Teaching Practicum in Religion Studies
For students who are beginning college teaching of religious studies and who wish to develop their teaching skills. Will help teachers in constructing the syllabus, conducting class discussions, designing lectures, getting the most out of student evaluations, using office hours effectively, creating teaching portfolios, working as a teaching assistant, grading, and problem solving around student interactions. Will involve classroom visits and peer critiques, practical exercises and discussion about problems as they arise, so students should only enroll during a semester when they are actually engaged in teaching or assisting.
Foundations in Chinese Religions
Focuses on the major religious and philosophical traditions of China. Special consideration is given to the ethical, religious, and social thought of Confucianism and Daoism. Topics of discussion include: 1) the pre-Han concepts of spirits and gods, 2) classical Confucianism (the "Kung-Meng tradition"), 3) philosophical Daoism (the "Lao-Zhuang tradition"), 4) religious Daoism (including the popular cult of immortality), 5) ideological continuities and transformations in Neo-Confucianism and Neo-Daoism, and 6) religious practices in contemporary China. The approach is both historical and comparative. No knowledge of Chinese is required, as the readings are in translation.
Foundations in Hinduism
Both a historical and thematic survey of Hinduism. Attempts to make clear the structures of Hinduism and to explain its internal coherence as well as its apparent inconsistencies. While recognizing that it is impossible to include everything in the study of a religion which covers a time span of 5,000 years and which has existed over a vast geographical area, this course aims at giving comprehensive coverage of the history, traditions, rituals and theologies of Hinduism.
Foundations in Indian Buddhism
Examines the biographical data (not Buddhology) and philosophical themes in the Majjhima Nikaya and the Digha Nikaya. Studies philosophical themes in early Theravada traditions and selected suttas.
Foundations in Japanese Buddhism
Prepares students to do an in-depth study of Japanese Buddhism, covering several major Buddhist thinkers, such as Kukai, Dogen, Shinran, Myoe, Hakuin, Takuan, and Nishida. In order to understand how Japanese Buddhism accepted Indian and Chinese Mahayana Buddhism, the course traces some of the prominent conceptual frameworks of these two. The methdological orientation of the course is philosophical.
Foundations in Chinese Buddhism
Introduction to the history, doctrines, and practices of Chinese Buddhism. Examines the process through which Buddhism, represented by Hua-yan-zong (Hua-yen) and Chan-zong (Ch'an) has been sinicized and become an integral part of Chinese culture. The fundamental Buddhist doctrines are approached from several points of view (history of religions, philosophy, and literature). The interaction between Daoism and Buddhism, and the Daoist-Buddhist influence on Chinese arts and aesthetics will also be discussed. All readings are in English translation.
Foundations in Christianity
Focuses on both thought (doctrine, theology) and patterns of spiritual life, especially as revealed in Christian devotional "classics." What has been believed, taught and confessed by Christians since the Church's earliest era? How have individuals lived out these teachings, helped to reshape them, and discerned a spiritual life focused on God as known through Jesus Christ? As contemporary persons, how can we read and interrogate as well as appropriate these texts within a religious and cultural world so different from those of the authors? The continuing importance and vitality of these "classics" ─ or their rediscovery after long periods of obscurity ─ is part of the milieu for Christianity in its world context today.
Foundations in Islam
Provides a basic survey of Islam for non-specialists. Includes a historical overview focusing on the relationship of Islam to the world and to other religions and ideologies of ancient, medieval, and modern times. Also considers the major modalities of Islam as a religion, including the legal, spiritual, philosophical, and social aspects. Finally, current issues in Islam will be considered, including modern changes in social organization and present-day politics. Class will meet Muslims in the field. No prerequisites or language requirements.
Foundations in Judaism
Introduction to Jewish history and the diverse faces of Judaism. Students will be exposed to a wide range of Jewish experience from the biblical period to the present. Given the diversity of these experiences, students will be encouraged to develop and articulate their own answer to the question: What is Judaism in various historical, cultural, political, and economic contexts?
