Religious Studies
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Courses and Syllabi

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Religious Studies Spring 2017

Undergraduate

100-Level Courses in RELI

RELI 100: The Human Religious Experience (3 Credits)

Examines main forms of religious expression as embodied in several important religious traditions in contemporary world. Investigates religious experience; myth and ritual; teachings and scripture; ethical, social, and artistic aspects of religion; and nature and function of religion in human society.

RELI 110: Introduction to Jewish Ethics (3 Credits)

Brief overview of Judaism and its classical texts. Examines a number of current ethical issues including artificial insemination, stem cell research, transplantation, abortion, homosexuality, capital punishment, from a Jewish perspective.

200-Level Courses in RELI

RELI 211: Religions of the West (3 Credits)

Focuses on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam from historical, comparative, and cross-cultural perspectives. May also include modern developments of those faiths such as Mormonism and Baha'ism, as well as Zoroastrianism and religions of ancient Near Eastern cultures.

RELI 212: Religions of Asia (3 Credits)

Surveys religions of India, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and the religions of the Far East, China, and Japan, including Daosim, Confucianism, Shinto, from origins to present.

RELI 235: Religion and Literature (3 Credits)

Explores the relationship between religion and literature in different times and cultures, the influence of religion on literary works, and how literature expresses major religious themes such as death and immortality, divine will and justice, suffering and human destiny, and religion and state.

RELI 240: Death and the Afterlife in World Religions (3 Credits)

Explores how selected world religions address the universal experience of death and express their beliefs in an afterlife. Focuses on the scriptures, beliefs, rituals and customs of selected world religions as they reflect each tradition's response to the most basic question about human destiny - how human beings face death and attempt to transcend it.

RELI 272: Islam (3 Credits)

Introduces basic religious beliefs and practices of Islam, with view to diverse manifestations of Islamic culture in different ethnic and social contexts. Provides overview of essential rituals of Islamic life, mystical practices of Sufis, certain popular forms of religious practice, sources and application of Islamic law, and distinctive Islamic artistic and literary forms.

300-Level Courses in RELI

RELI 313: Hinduism (3 Credits)

Introduces Hindu religion and thought, beliefs, rituals, ethics and religious practices. Emphasis on classical Hinduism, but also covers Hinduism and modernity, modern Hindu movements, and Hinduism as a global religion.

RELI 314: Chinese Philosophies and Religious Traditions (3 Credits)

Surveys major religious traditions and philosophical themes of China including Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism. Examines foundation of Chinese world view and spirituality by investigating diverse religious traditions that have created tensions and harmony among them.

RELI 315: Buddhism (3 Credits)

Surveys Buddhist religious traditions. Includes historical development of Buddhism in India, China, and Japan, examining both Theravada and Mahayana traditions; philosophical and religious significance of Buddhism; and social and political implications of Buddhist traditions in South Asian and East Asian countries.

RELI 316: Modern Christian Thought (3 Credits)

Examines influential Christian thinkers and Christian intellectual trends of the modern period, from the Enlightenment through the present.

RELI 317: Daoism (3 Credits)

Explores philosophical ideas, spiritual orientation, religious practice, and social and political values in Daoist tradition reading classic Daoist texts including Dao De Jing, Chuang-tzu, and other sources. Discusses Daoism in light of comparative and cross-cultural studies for global understanding of issues on concepts of nature, human nature, and good and evil.

RELI 320: Religion and Revolution in Latin America (3 Credits)

Explores the intersection between Christian and revolutionary thought, such as Marxism and existentialism, in Latin America after the 1960s that formed liberation theology. Emphasis on historical, philosophical and interdisciplinary issues.

RELI 322: Religions of Africa (3 Credits)

Explores traditional religious practices and world views in Africa south of the Sahara, the spread of African religions to the Caribbean and the Americas, the forms that religions imported or imposed from the north have taken in Africa south of the Sahara, and the interaction among the religious cultures of Africa, European Christianity and Islam.

RELI 330: Religion, Fantasy and Imagination (3 Credits)

Explores the worlds of religion, fantasy and imagination, presented in selected writings of 20th century fantasy authors, including Lewis, Tolkien, Pullman, Rowling.Ê Covers ideas of quest for enlightenment, redemption or salvation, conflict between good and evil, worlds of the supernatural, parallel dimensions and their inhabitants.

RELI 331: Religion in America (3 Credits)

Religious heritage in American culture, growth of denominations and sects, and interrelationship of religion and sociopolitical life.

