topics: life and death in Israel and ancient West Asia; the abode of the dead and its denizens; from Sheol to Heaven, Hell, and the final judgment; religious specialists, rituals, and the literature of death: necromancy; burial and mourning rites; cults of the dead ancestor. No prerequisites. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students. FYS LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0090K. Christmas in America.

This course explores how Christmas became a religious, consumer, and social extravaganza. Every year, many Americans devote several months to preparing for and recovering from Christmas. Most participate as Christians, but others participate despite other religious identities. Yet Christmas has not always loomed so large. Through encounters with such phenomena as sacred stories, consumer practices, and legal controversies, this course invites students to ask how and why Christmas became an important event. By the end of the course, students not only will recognize how religion and culture take shape together but also will appreciate how popular practices develop. FYS LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0100. Introduction to Buddhism.

An introductory survey of Buddhist teachings and practices, with emphasis on Asian developments. Readings will comprise a combination of primary and secondary sources and genres including sutras, narratives, and commentaries.

Course usage information

RELS 0105. Judaism.

Surveys the major practices, traditions, and beliefs of the Jews, with an emphasis on modern Jewish communities. How does a Jewish community shape its practices and beliefs against its own specific historical circumstances to create a coherent and meaningful religious system? What is "Judaism," and how do scholars of religion explain and interpret it? DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0110. Christian Classics.

A historical survey of Christianity from its foundations to the present, tracing its development into three main branches: Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant. Readings from a variety of Christian "classics" accompany the survey, pursuing the theme of how-in different times, places, and circumstances-Christians have understood their relations to the divine and to the world. DPLL WRIT LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0120. The Classical Chinese Philosophy of Life.

An introduction to the origins and early development of the indigenous religious thought of China from the oracle bone divination of the Shang Dynasty to the ethical philosophy of Confucianism and the cosmology and mysticism of Daoism. The course will seek to identify and elucidate the basic elements of the distinctive Chinese world view and demonstrate how they have shaped the nature of religious practice and experience and how they have been shaped by them. Works of interpretive scholarship will be used to supplement the primary texts in translation that will form the course. Optional lab section.

Course usage information

RELS 0130. Religions of Classical India.

After a brief look at our earliest evidence, we focus on the three most prominent Hindu goals during the last two millenia- enlightenment, righteous action, and loving, often passionate devotion-and the variety of practices undertaken to realize them. These include study, meditation, music, drama, image worship, asceticism, and nonviolence. Attention to issues of gender, caste, and untouchability. DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0135. Hindu Stories: Traditions of Narrative and Performance.

This course explores currents of Hinduism through its traditions of narrative and performance. Ranging across a diversity of narrative and performative "texts," we enter a world where fires are kindled, gods and demons clash, crises of faith and duty are resolved. We learn about key Hindu beliefs, mythology and iconography; and see Hinduism as it is lived across India. An introductory immersion, from karma to rebirth, OM to tantra.

Course usage information

RELS 0140. Religions of South Asia.

This course surveys five major religious traditions of South Asia: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Jainism, and Sikhism. Following brief modules on each religion’s basic history, belief, and ritual systems in the first part of the course, we will proceed to theme-based studies (gender, asceticism, and violence) of some major continuities and ruptures among these religious systems. DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0145. Karma, Rebirth and Liberation: Life and Death in South Asian Religions.

Karma, Sanskrit for the "action" that makes up a human life, has been a central concern for the religious traditions of South Asia throughout their history. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism share the belief that after death people are reborn, taking on lives according to their actions in lives previous. In these traditions, liberation from the cycle of rebirth becomes the ultimate goal of human existence. This course examines the ideas of karma, rebirth and liberation in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism from historical, cosmological, ritual, narrative, iconographic and theological points of view. We also look at these ideas in Western culture. DPLL WRIT

Spr RELS0145 S01 25882 TTh 2:30-3:50(11) (F. Moore-Gerety)
Course usage information

RELS 0150. Islam Unveiled.

In this course, the historical origins and development of Islam will be studied in light of the sources and communities that shaped it. Themes to be explored include the central doctrines of Islam as derived from the Qur'an and traditions (sunna), the development of Islamic law (shari'ah) the Shi'i alternative, the growth of Muslim theology, philosophy, and mysticism (Sufism), and controversial issues among contemporary Muslims. WRIT DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0195. Japan: Nature, Ritual, and the Arts (EAST 0180).

Interested students must register for EAST 0180.

Course usage information

RELS 0200A. Christianity and Economic Inequality.

In the face of the vast, increasing economic inequality, this sophomore seminar interrogates the role of religious institutions and individuals. Do our religious institutions sustain or challenge economic inequality, and how? We will attempt to answer this question with a focus on three types of texts: classical texts that shaped 20th Century U.S. Christian consciousness (e.g., Weber, Niebuhr, and Ayn Rand); contemporary works that analyze the effects of economic inequality on the social fabric (e.g., Stiglitz, Freeland, Wilkinson/Picket); and texts that clarify the vital roles some contemporary religious movements are playing in supporting economic inequality (e.g.,Bowler, Walton, Byrne). SOPH

Course usage information

RELS 0201. Ethics After Auschwitz? (JUDS 0080A).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0080A.

Course usage information

RELS 0210. Celluloid Jesus.

An examination of the representations of Jesus in cinema from the second half of the twentieth century, with judicious comparative use and analysis of ancient narrative traditions about Jesus, particularly in the New Testament gospels. Films include: Samuel Ray's King of Kings; Pasolini's Passion of (St) Matthew; Monty Python's Life of Brian; Denys Arcand's Jesus of Montreal; Scorcese's Last Temptation of Christ, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Matrix.

Course usage information

RELS 0240. Judaism and Christianity in Conflict.

Explores the tense relationship between Judaism and Christianity from antiquity to the present, with an emphasis on theological issues and polemics. Readings include selections from the New Testament and early Christian writers on Jews and Judaism, Jewish writings on Jesus and Christianity, transcripts of medieval debates, philosophical broadsides, parodies, and contemporary theological documents (e.g., Vatican II).

Course usage information

RELS 0250. Good and Evil.

This course explores changing conceptions of good and evil from antiquity to the present. After surveying the views of the Hebrew Bible and of Ancient Greek Philosophy, we will consider Jewish and Christian interpretations from the medieval period. A survey of modern thinkers - including Kant, Nietzsche and Freud will follow, before we turn to post-Holocaust thinkers Arendt, Jonas and Levinas. Enrollment limited to 25.

Course usage information

RELS 0260. Religion Gone Wild: Spirituality and the Environment.

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 and Christianity, on the one hand; ecofeminism and nature writing on the other). Topics in this study of religion, philosophy, and ecology will include environmental justice, environmental degradation, and depictions of humans in relation to the natural world. Enrollment limited to 20. LILE DPLL

Fall RELS0260 S01 15550 TTh 1:00-2:20(10) (M. Cladis)
Course usage information

RELS 0270. Varieties of Religious Experience in China.

Derives a preliminary phenomenology of religious and mystical experience in China through examining representative texts from Taoist and Buddhist traditions in their historical contexts and analyzing them using Western theoretical models. Readings divided equally between Chinese primary texts and Western theorists, with particular attention paid to the relationship between philosophical and psychological models. Seminar format.

Course usage information

RELS 0290C. Christian Ethical Theories.

Classical and contemporary readings in Christian ethical theory. Topics include: virtue ethics, natural law, divine command ethics, philosophical challenges to religious ethics, and the place of religious community in a liberal state.

Course usage information

RELS 0290D. Islamic Sexualities.

In this course we examine gender and sexuality in Muslim cultures, as well larger issues that shape the ways in which Islam is imagined in relationship to gender and sexuality. In doing so, we will think about how particular constructions of gender and sexuality affect the constitution and representation of Islam and Muslims in the US and abroad. Students will learn to engage with and complicate key terms and themes including "masculinity," "cultural difference," "women's and LGBT rights," and "modernity/civilization" that are widely, and often uncritically, deployed in current political and moral debates on Islamic culture. WRIT DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0290E. Engaged Buddhism.

“Engaged Buddhism” is a term used to describe social activism that applies Buddhist insight and ethics. This course will examine the historical background of engaged Buddhism, explore its central concepts, analyze it theoretically, and look at practical applications. Since many engaged Buddhist movements employ meditation, we will also study, first hand, the effects of meditation on prosocial attitudes in the “Meditation Labs” that are integral to the pedagogy of the course. Preference given to students who have taken RELS 0500 or UNIV 0540 or who have prior coursework in Buddhism. Additional weekly meditation lab section. LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0290F. Paul and the Philosophers.

This course treats the relation of Paul "the apostle's" thought to philosophy from two angles. The first half of the course covers modern scholarship that has found philosophical influences on the letters from Cynicism, Stoicism and later Platoism. The second half of the course surveys modern and especially recent philosophers who have used Paul's thought including Nietzsche, Agamben, Zizek and Badiou. RELS 0400 is recommended. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students. FYS LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0320. Israelite Religion.

The origins and development of ancient Israel's religious beliefs, rituals and cultic institutions will be considered from an historical and contextual (i.e., wider West Asian) perspective. Topics include method in reconstructing religion; myth, epic and history; the identity of Yahweh, Israel's national god; covenant; Yahweh and other deities (monolatry and monotheism; angels; a consort of Yahweh?); temples, their iconography and ideologies; festivals and sacrifice; purity; death and afterlife; religious specialists (priests, prophets, mediums, professional mourners). No prerequisites. WRIT LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0321. The Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and Its World (JUDS 0630).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0630.

Course usage information

RELS 0322. Great Jewish Books (JUDS 0681).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0681.

Course usage information

RELS 0323. Great Jewish Books.

A survey of classic Jewish texts, from the Bible to modern literature. Each text will be discussed from the perspective of both its own historical and social context and its engagement with earlier ones. Attention will be paid on how these authors address perennial issues of human concern and how their answers are shaped by their experience as Jews. DPLL LILE WRIT

Spr RELS0323 S01 25969 TTh 2:30-3:50(11) (M. Satlow)
Course usage information

RELS 0325. How the Bible Became Holy.

No book in human history has exercised as much influence as the Bible. Over the past 2,000 years, people have killed and died for the Bible, and it continues to exercise a powerful if contested role in modern politics. Yet how did it achieve this power? This course will trace the development of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) from its origins in ancient Israel to its development about five hundred years later as a foundational text of both Judaism and Christianity. The focus will be on how Jews and early Christians throughout antiquity understood and ascribed authority to the Bible. DPLL WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0330. Jewish and Christian Biblical Interpretation to the Eighteenth Century.

This course provides an opportunity for students to explore the ways in which the Hebrew Bible has been interpreted by Jews and Christians from antiquity to the Enlightenment. The modern historical-critical and literary methods of biblical exegesis will be introduced at the beginning of the course and will inform our investigation of traditional approaches to interpretation. The course assumes no prior knowledge of the Bible.

Course usage information

RELS 0360. The Bible as Literature (JUDS 0830).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0830.

Fall RELS0360 S01 17410 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

RELS 0365. God and Poetry (JUDS 0820).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0820.

Course usage information

RELS 0365A. Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (JUDS 0090A).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0090A.

Course usage information

RELS 0365B. Readings in Biblical Hebrew (JUDS 0090B).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0090B.