Foundations in African Religions
Introduces some of the central aspects of African Traditional Religion(s) presented in selected, influential studies by African scholars of religion. Utilizing interdisciplinary and multi-methodological approaches, examines the profile of religious plurality in Africa
Foundations in Philosophy of Religion
Considers a selection of classical and modern European and American philosophers and the implications of their views for religious thought. Some of those whose writings are considered may include Hume, Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, Kierkegaard, James, Whitehead, Rosenzweig, Gadamer, Ricoeur, Derrida, Irigaray, Habermas, and Foucault. Also may consider non-Western philosophies of religion, for example, those deriving from India or Japan.
Foundations in Religion and the Social Sciences
Introduces students to the discourse of Western social sciences on religion. Examines both modern and postmodern thinkers. Offers extensive readings in Durkheim, Marx and Weber. Then puts these modern theorists into conversation with postmodern critical theory as exemplified by Foucault and Bourdieu.
Foundations in Textual Historical Studies in Religion
Teaches the issues, methods, and trends emerging in the turbulent world of historical studies. Explores the problems, ideological constraints, and new venues that occur when "religion" is introduced to historical studies. Deals with New Historicism, Cultural Materialism, postcolonial theory, various feminisms, the crisis of narrative history, and various approaches now in vogue for reading ancient texts, 1st through 6th century CE and dealing with Graeco-Roman religions, Judaism, and Christianity.
Topics in African Religions
Covers a selected topic or topics in the study of African religions.
Topics in Indian Buddhism
Deals with a selected topic or topics in South Asian Buddhism.
Topics in Japanese Buddhism
Provides an in-depth study of one or more topics in Japanese Buddhism. May cover any of the major Japanese Buddhist thinkers such as Kukai, Dogen, Shinran, Myoe, Hakuin, Takuan, and Nishida. Methodological orientation is philosophical.
Foundations in Modern Jewish Thought
Covers one or more topics in Jewish thought of the past two centuries. May include readings in philosophy, social science, or literature.
Foundations in American Religious History
Covers aspects of the development of religion and religious groups in the United States from the beginning of English colonization in 1607 to the present. Topics covered include the principle of the separation of church and state and its effects, denominationalism, the survival of religious fervor, the apparent competition between religion and secularism, and the changing basis of religious practice and identity through the modern and postmodern transformations of religion.
Foundations in Muslim Jurisprudence
Deals with the principles of Muslims jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh), provides an overview of the scope and character of Muslim law, and delves in depth into one or more areas of the law to give a detailed example of the law's actual working. Includes recent developments.
Foundations in Muslim Philosophy
Gives an overview of Muslim philosophy, both medieval and modern. Major thinkers covered may include al-Kindī, al-Fārābī, Ibn Sīnā' (Avicenna), al-Ghazālī, Ibn Rushd (Averroės), and Mullā Sadrā. Considers the relationship of Muslim to other philosophy.
Foundations in the Qur`an
Textual and methodolgical issues involving the Qur'ān and its interpretation, including attempts to reconstruct the chronology of Sūrahs, the relationship of the Qur'ān to the earlier religions of Judaism and Christianity, and efforts to describe the Qur'ān`s content and message. Consideration of the extensive exegetical literature (tafsīr), including recent efforts at discourse analysis. Knowledge of Arabic not required.
Foundations in Religion and Psychology
Introduces psychological theorizing about the origins, motivations, and aims of religion. Psychological thought will be contextualized, showing how it has been shaped by and in turn reshapes more traditional Western reflection on the nature of persons, symbols, and faith. Simultaneously, psychological perspectives assist Western people to appreciate, interpret, and adapt non-Western forms of religion and practices. In this course, we will read classic theorists, modern revisers, and some recent rethinking and responses to these theorists.
Foundations in Religion and Public Life
Introduces some of the key issues for religion in American public life today: religion and the First Amendment, ethical debates concerning sexuality, religion in popular culture, the relationship between religion and public policy on welfare and education, how religion is portrayed in the media, and American religious pluralism in a global context.
