Religious Studies

  • Department Information

    Religious Studies

    Douglas L. Winiarski, Chair
    Professors Cobb, Davis, Eakin, Geaney, Winiarski
    Associate Professors Hanaoka, Shaw

    The religious studies major is designed to provide students with both breadth and depth in the academic study of religion. When declaring the major, the student must meet with the departmental representative to formulate a course of study appropriate both to his or her interests and to the goals of the major generally.

  • Major

    The Religious Studies Major

    Note: The grade point average of the coursework comprising the major must be no less than 2.00 with no course grade below C- (1.7).

    Nine units, including:

    Four units at the 300 level, excluding RELG 388, RELG 395, RELG 396

    Five elective units in religious studies

    The religious studies major is designed to offer students a broad education while providing them with the interpretive tools from the field of religious studies. The department encourages double majors. In addition, cognate courses in other departments may be included within the required nine units, with the approval in advance of the religious studies department. Under no circumstances will more than two extra-departmental courses be accepted as part of those nine units.

  • Minor

    The Religious Studies Minor

    Note: The grade point average of the coursework comprising the minor must be no less than 2.00 with no course grade below C- (1.7).

    Five units, including:

    At least two units at the 300 level, excluding RELG 388, RELG 395, RELG 396

    Three elective units in religious studies

    The religious studies minor is designed to provide basic grounding in the academic study of religion. The religious studies minor requires five units in religion, reflecting the diversity of areas and approaches that make up the religious studies department.

  • Honors

    Honors Program

    Qualified students may apply to work for honors at the discretion of the department. A major who wishes to pursue honors should meet with the honors coordinator, usually no later than the first semester of the junior year. The department will then invite selected students to apply for honors, at which point those students will meet with the honors coordinator to plan a designated honors program in conjunction with a faculty advisor. The honors program will normally consist of four related courses, approved by the honors committee of the School of Arts and Sciences, two of which will be RELG 403-RELG 404, culminating in an honors thesis. The advisor and two other members of the department will constitute the thesis committee for each thesis and will supervise the required oral defense. Honors will be granted only to those students whose theses meet departmental standards.

Courses

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  • RELG 200 Symbol, Myth and Ritual

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSSA)

    Description

    Introduction to study of religion including, but not limited to, social scientific approaches, focusing on symbols, myths, and rituals as constitutive features of individual and communal religious thought and practice.

  • RELG 201 The Bible as Literature

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)

    Description

    A non-confessional study of the diverse genres of Biblical literature, viewing passages in historical context to understand the multiple layers of the intended message: period about which written, the time of the writer, and the time of the recipient. Within Biblical exegesis, primary emphasis is given to literary and historical criticism.

  • RELG 210 Religion and History

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement FSHT

    Description

    Investigation of the nature and limits of historical inquiry through selected historical topics, periods, and religious traditions. May be repeated when topics change.

  • RELG 230 The History of Israel

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

    Description

    Israel's historical development through collaborative study of Israel's ideas and institutions within context of Ancient Near East.

  • RELG 240 Lost Christianities

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

    Description

    Explores the varieties of Christianity that co-existed from Jesus' death in the middle of the first century through the end of the second century. Included in these are Jewish-Christians, Marcionites, Montanists, and Gnostics. A variety of primary texts in translation will be read to understand better the struggle between forms of early Christianity and the way that one form became dominant and, thus, "orthodox."

  • RELG 241 Introduction to New Testament

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

    Description

    Survey of history of early Christianity, from Jesus and his religious background to the third century C.E. Focus on primary texts: New Testament and other early Christian literature.

  • RELG 242 Jesus in History and Tradition

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

    Description

    Investigates diversity of historical sources for Jesus. Detailed attention to selected ancient documents and modern interpretations.

  • RELG 244 Sex and Family in the Greek and Roman Worlds

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement FSSA

    Description

    Explores intersections of gender with various aspects of social identity in selected religions, with emphasis on theoretical and empirical approaches.