RELI 332: Mormonism (3 Credits)

Examines the origins and development of Mormonism, as embodied in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other related churches. Introduces students to a critical analysis of Latter-day Saint scriptures, rituals, and history.

RELI 337: Mysticism: East and West (3 Credits)

Comparative treatment of major expressions of mysticism in East and West through exploration of various ways of understanding mystical experience. Readings and discussion emphasize one or more of the Eastern (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen) and Western (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) traditions.

RELI 341: Global Perspectives on Spirituality and Healing (3 Credits)

Cross-cultural investigation of human understandings of relationship between spirituality and health. Beliefs about spiritual causes of sickness and health and spiritual techniques of healing in variety of world cultures placed in context of religious beliefs of those cultures.

RELI 350: Religion and History of Ancient Israel (3 Credits)

Examines religion and history of ancient Israel from origins around 1250 BCE to Babylonian Exile in 587 BCE. Topics include debate on historical value of biblical narratives, extra-biblical texts mentioning Israel, move from polytheism to monotheism, archaeology and artifacts, and development of Israel's unique religious and historical self-understanding.

RELI 352: Judaism from Exile to Talmud (3 Credits)

Examines Jewish religion, history, and literature from the Babylonian Exile to third century C.E. Special attention to development of Hebrew Bible, Apocalyptic and Apocryphal literature, belief in resurrection and final judgment, Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish sects, and emergence of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism.

RELI 353: Jewish Political Tradition (3 Credits)

Explores Jewish thinkers' attitudes towards politics and state.Ê Topics include traditional sources, theological and political crisis of modern times, liberal Jewish thought, Zionist ideology, Israel as a separate state, relationship between religion and politics in modern Israel.

RELI 355: Sufism (3 Credits)

Examines the tradition of Islamic mysticism, Sufism, through an exploration of the literature produced by Sufis themselves. Provide general introduction to Sufism and its spiritual perspective and investigates various genres of Sufi literature, including hagiography, symbolic scriptural exegesis, spiritual autobiography, didactic allegory and love poetry.

RELI 356: Jesus and the Gospels (3 Credits)

Examines Gospel accounts of Jesus in context of first-century Christianity. Applies variety of historical and literary methods to gain understanding of Jesus and history and theology of early church.

RELI 357: Gender and the Body in Judaism (3 Credits)

Explores distinctively Jewish approaches to questions of gender, sexuality, and the body as described in the legal, religious, ethical, and literary material in the Jewish tradition. Topics include the "body of God," circumcision, laws of purity, rites of passage, the synagogue, feminist theology, and masculine and feminine stereotypes.

RELI 360: Religion and Politics (3 Credits)

Explores the roles of religion in contemporary political life in the United States and abroad. Emphasizes religion in current political debates. Includes history, political theory, sociology, and theology to present a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

RELI 361: Evangelical America (3 Credits)

IntroducesÊthe intellectual and social sources of evangelical Protestant traditions in the United States. Examines varieties of evangelical beliefs and practices. Surveying a range of themes, including science, sexuality, politics, and environmentalism, students examine how evangelicals have defined themselves in opposition to secular society but also have engaged the secular in an effort to convert souls, manage personal behavior, and transform American society in their image of Christian community.

RELI 362: Religion and Film (3 Credits)

Surveys representations of religious beliefs, practices, persons, and institutions in popular film. Focuses on the media consumption of box office movies in the United States. Examines how religion is imaged in film and how that religious imagination relates to social constructions of national, ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual identities.

RELI 363: Catholicism (3 Credits)

Focuses on the beliefs of the over one billion Roman Catholics in today's world.Ê Probes the history, doctrine, symbols, rituals, practices, and material culture of the world's largest church.Ê Considers Catholicism's dialog with secularism and discusses controversies and challenges facing the church today.

RELI 364: Religion and Law in the United States (3 Credits)

Explores issues relating to law and religion. Focuses on the legal doctrines that have arisen in cases under the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment. Topics include religion and public schools, government aid to religious institutions, including school vouchers, government endorsement of religious symbols, freedom of religious expression, and freedom of religious practice.

RELI 365: Muhammad: Life and Legacy (3 Credits)

Examines life and character of the founder of Islam, as remembered and understood by Muslims, as well as explores influence of his paradigmatic life and teachings on Islamic religious discourse and culture. Addresses Western critical studies of the accounts of Muhammad's life and contemporary controversies regarding Muhammad.

