Fall 2023 Religious Studies Courses

Electives & General Education

Leadership Ethics: Early China (RELG 205, FSLT)
TR 12:00–1:15 (01); 1:30–2:45 (02)
Jane Geaney

Two questions lie at the heart of classical Chinese texts: how to live and how to lead. This course explores moral visions of life and leadership composed in China two millennia ago and still influencing China’s leaders today—from the uniquely Chinese “Non-Action” method to Chinese Virtue Ethics, Consequentialism, and Divine Command Theory. Topics include Confucian, Daoist, Legalist, and Mohist treatment of Heaven’s Mandate and the ancestral Dao, as well as Sunzi’s Art of War, and contemporary Chinese Social Justice Leadership and Transformational Leadership.

Introduction to Hebrew Bible (RELG 210)
MW 12:00-1:15 (01); 1:30-2:45 (02)
Rhiannon Graybill

In The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood calls the Bible an “incendiary device.” In this class, we will explore what it means to read the dangerous, fascinating, and beautiful book known as the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Our emphasis will be on the literary and historical interpretation of biblical texts, but we will also explore other methods, including archaeology, myth and folklore criticism, and feminist and queer criticism. We will also study the sociocultural world of the Bible, the composition and canonization of texts, and problems of interpretation. Key texts will include the Genesis creation stories, the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the patriarchs and matriarchs, slavery and exodus from Egypt, the promise of the “Promised Land,” the rise and fall of King David, the suffering of Job, and the poetry of the Song of Songs. 

Islam and Film (RELG 215, FSVP, GSCP)
MW 9:00–10:15 (01); 10:30–11:45 (02)
Mimi Hanaoka

How have Islam and Muslims been depicted and represented in documentaries and films? This course explores Islam through documentaries and films, and the approach of this course is thematic, using three primary themes to guide our exploration: ritual, gender, and race. We will ask these sorts of questions: What is the role of ritual in Islam? How have Islam and Muslims been represented in
cinema in terms of ritual, gender, and race? What are the historical contexts that have framed these understandings of ritual, gender, and race in Islam?

Introduction to New Testament (RELG 241, FSHT)
TR 12:00–1:15 (01); 1:30–2:45 (02)
Stephanie Cobb

What does it mean to worship a man who was summarily executed as a political insurgent by the Roman government?
Why would anyone devote themselves to a dead man?
Introduction to New Testament investigates these questions and more through a study of the earliest Christian literature—the literature that makes the first claims about what it means to be a follower of a crucified criminal. The New Testament is not just a set of religious texts, it also contains political critiques about power, authority, justice, and society. This course highlights the political nature of these texts in their original historical, social, and cultural context within the Roman empire. It also explores ways these texts have informed political debates in U.S. history.

Varieties of Christian Ethics (RELG 267, FSSA)
MW 12:00–1:15
Scott Davis

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.


Religious Studies Seminars

Truth, Justice, and the American Way (Of Doing Philosophy) (RELG 367)
MW 1:30–2:45
Scott Davis

Co-taught with Professor David Lefkowitz (Philosophy), this course considers the Pragmatism of Peirce, James, and Dewey as a distinctly American approach to philosophy, with important implications for ethics, law, and political theory.


Courses for First-Year Students

Tolkien & the Medieval Imagination (FYS 100-03)
MWF 10:30–11:20
Scott Davis

Before he was known for his fiction, J. R. R. Tolkien was recognized as an important student of medieval English language and literature.  This course combines Tolkien’s work as a scholar with his literary work to get a sense of how each informed the other.