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Classes Offered

Fall 2017

RELS 1002: Judaism, Christianity and Islam: the Abrahamic Religions

Dr. A. Treiger
MW 10:05-11:25

This course serves as a comparative and thematic introduction to the history, beliefs, and practices of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

RELS 1200/ CLAS 1100/2100 X/Y: Gods, Heroes, and Monsters: Ancient Mythology

MWF: 2:35-3:25

An introductory survey of the traditional religious narratives of ancient civilizations including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Rome. Of special interest: the function of myth in shaping and expressing a culture's understanding of the divine, the institutions of human community (religion, the family, government), and the natural world; the interrelationships of the myths of those civilizations; the reception of those traditions in the origins of Christian and Islamic culture. The traditional narratives and their broader cultural contexts will be approached through study of primary sources including epic, tragic, and didactic poetry, hymnography, historiography, philosophy, the visual arts, and architecture. This course fulfills the first year writing requirement.
NOTES: Students taking this course must register in both X and Y in consecutive terms; credit will be given only if both are completed consecutively.

Meets Writing Requirement.

RELS 2011: Hinduism

Dr. C. Austin
TR: 3:35-4:55

A basic introduction to Hinduism, including Vedic religion, classical Brahmanical religion, the caste system, bhakti (devotional) traditions and the rise of epic literature, philosophical traditions and the Upanishads, the theistic traditions of the gods Vishnu and Shiva, and of the goddess Devi.

RELS 2012/ CHIN 2060: Chinese and Japanese Religions

Dr. C. Austin
TR 10:05-11:25

An introduction to the cultural, religious, and philosophical traditions of China and Japan. Topics to be covered include: Classical Confucianism, Neo-Confucianism, Philosophical and Religious Daoism, Shinto, Chinese and Japanese Buddhism. The course will also examine the interaction, competition, and overlap between these traditions.

RELS 2205/ PHIL 2205: Philosophy of Religion

Dr. A. Fenton
MW 2:35-3:55

The philosophical exploration of the nature and function of religious faith, belief, and practice. Topics typically include: relations between religion and morals; the existence of divinity/divinities; problems of evil; the nature and significance of religious experiences.

RELS 2291/ SOSA 2291 X/Y: Goblins, Ghosts, Gods, Gurus

Dr. C. Helland
MW 1:05-2:25

RELS 3009: Christianity in the Lands of Islam

Dr. A. Treiger
W 11:35-2:25

After the Islamic conquest of the Middle East in the seventh century, approximately half of the world’s Christians found themselves under Islamic rule. The course tells the story of these Christians, their religious practices, their literatures, written in Greek, Arabic, Syriac, and Coptic, and their complex relations with the Muslims from the seventh century until today.

RELS 3101: The Self and the World in Indian Story

Dr. C. Austin
F 9:35-12:25

Through a close reading of narrative and other forms of story literature, this course explores the twin themes, fundamental to all South Asian religions, of renouncing and embracing the world. Reading materials will draw from Hindu, Indian Buddhist, Jain and Sikh narrative literature, and will reflect a range of religious attitudes towards engaged worldly life within the family and society, and the pursuit of personal liberation through asceticism, renunciation and monasticism.

RELS 3200/ HSTC 3200/ EMSP 3330/ HIST 3075: Science and Religion: Historical Perspectives

Dr. S. Snobelen
TR 4:05-5:25

Beginning with an overview of the history and methodology of the study of science and religion, encounters between science and religion are traced from the dawn of civilization to the end of the eighteenth century, with a special focus on the early modern period. From an examination of the biblical view of nature, ancient Babylonian astrology and divination and Plato's Timaeus, this course moves through a treatment of the centrality of theology to Medieval science on to natural theology and the “Watchmaker” Design Argument of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Models of conflict, harmony and complementarity offered to characterize relations between science and religion are explored through case studies such as Galileo’s controversy with the Church and instances where religious belief inspired scientists like Boyle and Newton. Claims that certain confessional traditions (notably Protestantism and its dissenting offshoots) facilitated the rise of modern science are also appraised. Science-religion relations are examined both from the standpoint of mainstream religion and with respect to religious heterodoxy, prophecy, alchemy, magic and witchcraft. This course employs examples from Islamic cultures in addition to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Special features include a focus on primary texts and guest lectures by scientists.