  • RELG 251 Sacred Arts of India

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSVP)

    Description

    Introduction to Indian religions focusing on artistic expressions, roles of yoga and meditation in creativity, and use of images to experience the divine.

  • RELG 253 Body/Sex in World Religious Literature

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)

    Description

    Exploration of theoretical ideas about body and sexuality in world religious literature focusing on connection between sexuality and construction of identity in various religious perspectives.

  • RELG 255 Queers in Religion

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)

    Description

    Introduces the intersections of queerness and religion--ranging from religious homophobia to queer religiosity--in several global religions. Emphasis on fundamental questions of textual interpretation.

  • RELG 257 Native American Religions

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

    Description

    Survey of selected themes in Native American religious history from prehistory through the new millennium. Will investigate development of complex religious traditions among the mound builder cultures of the southeast; rituals of trade, healing, and warfare among the Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples of the northeast; the emergence of native prophets and visionaries who employed religious doctrine and ritual in support of military actions against invading American settlers; and Black Elk and Lakota Catholicism. Concludes with topical discussion of religious challenges facing Indian communities today, including the controversial use of the narcotic peyote in the Native American Church, debates over the status of Indian burial remains and sacred space, and the appropriation of indigenous spirituality by New Age gurus and environmentalists.

  • RELG 258 Religion & the Medieval Imagination

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

    Description

    Introduces ideas and institutions of the Latin west, from Augustine of Hippo (d. 430) to Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274). Topics include faith and reason, the sacraments, pilgrimage,and the ethics of sex, war, and death. Readings of selected cantos from Dante┬┐s Inferno.

  • RELG 263 Religion and the Arts

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSVP)

    Description

    Interactions of religious beliefs and practices with the visual and performing arts in selected traditions. May be repeated when topics change.

  • RELG 267 Varieties of Christian Ethics

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSSA)

    Description

    Historical and contemporary approaches to ethics in the Christian traditions. Authors discussed may include Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and contemporary thinkers on war, abortion, and sexuality.

  • RELG 268 Religion and Literature

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)

    Description

    Religious beliefs, practices, and institutions as expressed in literature of various traditions. May be repeated when topics change.

  • RELG 269 Ethics, Religion and the Environment

    Units: 1

    Description

    Moral and religious issues that attend our life in and interaction with the environment. Through the detailed analysis of text and argument the course seeks to provide an overview of on-going issues and to foster the ability to read and assess arguments from a variety of positions.

  • RELG 273 Witchcraft and Its Interpreters

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

    Description

    Interdisciplinary exploration of witchcraft, popular magic, and demonic possession in early modern England and British North America based on original legal records and other primary sources. Special attention given to the Salem Witch-hunt and the historical methods employed by contemporary scholars.

  • RELG 281 Introduction to Islam

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

    Description

    Introductory course on Islam that examines its development as a religious and social movement from its inception to the contemporary period. Focuses on understanding the historical processes that contributed to the development of Islam over time and in different regions. Traces the intellectual history, institutional evolution, and theological developments of Islam, placing these phenomena in their appropriate historical contexts. Approach is both chronological and topical.

  • RELG 287 Ninety-nine Names of God

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement FSHT

    Description

    A historical approach to the foundational concepts, events, and texts in the Islamic tradition, paying particular attention to the Quran and hadith. The Quran is the Muslim scripture and the hadith are accounts of what the prophet Muhammad said or did. Muhammad described God as having ninety-nine names, and this course explores how these names have been interpreted through reference to the Quran and the corpus of hadith material.

  • RELG 288 Saints and Sinners in Muslim Literature

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)

    Description

    Explores the twin concepts of sainthood and sinfulness in Islamic thought and society from their early iterations to their later developments. Discusses how, when, and why the categories of Sunni, Shi'a, and Sufi developed in the Islamic tradition while introducing their relationships to concepts of sainthood and sinfulness. In the context of discussions about saints and sinners in the Islamic tradition, addresses Muslim understandings of God, humanity, and community and considers how these differ across time and place.