Ecology of African American Religion
Surveys the social history of African American religions, both Christian and non-Christian, including the present time.
Chinese Philosophy and Religion
Introduces Chinese philosophical and religious traditions. Chinese philosophy and religion have a long history, but this course focuses on Pre-Qin moral philosophy (Confucianism and Mohism), Neo-Confucian moral philosophy, the religious aspect of Confucianism, and philosophical and religious Daoism.
Rationality, the Unconscious, and Karma
Examines, from a contemporary philosophical and psychological point of view, why and how the issues of race and ethnicity have surfaced in modern times, while relating the topic to how one understands oneself and one's interpersonal relations with others. These issues will be related to dualism and non-dualism in modern thought and will consider both Asian and European thinkers.
Muslims have devoted their best minds to the understanding and interpretation of the Qur'ān. The main concern of this course therefore will be the rich exegetical tradition of the Qur'ān. Before reading one major sūrah, we shall study the development of the science of exegesis (tafsīr) and its ancillary branches, including the history and varieties of this exegesis down to the present.
Cultural and Religious History of the United States in the 20th Century
Explores the scholarly literature on the history of religion in the United States in the 20th century. Focuses on members of New Religious Movements; on Muslims, Protestants, and Catholics; on race and ethnicity; on diasporas; on gender; and on changing concepts of the nature of "religion."
American Religious History
Discusses and analyzes a selected topic in American religious history.
American Religious History II
Discusses and analyzes a selected topic in American religious history.
Focuses on reform movements within the Catholic Church from the 18th-century Enlightenment forward, concentrating particularly on the most recent times. These reform movements, climaxing in Vatican Council II (1962-1965), constitute a Copernican turn in Catholic history and involve at least five dimensions: 1) the turn toward the historical, 2) the turn toward the world, 3) the turn toward freedom/democracy, 4) the turn toward reform, and 5) the turn toward dialogue. Key thinkers include De Chardin, Küng, Schillebeeckx, Haring, and Ruether.
Examines the Muslim legal prescriptions regarding women and war, the two issues for which Islam is most attacked today both in academia and the media. It will consider both the classical law and recent developments. Special attention will be given to the question of flexibility versus rigidity in the law, as well as to the type of society envisioned by the proponents of different interpretations. Current trends and possible future outcomes will be considered. The changing status and role of the religious responsum or fatwa will be probed as well, leading to a discussion of the development of religious authority in Islam.
Topics in Islamic History
Offers one of several topics in classical Muslim history, including the life of the Prophet Muhammad, the early development of the political system and Muslim law, and Muslim theories of history.
Modern Trends in Islam
Deals with developments in Islam mostly in the last two centuries. Themes includes early modern reform movements, the European colonial occupation of most Muslim lands, the struggle against colonialism, spiritual renewal and political revival, the status of Sufism, the contested issues of women and anticolonial warfare, the multifaceted meanings of "democracy," and contemporary reinterpretations of sacred texts.
Examines the sources, rise and development of Muslim spirituality. The ideal of life and worship in Islam will be studied as the framework for Muslim mysticism. Then the development of spiritual life and thought will be examined, and especially the contribution of noted individuals. Finally, Sufi orders and their role in the life of Muslim society will be considered.
African Ideas of God
Introduces the conception of God in African traditional spirituality and the implications of such a "theology" on African understanding of humanity. Explores African creation myths, the names and attributes of God in African languages, what people expect from God, and what God expects from people. In doing this, we will address African ethics or the conception of good and evil among Africans. The relationship of African concepts of God with Islam and Christianity will also be discussed, including the beliefs of African practicioners of those religions.
Examines religious motifs, symbols, and paradigms in slave narratives, novels of slavery, and selected readings from influential historical representatives of two hundred and forty-six years of slavocracy in the United States of America (1619-1865).
Topics in Biblical Studies
Research and discussion on a selected topic or topics in the biblical studies, including either the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, or both, as well as a consideration of the relationship of that literature to other writings, including the apocryphal and pseudepigraphic.