Course usage information

RELS 0400. New Testament and the Beginnings of Christianity.

How and why Christianity emerged in various forms in the ancient Mediterranean. Insights from religious studies, gender studies, literary studies, anthropology, and other fields. Careful critical readings of New Testament books, non-canonical gospels, early Christian letters, ancient apocalypses. Topics include: Jewish contexts; representations of Jesus; Paul and early communities; Christians and imperial Rome; gender constructions; canonization; eventual separation of Christianity and Judaism. Open to all students. LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0405. Jesus and the Gospels.

This course will investigate the history and development of the earliest accounts of Jesus' life and teachings. We will analyze a number of first and second century gospels, including canonical texts and non-canonical. We will examine what the early Jesus movement offered socially and ethically that other religious systems did not, which made it appealing to women, slaves, and those of lower classes. Through a close reading of the individual texts, we will be able to understand their structure, major themes, and historical-cultural backgrounds, as well as the practices, beliefs, and experiences of the communities that produced them. LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0406. Women, Slaves, and Sin: Paul and the Creation of Christianity.

How did the concept of sin develop? At its core, is Christianity tolerant or intolerant, divisive or inclusive, gender-equal or misogynistic? This course will address these questions through an investigation of the New Testament’s most prominent figure, the Apostle Paul, and his contributions to the development of Christianity. By critically reading Paul’s letters and examining how they were received historically, students will uncover the various social and religious factors that shaped Christianity and literature. In doing so the course will discuss how Christian concepts of morality, ritual, and belief developed, allowing us to reconstruct experiences of the earliest Christian churches. DPLL LILE WRIT

Fall RELS0406 S01 16919 TTh 10:30-11:50(13) (N. DesRosiers)
Course usage information

RELS 0410. Christianity in Late Antiquity.

The communal struggles, personal rivalries, and theological conflicts that shaped Christianity in its formative centuries: heresy and orthodoxy, hierarchy and charisma, gender and class, persecution and martyrdom, paganism and classical tradition, creeds and councils, asceticism and the body, church and state, eastern and western Christianity. Focused in the 2nd through 6th centuries A.D. WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0420. Sacred Bodies.

How did ancient Christians understand physical holiness? What did the bodies of saints demonstrate or reveal? How was bodily sanctity represented in actual practices, and in literary, artistic, or ritual expressions? We will consider three broad categories of saints: desert heroes, holy women, and virtuosos (pillar saints, holy fools).

Course usage information

RELS 0430. Sacred Stories.

Ancient Christian narrative imagination and the formation of Western culture. Emphasis will be on the ancient stories that accompanied the spread and "triumph" of Christianity, but attention will also be given to how these themes and images have prevailed in western history. Biblical legends, heroes and heroines, saints and sinners, the demonized Religious Other.

Course usage information

RELS 0440. The World of Byzantium (CLAS 0660).

Interested students must register for CLAS 0660.

Fall RELS0440 S01 16225 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

RELS 0450. Transformation in Christian Mysticism.

This course surveys historically influential views of Christian mysticism. We will look at mystics' texts to get a sense of how they both describe and understand mystical experience. What religious communities contextualize these experiences? How is the body engaged? Is emphasis given to the work of the mind or soul? How are suffering and love involved in mystical encounters? Answers to these questions vary from author to author, but there is a common emphasis on how the human person is transformed through encounter with the (presumed) divine.

Course usage information

RELS 0500. The Theory and Practice of Buddhist Meditation.

Examines the theory and practice of Buddhist meditation in historical and modern contexts. Traces this practice from its origins in 6th-century B.C.E. India to its transmission through Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and on to modern insight meditation movements in the West. Students will examine selected textual sources and explore how Buddhist meditation is practiced today, both as an individual practice and as part of broader social institutions. Additional weekly meditation lab section.

Fall RELS0500 S01 16837 TTh 2:30-3:50(03) (J. Davis)
Fall RELS0500 L01 16838 TTh 12:00-12:50 (J. Davis)
Course usage information

RELS 0510. Confucian Ethics.

An examination of Confucian moral thinking as contained in the Analects, Mengzi, Xunzi, and Records of Rituals. Issues considered include the absence of a concept of transcendence, the relationship between moral and ritual norms, and moral activity as an aesthetic and spiritual discipline, against the background of Western patterns of moral thought. Prerequisite: Previous work in ethics or Chinese studies.

Course usage information

RELS 0520. Buddhist Ethical Theory (UNIV 0480).

Interested students must register for UNIV 0480.

Course usage information

RELS 0525. The History and Practice of Yoga in India and Beyond.

From its roots in premodern India to its current popularity worldwide, yoga has a rich a complex history. As a practice of the mind, body, and spirit, yoga has taken many forms—meditation, chanting, breath control, postures—in order to achieve a range of goals: liberation from rebirth, supernatural powers, strength, pleasure, peace, wellness. As its reputation and commodification have increased, yoga has attracted deep interest, debate, and even controversy. In this course we will study yoga from its earliest texts to its status in the modern world, addressing its historical, religious, social, and political ramifications in many different contexts. WRIT

Fall RELS0525 S01 17202 T 4:00-6:30(09) (F. Moore-Gerety)
Course usage information

RELS 0530. Laozi and the Daodejing.

Introduction to classical Daoism, one of the two indigenous religions of China, through the history, philosophy, and contemplative practices found in its famous foundational work, the Daodejing. Through careful study of this text and its many early iterations, including the recently discovered manuscript versions from Ma-wang-tui and from Guodian and early commentaries, we will attempt to reconstruct the intellectual and experiential elements on which this tradition was based. Pre-requisites: None. Permission given to students who’ve completed: COST/UNIV 0540, or RELS 0040, or RELS 0120. Otherwise: Permission of Instructor.

Spr RELS0530 S01 24366 Th 4:00-6:30(17) (H. Roth)
Spr RELS0530 L01 25666 TTh 2:30-3:30 (H. Roth)
Course usage information

RELS 0540. Buddhist Psychology.

The course will examine traditional Buddhist insights into the nature activity of the human mind. It will then consider how these have been understood or misunderstood by Western psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists. Buddhist texts will be drawn from the Theravada and Mahayana traditions in South and East Asia and Western theorists and researchers will be taken from the following: Jung, Maslow, Fromm, Pickering, Epstein, Goleman, Austin, and Davidson. Seminar Format. Prerequisite, in descending order of priority: RELS 0500, RELS 0040, prior university level coursework in Buddhism.

Course usage information

RELS 0550. Tibetan Buddhism and the West.

This course traces the history and development of the various lineages of Tibetan Buddhism from its origins in Indian Buddhism through to encounters between Tibet and the West in the modern period. The course investigates the religious, political, and geographical conditions in Tibet that influenced the development of some of the unique characteristics of the lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. The course explores key doctrines, practices, institutions, and religious leaders of the major lineages, and delves into key events in the modern period, beginning with the age of missionaries and explorers and ending with the Cultural Revolution and subsequent diaspora.

Course usage information

RELS 0570. Science, Religion, and the Search for Happiness in Traditional Asian Thought.

The search for true happiness is as relevant today as it was 2500 years ago in South and East Asia. What constitutes leading a rewarding and fulfilling life, according to the most recent research in neuroscience and psychology and to the ancient sages of India and China? Can it be attained through pleasures of the senses or through pleasures of the spirit? Attained through self-indulgence or through self-denial? This course will explore these issues through readings in classical South and East Asian works of the Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist traditions and via recent scientific research on mindfulness and compassion. LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0580. Experiencing the Sacred: Embodiment and Aesthetics in South Asian Religions.

This course explores South Asian religions through the body, aesthetics, and the senses, with a focus on Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions. Concentrating on embodied practices like meditation, chanting, eating, sex, asceticism, ritual, possession, and performance, we will examine experiences of the sacred past and present. How have sensory and material cultures shaped lives, practices, and doctrines? What placed does the pursuit (or denial) of sensual pleasure have in South Asian religious cultures? This course will draw on texts as various as sermons of the Buddha and the Kamasutra, and integrating a range of media from ethnographic films to graphic novels. DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0600A. Islam Today: Religion and Culture in the Modern Middle East and Beyond.

Lupe Fiasco, Al-Jazeera News, the so-called Arab Spring, surreal sectarianism and reality shows produced by Ryan Seacrest: Contemporary Islam is now having an impact on modern culture in unprecedented ways. Islam is often said to be the fastest growing religion in the world, and is second to Christianity in all the countries of Western Europe. In this class we will study the contemporary life, culture and thought of Muslims in the Middle East and beyond, including America and Europe. WRIT DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0600B. Islam in America.

Lupe Fiasco, the Al-Jazeera News Network, and Mos Def: from films to fiction, poetry and music, contemporary Islam is having an impact on modern culture in unprecedented ways. Islam is often said to be the fastest growing religion in America, and in this class we will study the contemporary life, culture and thought of Muslims in the US. We will begin with exploring Muslims in the US from its beginnings, as a result of the Atlantic slave trade, through the civil rights movement and the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X and mainstream Sunnis, and conclude with the multicultural present. DPLL LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0600C. Radical Islam: Significant Moments in Contemporary Media.

This course studies the phenomenon of radical Islam through the lens of contemporary media. We will explore related issues including the nature and roots of militant Islamist violence in the contemporary world and learn about historical contexts, theoretical structures, and detailed comparative case studies. We will explore self-styled modern Islamist and “jihadist” movements, such as ISIS, reporting on domestic and international terrorism, and a variety of political contexts. In addition to scholarship, a large component of this course will be about analyzing a variety of modern media pieces, and the ways in which terrorism and radical Islam feature in the news. DPLL LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0610. Sacrifice and Society.

Investigation of the sacrificial practices and ideologies that have been important to numerous unrelated societies. The origin and significance of animal sacrifice has been a central question for classical social theory (e.g., Durkheim, Freud, Mauss) and is still important for theorization in anthropology and religious studies. Probable examples include Israelite, Greek, Hawaiian, Christian, Nuer.

Course usage information

RELS 0620. Encountering the Qur’ān: "This is the Book about which there is no doubt".

This course will introduce you to the Qur’ān—the foundational revelational text of Islam—and to some of the central topics related with its study from within the Islamic tradition and from a critical historical perspective. By the end of the course, students will be able to engage in discourse on the formation of the text of its Qur’ān, its major themes, debates about methods of its exegesis, its central place in Muslim discourses on faith and piety, ethics, mysticism, aesthetics, etc., its role in contemporary debates on issues of religion, gender, politics, science, and some questions and hypotheses of the historical critical study of the Qur’ān.

Course usage information

RELS 0640. Dying To Be With God: Jihad, Past and Present.

This course will examine the concepts of martyrdom and jihad, past and present. We will begin with a comparison of Jewish, Christian, and secular “martyrdom, but focus extensively on the concept and evolution of jihad and jihad ideology in Islam, asking: How are war and martyrdom presented in the sacred texts of religious traditions? Historically, how have religious people idealized and problematized the martyr in different ways? In what ways have modern religious revivalism, geopolitical conflict and nationalism changed how people appropriate martyrdom and jihad today? Enrollment is contingent on attendance on the first day of class. DPLL LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0650. Introduction to Islamic Archaeology (ARCH 0600).

Interested students must register for ARCH 0600.

