Course offerings for the Spring 2010 semester
REL 110 The Nature of Religion
01 M, Th 11:10a - 12:25p Rhodes (205W)
02 Tu, F 11:10a - 12:25p Troy (205W)
51 M, W 8:25p - 9:40p Adluri (206W)
This introductory course considers what is distinctively religious about religions. Using a combination of in depth case study and cross-cultural comparison, it introduces the student to recurrent themes, forms and structures of religion, considering such topics as: the nature of myth and ritual; sacred time and sacred space; gods, spirits and ancestors; as well as the roles of shaman, prophet, and priest.
REL 111 Approaches to Religion
01 Tu, F 8:10a - 9:25a Finn (205W)
02 M, Th 9:45a - 11:00a Raver (206W)
51 Tu, Th 8:25p - 9:40p O'Neil (206W)
A modern critical study of religion using a variety of methods to further understand the meaning and function of religion in personal and social life. Approaches and readings from philosophy, psychology, the arts, history, sociology and anthropology.
REL 204 Religious Experience
01 Tu, W, F 9:10a - 10:00a Tirana (206W)
What is "religious" experience? In what various ways is it manifested? How does it affect people and religious traditions? Most readings concern the experiences of individuals and communities, and include Australian, Native American and Islamic rituals, The Epic of Gilgamesh, biblical narratives, the Enlightenment of the Buddha, accounts by mystics, and Etty Hillesum's An Interrupted Life.
REL 205 Faith and Disbelief
01 Tu, F 11:10a - 12:25a Sproul (206W)
An examination of questions raised in religious faith and in disbelief, concentrating particularly on the challenge to religion made by existentialism. Among the authors to be read are both critics and defenders of religion: Camus, Buber, Kierkegaard, Teilhard de Chardin, Sartre, Nietzsche, Tillich, and Bonhoffer.
REL 251 Eastern Religions
51 M, W 7:00p - 8:15p Adluri (206W)
We will study some fundamental teachings of three major Eastern "wisdom traditions" -- Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Although each of these traditions is unique, certain common themes run through them. We will explore these as they concern ideas of God and man, reality and being, as well as the means and goal of liberation. In doing this, we shall also be investigating the nature of religion itself, seeing what it is, how it develops and functions, and what it means to various peoples.
REL 252 Ancient Near Eastern Religions
51 Tu, Th 8:25p - 9:40p Raver (205W)
This course is a survey of the basic history and of the most significant aspects of the religions of the major Near Eastern peoples in the Bronze Age (8000BCE-3000 BCE), including the Egyptians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Hittites, Canaanites, and Israelites. The magnificent civilizations that they built had an enormous influence on subsequent human culture. This course is based on primary material, of both archeological and literary natures, and will discuss the most important texts produced by religious and secular sources.
REL 256 Afro-Caribbean Religions
01 M, Th 9:45a - 11:00a Vega (205W)
This course is a survey of some of the most salient forms of African-based religions in the Caribbean and South America, and in New York City. The course will include some consideration of the transformations that have occurred in the journey of the belief systems from Africa to the New World, but the focus of the course will be on the integrity of the Afro-Caribbean forms of religion. The course will include not only attention to beliefs, but to art and ritual forms in which these religions have expressed themselves. In addition, the course will raise the question of the ongoing appeal of these religions.
REL 262.55 Religions of Ancient Central and South America
01 M, W, Th 11:10a - 12:00p Raver (206W)
The socio-cultural landscape of the western hemisphere prior to European contact was one characterized by diversity as well as overarching cosmological concepts that we can call religious traditions. This class will be exploring those religious traditions with regards to how these cultures shared similar concepts and how they differed. While regions in this part of the world shared certain attributes, many questions remain as to the degree to which distinct areas interacted and how the level of interaction and exchange of ideas affected their particular worldviews. We will look at the two great traditions known as the Mesoamerican and Andean traditions through a variety of interpretive lenses: archaeology, anthropology, political economy, ecology and art history. We will be utilizing these disciplines to construct a framework with which we can thereby place our own questions. We will also address the modern manifestations of these traditions in the various forms that they have taken on today.