Sources of Race, Gender, Class and Ethnicity in Ancient Near East
Explores the ancient Near Eastern origins of diversity and religious nationalism in terms of race, gender, class, and ethnicity.
The Letters of Paul
Examines all the letters of Paul critically, looking at how the rhetorical, social/cultural, and religious tensions unique to Paul are explicit and implicit in the letters. Also looks at the new secondary literature on Paul, delving into the issues in Paul's letters that still perplex and fascinate scholars.
Africana Philosophical Thought
Explores a variety of philosophical and metaphilosophical problems in recent African philosophy through an examination of the treatment of the concept of "invention" in the work of several influential philosophers and social theorists.
Foucault in Africana Thought
Examines the two classic phases of Foucault's thought, archaeological and genealogical, and explores the impact they have had on the construction of race, gender, sexual orientation, disciplinarity, secularization, and politics as configured in Africana thought.
Explores problems of identity and liberation; anxiety and dread; irony and social paradox; subjectivity and historical imposition; and nihilism and struggle for meaning in the context of literature produced by the African diaspora on the subject. Writers include Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Frantz Fanon, Toni Morrison, Cornel West, Deotis Roberts, Steve Biko, Noel Manganyi, P. Mabogo More, and Lewis R. Gordon.
Religion and Philosophy
Introduces selected thinkers and topics in philosophy of religion. May include European, American, and non-western thinkers. Topics may include postmodern thinking in philosophy of religion and religious thought, linguistic analysis, hermeneutics, deconstruction, critical theory, historical genealogy, and feminist critique.
Religion and Contemporary Thought
Focuses on changes in the position of religion in society in the last sixty years. Considers recent social commentators, the postmodern condition of society, and the relationship of these to religion.
Contemporary Ethical Thinkers
Explores the postmodern and postcolonial (neocolonial) condition. Takes a largely critical attitude toward the new construction of everyday human life. Assumes that we humans are both social and religious in our "nature."
The History of Ethics
Focuses on the four main figures of Christian tradition in the West: Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin. Includes reading of original texts in English translation. Also includes modern works by Troeltsch and Weber.
Investigates the theoretical issues that underlie all interreligious dialogue as well as examples of actual dialogue in progress, the latter partly according to student interest in those dialogues. The former will include analyses of what precisely is meant by dialogue and of the philosophical, theological, religious, psychological, "spirituality," and "praxis" aspects of interreligious dialogue, in other words, the presuppostions and implications of such dialogue.
Preliminary Examination Prep
Methodological Options in the Study of Religion
Focuses on one of the currently available methodologies used in academic discourses on religion, enabling the students to evaluate this methodology and compare and contrast it with others.
Issues in Theology
Deals with one or more issues in modern and/or contemporary religious theology.
Holocaust and Representation
Building on works by Saul Friedlander, Sidra Ezrahi, James Young, and others, this course raises questions about what it means to represent and re-member the Holocaust, focusing on issues of the aesthetic, memory, and the labor of representation. What do art, film, and literature enable in relation to legacies of communal destruction and trauma, and what do they foreclose? Other topics will include: the construction of historical narratives (whose stories? whose texts?), the art of fascism, nazi culture, and questions about the ongoing labor of memory, testimony, and artistic production.
Special Topics in Religion
A series of special topics in the field of religion, including some of those taught by visiting faculty. Content will vary from semester to semester. Specifics will appear in department course description booklet each semester.
Christology in the Ancient Church
Explores the emergent ambiguities with regard to the identity of Jesus Christ during the 2nd through the 4th centuries. In order to understand the common person's view of Christ, we shall read apocryphal acts, lives of saints, sayings of the desert mothers, sayings of the desert fathers, and martyrologies. In addition, we shall examine primary texts of authors known as the Fathers, such as Tertullian, Irenaeus of Lyon, Melito of Sardis, Origen, Eusebius, Basil of Caesarea, Macrina, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianus. One of the goals is to understand the debates and differences with the context of institutional monastic and ecclesiastical growth.
Preparation for Doctoral Exams