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Courses

The religious studies department's course offerings cover a broad spectrum of global traditions and employ a variety of methods. Religion always requires interpretation. Through fascinating course materials, our department trains you to recognize and emulate standard scholarly methods for interpreting religion.

Depending on the academic training and interest of the instructor, courses in the religion department also introduce you to a number of other disciplines, including history, psychology, sociology, anthropology and philosophy. Many courses in the department incorporate into the study of religion the fundamentals of feminist theory, structuralism, queer theory, post-modernism and post-colonialism.

Religion courses are typically small, which offers you a chance to develop your abilities to articulate and defend your viewpoints. Our department also provides extensive opportunities for you to improve your analytic skills through writing.

Click here for the upcoming course offerings.

Course offerings are subject to change based on enrollment. BannerWeb is always the most accurate and up-to-date place for students to find course offerings for the upcoming semester.

Courses
RELG 200 Symbol, Myth and Ritual
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSSA)
Description
Introduction to study of religion including, but not limited to, social scientific approaches, focusing on symbols, myths, and rituals as constitutive features of individual and communal religious thought and practice.

RELG 201 The Bible as Literature
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)
Description
A non-confessional study of the diverse genres of Biblical literature, viewing passages in historical context to understand the multiple layers of the intended message: period about which written, the time of the writer, and the time of the recipient. Within Biblical exegesis, primary emphasis is given to literary and historical criticism.

RELG 204 Choral Music and Creed
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSVP)
Description
(See Music 204.)

RELG 210 Religion and History
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement FSHT
Description
Investigation of the nature and limits of historical inquiry through selected historical topics, periods, and religious traditions. May be repeated when topics change.

RELG 230 The History of Israel
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)
Description
Israel's historical development through collaborative study of Israel's ideas and institutions within context of Ancient Near East.

RELG 232 Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
Units: 1
Description
A study of the language of the Hebrew Bible. Using a grammar, will study the uniqueness of the Hebrew language as an eastern structure with its nominal and verbal structure. Goal is to enable student to write an effective exegesis of a Biblical passage. Requires strong student participation. Grade based on classroom participation and the exegetical paper.

RELG 240 Lost Christianities
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)
Description
Explores the varieties of Christianity that co-existed from Jesus' death in the middle of the first century through the end of the second century. Included in these are Jewish-Christians, Marcionites, Montanists, and Gnostics. A variety of primary texts in translation will be read to understand better the struggle between forms of early Christianity and the way that one form became dominant and, thus, "orthodox."

RELG 241 Introduction to New Testament
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)
Description
Survey of history of early Christianity, from Jesus and his religious background to the third century C.E. Focus on primary texts: New Testament and other early Christian literature.

RELG 242 Jesus in History and Tradition
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)
Description
Investigates diversity of historical sources for Jesus. Detailed attention to selected ancient documents and modern interpretations.

RELG 243 Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Units: 1
Description
Religious and philosophical movements, besides Christianity, that flourished in Mediterranean world 200 B.C.E. to 200 C.E. Focus on "Greco-Roman" religions, Judaism, and Gnosticism.

RELG 244 Sex and Family in the Greek and Roman Worlds
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement FSSA
Description
Explores intersections of gender with various aspects of social identity in selected religions, with emphasis on theoretical and empirical approaches.

RELG 250 Introduction to World Religions
Units: 1
Description
Survey of major beliefs, practices, symbols, and sacred texts in selected religious traditions.

RELG 251 Sacred Arts of India
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSVP)
Description
Introduction to Indian religions focusing on artistic expressions, roles of yoga and meditation in creativity, and use of images to experience the divine.

RELG 253 Body/Sex in World Religious Literature
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)
Description
Exploration of theoretical ideas about body and sexuality in world religious literature focusing on connection between sexuality and construction of identity in various religious perspectives.

RELG 255 Queers in Religion
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)
Description
Introduces the intersections of queerness and religion--ranging from religious homophobia to queer religiosity--in several global religions. Emphasis on fundamental questions of textual interpretation.