Course usage information

RELS 0750. Death and Afterlife in the Ancient Mediterranean.

What do Jews, Christians, and Muslims share when it comes to thinking about life after death? Where do they differ, and why? What is the history of heaven and hell, and how much of what we think about them today was shaped long ago? This course explores death and afterlife from its ancient Near Eastern and Classical roots to the development of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim conceptions of what it means to die and what happens after. WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0800. Christianity, Ethics, and Politics.

Classical and contemporary readings in Christian ethical theory. Topics include: virtue ethics, natural law, divine command ethics, philosophical challenges to religious ethics, and the place of religious community in a liberal state.

Course usage information

RELS 0810. Conservatives vs. Liberals: Religion and Identity in America.

This course explores how Americans have cultivated, articulated, and contested religious and cultural identities during the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. Identifying and interrogating apparent oppositions between religious conservatives and liberals, students will consider whether and why such oppositions have developed and persisted. Throughout the seminar, students will engage varied theoretical, historical, and thematic approaches to the study of religious identity, evaluating how attention to such issues as politics, ideology, gender, and class illumine the ways in which people come to understand themselves and others.

Course usage information

RELS 0820. African American Religious Strategies: Martin and Malcolm.

MLK, Jr. and Malcolm X are two iconic figures in the pantheon of black religious leadership. Their profoundly influential ideas about justice, freedom, democracy and racism, along with their activist strategies and personal biographies have generated extraordinary interest over the past 50 years. Despite this, the rich and complex tradition out of which their ideas and world-views evolve; the 300 year old religious strategies and practices employed by African-Americans have been understudied, disconnected from our understanding of their significance. This course will examine these traditions and these two central figures’ roles within them in order to shed important light on both. DPLL LILE WRIT

Spr RELS0820 S01 24318 MWF 12:00-12:50(05) (A. Willis)
Course usage information

RELS 0825. Foundational Texts in African American Theology.

Central topics and foundational texts in the field of scholarship historically known as Black Theology. Major African American responses to those writings by Marxists, Womanists, process theologians, and religious humanists. DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0830. Religion, Reason, and Ethics from Kant to Nietzsche.

The nineteenth century witnessed revolutionary transformations in thinking about the power and limits of human reason, the relation between reason and religion, revelation, the role of humanity in creating religion, morality and religion, the significance of history, and the plurality of religions. This course examines major thinkers from this period who continue to shape our own assumptions and reflection. WRIT LILE

Fall RELS0830 S01 15551 MWF 10:00-10:50(14) (T. Lewis)
Course usage information

RELS 0840. Religion and Politics.

This course examines the role of religion in public life, especially in pluralistic, democratic societies. We consider whether religion and politics can or should be separated; what role government should have in regulating religion; and whether a cohesive society needs a shared religion. Readings from early modern Western thinkers, contemporary theorists, and recent Supreme Court decisions.

Course usage information

RELS 0842. A Game of Thrones: Religion and Nationalism, 1789-1933 (JUDS 0700).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0700.

Course usage information

RELS 0845. Religious Freedom in America.

"Religious freedom," former Secretary Hilary Rodham Clinton remarked in 2009, "provides a cornerstone for every healthy society." It is, Clinton continued, "a founding principle of our nation." As Clinton's remarks illustrate, the concept of religious freedom is central to how people perceive the history of the United States and its position in the world today. But what is religious freedom? Does it actually exist? Has it ever? This seminar invites students to ask and answer these and other questions about the contested concept, engaging such varied issues as race, secularism, law, media, money, pluralism, and foreign policy. DPLL LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 0850. Liberation Theology in the Americas.

Liberation theology seeks to bring the social teachings of Christianity to bear on political and economic injustice. This course treats liberation theologies as socially grounded, politically engaged currents in religious thought. We will investigate the historical contexts and central themes of liberation theology: the relationship between theory and practice, the political function of the church, the relation between political freedom and salvation, and the role of intellectuals. DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0880A. Difficult Relations? Judaism and Christianity from the Middle Ages until the Present (JUDS 0050M).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0050M.

Fall RELS0880A S01 17411 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

RELS 0880B. Jews and Money (JUDS 0683).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0683.

Fall RELS0880B S01 16907 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

RELS 0880E. War and Peace in the Hebrew Bible and its Environment (JUDS 0670).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0670.

Course usage information

RELS 0880F. Sex and Gender in Ancient Israel (JUDS 0671).

Interested students must register for JUDS 0671.

Course usage information

RELS 0910. Music, Drama and Religion in India.

Music, drama, and dance have played central roles in Indian religious life from ancient times. They have expressed and nourished a wide range of devotional emotions toward Hindu deities and functioned as meditative modes of attaining an impersonal state. The seminar explores diverse forms of religious experience produced and enhanced by the aesthetic means of music, drama, and dance. Audiovisual materials provide a sense of these aesthetic-religious performance forms. DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 0911. Buddhism in India.

A course in the social and doctrinal history of Buddhism from its origin up to its disappearance in India, based not only on texts but also on archaeological, art historical, and inscriptional sources. Both formal doctrine and actual practices will be examined, and equal weight will be given to both what learned Buddhists wrote and ordinary Buddhists did, saw and made. Knowledge of Indian languages not required. DPLL

Course usage information

RELS 0915. Epics of India (CLAS 0820).

Interested students must register for CLAS 0820.

Course usage information

RELS 0920. The Bhagavad Gītā (CLAS 0855).

Interested students must register for CLAS 0855.

Course usage information

RELS 0925. Mythology of India (CLAS 0850).

Interested students must register for CLAS 0850.

Course usage information

RELS 0950. The Floating World (EAST 0950B).

Interested students must register for EAST 0950B.

Course usage information

RELS 1000. Methods in Religious Studies.

Intensive introduction to classical and contemporary theories of religion and the principal methods for the study of religion. Junior seminar for religious studies concentrators. Enrollment limited to 25. WRIT LILE

Fall RELS1000 S01 15552 TTh 9:00-10:20(08) (P. Nahme)
Course usage information

RELS 1050. Bibical History: What Really Happened? (JUDS 1635).

Interested students must register for JUDS 1635.

Course usage information

RELS 1050A. Problems in Israelite Religion and Ancient Judaism (JUDS 1625).

Interested students must register for JUDS 1625.

Fall RELS1050A S01 16908 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

RELS 1105. Judaism: History and Religion (JUDS 1640).

Interested students must register for JUDS 1640.

Course usage information

RELS 1105A. Kabbalah: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism (HMAN 1971U).

Interested students must register for HMAN 1971U.

Course usage information

RELS 1110. Mishnah and Tosefta (JUDS 1602).

Interested students must register for JUDS 1602.

Course usage information

RELS 1130. Philo.

Examines Philo's life and writing, and their importance for the study of Judaism and Christianity in antiquity. How typical was Philo? How did he interpret the Bible? How does his thought "fit" into the religious landscape of the first century CE? Focuses on reading Philo's writings, but will also survey scholarly approaches to Philo. Knowledge of Greek helpful.

Course usage information

RELS 1135. The Concept of Sin in Ancient Judaism.

How is it possible to reconcile the existence of sin and evil with the belief in an omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent God? Where does sin come from, and what are its consequences? These questions are prominent in Jewish literature during the Second Temple period – the period that engendered both Christianity and rabbinic Judaism. The approaches to sin found in these texts reflect a complex religious worldview. By reading these texts first-hand we will delve into these concepts and reflect on what they can tell us about ancient conceptualization and about our own understanding of sin and ethics.

Course usage information

RELS 1144. Adam and Eve in Early Jewish and Christian Interpretation.

In antiquity, the biblical story of Adam and Eve generated an enormous volume of commentary. Early Jews and Christians saw in this story profound lessons about the nature of humanity, God, and the world. We will examine how, in antiquity, both religious groups interpreted this relatively short story. We will also pay close attention to the different ways that both Jews and Christians developed to interpret these texts. Genres such as allegory, inspired interpretation (pesher), midrash, and the letters of the New Testament will be covered. WRIT DPLL

Spr RELS1144 S01 25968 W 3:00-5:30(14) (M. Satlow)
Course usage information

RELS 1150. Religion in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

An examination of the Dead Sea scrolls and the archaeology of Qumran with a particular focus on the religious aspects of this community. How did the authors of these scrolls envision their relationship with the divine? How did they worship? How did they understand religious and moral perfection? This class will have an additional section for graduate students. Enrollment limited to 20. WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 1170A. Talmudic Historiography.

Historians who turn to talmudic literature as a source for historical reconstruction are faced with formidable challenges. Although the corpus of materials is large, and the rabbis appear to provide a wealth of information pertaining to their lives and the society and times in which they lived, they were not historians. Thus the information they provide appears within halakhic (legal) discussions or embedded in aggadic (homiletical, non-legal) digressions. Moreover, talmudic sources were edited long after many of rabbis lived and the events therein purportedly occurred.

Course usage information

RELS 1170B. The Talmud (JUDS 1630).

Interested students must register for JUDS 1630.

Fall RELS1170B S01 16910 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

RELS 1190. Religious Japan.

An introduction to the history of Japanese religion in the early and medieval periods, with some attention to related modern and contemporary manifestations. Emphasis on the development of both native practices ("Shinto") and Buddhism, and on the historical interaction between them. Readings include primary texts in translation and selected modern interpretations. A previous course in Asian religion or culture is recommended but not required. LILE

Fall RELS1190 S01 15553 TTh 10:30-11:50(13) (J. Sawada)
Course usage information

RELS 1205. Ancient Egyptian Religion and Magic (EGYT 1420).

Interested students must register for EGYT 1420.

Course usage information

RELS 1210. Religion and Gender in the Ancient Mediterranean.

A consideration of the relationships between constructions of gender and religious systems in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, including but not limited to Christianity and Judaism.

Course usage information

RELS 1211. Lords of Middle Sea: Greek and Biblical Myth and Society.

In ancient times, men and women told stories of gods, kings, and heroes. Some of the best known and best loved are those from the Bible and from the ancient Greeks. Why were these stories written, and by whom? How can we tell the difference between truth and fiction, and how did they? Finally, what do stories about the past do, and why were they told? In this class, we investigate these questions and more.

Course usage information

RELS 1212. Byzantine Archaeology and Art: Material Stories of a Christian Empire (ARCH 1220).

Interested students must register for ARCH 1220.

Course usage information

RELS 1217. The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (JUDS 1680).

Interested students must register for JUDS 1680.

Course usage information

RELS 1218. The Archaeology of Jerusalem: From the Origins to the Ottomans (JUDS 1610).

Interested students must register for JUDS 1610.

Course usage information

RELS 1218A. Jerusalem Since 1850: Religion, Politics, Cultural Heritage (JUDS 1620).

Interested students must register for JUDS 1620.

Course usage information

RELS 1219. The Archaeology of Palestine (JUDS 1615).

Interested students must register for JUDS 1615.

Course usage information

RELS 1219A. Ancient Synagogues, Churches, and Mosques in Palestine (JUDS 1670).

Interested students must register for JUDS 1670.

Course usage information

RELS 1220. Paul and the Philosophers.