RELS 3250/ EMSP 3250: Atheism in Early Modern Europe

TR 2:35-3:55

Although atheism continues to be a source of controversy and debate, one of the most significant features of the modern world is the extent to which religious unbelief has become accepted as a morally and intellectually defensible position. This course will seek to understand the rise of modern atheism by examining its origins in the Early Modern world.

RELS 3662/ CLAS 3662: Hellenistic Philosophy: II

Dr. M. Fournier
Tues 2:35-5:25

A study of philosophy in the Hellenistic Age. We will investigate the development of Greek and Roman Philosophy, focusing on Pyrrhonian and Academic Scepticism, as well as Middle Platonism. The course covers the logic, physics, and ethics of these philosophical schools, as well as their religious dimension.

RELS 4018/ CLAS 4018/ CLAS 5818: John of Damascus

Dr. A. Treiger
F 11:35-2:25

John of Damascus (d. 749) is one of the greatest Christian theologians of the Patristic age. Though he wrote in Greek, he was a Christian Arab (his Arabic name is Mansur ibn Sarjun), who lived under Muslim rule and was employed as a public official in the Umayyad administration in Damascus. The course will focus on his theological works (especially his summa of Christian theology, entitled On the Orthodox Faith, and his three treatises in defence of the icons), their Christian sources, and their Islamic context.

 

Winter 2018

RELS 1001: Religions of the East

Dr. C. Austin
TR 10:05-11:25

This course serves as an introduction to the history, beliefs, and practices of Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Daoism, Shinto, and Confucianism.

RELS 1200/ CLAS 1100/2100 X/Y: Gods, Heroes, and Monsters: Ancient Mythology

MWF: 2:35-3:25

An introductory survey of the traditional religious narratives of ancient civilizations including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Rome. Of special interest: the function of myth in shaping and expressing a culture's understanding of the divine, the institutions of human community (religion, the family, government), and the natural world; the interrelationships of the myths of those civilizations; the reception of those traditions in the origins of Christian and Islamic culture. The traditional narratives and their broader cultural contexts will be approached through study of primary sources including epic, tragic, and didactic poetry, hymnography, historiography, philosophy, the visual arts, and architecture. This course fulfills the first year writing requirement.
NOTES: Students taking this course must register in both X and Y in consecutive terms; credit will be given only if both are completed consecutively.

Meets Writing Requirement.

RELS 2003: Islam

Dr. A. Treiger
TR 2:35-3:55

An introduction to Muslim beliefs, practices, history and writings from the 7th century to the present. Topics to be covered include: the life and mission of Muhammad, the Qur'an, the Islamic legal, philosophical, and mystical tradition, the development of the Hadith, and the rise of political Islam in the twentieth century.

RELS 2013/ CHIN 2070: Buddhism

Dr. C. Austin
TR 1:05-2:25

This course introduces the student to the Buddhist religious tradition, beginning with its origins and early developments in India and followed by a treatment of key themes of later world Buddhism such as meditation, devotion, monasticism, and ritual. The course thus exposes students to both Buddhism's early Indian doctrinal and institutional dimensions, and to aspects of Buddhism as practiced subsequently in China, Japan, and Tibet.

RELS 2052/ ARBC 2100: A Cultural Introduction to the Arab World

Dr. D. Firanescu
TR 5:35-6:55

This course provides students with the basic tools for approaching the Arab world from a cultural perspective. The main topics are: 1) the guide marks of Arabic history; 2) a civilization "of the Word": the Arabic language, the Koran, the Tradition of the Prophet Mohammed, and the sciences related to the Islamic Law (shari'a); 3) the Arabic legacy in sciences, philosophy, literature, architecture, calligraphy, decoration, etc; 4) multi-cultural Al-Andalus and the ideal of 'convivencia'; 5) present nostalgia for the past; 6) tradition, modernity and effects of 'Globalization' in the contemporary Arabic "high culture" and "pop culture": in literature, music, arts, cinema, life style, education system, media, etc. Some lectures will be accompanied by audio-visual presentations including documentary films. The course does not require background in Arabic.