RELI 370: Judaism (3 Credits)

Studies Judaism from origins to present. Includes origins of Judaism B.C.E.; Rabbinic Judaism; Jews in the Middle Ages; Hasidic and Mystical Judaism; Enlightenment; persecution and Holocaust; contemporary American Judaism; and Jewish, Christian, and Muslim relations.

RELI 372: American Judaism (3 Credits)

Surveys Jewish religious life focusing on various types of American Judaism such as orthodox, conservative, reform, reconstructionist, as they have developed historically and continue to evolve. Emphasizes issues and challenges facing contemporary Judaism.

RELI 374: Islamic Thought (3 Credits)

Examines Islamic views on fundamental issues in religious thought, such as nature of God, nature of man, and relationship between God and man as reflected in both divine revelation and human religious vocation. Investigates intellectual approaches to these problems within Islamic tradition, including those of theological, philosophical, and mystical thinkers.

RELI 375: Qur'an and Hadith (3 Credits)

Explores two primary sources of Islamic belief and practice: Qur'an and Hadith. Discusses thematic structure and literary quality, and examines theological and moral issues. Also introduces various methods of interpretation and critical analysis applied to texts in both Islamic and Western scholarship. Lecture and discussion.

RELI 376: Special Topics in Religious Thought (3 Credits)

Selected topics from a philosophical perspective.

RELI 377: Special Topics in Religious Thought (3 Credits)

Selected topics from a philosophical perspective.

RELI 379: Islamic Law, Society, and Ethics (3 Credits)

Introduces foundational sources and principles of Islamic Law or shariah. Examines the historical development and application of Islamic law, its role in Muslim societies, and its relationship to Islamic social ideals and ethical discourse.

RELI 381: Beginnings of Christianity (3 Credits)

Examines early Christian church from time of Jesus to 700 C.E. Covers internal development of Christianity as it formed official doctrines and institutions, and external relations of Christians with followers of other religions in Roman Empire. Special attention to reasons for success of Christianity in Roman world.

RELI 386: Islam in the Modern Age (3 Credits)

Covers the study of the Islamic tradition and its peoples during the last two centuries-the period of Islamic reform in the wake of Western hegemony-and the efforts of the community to readjust itself in light of Westernization and modernization, as well as the broader challenges of the secular, liberal, and technical age.

RELI 387: Islam, Democracy, and Human Rights (3 Credits)

Evaluates the political and religious goals of Muslim societies and governments, and whether these goals are conducive to the development of democratic institutions to promote democratic cultures and explicit support for human rights, as well as to these societies' full integration in an international order founded upon secularism and modernism.

400-Level Courses in RELI

RELI 401: Death and the Afterlife in World Religions (3 Credits)

Examination of the rituals, practices, and beliefs regarding death and the afterlife in world religions past and present. Emphasis placed on crosscultural and comparative aspects.

RELI 403: Scripture and Authority in World Religions (3 Credits)

Examines origins, development, and role of Scripture (religious texts) in world religions, concentrating on issues of divine inspiration, authority, authenticity, and canon.

RELI 405: Religion, Values, and Globalization (3 Credits)

Explores diverse value systems, ethical norms, and teaching found in different religious traditions and cultures. Examines assumption that globalization is attempt to universalize Western culture.

RELI 407: Women in the World's Religions (3 Credits)

Seminar course offering theoretical and comparative study of role of women in six of the major religious traditions of the world_Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese religions.

RELI 420: Seminar (3 Credits)

Senior seminar on a specific topic of relevance to religious studies. Content varies.

RELI 425: Directed Readings in Religious Studies (1-3 Credits)

Individual readings and research in religious studies on a topic selected in consultation with instructor.

RELI 426: Religious Studies Internship (3 Credits)

Course rubric to be used for acquiring academic credit in Religious Studies for religious studies related internships.

RELI 490: Comparative Study of Religions (3 Credits)

Cross-cultural examination of comparative aspects of religious phenomena. Examines significance of religious phenomena from diverse religious and cultural perspectives, and investigates patterns of religious phenomena that have appeared in world cultures and civilizations.

Topics in RELI

RELI 376: Special Topics in Religious Thought (3 Credits)

Selected topics from a philosophical perspective.

RELI 420: Seminar (3 Credits)

Senior seminar on a specific topic of relevance to religious studies. Content varies.