This course treats the relation of Paul "the apostle's" thought to philosophy from two angles. The first half of the course covers modern scholarship that has found philosophical influences on the letters from Cynicism, Stoicism and later Platoism. The second half of the course surveys modern and especially recent philosophers who have used Paul's thought including Nietzsche, Agamben, Zizek and Badiou. RELS 0400 is recommended. Enrollment limited to 20. LILE

Course usage information

RELS 1225. Rhetors and Philosophers: Intellectual Thought and Sophistic Style in the Ancient World (GREK 1110T).

Interested students must register for GREK 1110T.

Course usage information

RELS 1300. Ancient Christianity and the Sensing Body.

Bodily experience and sensory engagement became increasingly important for Christians during their first six centuries. This seminar examines how and why the body and its senses gained worth for ancient Christians as instruments for gaining knowledge of God. Prerequisites: RELS 0110, 0400 or 0410. WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 1310. Ecology and Theology in Ancient Christianity.

How did early Christians understand the relationship of humanity to the natural world, the animal kingdom, and the created order? What were the obligations and responsibilities of Christians regarding care for the world, and how did these manifest a relationship to God?

Course usage information

RELS 1320. The Origins of Western Morality.

How Greco-Roman and Jewish moral and ethical thought and practices were appropriated and transformed by Christianity. Special attention to Hellenistic philosophy, the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible and Christian writers in the first three centuries CE. Addresses questions about the origins of tensions and conflicts in Western morality and why sexual ethics have been so prominent and so problematic. LILE

Course usage information

RELS 1325A. Educating Bodies in Ancient Christianity.

Education in the ancient Mediterranean world served multiple purposes. It formed citizens, moral and ethical agency, and religious identities. It took place in a variety of settings and through diverse disciplinary methods, physical, intellectual, and social. This course will examine the primary modes of instruction through which ancient Christians undertook self-formation: the family, the civic community, monasteries, and liturgical communities. Seminar. Prior coursework in early Christianity (RELS 0400 or 0410) or Classics recommended. WRIT LILE DPLL

Course usage information

RELS 1325B. Early Christian Asceticism: Rhetorics of Practice.

A study of eastern Christian asceticism and its literary expressions during late antiquity, with attention to forms, motivation, theological understandings, and cultural impact. Particular focus on Egypt, Cappadocia, and Syria. WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 1325C. The Virgin Mary in Christian Tradition.

Who was the Virgin Mary? How did she become important, when and to whom? What was inherited? What was new? How were Mary’s meanings demonstrated? A study in the developing theological and devotional traditions regarding Mary the Mother of Jesus, focused on the first thousand years of Christian history. Major theological positions; relationship to pre-existing religious practices and goddess traditions; the role of popular violence; Marian piety; Marian relics; Mary as cultural metaphor. Seminar format. WRIT

Fall RELS1325C S01 17053 Th 1:00-3:30(10) (S. Harvey)
Course usage information

RELS 1330. Paul and His Interpreters.

Paul's writings have been central to understandings of human nature and conscience, sin and salvation, history, ethics, and human transformation. This course treats the historical Paul and his most important interpreters, especially Origen, Augustine, Martin Luther, Soren Kierkegaard, Fredrich Nietzsche, Albert Schweitzer, Rudolf Bultmann, and the use of Paul among certain contemporary European philosophers (Badiou, Zizek, Agamben).

Course usage information

RELS 1335. Sacred Readings: The Bible, Biblical Interpretation, and Victorian Literature (ENGL 1561F).

Interested students must register for ENGL 1561F.

Course usage information

RELS 1340. Romans.

No description available.

Course usage information

RELS 1345. Writing Lives in Late Antiquity: Jerome and Augustine (LATN 1120E).

Interested students must register for LATN 1120E.

Course usage information

RELS 1350. Paul and the Corinthians.

One of the earliest documents of the Christ movement, Paul's Corinthian letters are loaded with information about the new movement's social conditions, religious practices and ideas. Gender, men and women; sexual issues, conflicts over religious practices and ideas (e.g., Christ; spirit; resurrection; pneumatic life; sacrificial meals; the "Lord's Dinner"; prophecy); ideals and realities of community are some of the letter's issues. This seminar will introduce students to the text and scholarly debates about its interpretation and use for religious history. Participants will then be able to focus on individually chosen research topics in the context of the seminar's discussion.

Course usage information

RELS 1355. Parting of the Ways: The Separation of Judaism and Christianity (JUDS 1675).

Interested students should register for JUDS 1675.

Course usage information

RELS 1356. Imposing Orthodoxy: "Jews," "Pagans" and "Heretics" when Constantinian Christianity Won (HMAN 1970I).

Interested students must register for HMAN 1970I.

Course usage information

RELS 1360. Gnosticism: Studies in Early Christian Diversity.

Before the emergence of Christian "orthodoxy," from the second to the fourth centuries, Christianity often adopted unusual modes of expression. This course offers an examination of some of these different forms of Christianity, as Christians attempted to balance issues of self-identity and self-definition with compromise and cultural accommodation. Examining early Christian "heretics" as case-studies, this course will focus on reading second-century texts from the Nag Hammadi Library and learning what we can about the communities that produced them. Prerequisite: one course in New Testament or Christian Origins. If the course is oversubscribed, priority will be given to graduate students and Religious Studies concentrators. Prerequisite: RELS 0400 or equivalent. WRIT LILE

Course usage information

RELS 1365. Catacomb Religion: Ordinary Christianity in the Age of Constantine.

The history of Christianity has often been the history of doctrine, the development of scripture and institution and canon, not the history of human experience. This course looks into what it meant to be Christian in the first centuries of Christianity's development, through taking literally a "subterranean view" on the surprising things that "being Christian" meant to ordinary individuals – men, women and children – in the city's underground spaces where this religion flourished. Prerequisite: RELS 0110 or 0400 or 0410 or 1300. Enrollment limited to 20.

Course usage information

RELS 1368. Religion, Marriage and Gender in Russian Culture and Literature (SLAV 1350).

Interested students must register for SLAV 1350.

Course usage information

RELS 1370A. Augustine and Hegel.

A theoretical comparison of Augustine of Hippo and G.W.F. Hegel, highly influential thinkers at different turning points in Western history, on various facets of their understanding of religion. Potential themes for comparison include the relationship between Christian faith and philosophy, God and the world, and religion in history and society. WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 1370B. Philosophy of Mysticism.

Covers important attempts to understand the nature of religious experiences and mysticism. We will look at several philosophical issues surrounding religious experience, including: (a) whether mystical experiences are too private for outsiders to understand or evaluate them; (b) what the relationship between religious experiences, language, and culture is; (c) whether religious experiences justify religious beliefs; and (d) how gender and religious experiences are related. We will treat theorists from various perspectives, including philosophical, historical, theological, psychoanalytic, and neuroscientific. Previous work in philosophy courses (or philosophically-intensive courses) is highly recommended. Enrollment limited to 20.

Course usage information

RELS 1370C. David Hume and Religion.

This course will consider and challenge traditional scholarly views of philosopher David Hume as a critic of Christianity, by examining a wide range of his writings (letters, historical writings, moral enquiries, philosophical and religious writings). How might his corpus inform work in philosophy of religion? Previous coursework in philosophy or philosophy of religion strongly advised. Enrollment limited to 20.

Course usage information

RELS 1370D. Process Theology.

This advanced seminar aims to familiarize students with the thought of Alfred North Whitehead and his theological interpreters. It will be dedicated to a close reading of the foundational texts of one of the most important theological developments of the twentieth century: Process Theology.

Course usage information

RELS 1375. Heidegger, the Jews, and the Crisis of Liberalism (JUDS 1614).

Interested students must register for JUDS 1614.

Fall RELS1375 S01 16877 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

RELS 1380A. Money, Media, and Religion.

This course explores the relationship between religious life, forms of capitalism, and media technologies in the history of the United States. From constructing buildings and printing texts to disseminating teachings and communicating with members: essential aspects of religious life require both money and media. Yet forms of money and media continually have changed, and those changes have taken shape in dialogue with religious beliefs, practices, and sensibilities. This seminar examines this dialogue by visiting such varied sites as Puritan marketplaces, Santa Claus displays, Bible factories, television talk shows, and Occupy protests. DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 1380B. Ethics of Vulnerability.

What does it mean to be vulnerable? What does it require of us? Should we blame ourselves for succumbing to wounds and disasters to which we knew we were vulnerable? These questions are complicated by the fact that we often see our vulnerabilities most vividly when they have been realized in wounds, and so the conversation proceeds from situations of trauma. This course examines religious and secular discussions of vulnerability in contemporary contexts of environmental disaster, terrorism, and intimate violence to consider the question: what does our past experience have to do with our preparation for the future? DPLL LILE WRIT

Course usage information

RELS 1385. Religion and Postmodernism.

This advanced seminar treats the central ideas in the thought of Zizek, Sloterdijk, Bauman, and others. It will pay particular attention to the idea of God in the works of Derrida, Foucault, and Deleuze as it filters through these contemporary, popular efforts. Students will trace some of the normative aspects of a postmodern ethics and theology by looking at "Emergent" churches, "New Thought", and post-foundational Christian theology in practice.

Spr RELS1385 S01 24320 Th 4:00-6:30(17) (A. Willis)
Course usage information

RELS 1390. Looking at Religion on the Ground.

Literate religions are still too often studied almost exclusively on the basis of their formal-usually canonical- literature and the textual products of their elite and learned representatives. While useful, this utilizes only a narrow band of possible sources and excludes too often what religious people, from commoner to king, actually do, make or see. To get at these things more closely, other kinds of sources must be used: archeological, inscriptional, art historical and architectural. The seminar will read and discuss a wide range of scholarly works that have used these kinds of sources and watch how they can change our understanding.

Course usage information

RELS 1395. The Shape of the Divine: Images in the Religions of India.

Why do Hindu deities have so many heads and arms? How do devotees interact with religious images in a temple, festival, or performance? What happens when religious icons are removed from a sanctified space and displayed in a museum? We will explore the answers to these questions, and many more, as we examine the complex lives and multiple uses of images in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions. Using textual, visual, and material sources, this course offers students a critical introduction to one of the most fascinating and important features of religious life in South Asia.

Course usage information

RELS 1400. The Huai-Nan Tzu.

This course will approach early Taoist thought through the study of important essays from the Han dynasty compendium, the Huai-nan Tzu. Prerequisite: prior study of Taoism at the university level.

Course usage information

RELS 1410. Directed Readings in Chinese Religious Thought: Zhuangzi.

Entails a careful reading of the entire text of the Chuang Tzu in translation. Secondary sources on the philosophy and textual criticism of the book--drawn from the writings of Graham, Liu Hsiao-kan, Ivanhoe, Mair, Roth, and others--are also read. Seminar format. Pre-requisites: At least one of the following courses: RELS0040; RELS0120; UNIV0540.

Course usage information

RELS 1415A. Classical Daoist Thought.

Considers philosophical issues in early Daoism. We will work with classical texts such as Guanzi's "Inward Training," the Laozi, the Zhuangzi, and the Huainanzi and examine issues in them that have been of interest to comparative philosophers, such as cosmology and cosmogony, the nature of religious experience, and the types of implicit and explicit moral thought. The course will feature primary works in translation and secondary works by authors such as Graziani, Ivanhoe and Kjellberg, Moeller, Ames, Yearley, Raphals, Cook, Roth, and Slingerlands. Prerequisites: RELS 0040 and 0120. Enrollment limited to 20.