  • RELG 293 Selected Topics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Special course offered at introductory level when sufficient faculty or student interest exists in subject matter not covered in other religion courses. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

  • RELG 294 Selected Topics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Special course offered at introductory level when sufficient faculty or student interest exists in subject matter not covered in other religion courses. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

  • RELG 331 The Hebrew Prophets

    Units: 1

    Description

    Study of prophecy which sets this phenomenon within its ancient near eastern context. Focuses on nature of prophecy and the individual prophets of pre-exilic, exilic, and post-exilic derivation, giving emphasis to the distinctive message of each era. Studies an exegesis of the Book of Amos, both to clarify Amos as a prophet and to give indication of an exegetical approach possible for each of the prophets.

  • RELG 332 Hebrew and Christian Wisdom Literature

    Units: 1

    Description

    Development of biblical wisdom literature. Pre-biblical, Hebrew, and Christian wisdom selections.

  • RELG 342 Whores, Dragons, and the Anti-Christ:Revelation and the Apocalyptic Imagination

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)

    Description

    Literary analysis of a text ascribed to John of Patmos, the Book of Revelation. The apocalyptic revelation that is said to have been received by John describes Christian expectations of the end of the world as we know it, but John's is not the only ancient apocalypse; thus, the course will also situate John's text in light of other developments in Christian apocalyptic literature. Centers on genre analysis and interpretation of apocalyptic imagery and symbolism with some attention to modern, cinematic employment of apocalyptic thought.

  • RELG 345 Christianity and Slavery, Ancient and Modern

    Units: 1

    Description

    Considers the impact of slaveholding culture on Christian thought and practice both in antiquity and in the Americas; also analyzes the circumstances under which individual Christians and church communities accommodated, reformed, resisted, and rejected slaveholding practices.

  • RELG 347 Women in Early Christianity

    Units: 1

    Description

    Examines the representations of women in early Christianity, focusing primarily on the first four centuries of Christian history, with particular attention given to the problems of using ancient sources to determine social practice. Introduction to constructions of sex and gender in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy and medical literature, the role of women in contemporaneous pagan and Jewish cultures, and intra-Christian conflicts involving the role of women, in particular, martyrdom, orthodoxy and heresy, and asceticism.

  • RELG 350 The Dao of Sex

    Units: 1

    Description

    For over two thousand years, Chinese culture has developed the "art of the bedchamber" -- techniques for fostering health, longevity, and fulfillment through sexual intercourse. This course explores that tradition with a focus on the period of its origins in Early China and on the implications of its underlying conceptions of human personhood.

  • RELG 352 Buddhism in India and Tibet

    Units: 1

    Description

    Survey of major historical movements, philosophical developments, and cultural expressions in India and Tibet.

  • RELG 355 Selected Asian Religions

    Units: 1

    Description

    Intensive study of one of the following religious traditions: Daoism, Confucianism, or Zen.

  • RELG 358 Topics in American Religious Traditions

    Units: 1

    Description

    Focused study of a selected topic in American religious history such as the Great Awakening, Indians and missionaries, religious autobiography, or the frontier. Seminar format emphasizing the analysis of primary sources and related methodological issues. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

  • RELG 359 American Judaism

    Units: 1

    Description

    Emphasis on role of Jewish people beginning with their entrance into New Amsterdam in 1654; major immigration periods and precipitating factors; emergence of anti-Jewish reactions; and some contributions of Jews.

  • RELG 366 Buddhist Philosophy

    Units: 1

    Description

    Major Buddhist philosophical developments, beginning in India and culminating in contemporary Zen philosophy.