REL 270 Psychology & Religion
01 Tu, F 2:10p - 3:25p Haltenberger (205W)
"Every statement about God is a statement about the human person, and every statement about the human is a statement about God." This course will examine the complementarity between religion and psychology in many aspects of the human person through the media of selected text, film, and story.
REL 307 Religious Ideas in Literature
51 M, W 5:35p - 6:50p Staff (206W)
Storytelling has been a nurturing and necessary activity of the human species, and a primary medium for conveying religious inquiry and insight. Through careful reading, discussion, and student essays, this class will consider the inquiry into key religious issues--e.g., the human condition and possibilities of transformation, divine justice, the sacred and society, alienation and meaning--in novels, short stories, and plays by authors such as Dostoyevsky, Unamuno, Camus, Lagerkvist, Malamud, Baldwin, O'Connor, Endo, and Atwood. (Auditors require permission of the instructor to register.)
REL 308 Religion and the Arts
01 M, W, Th 12:10p - 1:00p Raver (206W)
The arts have always been a medium for transforming spiritual beliefs, from prehistoric figurines to William Blake’s mystical paintings. Even in today’s society, the arts serve as a vehicle for religious expression, reflecting not only the individual’s experience with the sacred but society’s view of what art constitutes and how religion should be depicted. But how did we get to this point? We shall examine the relationship between religion and sculpture, painting, dance, theater, decorative arts, music and, finally, photography and film from a chronological and cross-cultural perspective.
REL 309 The Religious Meaning of Sex and Love
01 M, Th 4:10p - 5:25p Long (206W)
Sex remains one of the great powers in human life to which religion has not been indifferent. This cross-cultural and interdisciplinary course asks about the relation between the religious and the erotic, inquiring into such issues as: what lies behind speaking of the gods as sexual and/or loving; what lies behind speaking of faith as a matter of 'loving' God; what rationales underlie the various religious codes of sexual ethics? In short, what are the connections among the love of God, the love for God, and sexual love between human beings--in both historical and contemporary religion?
REL 310 Religious Meaning of Death
01 M, Th 1:10p - 2:25p Long (206W)
The fact of death is at the center of the study of religion. The meaning one gives to death often determines the direction of one's life. This course will explore the various meanings which different cultures in different historical periods have discovered in the reality of death. Attention will also be given to contemporary formulations. Material studied will be cross-cultural and interdisciplinary. Discussion will center on the assigned readings.
REL 311 Women and Religion
01 Tu, W, F 10:10a - 11:00a Tirana (206W)
The focus is on contemporary feminist theologies. Feminist students of religion contend that male-defined traditions have set the patterns of religious and societal life, without adequate attention to women's experiences, insights or participation. The course focuses mainly on the traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (some other traditions are included and welcome from the class), and explores the what and why of patriarchy, the power of symbols, feminist sources and methods for doing theology, as women reclaim their traditions or envision new ones, with new models for the sacred, the self and society.
REL 313 Spirit and Nature
01 Tu, F 3:45p - 5:00p Venable (205W)
The religious traditions of the world give expression to--and are frequently the supports for--many of our attitudes towards the natural world; both conscious and unconscious. The religious traditions treated in the course are chosen to present a typology of the different ways religions have conceptualized and thereby evaluated nature and animal life; whether, for example, the human is conceptualized as being kin to nature (as among Australian Aborigines and Native Americas), or part of nature (e.g., Taoism and Buddhism), or indeed "above" nature (e.g., the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). At the same time, the course is rounded out by an exploration of religious grounds for and against vegetarianism.
REL 320 Hinduism
01 M, Th 1:10p - 2:25p Rhodes (205W)
A study of the nature of Hinduism and its development, literature, philosophy, and religious practices. Readings in such traditional texts as the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita, as well as in modern texts,will explore Hinduism's understanding of God, human beings, the feminine principle, society and community, time and history, and we shall study how these understandings develop from 2000 BCE to the 21st century.