RELG 257 Native American Religions
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)
Description
Survey of selected themes in Native American religious history from prehistory through the new millennium. Will investigate development of complex religious traditions among the mound builder cultures of the southeast; rituals of trade, healing, and warfare among the Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples of the northeast; the emergence of native prophets and visionaries who employed religious doctrine and ritual in support of military actions against invading American settlers; and Black Elk and Lakota Catholicism. Concludes with topical discussion of religious challenges facing Indian communities today, including the controversial use of the narcotic peyote in the Native American Church, debates over the status of Indian burial remains and sacred space, and the appropriation of indigenous spirituality by New Age gurus and environmentalists.

RELG 258 Medieval Religious Thought
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)
Description
History of European religious thought in the Middle Ages through reading and analysis of primary texts in translation, supplemented by interpretive materials drawn from secondary literature.

RELG 259 Orientalism, Racism, and Religion
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement FSLT
Description
Artistic fascination with "the exotic Orient" (the Western perception of Asian culture as mysterious, static, and passive). Focus on film and literature, with attention to the contributing role of religion.

RELG 260 History of Judaism
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)
Description
Study of Judaism, which begins with the Babylonian Exile and the emergence of Torah. Focuses briefly on beliefs and practices of Judaism. Reviews various historical periods from Judaism's emergence to the modern era aided by a series of films, "Heritage: Civilization and the Jews." Considerable attention given to the historic relationship between Judaism and Christianity.

RELG 262 Sacred Arts of Native America
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSVP)
Description
Introduction to a variety of sacred arts of Native America and religious roles that visual and performing arts serve in Amerindian settings. Students will gain conversance with a range of artistic techniques, materials, and objects and their cultural meanings.

RELG 263 Religion and the Arts
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSVP)
Description
Interactions of religious beliefs and practices with the visual and performing arts in selected traditions.

RELG 265 Religion and Moral Decisions
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSSA)
Description
Role of religion in shaping individual and social moral practices and beliefs. Emphasis given to role of social scientific theories and methods in interpretation of beliefs and institutions.

RELG 267 Varieties of Christian Ethics
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSSA)
Description
Historical and contemporary approaches to ethics in the Christian traditions. Authors discussed may include Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and contemporary thinkers on war, abortion, and sexuality.

RELG 268 Religion and Literature
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)
Description
Religious beliefs, practices, and institutions as expressed in literature of various traditions.

RELG 269 Ethics, Religion and the Environment
Units: 1
Description
Moral and religious issues that attend our life in and interaction with the environment. Through the detailed analysis of text and argument the course seeks to provide an overview of on-going issues and to foster the ability to read and assess arguments from a variety of positions.

RELG 273 Witchcraft and Its Interpreters
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)
Description
Interdisciplinary exploration of witchcraft, popular magic, and demonic possession in early modern England and British North America based on original legal records and other primary sources. Special attention given to the Salem Witch-hunt and the historical methods employed by contemporary scholars.

RELG 281 Introduction to Islam
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)
Description
Introductory course on Islam that examines its development as a religious and social movement from its inception to the contemporary period. Focuses on understanding the historical processes that contributed to the development of Islam over time and in different regions. Traces the intellectual history, institutional evolution, and theological developments of Islam, placing these phenomena in their appropriate historical contexts. Approach is both chronological and topical.

RELG 287 Ninety-nine Names of God
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement FSHT
Description
A historical approach to the foundational concepts, events, and texts in the Islamic tradition, paying particular attention to the Quran and hadith. The Quran is the Muslim scripture and the hadith are accounts of what the prophet Muhammad said or did. Muhammad described God as having ninety-nine names, and this course explores how these names have been interpreted through reference to the Quran and the corpus of hadith material.

RELG 288 Saints and Sinners in Muslim Literature
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)
Description
Explores the twin concepts of sainthood and sinfulness in Islamic thought and society from their early iterations to their later developments. Discusses how, when, and why the categories of Sunni, Shi'a, and Sufi developed in the Islamic tradition while introducing their relationships to concepts of sainthood and sinfulness. In the context of discussions about saints and sinners in the Islamic tradition, addresses Muslim understandings of God, humanity, and community and considers how these differ across time and place.

RELG 293 Selected Topics
Units: 1
Description
Special course offered at introductory level when sufficient faculty or student interest exists in subject matter not covered in other religion courses. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

RELG 294 Selected Topics
Units: 1
Description
Special course offered at introductory level when sufficient faculty or student interest exists in subject matter not covered in other religion courses. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

RELG 331 The Hebrew Prophets
Units: 1
Description
Study of prophecy which sets this phenomenon within its ancient near eastern context. Focuses on nature of prophecy and the individual prophets of pre-exilic, exilic, and post-exilic derivation, giving emphasis to the distinctive message of each era. Studies an exegesis of the Book of Amos, both to clarify Amos as a prophet and to give indication of an exegetical approach possible for each of the prophets.

