A comparative study of some of the basic patterns of religion. The course will focus upon such themes as religious experience, myths of creation, stories of religious founders and heroes, the origin and resolution of human suffering, and the structure and meaning of religious community and ritual. Source material for these themes will be taken from the literary and artistic resources of the following religious traditions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV or INT.
An examination of primitive Christianity as witnessed by the writings of the New Testament. Emphasis will be given to the literary and historical analysis of the Gospels and Epistles and to an understanding of the pre-Christian and non-Christian religions of the Hellenistic world. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: W.
In this class, we examine female deities and apparitions of the Virgin Mary historically depicted as dark-skinned, placing particular emphasis on the role color has played in defining their attributes, relationships with religious practitioners, and ethnic or racial identities. Among the goddesses to be discussed are the Egyptian Isis, Hindu Kali, Taiwanese Mazu, Tibetan Tara, Haitian Ezili Dantor, and Yoruba Yemonja; Black Madonnas to be analyzed include the Catalan Montserrat, Polish Częstochowa, and Mexican Guadalupe.
An introduction to China’s three major religions—Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism—through the reading of classic texts. Also, a look at important elements in Chinese folk religion: ancestor worship, temples, heavens and hells, and forms of divination. Special attention will be paid to the importance of government in Chinese religious thought and to continuity and change in the history of Chinese religion.Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW.
An examination of the process of moral reasoning and its relationship to religious belief. Emphasis will be given to the analysis of issues that have drawn the special attention of religious ethicists; among these are abortion, stem cell research, the treatment of congenitally impaired newborns, same-sex marriage, and physician-assisted suicide. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV.
A survey of religion in North America from the Civil War to the present. We'll examine the plight of immigrants in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, discuss how urbanization and industrialization recast social norms, gender roles, and religious ideology, and chart the emergence of evangelicalism as a political movement late in the twentieth century. Dist: TMV; WCult: W.
Can significant distinctions be drawn between religious and magical ritual? Do magic and religion thrive in opposition to the science of their time or in congruence with it? The course addresses such theoretical questions in the study of religion from perspectives of history, philosophy of science, anthropology, and cognitive science. The course will suggest a general theory of conditions under which religion tends to be or tends not to be magical. Students will be invited to challenge that theory. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
This course examines attitudes toward non-human animals (and their attitudes toward us), with an emphasis on spirituality and ethics. Interdisciplinary interpretations are highlighted: documentaries, art, poetry, children's literature, and classics of theological literature (the sermons of Meister Eckhard and the Life of St. Francis). Issues to be considered include: dominion theology, cloning, euthanasia, companion animals, and hunting. What is a theology of creatureliness? Can and should the lion ever lie down with the lamb? And where might we be in that picture? DIST: TMV; WCult: W.
A study of the advent of Buddhism in China, its accommodating yet transforming response to Chinese traditions and values, the emergence of the authentically Chinese schools of T’ien-T’ai, Hua-yen, Ch’an, and Pure Land Buddhism, and the enduring Bud-dhist heritage of China. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW.
This class explores a range of religious approaches and traditional therapeutic responses to bodily suffering, with an eye towards examining the way medical cultures reflect and construct religious identity. Most examples of healing practices to be discussed are drawn from religious communities and ethnic groups active in the contemporary United States. While addressing such topical issues as reproduction, sexuality, substance abuse, and dieting, the course also analyzes the taboos, values, and rituals of Western biomedicine. Dist: INT, SOC; WCult: CI.
A survey of the history and theology of Mormonism, the largest and most successful religious tradition indigenous to America. We'll examine the origins of the movement, read extensive selections from the Book of Mormon, and look at some of the cultural expressions of Mormonism. We'll chart, finally, Mormonism's remarkable transition from a persecuted minority religion in the nineteenth century to the embodiment of American ideals. Dist: TMV; WCult: W.
As a culminating activity for senior majors, this colloquium serves as a forum for researching and writing the Senior Essay. Two faculty members convene the colloquium and guide the selection of essay topics. Other faculty and guest speakers may visit during the first five weeks of the term for discussion of common readings. The 25-page Senior Essay is expected (1) to display expertise in at least one cultural area, historical period, methodological approach, or body of literature, (2) to build upon previous course preparation, and (3) to engage with one of several approaches or readings discussed in the colloquium. Students who choose to enroll in Religion 84 or Religion 86 and 87 as their Culminating Experience are normally expected to participate in the Senior Colloquium but are excused from the writing component. Prerequisite: Religion 1. Open only to senior majors. Dist: TMV.
Last Updated: 5/29/13