REL 322 Islam
51 Tu, Th 7:00p - 8:15p Breiner (205W)
An introduction to the major concepts, practices, and texts of Islam, as well as an examination of the life and faith of the prophet Mohammed. A study of Islam's origin in its own socio-cultural framework, its ideologies, ethos, and ethics, as well as its adaptive changes and reinterpretations in the course of history including its status in the modern world as one of the most populous and wide-spread religions
REL 323 Christianity
01 M, Th 2:45p - 4:00p Long (206W)
An upper level introduction to the liturgical, doctrinal, and spiritual heritage of the various forms of Christianity.
REL 330 New Testament Religion
01 Tu, F 2:10p - 3:25p Sproul (206W)
A scholarly consideration of the religion of the New Testament and earliest Christianity. Examination of the theological interest of the authors of the books of the New Testament in order to consider the major facets of New Testament religion: the mystery of Jesus Christ, Paul's mission and message, ethics, the relation to the Law of Judaism, salvation theology, and apocalyptic thinking. Reading in the New Testament and secondary sources.
REL 335 Myth and Ritual
01 Tu, F 12:45p - 2:00p Sproul (206W)
What does a ritual do for its practitioners? How does it do it? What does the recitation of a myth do for people? Does a ritual or myth bring or express the infinite to its participants? What is the relationship of ritual or mythical events to people’s ordinary lives? The course, which assumes a working knowledge of more than one religious tradition, will look at rituals and myths from a variety of traditions including our own “secular” life. Focusing on the motifs of “heroes” and “goddesses,” we will identify and explore patterns of ritual/mythical life, and ask of their philosophical, social, psychological and theological significance.
REL 366 Zen
51 Tu, Th 5:35p - 6:50 Nordstrom (205W)
An inquiry into the complex nature of Zen--thought by some as the essence of Buddhism, by others as a Buddhist-Daoist hybrid-- this course focuses on the intellectual difficulties in understanding a teaching which represents itself as "beyond words and phrases."
REL 337 Sufism
01 T, F 12:45p - 2:00p Hunsberger (205W)
Within the Muslim community, Sufism has been alternatively regaled as being profoundly un-Islamic and hailed as the completion of the Straight Path which is Islam, by supplementing right action and belief with matters of the heart. While considering the origins of Sufism within Islam, this course concentrates on Sufism in its integrity, focusing on the nature of Sufi path, its historical transformations, and its theological-doctrinal and metaphysic underpinnings. Thus, the course offers the student an opportunity to explore the continuities of Sufism with more conventional forms of Islam as well as its innovativeness, but importantly concentrates on an 'appreciation' of the Sufi path in its own right.
REL 361.51 Religion and Film
51 F 3:45p - 6:15p Bruinius (205W)
Film is one of the most popular forms of literature in contemporary society. This course will explore the relationship between Religion and Film. As a class we will examine how film makers use religion to convey their points of view, as well as examining how western religions (Judaism/Christianity/Islam) use film technology for propagating faith.
REL 361.55 Religion and Science
01 Tu, F 3:45p - 5:00p Haltenberger (206W)
An exploration of the ways in which Science and Religion have related historically as well as in modern times. As a class we will agree on a definition of both Science and Religion and work to discover their place in the human experience both historically and in modern times, exploring the relation between Science and Religion historically, theoretically, philosophically, and theologically.
REL 362.50 Religion and the Body
51 Tu, Th 5:35p - 6:50p O'Neil (206W)
While discourse about the body and things associated therewith figures highly in the language of traditional spiritual traditions we call religion, it is only recently that scholars have been paying attention to how the body really figures into religious thinking and practice. In fact, religious belief is frequently expressed in a variety of attitudes and practices directed towards one's body--while how one relates to and lives one's embodiment is a major indicator of the meaning of religious belief. This course attempts to survey some of the major ways scholars have begun to explore the role of the body and discourse about the body in religious faith and practice.
REL 410 Independent Study in Religion (1, 2, 3 cr.)
HRSTBA Staff (Permission Prof. Sproul required)
REL 450.58 Honors Seminar in Religion
01 W 4:10p - 6:50p Sproul (1241W)
REL 490 Honors Tutorial in Religion (3, 6 cr.)
HRSTBA Staff (Permission of Prof. Sproul required)