RELG 332 Hebrew and Christian Wisdom Literature
Units: 1
Description
Development of biblical wisdom literature. Pre-biblical, Hebrew, and Christian wisdom selections.

RELG 341 Peter, Paul, [Mary] and Mary
Units: 1
Description
Explores the lives and traditions of some of the most significant and intriguing characters in early Christian history.

RELG 342 Whores, Dragons, and the Anti-Christ:Revelation and the Apocalyptic Imagination
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)
Description
Literary analysis of a text ascribed to John of Patmos, the Book of Revelation. The apocalyptic revelation that is said to have been received by John describes Christian expectations of the end of the world as we know it, but John's is not the only ancient apocalypse; thus, the course will also situate John's text in light of other developments in Christian apocalyptic literature. Centers on genre analysis and interpretation of apocalyptic imagery and symbolism with some attention to modern, cinematic employment of apocalyptic thought.

RELG 344 Early Christianity and Social Identity
Units: 1
Description
Analyzes constructions of early Christian identities as they intersect with other social identities (e.g., social status, race/ethnicity, family, gender); the role of violence in constructing identities; and emergence of new forms of social identity (e.g., monasticism). The timeframe extends from first-century Pauline communities until late antiquity.

RELG 345 Christianity and Slavery, Ancient and Modern
Units: 1
Description
Considers the impact of slaveholding culture on Christian thought and practice both in antiquity and in the Americas; also analyzes the circumstances under which individual Christians and church communities accommodated, reformed, resisted, and rejected slaveholding practices.

RELG 347 Women in Early Christianity
Units: 1
Description
Examines the representations of women in early Christianity, focusing primarily on the first four centuries of Christian history, with particular attention given to the problems of using ancient sources to determine social practice. Introduction to constructions of sex and gender in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy and medical literature, the role of women in contemporaneous pagan and Jewish cultures, and intra-Christian conflicts involving the role of women, in particular, martyrdom, orthodoxy and heresy, and asceticism.

RELG 350 The Dao of Sex
Units: 1
Description
For over two thousand years, Chinese culture has developed the "art of the bedchamber" -- techniques for fostering health, longevity, and fulfillment through sexual intercourse. This course explores that tradition with a focus on the period of its origins in Early China and on the implications of its underlying conceptions of human personhood.

RELG 352 Buddhism in India and Tibet
Units: 1
Description
Survey of major historical movements, philosophical developments, and cultural expressions in India and Tibet.

RELG 355 Selected Asian Religions
Units: 1
Description
Intensive study of one of the following religious traditions: Daoism, Confucianism, or Zen.

RELG 356 Religious Thought of the Renaissance and Reformation
Units: 1
Description
Investigates the varieties of religious thought from the 14th to the early 17th centuries, with an emphasis on ideas and arguments in their social and intellectual context.
Prerequisites
Religion 258 or permission of instructor.

RELG 358 Topics in American Religious Traditions
Units: 1
Description
Focused study of a selected topic in American religious history such as the Great Awakening, Indians and missionaries, religious autobiography, or the frontier. Seminar format emphasizing the analysis of primary sources and related methodological issues. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

RELG 359 American Judaism
Units: 1
Description
Emphasis on role of Jewish people beginning with their entrance into New Amsterdam in 1654; major immigration periods and precipitating factors; emergence of anti-Jewish reactions; and some contributions of Jews.

RELG 360 Goddess Traditions Ancient and Modern
Units: 1
Description
Survey of major prehistoric and historical goddesses and exploration of contemporary relevance of goddess spirituality.

RELG 362 Religion and Its Critics
Units: 1
Description
Selected topics and authors in European thought from the 17th century to the 21st. Topics include religion and the rise of science, theism and atheism, evolution, and the "neo-orthodoxy" of Karl Barth.

RELG 364 Religion and Psychology
Units: 1
Description
(See Psychology 351.)