Course usage information

RELS 1420. Earliest Taoist Syncretism.

A seminar on the early history of the Taoist tradition that explores the syncretic Taoism of the Han dynasty known as "Huang-Lao." Focuses on representative texts, analyzing them for evidence of the tradition's unique blend of spiritual practice and political thought. No previous course work required, but preference given to students who have a demonstrable interest in the subject or prior course work in religious studies or East Asian studies.

Course usage information

RELS 1425. Buddhist Poetry.

This course surveys Asian and Anglophone literary cultures that emerged in response to Buddhist teachings and practices. Through close reading, we will engage epic poetry celebrating the Buddha’s life; verses in Buddhist scripture; the landscape poetry of Chinese hermits; the poetry of early nuns; Japanese poems of spiritual travel; American beatniks; and contemporary Taiwanese poetry. All readings are available in English. Students may complete a creative or imitative project, an original translation, or a research paper for the final project. LILE

Spr RELS1425 S01 26075 M 3:00-5:30 (J. Protass)
Course usage information

RELS 1430. Buddhist Classics.

An opportunity to read and understand the canonical texts of East Asian Buddhism. Through close reading, written analysis, and discussion, participants will become conversant with the major Mahayana Buddhist teachings in their original scriptural or literary articulations. Selected later interpretations may also be considered. All readings are in English translation. Previous study of Buddhism is recommended, but not required. Enrollment limited to 20 students. WRIT LILE

Fall RELS1430 S01 15555 W 3:00-5:30(17) (J. Sawada)
Course usage information

RELS 1435. The Confucian Mind (EAST 1420).

Interested students must register for EAST 1420.

Course usage information

RELS 1440. Themes in Japanese Buddhism.

An exploration of critical themes and debates in the study of Japanese Buddhism. Participants become conversant with the key features of medieval Japanese thought as well as the strengths and weaknesses of established conceptual models in Japanese Buddhist studies. Readings include primary texts in English translation and modern secondary interpretations. Recommended: a course in Buddhism or East Asian religions. DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 1441. Zen Meditation in China, Korea, and Japan.

Intensive study of the development of Zen Meditation in China, Korea and Japan featuring historical origins in Indian Mahayana Buddhism and Chinese Daoism. Historical and social contextualization will be balanced by first-person investigations. Examines both kôan and silent illumination methods. Weekly seminars on representative texts in translation; labs will experiment with meditation techniques directly drawn from the readings. Students register for both seminar and lab. Prerequisite: Any of the following: COST 0100, 0420, 0480; RELS 0040, RELS 0100, RELS 0145; RELS 0290E; RELS 0500, or UNIV 0540; or instructor's permission. Enrollment limited to 20. Additional weekly Lab section.

Course usage information

RELS 1442. The History, Philosophy, and Practice of Rinzai Zen Buddhism.

Follows Rinzai Zen Buddhism from origins in India to developments in China to its transmission to Japan and eventual transplanting to the West. Course will examine the nature of cultural and historical influences on the practices and adaptations through the Asian and American contexts, including the secular pedagogy of Contemplative Studies. This is a 2016 GELT course. This course has an experiential learning component that includes travel to Japan for on-site learning. Students admitted to the course must be able to travel to Japan in January of 2017.

Priority Given To: Students with declared Contemplative Studies or Religious Studies or East Asian Studies Concentration and who have taken three of the following courses: RELS 0040, RELS 0290E, RELS 0500, UNIV 0090, UNIV 0456, UNIV 0540, UNIV 1000, UNIV 1950; prior coursework in Buddhism or Japanese Religions at Brown will also be considered. Permission of instructor required.

Fall RELS1442 S01 16532 Th 4:00-6:30(04) (H. Roth)
Fall RELS1442 L01 16533 MWF 9:00-9:50 (H. Roth)
Course usage information

RELS 1443. Pure Land Buddhism: East Asia's Major Religion.

Pure Land Buddhism spread from Indian to become the most widely practiced form of Buddhism in East Asia, a title still claimed today. We investigate (1) early “orthodox” ideas of the Pure Land as an intermediary realm between this world and ultimate enlightenment, (2) the Chinese “mind-only” tradition that understood the Pure Land as attainable in this world, and (3) the Japanese sectarian focus that rejected practitioners’ volitional power, aiming to understand the religion’s impact on East Asian literature, the arts, notions of death, gender, modernization, and finally Pure Land Buddhism’s global dissemination in the 20th century.

Course usage information

RELS 1445T. The Karma of Words (EAST 1950F).

Interested students must register for EAST 1950F.

Course usage information

RELS 1446. The Floating World: Early Modern Japanese Culture (EAST 1400).

Interested students must register for EAST 1400.

Course usage information

RELS 1505. Critical Approaches to Islamic Law Reform.

This upper level seminar explores different approaches to reforming Islamic law from the nineteenth century to the present day, paying special attention to contemporary developments in Arab legal systems. Through reading a variety of primary and secondary materials, along with side interludes of literature, film, and architectural theory, the seminar seeks to critically explore the plurality of different and often contradictory meanings associated with "Islamic law" today, its past history, and present calls for its re-application. Enrollment limited to 20.

Course usage information

RELS 1520. Pilgrimage and Sacred Travel in the Lands of Islam.

This seminar focuses on pilgrimage and travel to loca sancta in the Islamic world. We will read travelogues and pilgrimage manuals in translation, and will address theoretical and anthropological studies on the phenomenon of pilgrimage and sacred travel in a variety of geographical and chronological contexts. We will study physical, artistic, and architectural aspect of pilgrimage shrines. Enrollment limited to 20 students.

Course usage information

RELS 1530A. Methods and Problems in Islamic Studies: Narratives.

Examines the problem of historical thinking and writing in the first six centuries of Islam. It will specifically emphasize the rise and development of Islamic narratives as they are discussed in contemporary scholarship on how to "do" Islamic studies. As such, we will discuss, in depth, theoretical issues pertaining to source criticism, Orientalism, the Cultural Turn, anthropology, and narrative. Enrollment is limited to 20 students. DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 1530B. Methods and Problems in Islam: Heresy and Orthodoxy.

Orthodoxy is defined as "right belief" while Heresy is just the opposite, but those definitions have always been in tension with society and culture. This course will interrogate theory and history to ask "What are Islamic Orthodoxy and Heresy?" From Islamic Law to who is or is not a "heretic" we will uncover interpretations of religious law, practice, and culture to learn how scholars apply orthodoxy or heresy to disrupt and unsettle notions of what "Islam" was at different moments, and how their interpretations force us to think of new ways to envision the formation of communities. Enrollment limited to 20 students. DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 1530D. Islamic Sectarianism.

Sunni and Shi'i conflict and sectarian division have been an enduring issue in the Islamic world. From Iraq to Syria, Iran to Egypt, inter-Muslim conflict and conflicting ideologies seem to be central issues. But how accurate and historical is this impression? In this course, we examine the origins and evolution of Islamic sectarianism, with an emphasis on the politics of religious authority in the Islamic world, old and new. This is an upper level seminar, and juniors and seniors will be given preference for enrollment. Shoppers must attend the first day of class if they wish to enroll. DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 1540. Monks, Mystics and Martyrs: Abrahamic Traditions Compared.

This course explores the process of "standing out" from mainstream society, from traditional kinship relationships, from local practices of community and economic production, undertaken by ascetics and mystics in the three Abrahamic traditions. We will explore monasticism and mysticism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, from the period of late antiquity to the high Middle Ages. Using primary sources in translation and scholarship on the phenomena of asceticism and mysticism, we will address the motivations for and manifestations of non-traditional practices of worship and community-building in the Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern world. DPLL LILE

Course usage information

RELS 1600B. Prophets and Priests in Exile: Biblical Literature of the 6th Century BCE (JUDS 1690).

Interested students must register for JUDS 1690.

Course usage information

RELS 1610. Sacrifice and Society.

Investigation of the sacrificial practices and ideologies that have been important to numerous unrelated societies. The origin and significance of animal sacrifice has been a central question for classical social theory (e.g., Durkheim, Freud, Mauss) and is still important for theorization in anthropology and religious studies. Probable examples include Israelite, Greek, Hawaiian, Christian, Nuer. LILE

Course usage information

RELS 1620. Disability in Antiquity.

An investigation into the ways in which physical deformities and mutilations are represented in texts from ancient Israel, Mesopotamia, Greece, and other Mediterranean cultures. Primary focus: texts of the Hebrew Bible.

Course usage information

RELS 1625. Pollution and Purification in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East.

This course will explore the concepts of pollution and purification in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East, examining texts from Israel, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Egypt in order to gain an appreciation for the ways in which pollution and purification functioned in social and ritual contexts in a variety of cultures. Issues of gender, sin and divine retribution, illness, witchcraft, and the demonic will be explored as they relate to the concepts of pollution and purification in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East.

Course usage information

RELS 1720. Religious Ethnographies.

This course will explore how religiosity is symbolized, experienced, contested, and produced in our modern, global, secular age. We will draw on rich ethnographic studies of religious life in Egypt, Siberia, England, China, the US, and elsewhere, as well as the myriad linkages and migrations that bring these sites together. Our ethnographic lens will allow us to see religious sensibilities as deeply embedded in a diverse array of social processes, categories, and structures. Religious lives, in other words, are never formed or reproduced in isolation but simultaneously represent, transform, and are generated by the social milieux in which they circulate.

Course usage information

RELS 1725. Religion and Visual Culture.

This course examines questions of representation and image through the lens of religion and secularism. Art is often imagined as the replacement for religion in a secular age, with the museum serving as a site of reverence and awe. With the rise of modern and contemporary art, however, the coherence of the social value of the “aesthetic” has, like that of religion, faltered. This course is offered in connection with a project entitled “The Art of Invisibility.” The key assignment will be the production of an online catalogue to accompany an art exhibit, which will include works by RISD students.

Course usage information

RELS 1730. Religion and Ethics in Public Life.

Religious traditions and moral identity; secular liberalism versus religious nationalism; universal and particular loyalties; "fundamentalism," gender, and religiously inspired violence. Priority given to concentrators in religious studies, political science, and international relations. Prerequisite: previous work in ethics.

Course usage information

RELS 1736. Religion and Global Media.

Whether communing with a distant God, starting a revolution, or making the invisible visible, the religious use of media presumes and generates remarkable acts of creativity and flourishing. In accounting for the complexity of religious worlds we will confront the question of what media is, what information it conveys as well as effaces, and how it may act as evidence for claims of all sorts. This course will take a broad approach to the study of media and religion. Ideas, after all, circulate not only through television, radio, Facebook, and Twitter, but also in images, signs, symbols, and language itself.

Course usage information

RELS 1740. Religion, Ethics, and Politics.

Religious traditions and moral identity; secular liberalism versus religious nationalism; universal and particular loyalties; "fundamentalism," gender, and violence. Priority given to concentrators in religious studies, political science, and international relations.

Course usage information

RELS 1741. Religion, Post-Colonialism, and the Jews (JUDS 1613).

Interested students must register for JUDS 1613.

Course usage information

RELS 1742. Conflicts, Diasporas and Diversities: Religion in the Early Portuguese Empire (POBS 1600J).

Interested students must register for POBS 1600J.

