This course offers an introduction to Judaism by examining three of its central spiritual manifestations: (1) development, observance, and study of the Halaka (religious law); (2) philosophical contemplation; and (3) mystical experience and theosophical speculation. Ancient and modern challenges to the tradition will be studied in some detail, and an attempt will be made to determine what might constitute a unity of such a diverse tradition. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: W.
An introductory survey of the Hindu religious tradition of South Asia from 1500 B.C.E. down to the present day. Emphasis will be given to the historical development of elite, Sanskritic Hinduism and its constant interaction with popular and local traditions. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW.
This course examines the diversity of Indigenous African Religions, their cosmologies, histories, ritual structures, and their relationships to other aspects of African cultures. Of particular importance will be ideas of gendered spiritual power, the spread of African-inspired religions to the Americas, and the nature of orally transmitted religious traditions. Conversion to Islam and Christianity and reconversion from these religions will also be studied. Finally, we examine the impact of globalization on Indigenous African Religions. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW.
In all the attention focused on Islam at present, a newspaper reader could be forgiven for supposing that between Muhammad and Usamah bin Laden, there has been no change in Islam. This course surveys developments in Islamic religious history, thought, and practice since 1800, with special emphasis on topics of current controversy, including the status of women, the nature of government, and the place of Islamic law. Readings will be mostly from primary texts written by contemporary Muslims, both modernists and Islamists.Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW.
This course examines the role of racial, ethnic, and religious conflict in the crea5on and par55on of the Sudan. Drawing on anthropological, historical, religious, poli5cal, and literary texts, we address the complex issues surrounding the crea5on of a country divided between a Muslim, Arab-.‐oriented North and an African tradi5onalist or Chris5an South, the series of civil wars, Darfur, and the par55on. Of par5cular importance will be the different statuses of women in the North and South. Open to All. Dist: INT/SOC; WCult: NW.
This course will focus on how concepts of woman and gender have shaped meanings of religious and national lives and communities for Jews and Muslims in a variety of regions of the world and historical periods. We will survey variations in gender with attention to historical and cultural specificities and examine both religious traditions in tandem. We will study a variety of sources to gain a sense of the many ways each religion expresses itself: anthropological, historical, theological, scholarly analyses, religious texts and commentaries, literary and political writings, and films. We will consider the different ways in which contemporary thinkers and activists ground themselves differently in this historical heritage to constitute contesting subject positions regarding gender and the politics of religious and national identity formation today. We will explore the ways in which Muslim and Jewish women seek to exercise different forms of agency both in opposition to socio-religious prescriptions as well as from within and in dynamic interaction with normative religious, cultural, and political boundaries which themselves are constantly in flux. This course does not presuppose any background in Judaism, Islam, or feminist theory. Dist: TMV; WCult: CI.
The course is conducted through close reading and discussion of works by Spinoza, Buber, and Levinas that translate insights from the Jewish experience to the idiom of modern European culture and, in so doing, make unique contributions to such subjects of modern religious thought as: God and infinity; religion, morality, and politics; autonomy and transcendence; and the role of Jewish intellectuals in the modern era. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: W.
An introduction to Sufism, using primary texts, films, and recordings. The course will first trace the development of Sufism, including its Christian and Hindu heritage. Then, using a Sufi manual of instruction, students will work their way through one influential approach to Sufi metaphysics. Finally, using films and recordings, the class will consider the rituals, practices, and role of the Sufi orders of Islam in Islamic history. Desirable background: Religion 1, 8, or another College course on Islam or Islamicate culture, or permission of the instructor. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW.
A study of the thought, writings, and influence of Søren Kierkegaard, who is widely acknowledged to be the founding figure of existentialism. The course will examine the development of Kierkegaard’s philosophical and religious thinking and will follow its influence on both religious and non-religious thinkers, including Martin Buber, Reinhold Niebuhr, Jean Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: W.
This course examines Korean Christians' beliefs and practices, which have shaped and brought tensions to current socio-religious phenomena. Topics include the Korean origins of Christianity, the encounter between Catholicism and Neo-Confucianism in the eighteenth century, Protestant missionaries' role in medicine and education, the rise of nationalism and Christianity under Japanese colonialism, churches in North Korea, Pentecostalism under South Korea's rapid industrialization and democratization, Korean missionaries around the world, and Christian musicians and entertainers in Korea, as well as the interface between gender and Korean Christian culture. Dist: TMV, WCult: NW, Major Dist: AALAC
This course begins with the first spiritual autobiography in the West, Augustine's Confessions, as a standpoint from which to compare and contrast other spiritual journeys. Topics subsequently to be studied include excerpts of personal accounts about experiential faith; a panoramic overview of conversion narratives, among them African American, Native American and Muslim; and contextual information about the historical development of these various religious perspectives. Students will engage in journaling. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: CI.
This course will use both elite and popular Hindu religious texts in conjunction with contemporary sociological and anthropological accounts, scholarly analyses, visual art, and film to explore the diverse identities and roles of India's many goddesses, both ancient and modern. Special emphasis will also be given to the relationship between goddesses and women. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW.
Last Updated: 10/15/13