Graduate

500-Level Courses in RELI

RELI 591: Special Topics in Religious Studies (3 Credits)

Topics in religious studies selected by importance in the field and pertinent to the role of religion in society and culture. Emphasis on historical, interdisciplinary, and cross-cultural issues.

600-Level Courses in RELI

RELI 630: Approaches to the Study of Religion (3 Credits)

Examines study of religion as academic discipline. Evaluates various intellectual approaches and methods used in study of religious phenomena.

RELI 631: Sacred as Secular in Modern Spirituality (3 Credits)

Investigates nature of sacred and categories of sacred and secular in human experience. Both duality and interconnectedness of sacred and secular explored to facilitate fresh understanding of essential unity of human religiosity and spirituality.

RELI 632: World Religions in Conflict and Dialogue (3 Credits)

Explores reasons for instances of global religious conflicts and examines ways of engaging in interreligious dialogue. Investigates religious pluralism as an effective means for dialogue.

RELI 633: Ethical Perspectives of World Religions (3 Credits)

Examines how perceptions of ultimate reality shape ethical values and behaviors of various religious traditions. Addresses problems in interpretation of authoritative foundational teachings in contemporary contexts. Special attention to non-Western religions.

RELI 635: World Religions in Transition and Transformation (3 Credits)

Explores transitions and transformations in selected world religions as they respond to and influence forces of cultural change, social values, and the crises of history. Fresh or modified constructions of the sacred and their relationship to world and humans will be examined.

RELI 636: Religion and the Natural Environment (3 Credits)

Explores contemporary religious thought on the morality and ethics of environmental responsibility. Begins with an exploration of this issue in Western Christian thought and examines religious approaches to the environment in the traditional and contemporary thought of other major world religions, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Chinese traditions.

RELI 640: Religion and Law (3 Credits)

Focuses on United States Supreme Court decisions on religion clauses over the last 50 years. Provides a close reading of court's opinions and considers material from religious legal traditions. Covers contemporary political debates on issues like prayer in public schools, displays of religious symbols, ceremonial references to God, and public aid to religious schools.

RELI 642: Sacred Language, Scripture, and Culture (3 Credits)

Explores how sacred languages and scriptures develop in major global religious traditions: study of grammar, syntax, and morphology of sacred languages; issues of inspiration, authority and canon. Also examines cultural dimensions of sacred language.

RELI 644: Islamic Texts and Contexts (3 Credits)

Introduces foundational Islamic texts; scholarly traditions of commentary, criticism and analysis on these texts; and application and significance of these texts in contemporary Islamic discourses.

RELI 645: Muslim Comparative Theologies: Sunni-Shi`i Religious Thought (3 Credits)

Compares and analyzes Sunni and Shi`ite theologies, with particular attention to the historical development of Muslim creed in the context of social and political conditions, and the essential differences between the Sunni and Shi'ite schools of thought.

RELI 646: Islam and Human Rights (3 Credits)

Compares the conception of human rights in international human rights documents and accords with conceptions of human rights in classical Islamic theological, legal, and ethical texts. Examines various relevant issues, including but not limited to religious and gender discrimination, slavery, freedom of religion and belief and apostasy, and questions of punishment.

RELI 660: Islamic Biomedical Ethics (3 Credits)

Examination of the foundations of religious ethics and ethical principles developed by Muslims to solve bioethical problems. Relates ethical principles to the moral experience of contemporary Muslims, and explores the role of human experience and intuitive reasoning in deriving ethical decisions.

Topics in RELI

RELI 591: Special Topics in Religious Studies (3 Credits)

Topics in religious studies selected by importance in the field and pertinent to the role of religion in society and culture. Emphasis on historical, interdisciplinary, and cross-cultural issues.

RELI 633: Ethical Perspectives of World Religions (3 Credits)

Examines how perceptions of ultimate reality shape ethical values and behaviors of various religious traditions. Addresses problems in interpretation of authoritative foundational teachings in contemporary contexts. Special attention to non-Western religions.

RELI 635: World Religions in Transition and Transformation (3 Credits)

Explores transitions and transformations in selected world religions as they respond to and influence forces of cultural change, social values, and the crises of history. Fresh or modified constructions of the sacred and their relationship to world and humans will be examined.

RELI 642: Sacred Language, Scripture, and Culture (3 Credits)

Explores how sacred languages and scriptures develop in major global religious traditions: study of grammar, syntax, and morphology of sacred languages; issues of inspiration, authority and canon. Also examines cultural dimensions of sacred language.