Course usage information

RELS 1745. Religion, Secularization, and the International (HMAN 1970A).

Interested students must register for HMAN 1970A.

Course usage information

RELS 1746. Varieties of Secularism.

Secularism is often thought of as the simple absence of religion. But is it so easy to distinguish the religious from the non-religious? What precisely is secularism? How does it vary from place to place, and how does it relate to the state? This course examines how secularism carries a powerful, but implicit presence in our daily lives by examining the relationship between secularism, modernity, and the nation-state in a variety of different countries around the world. We will also look at how secularism is enacted, produced, and represented through practices and institutions, such as art museums and the courts.

Course usage information

RELS 1748. Law and Religion (HMAN 1970K).

Interested students must register for HMAN 1970K.

Course usage information

RELS 1750. Reason Within the Bounds of Religion.

Is religious belief reasonable? Does it need to be? Can it respond to the challenges of scientific traditions of Marxism or Durkheim? In order to be intellectually defensible and morally respectable, does religion require experts-- professionals of various stripes-- to adjudicate its truth claims? This course on religious thought and truth claims.

Course usage information

RELS 1760. Religion and Suspicion.

Religion has arguably been the classical locus of suspicious models of interpretation. Social and critical theorists from Marx to Foucault have argued that we only understand what religion really does if we interpret it with suspicion—if we refuse to take its claims at face value. Others have sought to redirect suspicion back against suspicion itself, and religious thinkers have sought to incorporate critiques of religion into their own theological projects. This seminar studies key figures in this complex interplay of religion and suspicion. Likely readings from Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, Barth, Horkheimer, Adorno, Gadamer, Foucault, Said, Gutiérrez, Schüssler-Fiorenza, and Butler. Enrollment limited to 20.

Course usage information

RELS 1780. Religion and Naturalism.

What is nature? Is nature all there is? In what ways, if any, should the study of religion be in principle different from the study of nature? This course will survey some of the varieties of philosophical naturalism, both historical and contemporary. Drawing a distinction between substantive or metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism, it will examine the arguments made on behalf of naturalism and explore its implications for religion.

Course usage information

RELS 1820. Religious Ethics and Human Rights.

This seminar examines a range of the most influential criticisms of human rights; assesses several proposed theories of human rights; surveys the approach of several religious traditions toward justifying human rights; and considers a range of issues within contemporary debates, such as religious freedom, minority group rights, women's human rights, and the role of religion in politics.

Course usage information

RELS 1825. Cruelty in Philosophy and Literature.

Cruelty takes pleasure in inflicting injury. What could be more evil than that? Indeed, some political philosophers have thought that a liberal state’s most pressing duty is to protect citizens from the risk of cruelty. On the other hand, some philosophers and artists have contended that cruelty—or something like it in strength of resolve—is necessary for creative innovation. And others insist that we have to acknowledge that cruelty is an ineradicable feature of human existence. This course will explore cruelty and its opposites—empathy and care—in philosophical and literary works. DPLL LILE

Fall RELS1825 S01 16875 M 3:00-5:30(15) (S. Bush)
Course usage information

RELS 1830A. Pragmatism, Religion, and Politics.

Pragmatism is a distinctive American school of thought that sees the goal of philosophy not as the apprehension of timeless truths but as a practical project of bettering individual lives and society. Pragmatists such as William James and John Dewey were devoted to deepening America's commitment to democracy. Both saw an important place for an unconventional sort of religion in democratic life. This course explores the pragmatist thought of James, Dewey, and others, looking especially at their views on religion and politics. We also will explore the influence of pragmatism on Barack Obama. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

Course usage information

RELS 1835. Sinners, Saints, and Heretics: Religion in Early America (HIST 1511).

Interested students must register for HIST 1511.

Course usage information

RELS 1880A. The Gift in Antiquity.

This course is an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural examination of gift-giving in antiquity, with a focus on the Mediterranean in late antiquity. We will examine a range of gift-giving activities, such as sacrifices (gifts to the gods), civic donations, and almsgiving. Several visiting lecturers will participate in the course, and it will culminate in an international conference to take place at Brown. LILE

Course usage information

RELS 1880B. Politics and Authority in Islamic Law and Society (HMAN 1970Y).

Interested students must register for HMAN 1970Y.

Course usage information

RELS 1990. Individual Study Project.

Directed reading and research arranged with individual faculty. Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.

Course usage information

RELS 1999. Thesis Preparation.

Required of seniors in the honors program. Open to others only by permission of the chair of the department. Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.

Course usage information

RELS 2000. Theory of Religion.

Critical examination of major approaches to the study of religion, especially those of the anthropology and the history of religions, with attention to issues in current debate.

Course usage information

RELS 2050. Methods in Ancient History (HIST 2970I).

Interested students must register for HIST 2970I.

Course usage information

RELS 2100A. Early Jewish Prayer.

An examination of prayer from the Hebrew Bible to late Antiquity. Will look at actual liturgies, writings about prayer and ancient and modern theorizations of prayer. Knowledge of Hebrew and Greek helpful.

Course usage information

RELS 2100B. Exegesis at Qumran.

Focuses on Hebrew exegetical texts such as the Temple Scroll, MMT, pHab, 4QJub, CD. Intended for doctoral students and others with sufficient knowledge of Hebrew.

Spr RELS2100B S01 24323 M 3:00-5:30(13) (S. Olyan)
Course usage information

RELS 2100C. 1 and 2 Kings.

Translation and exegesis of Kings. Intended for those with advanced Hebrew.

Fall RELS2100C S01 15556 W 5:30-8:00PM(17) (S. Olyan)
Course usage information

RELS 2100D. Disappearance of Jewish Diaspora.

Course usage information

RELS 2100E. Literature of the Early Second Temple Period.

A close reading of selections from surviving literary texts of the late sixth century (e.g., Isaiah 56-66, Zechariah 1-8, Haggai) and and the fifth century (Ezra-Nehemiah, Malachi). Prerequisite: An advanced knowledge of biblical Hebrew and permission of the instructor.

Course usage information

RELS 2100F. Seminar in Biblical Studies: Ugaritic.

Survey of Ugaritic grammar followed by readings in mythic and epic literature (e.g. the Baal Cycle, Kirta, Aqhat) and ritual texts. Prerequisite: Knowledge of the grammar of one Semitic language. Open to graduate students only.

Course usage information

RELS 2100G. Early Rabbinic Literature: The Mishnah.

Readings in the Mishnah and related rabbinic literature. While the focus will be on gaining textual skills, we will also survey academic approaches to the Mishnah: What is the Mishnah and its relationship to earlier and contemporaneous texts? How was it composed, transmitted, and received? Prerequisite: Reading knowledge of Hebrew.

Course usage information

RELS 2100H. Pro-Seminar on the Study of Jews and Judaism in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean.

A graduate level introduction to the study of Jews and Judaism in the Mediterranean orbit from the Hellenistic period through the late Roman Empire. Topics include overviews of sources, materials, methods and theories, including current debates about terminology (Jews/Judeans/Judaism). Required of all RAM graduate students admitted in 2011 and after. Not open to undergraduates.

Course usage information

RELS 2105. Akkadian Literary and Religious Texts (AWAS 2400).

Interested students must register for AWAS 2400.

Course usage information

RELS 2110A. Religion and Romanticism: Religion, Democracy, and the Environmental Imagination.

The seminar will explore the central radical religious, democratic, and environmental dispositions and ideologies that mutually informed each other in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British Romantic literature and their subsequent and sustained legacies in America. We will read such authors as William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Emerson, and Thoreau.

Course usage information

RELS 2110B. Radical American Romanticism: Democratic, Environmental, and Religious Traditions in America.

Is America fundamentally defined by Romanticism? We will explore the sustained legacies of Romanticism in America, giving special attention to the topic of religion, by reading such authors as Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Thoreau, Whitman, and Fredrick Douglas; William James, George Santayana, and W.E.B. Du Bois; and Terry-Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, and Wendell Berry.

Spr RELS2110B S01 24827 W 3:00-5:30(14) (M. Cladis)
Course usage information

RELS 2150. Targumic Aramaic.

Introduction to Targumic Aramaic grammar with readings from Targum Ongelos. Assumes knowledge of Hebrew.

Course usage information

RELS 2160. Aramaic Readings.

A survey of epigraphic and biblical Aramaic intended for doctoral students and others with sufficient background in Aramaic grammar.

Course usage information

RELS 2200A. Apocryphal Acts.

No description available.

Course usage information

RELS 2200B. Asceticism.

A study of eastern Christian asceticism during late antiquity, with attention to forms, motivation, theological understandings, and cultural impact. The focus in this offering will be eastern Syriac monastic traditions, 4th through 8th century.

Course usage information

RELS 2200C. Seminar in Early Christianity: Cappadocians.

Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa. The seminar will consider their impact in three areas: the formation of a Christian culture within the Roman socio-political realm; the theological debates on Trinitarianism, Christology, and the nature of the human person; and the Christian contemplative tradition.

Course usage information

RELS 2200D. Christianity in the Late First and Early Second Centuries.

An assessment of the evidence for actual early Christian groups and authors, with particular attention to texts such as 1 and 2 Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, Didache, the Ignatian corpus, as well as canonical texts likely to have been produced in this same period (e.g. Luke and Acts, the Pastoral Epistles, 1 and 2 Peter, etc.). Not open to undergraduates. Competence in Greek required.

Course usage information

RELS 2200E. Christianizing Antioch.

Antioch from the first century CE until the Muslim conquest in the seventh, as Christians first utilized the city and its resources for their own formative developments, and then came to assume ascendancy over its society, culture, and landscape as the Roman Empire took on its Christianized identity.

Course usage information

RELS 2200F. Early Christian "Apocalypticism".

A critical investigation of the concept and category of apocalypticism as used in the study of early Christian literature and Jewish antecedents.

Course usage information

RELS 2200G. Gospel of John.

An intensive professional-level study of the Gospel according to John. Competence in Greek is required. Not open to undergraduates.

Course usage information

RELS 2200H. Ancient Christian Narratives about Jesus.

No description available.

Course usage information

RELS 2200I. Paul's Letter to the Romans.

No description available.

Course usage information

RELS 2200J. The Virgin Mary in Late Antiquity.

A study in the developing theological and devotional traditions regarding Mary the Mother of Jesus, focusing on the fourth through the sixth centuries A.D. Major theological positions; relationship to pre-existing civic cults and goddess traditions; the role of popular violence in the Mariological definitions of the Council of 431; imperial Marian piety; Marian relics; Mary as cultural metaphor.

Course usage information

RELS 2200K. Issues in Pauline Studies.

Course usage information

RELS 2200L. Historiography of Earliest Christianity.

Course usage information

RELS 2200M. Early Christian Hymnography.

Select examples of early Christian hymnography, 2nd-6th centuries. Particular attention to poetic forms, types of content, ritual contexts and functions, and performative elements. Weekly readings in Greek.

Course usage information

RELS 2200N. Roman Religions.

This course will examine some of the various religious options open to citizens of the Roman Empire. Special attention will be paid to the so-called "oriental" cults of the high Empire: Magna Mater, Isis, and Mithraism. Evidence will be drawn from literary sources, but also epigraphy, archaeology and material culture. Drawing on contemporary scholarship, attention will also be paid to the historiographical construction of the category of ancient religion (i.e., what's "religious" about Roman religions?) Subcategories for analysis will include religion and imperialism; colonization, assimilation and hybridity, and ancient identity construction.

