Below is a list of available courses offered by the Religious Studies Department. Consult the Registrar’s Office and the College Catalog for registration information.
RELG 111 - HEBREW BIBLE/OLD TESTAMENT
A study of the growth of Israel's literature and religion, seen against the background of her history from 2000 to 165 B.C.E. The course includes discussion of the early traditions and legends of Israel, the historical narratives, the role of the prophets, and the wisdom writings. Hours credit: 3.
RELG 112 - NEW TESTAMENT
A scholarly analysis of the literature of the early Christian movement, emphasizing its provenance in provincial Palestinian culture of the first two centuries CE. Students will study and employ the established strategies for ascertaining the origin, configuration, relations, life-setting, aims, and concerns of the New Testament writings. Topics include the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, beliefs and practices of the early Christian communities, first century Christian diversity, early Jewish-Christian relations, the ministry and theology of Paul, the rise of orthodoxy, and canon-formation. Some attention will be paid to non-canonical texts. Hours credit: 3.
RELG 147 - RELIGIONS OF ASIA
This course provides a thematic and historical overview of Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Shinto in the three cultural regions of India, China, and Japan. Focusing on the major themes of each religion, students examine how some traditions developed in dialogue with each other, while others crystallized into distinct traditions in reaction to each other. Hours credit: 3.
RELG 148 - TIBET:RELIGION IN THE LAND OF SNOWS
This course surveys religious practices and beliefs on the Tibetan Plateau. Using both thematic and historical approaches, students examine how the interaction of folk beliefs, Buddhism, and the native Bon religion led to the creation of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan practices of monasticism, pilgrimage, meditative techniques, writing, and death rituals will also be discussed. Hours credit: 3.
RELG 168 - DEATH, DYING, AND OTHER OPPORTUNITIES
What happens after we die? Is death an end, an interruption, or a beginning? How should the living relate to the dead? This course explores several Asian religions' answers to these questions. By surveying a variety of beliefs, rituals, and cultural practices about death and the afterlife, this course demonstrates how views about death intimately shape our understanding of life. Hours credit: 3.0. Alternate years.
RELG 183 - FAITH AND DOUBT
Is 'faith' a desperate pitch to gain influence over a world only partly intelligible to mind and ill-suited to the human need for security? Is it a by-product of fear, guilt, resentment, or a primitive stage in human intellectual development? Is it immoral? Is it coherent? Can it be rational? This course investigates several significant instances of "doubt" as representative of four general approaches to the critique of theistic belief. Attention will be given to the faith(s) that inspire such critiques, repercussions for believers, and some responses and strategies of response to these critiques. Identical with Philosophy 183. Hours credit: 3.
RELG 218 - BUDDHISM IN FILM
This course explores the themes and treatment of Buddhism through international cinema. Hours credit: 3. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of the instructor. Rotating.
RELG 237 - THE CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM
A thematic survey of the principal religious traditions of the 'West', to wit, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The course emphasizes the logic internal to each 'tradition' and studies the sundry resources upon which each relies for the construction and interpretation of meaning, authority, moral insight, and religious practice. Students will further seek to ascertain each tradition's account of the divine identity, the nature of the cosmos, human community, and the individual's residence therein. Hours credit: 3. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
RELG 238 - NO GOD BUT ALLAH
What is Islam? Concerned about shari'a? In love with Rumi? Angry with Orientalists? An introduction to the symbolic world and enduring venture of 'Islam,' to the shared grounds of all subsequent historical expressions of Islam and to alternative paradigms of authority and interpretation that underlie the historically and culturally diverse expressions of Islam. Readings from the Qur'an, Rumi, Edward Said, Tayeb Salih, Ziauddin Sardar, Fatima Mernissi, and others. Hours credit: 3.0. Prerequisites: sophomore standing or permission of the instructor. Alternate years.
RELG 248 - BHAKTI TO BOLLYWOOD
This course uses narratives from fiction and film to examine the currents, concerns, and conflicts of Hinduism as it is practiced in the contemporary world. Topics to be examined include caste and class, brahmanical and renouncer traditions, religious pluralism, women and gender, diaspora, and the continuing relevance of the great epics such as the Ramayana. Hours credit: 3. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of the instructor.
RELG 261 - FAITH AND FILM
Studies the emergence of "the religious" via the intersection of filmic 'texts,' graphic texts, and disciplined conversation. Students will examine filmic representations of religious phenomena, using film as an occasion for theological reflection on the religious contents imaged therein. The course will further use film to open up a discursive space wherein to think critically about religious desire and imagination. This will occasion more general reflection on the nature of filmic representation or the relation between the medium and the message. Films include Winter Light. Babette's Feast, Breaking the Waves, and The Quarrel (among others). Hours credit: 3. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of the instructor. Offered alternate years.