RELG 365 Philosophical Problems in Comparative Religion
Units: 1
Description
Examination of philosophical problems in cross-cultural communication, particularly translation, rationality and relativism. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

RELG 366 Buddhist Philosophy
Units: 1
Description
Major Buddhist philosophical developments, beginning in India and culminating in contemporary Zen philosophy.

RELG 367 Topics in Western Religious Thought
Units: 1
Description
Selected issues and figures in Western Religious Thought, such as Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, 12th Century Renaissance, Religion and the Sciences, and Medieval Religious Orders. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

RELG 369 Problems in Social Ethics
Units: 1
Description
Selected issues of social concern as addressed by various religious traditions in contemporary context. Such topics as sexuality, war, abortion, euthanasia, and environmentalism. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

RELG 370 Leadership and Religious Values
Units: 1
Description
(See Leadership 387.)

RELG 374 Religion and the American Environment
Units: 1
Description
Advanced seminar course exploring representations of the natural world in American cultural history from the era of contact through the nineteenth century. Readings consist of primary sources--landscape paintings, novels, philosophical treatises, poems, sermons, and travel literature--as well as secondary studies of these works by leading scholars in the fields of Anthropology, Art History, Environmental History, Intellectual/Cultural History, Literature, and Religious Studies. Topics covered may include Native American environmental practices, Puritanism and the concept of "wilderness," the place of nature in early American travel narratives and novels, the Hudson River School of landscape painters, and American Transcendentalism.

RELG 375 Cults, Communes and Utopias in Early America
Units: 1
Description
Advanced study of early American sectarian movements, including the 'immortalists' of New England, the Ephrata Cloister, the Mormons, the Shakers, and the Oneida Community, based on their original writings, literature, music, art, and architecture. Participants design and execute a research project based on Boatwright Library's extensive collection of Shaker manuscripts.

RELG 385 Sufism: Introduction to Islamic Mysticism
Units: 1
Description
Explores the origins and development of mystical thought within Islamic religious and intellectual history and places these developments in their appropriate historical and social contexts.

RELG 388 Individual Internship
Units: .25-1
Description
Application of academic skills and theories in placement supervised by religious studies department faculty member. Application must be presented to and approved by the department prior to internship. No more than 1.5 units of internship in any one department and 3.5 units of internship overall may be counted toward required degree units.

RELG 393 Selected Topics
Units: 1
Description
Special course offered when sufficient student interest exists in subject matter not covered in other religious studies courses. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
Prerequisites
Permission of instructor.

RELG 394 Selected Topics
Units: 1
Description
Special course offered when sufficient student interest exists in subject matter not covered in other religious studies courses. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.
Prerequisites
Permission of instructor.

RELG 395 Independent Study
Units: .25-1
Description
Specialized study to provide maximum freedom in research and investigation.
Prerequisites
Permission of instructor.

RELG 396 Independent Study
Units: .25-1
Description
Specialized study to provide maximum freedom in research and investigation.
Prerequisites
Permission of instructor.

RELG 401 Majors Colloquium
Units: 1
Description
Senior religious studies majors and members of the department will meet to discuss ongoing research projects, including issues of theory, method, sources, and critical analysis, leading to the senior paper. Offered in the spring only.
Prerequisites
Religion 400.

RELG 403 Honors Course
Units: 1
Description
Guided, in-depth research, usually beginning in the fall of the senior year and culminating in the oral defense of the honors thesis in the spring, for those accepted in the department honors program. The honors thesis constitutes the senior paper. Those planning to complete coursework in December must make arrangements to complete the honors program in or before the fall of the senior year.
Prerequisites
Student must be invited to apply for honors.

RELG 404 Honors Course
Units: 1
Description
Guided, in-depth research, usually beginning in the fall of the senior year and culminating in the oral defense of the honors thesis in the spring, for those accepted in the department honors program. The honors thesis constitutes the senior paper. Those planning to complete coursework in December must make arrangements to complete the honors program in or before the fall of the senior year.
Prerequisites
Student must be invited to apply for honors.

RELG 406 Summer Undergraduate Research
Units: 0
Description
Documentation of the work of students who receive summer fellowships to conduct research [or produce a creative arts project] in the summer. The work must take place over a minimum of 8 weeks, the student must engage in the project full-time (at least 40 hours per week) during this period, and the student must be the recipient of a fellowship through the university. Graded S/U.
Prerequisites
Approval for summer Arts and Sciences fellowship by faculty mentor