Course usage information

RELS 2200P. Esotericism in the Ancient Mediterranean and Earliest Christianity.

This seminar will investigate the literary and other secret and revelatory practices of various groups as a context for understanding similar esoteric practices in early Christianity. The literature considered will include Orphic, Pythagorean, later Platonist, and Jewish examples and practices such as allegorical reading, symbolic interpretation and literary prophecy. Open to graduate students only.

Course usage information

RELS 2200Q. Readings in Syriac.

Dramatic narratives in liturgical poetry. Readings from Cyrillonas and Jacob of Serug.

Course usage information

RELS 2200R. Lived Religion in the High Empire and Late Antiquity.

This graduate course will use the theoretical work of Robert Orsi and Michel de Certeau to recover aspects of "lived" or "quotidian" religious experience in the High Roman Empire and Late Antiquity, particularly (but not exclusively) in the city of Rome. We will use as our data set not only textual sources in the original language and translation, but also elements of material culture (amulets, pyxides, reliquaries, crepundia, textiles, sortes, etc.), funerary epigraphy, and papyri.

Course usage information

RELS 2210. Greek Palaeography and Premodern Book Cultures (GREK 2110F).

Interested students must register for GREK 2110F.

Course usage information

RELS 2300A. Seminar: Early Taoist Thought.

The foundational philosophical texts of the Taoist tradition will be read in Classical Chinese and analyzed from a number of possible perspectives including comparative religious thought, and historical and textual criticism. Texts for each year's version of the course will be drawn from the following list:Chuang Tzu, Lao Tzu, Huang-Lao po-shu, Lü-shih ch'un-ch'iu, Han-fei Tzu, Kuan Tzu, and Huai-nan Tzu. Pre-requisites: reading knowledge of Classical Chinese and prior study of Taoist thought. Advanced undergraduates may be admitted.

Course usage information

RELS 2300B. Huai-nan Tzu.

No description available.

Course usage information

RELS 2300C. Chinese Bibliography and Reference Resources.

This graduate seminar provides an introduction to major resources and research methods in traditional and modern Chinese scholarship. Each session contains lecture and workshop on topics to explore. Students will learn how to use various bibliographies and reference tools to locate information and materials they need. They will also learn how to navigate library catalogs, special collections, databases and the Internet on Chinese scholarly resources. The final project is to let each student compile a bibliography on her/his own research topic. This course will be especially helpful for graduate students who are engaged in writing theses on Chinese studies.

Course usage information

RELS 2380A. Chinese Buddhist Texts.

Each week we will engage in close reading through translation of Buddhist texts in the original Chinese. Selections will draw from sutras, commentaries, prefaces, colophons, biographies, and Chan literature. The course introduces research methods, major sources, dictionaries, and digital tools, and culminates in a seminar paper demonstrating original research using the tools and methods practiced in class. Prerequisite: Reading competence in classical Chinese

Spr RELS2380A S01 26074 T 6:30-9:00PM(12) (J. Protass)
Course usage information

RELS 2400A. Jewish and Christian Women in Greco-Roman Antiquity.

A professional introduction to the textual, documentary and inscriptional evidence for Jewish and Christian women in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean, with particular attention to methodological and theoretical issues.

Course usage information

RELS 2400B. Religion and Society in Lucian of Samosata.

No description available.

Course usage information

RELS 2400C. Moral and Religious Economies of Graeco-Roman Households.

No description available.

Course usage information

RELS 2400D. Orthodoxy in Antiquity.

Examines the concept of "Orthodoxy" in ancient Mediterranean religion, with a focus on the development of Jewish orthodoxies from the third century BCE to the seventh century CE. How and why are orthodoxies and heresies created? Knowledge of at least one ancient language (typically Hebrew or Greek) required.

Course usage information

RELS 2400E. Pseudepigrapha.

A professional level introduction to a variety of ancient Jewish and/or Christian texts commonly, if imprecisely, known as "The Pseudepigrapha."

Course usage information

RELS 2450. Exchange Scholar Program.

Fall RELS2450 S01 14779 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

RELS 2500. Religion, Culture and Comparison: Description, Redescription and Comparison.

This seminar treats theory formation in the study of religion together with issues regarding cross cultural and trans. historical comparison and translation. Readings will include both theoretical and methodological writings and examples drawn from ethnography and history such as the phenomenon of animal science.

Course usage information

RELS 2600A. Durkheim, Weber, and Dewey: Religion in Modernity.

This semiar investigates theories of religion and modernity in the work of Durkheim, Weber, and Dewey.

Course usage information

RELS 2600B. Hume and Kant on Ethics and Religion.

No description available.

Course usage information

RELS 2600C. The Emergence of Modern Liberal and Communitarian Thought.

Throughout our country's history liberal (individualist, rights-based) and communitarian (community centered) models of society have at times clashed. Our present age is one of those times. What are the historical origins of these two models? And what are some ways in which commitment to both models can be maintained, even in light of their potential conflict? These questions will be pursued.

Course usage information

RELS 2600D. Pragmatism and Religion.

Readings in the original American pragmatists and their recent admirers with special attention to the topic of religion.

Course usage information

RELS 2600E. Seminar in Religion and Critical Thought: Hegel.

To Be Determined

Spr RELS2600E S01 24325 Th 11:50-2:20(10) (T. Lewis)
Course usage information

RELS 2600F. Seminar on Religion and Critical Thought: Brandom.

Course usage information

RELS 2600G. Reason, Tradition and Modernity.

The modern West has been defined largely by pervasive challenges to inherited religious beliefs, ethical mores, and political institutions. Since the Enlightenment, these developments have provoked widespread reflection on the nature and significance of tradition, the limits of reason, as well as the relation between reason and tradition. We will trace this current from the developments of German romanticism through recent "new traditionalist" thought, such as that of Alasdair MacIntyre.

Course usage information

RELS 2600H. Skeptical Strategies and Religious Commitment.

A look at the history of skepticism and its relation to religion, with special attention to the resemblance of ancient Pyrrhonian skepticism to a religious discipline, and the modern use of skeptical arguments in the service of religious apologetic. Authors include Sextus Empiricus, Montaigne, Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Lessing, Kierkegaard, and Wittgenstein.

Course usage information

RELS 2600I. Nietzsche, Foucault, Latour (ENGL 2900K).

Interested students must register for ENGL 2900K.

Course usage information

RELS 2600J. Religion, Power, and Practice.

The turns to power and practice are among the most important recent events in the academic study of religion, and in the humanities generally. Power speaks of the ways in which social arrangements produce social differences, resulting in domination, cooperation, and resistance across lines of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. Practice speaks of what people do, a broader emphasis than prior emphases on what people think. This seminar will look at the social theorists who initiated these methodologies and some of the figures who have appropriated these theorists in the field of religious studies. Open to graduate students only.

Course usage information

RELS 2600K. Religion and Interpretation.

One of the most influential approaches to the study of religion views religion as primarily a matter of meanings or symbols. The task of the scholar of religion, then, is to interpret these meanings and symbols. This course examines this theoretical perspective on religion by looking at its proponents and its critics, as well as philosophical treatments of meaning and interpretation that have influenced religious studies. Readings include Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, Clifford Geertz, Mary Douglas, Donald Davidson, and Robert Brandom. Open to graduate students only.

Course usage information

RELS 2600L. Seminar: Afro-Theism.

This graduate seminar places a theological lens on Black life in North America. Its premise is that Afro-Theisms, not the institutional "Black Church" or Black prophetic religion, have been seminal to the self-conception of Black people and their way of constituting racial "others". Different theistic emphasis at different historical moments demonstrates both the importance and fluidity of Afro-Theisms and sheds unique light on quest for equity and self-actualization. Starting with the conventional Christian theologies into which New World Africans under slave conditions were indoctrinated, this course will explore the role and impact of Afro-Theisms.

Course usage information

RELS 2600N. Gender and Relation in Religious Thought.

Gender has often been posed as the fundamental distinction of the human condition, creating the original opportunity for relation across that distinction. In some strands of religious thought, this distinction comes second to the creation of the world distinct from the divine. Religious and secular thinkers have turned to ordinary experiences of interpersonal relations for insight into these purportedly more fundamental relations and the connection between them. This seminar examines the role of interpersonal relationships in recent religious, ethical, and political thought, with particular attention to the way they bring gender and sexual desire more centrally into view.

Course usage information

RELS 2600P. Readings in Christian Ethics and Thought.

This course covers a number of recent influential texts in Christian thought and Christian ethics, with some attention to their historical precursors. Texts may include Kevin Hector, The Theological Project of Modernism; Sarah Coakley, God, Sexuality, and the Self; J. Kameron Carter, Race: A Theological Account, John Milbank, Beyond Secular Order, and selections from Karl Barth and post-liberal theology.

Fall RELS2600P S01 16874 T 12:00-2:30(10) (S. Bush)
Course usage information

RELS 2890. Preliminary Examination Preparation.

For graduate students who have met the tuition requirement and are paying the registration fee to continue active enrollment while preparing for preliminary examinations.

Fall RELS2890 S01 14780 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Spr RELS2890 S01 23867 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Course usage information

RELS 2910. Independent Research.

The staff is willing to offer independent reading courses in selected areas. See the Instructor for more information. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering.

Course usage information

RELS 2990. Thesis Preparation.

For graduate students who have met the tuition requirement and are paying the registration fee to continue active enrollment while preparing a thesis.

Fall RELS2990 S01 14781 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'
Spr RELS2990 S01 23868 Arranged 'To Be Arranged'

Chair

Mark Cladis

Professor

Mark Cladis
Brooke Russell Astor Professor of Humanities

Wendell S. Dietrich
Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies and Judaic Studies

James L. Fitzgerald
St. Purander Das Distinguished Professor of Classics

Susan Ashbrook Harvey
Willard Prescott and Annie McClelland Smith Professor of History and Religion

Ross S. Kraemer
Professor Emerita of Religious Studies

Thomas A. Lewis
Professor of Religious Studies

Saul Olyan
Samuel Ungerleider, Jr. Professor of Judaic Studies

Harold D. Roth
Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies

Michael L. Satlow
Professor of Judaic Studies and Religious Studies

Janine T. Anderson Sawada
Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies

Stanley K. Stowers
Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies

Donna M. Wulff
Professor Emerita of Religious Studies

Associate Professor

Stephen S. Bush
Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Nancy Khalek
Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Visiting Associate Professor

Nicola F. Denzey
Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Nathaniel P. DesRosiers
Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Assistant Professor

Paul E. Nahme
Dorot Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies

Jason A. Protass
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Daniel Vaca
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Andre C. Willis
Willard Prescott and Annie McClelland Smith Professor of History and Religion

Visiting Assistant Professor

Jacob H. Davis
Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Finnian M. Moore-Gerety
Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Visiting Scholar

Thomas B. Coburn
Visiting Scholar in Religious Studies

Raymond F. Collins
Visiting Scholar in Religious Studies

Rebecca E. Falcasantos
Visiting Scholar in Religious Studies

Linda Heuman
Visiting Scholar in Religious Studies

Religious Studies

Religious Studies explores religious thought and practice in various historical, political, cultural, and social contexts in order to understand and interpret societies and cultures throughout the world. It fosters scholarly skills such as close reading (of texts, images, artifacts, and other social data), excellence in writing and verbal expression, interpretation of the past and present from multiple forms of evidence, and assessment of contemporary social issues. By exploring the public and private concerns that the study of religion highlights -- for example, the creation of community, the nature of the individual, suffering and death, notions of good and evil -- students discover new ways of engaging the complex world in which they live. As students examine religious activity in the Americas, South and East Asia, the Middle East and West Asia, Africa, and Europe, they not only learn about the formation and transmission of beliefs, behaviors, values, rituals, and identities but also come to understand how diverse peoples have expressed religious understandings of themselves and others through politics, institutions, conflicts, and spaces commonly recognized as secular.