  • RELG 367 Topics in Western Religious Thought

    Units: 1

    Description

    Selected issues and figures in Western Religious Thought, such as Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, 12th Century Renaissance, Religion and the Sciences, and Medieval Religious Orders. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

  • RELG 369 Problems in Social Ethics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Selected issues of social concern as addressed by various religious traditions in contemporary context. Such topics as sexuality, war, abortion, euthanasia, and environmentalism. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

  • RELG 370 Leadership and Religious Values

    Units: 1

    Description

    (See Leadership 387.)

  • RELG 374 Religion and the American Environment

    Units: 1

    Description

    Advanced seminar course exploring representations of the natural world in American cultural history from the era of contact through the nineteenth century. Readings consist of primary sources--landscape paintings, novels, philosophical treatises, poems, sermons, and travel literature--as well as secondary studies of these works by leading scholars in the fields of Anthropology, Art History, Environmental History, Intellectual/Cultural History, Literature, and Religious Studies. Topics covered may include Native American environmental practices, Puritanism and the concept of "wilderness," the place of nature in early American travel narratives and novels, the Hudson River School of landscape painters, and American Transcendentalism.

  • RELG 375 Cults, Communes and Utopias in Early America

    Units: 1

    Description

    Advanced study of early American sectarian movements, including the 'immortalists' of New England, the Ephrata Cloister, the Mormons, the Shakers, and the Oneida Community, based on their original writings, literature, music, art, and architecture. Participants design and execute a research project based on Boatwright Library's extensive collection of Shaker manuscripts.

  • RELG 385 Sufism: Introduction to Islamic Mysticism

    Units: 1

    Description

    Explores the origins and development of mystical thought within Islamic religious and intellectual history and places these developments in their appropriate historical and social contexts.

  • RELG 388 Individual Internship

    Units: .25-1

    Description

    Application of academic skills and theories in placement supervised by religious studies department faculty member. Application must be presented to and approved by the department prior to internship. No more than 1.5 units of internship in any one department and 3.5 units of internship overall may be counted toward required degree units.

  • RELG 393 Selected Topics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Special course offered when sufficient student interest exists in subject matter not covered in other religious studies courses. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

    Prerequisites

    Permission of instructor.

  • RELG 394 Selected Topics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Special course offered when sufficient student interest exists in subject matter not covered in other religious studies courses. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

    Prerequisites

    Permission of instructor.

  • RELG 395 Independent Study

    Units: .25-1

    Description

    Specialized study to provide maximum freedom in research and investigation.

    Prerequisites

    Permission of instructor.

  • RELG 396 Independent Study

    Units: .25-1

    Description

    Specialized study to provide maximum freedom in research and investigation.

    Prerequisites

    Permission of instructor.

  • RELG 403 Honors Course

    Units: 1

    Description

    Guided, in-depth research, usually beginning in the fall of the senior year and culminating in the oral defense of the honors thesis in the spring, for those accepted in the department honors program. The honors thesis constitutes the senior paper. Those planning to complete coursework in December must make arrangements to complete the honors program in or before the fall of the senior year.

    Prerequisites

    Student must be invited to apply for honors.

  • RELG 404 Honors Course

    Units: 1

    Description

    Guided, in-depth research, usually beginning in the fall of the senior year and culminating in the oral defense of the honors thesis in the spring, for those accepted in the department honors program. The honors thesis constitutes the senior paper. Those planning to complete coursework in December must make arrangements to complete the honors program in or before the fall of the senior year.

    Prerequisites

    Student must be invited to apply for honors.

  • RELG 406 Summer Undergraduate Research

    Units: 0

    Description

    Documentation of the work of students who receive summer fellowships to conduct research [or produce a creative arts project] in the summer. The work must take place over a minimum of 8 weeks, the student must engage in the project full-time (at least 40 hours per week) during this period, and the student must be the recipient of a fellowship through the university. Graded S/U.

    Prerequisites

    Approval for summer Arts and Sciences fellowship by faculty mentor