RELS 2291/ SOSA 2291 X/Y: Goblins, Ghosts, Gods, Gurus

Dr. C. Helland
MW 1:05-2:25

RELS 2366/ CLAS 2366/ PHIL 2366: Gods, Beasts, and Political Animal

Dr. E. Diamond
MWF 1:35-2:25

We will study some of the most important Platonic dialogues and Aristotelian treatises, to understand the supremely influential views of Plato and Aristotle on divinity, nature, the human, and political community. We will examine the rejection of Platonic-Aristotelian idealism by Stoic, Epicurean and Skeptical schools. Subjects treated include ethics, politics, metaphysics, logic, aesthetics, and psychology.

RELS 2420/ GWST 2420/ EMSP 2320: Witchcraft

Dr. K. Morris
M 6:35-9:25

The period of European history from 1500 to 1800 saw the rise of modern science and philosophy. It was also a period in which thousands of witch trials and executions were carried out. This course will seek to understand how these seemingly contradictory developments could have occurred simultaneously. The course will examine changing conceptions of the witch and witchcraft in their historical, intellectual, cultural, religious, and political contexts. Questions that will be addressed include: How did the Renaissance interest in magic influence the Early Modern understanding of witchcraft? What impact did concerns about popular religion have on the witch trials? What constituted evidence that someone was a witch? What did Early Modern scientists think about witchcraft? The course will pay special attention to Early Modern notions of gender and sexuality and their influence on the witch hunts and witch trials.

RELS 3008/ HIST 3002: The Medieval Church

Dr. C. Neville
Tues 2:35-5:25

This course does not attempt to provide a chronological survey of the development of the Western church, but is an advanced seminar dealing with topics which have no strict chronological limits. Subjects of study include monasticism, heresy, education and the universities, town and cathedral, lay-clerical conflict, and “popular” concepts of religion. Each year one or more topics are examined in detail, with the help of original documents in translation, and using recent periodical literature and/or monographs. Students prepare and present one or two well-researched papers, and class discussions are used to explore related materials and readings in greater depth. Some prior knowledge of medieval European history is essential. 

RELS 3012: Mystics of the Middle East

Dr. A. Treiger
W 11:35-2:35

The course is designed as an introduction to mystical dimensions of Islamic thought and practice in their historical development and in relation to Jewish and Christian mysticism in the Middle East. Topics to be covered include: Middle Eastern Christian mysticism, the beginnings of the Sufi tradition in relation to other varieties of Middle Eastern mysticism, orthodoxy and heresy in early Sufism, stations and states on the Sufi path, Sufism and philosophy in interaction, Sufi orders, Sufi poetry as vehicle of mystical experience.

RELS 3201/ HSTC 3201/ CTMP 3201/ HIST 3076: Science and Religion: Contemporary Perspectives

Dr. S. Snobelen
TR 4:05-5:25

Beginning with an overview of the history and methodology of the study of science and religion, encounters between science and religion are traced from the dawn of civilization to the end of the eighteenth century, with a special focus on the early modern period. From an examination of the biblical view of nature, ancient Babylonian astrology and divination and Plato's Timaeus, this course moves through a treatment of the centrality of theology to Medieval science on to natural theology and the “Watchmaker” Design Argument of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Models of conflict, harmony and complementarity offered to characterize relations between science and religion are explored through case studies such as Galileo’s controversy with the Church and instances where religious belief inspired scientists like Boyle and Newton. Claims that certain confessional traditions (notably Protestantism and its dissenting offshoots) facilitated the rise of modern science are also appraised. Science-religion relations are examined both from the standpoint of mainstream religion and with respect to religious heterodoxy, prophecy, alchemy, magic and witchcraft. This course employs examples from Islamic cultures in addition to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Special features include a focus on primary texts and guest lectures by scientists.

RELS 3413/ CLAS 3413/ CLAS 5070: Augustine's Confessions

W 19:05-21:55

A study of the 13 books of Augustine's Confessions.