1. Basic Requirement

A concentration in Religious Studies includes a minimum of nine semester-long courses.  Those nine courses include RELS 1000 (a seminar in methods in the study of religion) and eight other courses, which must satisfy the concentration's distribution requirements.  Students who transfer to Brown or study abroad must complete at least five courses in Religious Studies at Brown. 

2. Distribution of Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced courses:

Among the eight concentration courses, no more than four courses (out of nine) can be at the introductory level (0001-0199). In addition to any introductory courses and RELS 1000, the plan of study must include at least two intermediate-level courses (0200-0999) and two advanced-level courses (above 1000).

3. Geographic and Methodological Distribution:

In order to ensure that students study a diversity of religious traditions and learn about multiple methods of study, the eight concentration courses (that is, the courses other than RELS 1000) must:  1) reflect more than one approach to the study of religion (e.g., philosophical, anthropological, historical); and 2) examine more than one religious tradition.  To ensure that students examine multiple traditions, the plan of study ordinarily should include two or more courses in each of these areas: A) Traditions that merge from the Mediterranean world and West Asia/Islamic World (e.g., Judaism, Christianity, Islam); and B) Traditions that emerge from South and East Asia (e.g., Buddhism, Hinduism, Daoism). 

A. Traditions that emerge from the Mediterranean world and West Asia/Islamic World (e.g., Christianity, Judaism, Islam)
Sacred Stories
Wealth: Religious Approaches
The Bible and Moral Debate (JUDS 0060)
Love and Reason
Modern Problems of Belief
Spiritual But Not Religious: Making Spirituality in America
On Being Human: Religious and Philosophical Conceptions of Self
Religion and Torture
Death and Afterlife in the Biblical Tradition
Christmas in America
Religion Gone Wild: Spirituality and the Environment
Islamic Sexualities
Great Jewish Books (JUDS 0681)
How the Bible Became Holy
Jesus and the Gospels
Christianity in Late Antiquity
Islam in America
Radical Islam: Significant Moments in Contemporary Media
Conservatives vs. Liberals: Religion and Identity in America
African American Religious Strategies: Martin and Malcolm
Religion, Reason, and Ethics from Kant to Nietzsche
A Game of Thrones: Religion and Nationalism, 1789-1933 (JUDS 0700)
Religious Freedom in America
War and Peace in the Hebrew Bible and its Environment (JUDS 0670)
Sex and Gender in Ancient Israel (JUDS 0671)
Methods in Religious Studies
Problems in Israelite Religion and Ancient Judaism (JUDS 1625)
Mishnah and Tosefta (JUDS 1602)
The Talmud (JUDS 1630)
Lords of Middle Sea: Greek and Biblical Myth and Society
Ancient Christianity and the Sensing Body
Early Christian Asceticism: Rhetorics of Practice
Philosophy of Mysticism
Money, Media, and Religion
Ethics of Vulnerability
Religion and Postmodernism
Islamic Sectarianism
Prophets and Priests in Exile: Biblical Literature of the 6th Century BCE (JUDS 1690)
Pragmatism, Religion, and Politics
B. Traditions that emerge from South and East Asia (e.g., Buddhism, Hinduism, Daoism)
Karma, Rebirth and Liberation: Life and Death in South Asian Religions
Japan: Nature, Ritual, and the Arts (EAST 0180)
Engaged Buddhism
The Theory and Practice of Buddhist Meditation
Buddhist Ethical Theory (UNIV 0480)
Laozi and the Daodejing
Experiencing the Sacred: Embodiment and Aesthetics in South Asian Religions
Religious Japan
Buddhist Classics
Themes in Japanese Buddhism
The History, Philosophy, and Practice of Rinzai Zen Buddhism

4. Courses in Other Departments

Courses listed in other departments but taught by Religious Studies faculty count toward the program of study.  In addition to cross-listed courses taught by Religious Studies faculty, up to three courses taught by faculty in other departments can count toward the program (pending approval by the DUS).  Students who transfer to Brown, study abroad, or otherwise petition to include Brown courses not cross-listed with Religious Studies must complete at least five courses in Religious Studies at Brown.

5. Capstone Project

No later than the end of spring registration in the junior year, the concentrator will determine how they will complete a senior capstone project for this requirement - either by selecting a capstone course, or by undertaking an honors thesis.  A capstone course will be selected in consultation with the concentration advisor and other faculty as appropriate.  Within the frame of this capstone course and through work completed for the course, the concentrator will address the theoretical and interpretive issues of their particular focus in the Religious Studies concentration.

Honors Thesis (Optional)

A thesis is an opportunity for students to conduct extended independent research under the guidance of faculty.  If a student chooses to write an honors thesis, in addition to completing the typical eight concentration courses (in addition to RELS 1000) the student will enroll in RELS 1999 during both semesters of the senior year.  Whether or not a student receives honors, RELS 1999 will serve as the student's capstone course.  To be eligible to write a thesis, a student must have earned a grade point average of greater than 3.5 (A=4, B=3, C=2) on courses that count toward the concentration.  Additionally, to be eligible for honors, concentrators may take no more than two of the concentration courses with the "S/NC" option, after declaring a Religious Studies concentration.  (Note: if a student is philosophically committed to taking the majority of her or his courses at Brown as "S/NC," that student may petition the Department to waive this "S/NC" limit.)  Writing the thesis is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for receiving Honors.  In order to receive Honors, the student's thesis must earn an A from its two readers, and the student must have earned a grade point average of greater than 3.5 in the concentration and satisfied all other concentration requirements. 

Daniel Vaca, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Tina Creamer, Departmental Administrator

Contemplative Studies

The concentration in Contemplative Studies investigates the underlying philosophical, psychological, and scientific bases of human contemplative experience. Students pursue a "third person" academic approach drawn from the humanities and sciences to analyze the cultural, historical, and scientific underpinnings of contemplative experiences in religion, art, music, and literature. This is developed in combination with a "critical first-person" approach based in practical experience of contemplative techniques and methods to provide an integrated understanding of the role of contemplative thought and experience in societies and on the individuals who constitute them.

Concentration Core (6 courses total including Senior Capstone Seminar)

COST 0100Introduction to Contemplative Studies1
Two science courses that focus on the cognitive neurological functioning of the human brain and how contemplative practices affect it
Select one from the following list:1
Mind and Brain: Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience
Human Cognition
Perception and Mind
The Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience
Select one from following list:1
Meditation and the Brain: Applications in Basic and Clinical Science
Cognitive Neuroscience of Meditation
Two humanities courses that introduce students to contemplative religious traditions and to the philosophical analysis of the key questions of human existence from following list:2
Religion and Culture
The Idea of Self
Classical Philosophy of India
The Place of Persons
Mind and Matter
Ancient Philosophy
Great Contemplative Traditions of Asia
On Being Human: Religious and Philosophical Conceptions of Self
The Classical Chinese Philosophy of Life
Religions of Classical India
Senior Capstone Seminar (UNIV 1010) 1

Track Requirements (6 additional courses)

Students must complete either a Science or Humanities track in addition to the concentration core.

Science Track

The Science track in Contemplative Studies gives concentrators in-depth understanding of the scientific methods used to investigate the cognitive neuroscience of contemplative practice. Students will be taught how to critique current research as well as how to develop, operationalize, and test hypotheses related to contemplative practice. Students will become well-versed in how to study first-person reports related to the phenomenology of contemplative experience as a foundation for formulating third-person tests of the effects of practice on brain function and behavior. The Contemplative Studies Science Track trains students to investigate these types of questions not only for academic scholarship, but also to provide a method of self-inquiry that can be used to augment any area of life. 

Three thematic science courses drawn primarily from NEUR and CLPS, at least two of which must be 1000-level3
Mathematical Methods in the Brain Sciences
Brain Damage and the Mind
Computational Methods for Mind, Brain and Behavior
The Neural Bases of Cognition
Computational Cognitive Neuroscience
Principles of Neurobiology
Neural Systems
One statistics course (others with approval)1
Statistical Inference I
Quantitative Methods in Psychology
Experimental Design
Two semesters of laboratory research in an established lab (e.g. BIOL 1950/1960)2

Humanities Track

The Humanities track explores the origin and development of contemplative practices within specific religious, cultural, and historical contexts and gives students a foundation in the Philosophy of Mind relevant to the scientific study of contemplative practice. Students will choose a concentration program that includes three intermediate and three advanced seminars drawn from the two areas below. While it is recommended that students focus primarily on one of these two areas, the precise balance of the individual concentration program for each student will be established with the concentration advisor when the student applies to enter the concentration, normally in their fourth semester of study. 

Six Courses total from across the two areas below:6
Contemplative Religious Traditions
Mythology of India
The Bhagavad Gītā
The Confucian Mind
Early Daoist Syncretism: Zhuang Zi and Huainan Zi
Spiritual But Not Religious: Making Spirituality in America
Laozi and the Daodejing
Buddhism in India
Philosophy of Mysticism
Zen Meditation in China, Korea, and Japan
The Philosophy of Mind
Valuing Persons
Consciousness
Philosophy of Science
Moral Theories
Metaphysics
Epistemology
Kant: The Critique of Pure Reason
Philosophy of Mind
The Shaping of World Views

Honors Requirement

 Students with a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the concentration may apply for entrance into the Honors program in the middle of their sixth semester. To apply, students submit a proposal for a senior thesis project describing the work to be undertaken and its relevance to the field of Contemplative Studies, along with a copy of their academic transcript. Students accepted into Honors must complete the required Capstone seminar, UNIV 1010, and enroll in an additional semester of independent study in their advisor’s department. Students must complete an Honors Thesis to the satisfaction of their advisor and present the results of their studies in formal talks or poster sessions open to all interested faculty and students.

Religious Studies

The graduate program in Religious Studies at Brown is one of the finest in the nation. From among a large pool of highly qualified applicants, the department admits four to six doctoral students a year. Our students receive five years of full funding; additional funding is possible but not guaranteed. The department's graduates have an excellent placement record, teaching in such institutions as Harvard, Stanford, Indiana University, University of California, Brooklyn College, Reed College, Haverford, and University of Wisconsin (Madison). Current graduate students have distinguished themselves by presenting papers at international conferences and earning recognition and support from prestigious external funding organizations.

We offer Ph.D. studies in three areas: 

  1. Asian Religious Traditions (ART)
  2. Religion and Critical Thought (RCT)
  3. Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean (RAM)(including  Ancient Judaism, early Christianity, early Islam, and numerous others)

For more information on these programs, please click on the program link above.

 http://www.brown.edu/academics/gradschool/programs/religious-studies