RELG 267 - BUDDHIST SAINTS
This course critically examines the phenomenon of sainthood in Buddhism, paying particular attention to the practices of writing, about both self and other, in Buddhists contexts. Beginning with life stories of Buddha Shakyamuni, students use a selection of translated Buddhist auto/biographies as lenses through which to examine what is considered an exemplary "Buddhist" life. Hours credit: 3. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of the instructor. Rotating.
RELG 268 - GENDERING ENLIGHTENMENT
The historian Caroline Walker Bynum wrote, "Religious experience is the experience of men and women, and in no known society is this experience the same." Taking this claim as our point of departure, this interdisciplinary course uses scholarship from the fields of religious studies, anthropology, and gender studies to examine both philosophical conceptions of gender and the status of historical women in the Buddhist cultures of India, Tibet, East Asia, and the United States. Hours credit: 3.0. Prerequisites: sophomore standing or permission of the instructor. Alternate years.
RELG 270 - BUDDHISM
This course provides an historical overview of the various forms of Buddhism-Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, and Vajrayana Buddhism-and their manifestations in the cultures of India, China, Japan, Tibet, and America. Analyzing the internal logic of this religious tradition, this class will explore the construction of meaning, value, and moral vision within each form of Buddhism. Hours credit: 3. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of the instructor.
RELG 272 - REPRESENTATIVE CHRISTIAN THINKERS
An examination of such leading Christian theologians as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Kierkegaard. The individuals considered are representative of major concerns in the Christian theological tradition. They are considered against their background and in the light of their influence upon the history of Christian thought. Hours credit: 3. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of the instructor.
RELG 275 - PHILOSOPHIES OF RELIGION
A study of chiefly modern and postmodern reflection belonging to the sub-discipline Philosophy of Religion, centering on epochal transformations in the philosophical analysis of religions. Areas of study include the existence of god(s), phenomenologies of religious experience, analyses of the relation between faith and reason, religion and sex, religion and gender, religion and violence, the analysis of religious discourse, and the death of god. Identical with PHIL 275. Hours credit: 3. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
RELG 289 - INDEPENDENT STUDY
RELG 301 - IMMORTAL LONGINGS: FORM MYSTICAL CONSCIO
A close study of the plural formations of mystical consciousness in world religious traditions. Students will approach 'mysticism' as part and parcel of broader historical, cultural, institutional, and textual settings, paying particular attention to conceptual underpinnings, the role of language in pursuit of union or co-presence, interactions with the 'mainstream,' and the cultivation of somatic and ecstatic experiences, among other matters. What precisely do we mean by 'mysticism'? Is it more than a scholarly fiction for assessing religious texts and practices that bypass 'company' gatekeepers? Is it an inevitable corollary of institutionalization and 'stifling the Spirit'? What did Meister Eckhart mean when he said: "I pray God that he rid me of God"? Come see. Hours credit: 3. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of the instructor.
RELG 302 - LIBERATING THEOLOGIES
"When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises" (Archbishop Oscar Romero). This course investigates multiple formulations of the so-called 'theology of liberation' in primarily Latin American contexts. Special focus on the relation between theory and praxis, modes of economic and social analysis, (re)constructions of God, and theological/political models of solidarity with and empowerment of 'disenfranchised' persons and communities. Hours credit: 3. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
RELG 315 - RELIGION AND FICTION
Studies the way(s) in which modern literature articulates intrinsically religious question, to wit, questions concerning the relation between human nature and spirit, the signification of suffering and evil, the human desire for wholeness and completion, and the human need for rootedness in a symbolic order of meaning. Some the fictionists studied write texts intended to reflect their religious traditions (e.g. Flannery O'Conner, Elie Wiesel). Others interweave different traditions to create more idiosyncratic expressions of a religious life (e.g. N. Scott Momaday, Annie Dillard). Still others craft "secular" narratives that nevertheless raise questions with religious implication (e.g. Milan Kundera, Toni Morrison). This course affords the opportunity to study some of these fictionists and other interpreters and theorists of religion. Hours credit: 3. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of the instructor. Offered alternate years.
RELG 317 - TOPICS IN MOD/CON RELIGIOUS THOUGHT
A seminar on a topic in modern and contemporary religious thought. Topics vary from year to year. Hours credit: 3. Prerequisite: open to sophomores with permission of the instructor. May be repeated for credit when topic differs.
RELG 390 - INDEPENDENT STUDY
RELG 493 - SEMINAR
Preparation by each student of a research paper on a subject approved by the Department; faculty supervision through individual conferences. Hours credit: 2. Prerequisite: permission of the Department.
RELG 494 - SEMINAR
A supervised reading program designed to meet the student's special interests and, to some extent, to supplement and integrate the student's knowledge of the major field. Discussion meetings of students and staff will be scheduled. Hours credit: 2. Prerequisite: permission of the Department.
RELG 497H - DEPARTMENTAL HONORS
RELG 498H - DEPARTMENTAL HONORS