Archive of Spring 2015

Displaying Courses 1 - 8 of 8
Spring 2015

Main Religious Studies Courses

Religious Studies 90 B Introduction to Religious Studies
  • TuTh 11:00-12:30
  • A. Dubilet
  • 101 Barker
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 77603

What do we mean when we say “the secular” or “secularism”? To some, these terms signify the very possibility of religious freedom accomplished through modern political frameworks, with connotations of tolerance and neutrality. Others have questioned the supposed neutrality of secularism, seeing in it a political doctrine aligned with modern state power that both defines and regulates what “religion” means, all too often using a rubric that in an unacknowledged way defines religion through categories of Protestant Christianity (private, faith-centered, etc.) This class will look at the way “secularism” and “religion” have become contested sites across a wide-array of disciplines (religious studies, anthropology, political theory, literary studies, regional studies). As we will see, how exactly one understands the nature and scope of those concepts has direct effects for a variety of important topics, such as temporality, bodily life, hermeneutics, sexuality, and ethics, among others. The class will first critically explore the notions of the “secular” and “secularism” (part I), before more explicitly moving to the concept of “religion” (part II). In part II, we will ask to what extent the very concept of “religion” is tied in with question of politics and modernity, and will trace some of the historical sources of its production. In the second half of the course, we will see how these terms function in particular case studies (part III). During the second half, for example, we will look at the so-called headscarf affair in France and the women’s piety movement in Egypt – to explore two cases in which subjectivity, bodies, sexuality and ethics all become centrally at stake at the intersection of “secularism” and “religion.”


Religious Studies C 104 P Babylonian Religion
  • TuTh 2:00-3:30
  • N. Veldhuis
  • 60 Barrows
  • 3 Units
  • Class Number: 77618

In this course we will read and discuss a variety of mythological texts, songs, rituals, and omen texts from ancient Babylonia. How did ancient Babylonians deal with their gods, what did their temples look like and what was going on in those temples? All texts are read in English translation.

Religious Studies C 135 Jewish Civilization: Modern Period
  • TuTh 11:00-12:30
  • J. Efron
  • 123 Wheeler
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 77624

This is the fourth course in a four-course sequence in the history of Jewish culture and civilization. It explores the major themes in Jewish history from 1750 to the present, with special attention paid to the transformation of Jewish communal and individual identity in the modern world. Topics to be treated include the breakdown of traditional society, enlightenment and emancipation, assimilation, Hasidism, racial anti-Semitism, colonialism, Zionism, and contemporary Jewish life in Europe, North America, and Israel. The multicultural nature of Jewish history will be highlighted throughout the course through the treatment of non-European Jewish narratives alongside the more familiar Ashkenazi perspective. 

Religious Studies 190 Religion and Music
  • TuTh 9:30-11:00
  • C. Hirschkind
  • 101 Moffitt
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 77638

In this course, we will explore the place of music and musical practice across a wide variety of religious contexts—from indigenous traditions of Africa and the Americas, to Buddhism and Hinduism, to the Abrahamic monotheisms. Drawing from both historical and contemporary sources, the course will examine such questions as: How have religious traditions used acoustic and musical metaphors for the elaboration of distinct concepts of transcendence, divinity, or cosmology? What forms of knowledge and agency is ascribed to the performance and audition of music within different traditions? What forms of sensory attunement does religious listening require across these traditions? How does the spread of popular, mass-mediated forms of religious music impact on the role ascribed to music by different religions? 


Religious Studies 190 Orientalism and Esoterism in American Popular Culture
  • TuTh 2:00-3:30
  • L. Little
  • 310 Hearst Mining
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 77363

This methodology course explores Orientalism and notions of representation and authenticity through a historical survey of American pop-cultural portrayals of religion that fetishize “the East,” as esoteric and exotic. This class will demonstrate and critique the important place Hinduism, Buddhism, Theosophy and other religious traditions have occupied in American popular imagination to trace the historical development of the “American mystic superhero” from the late 19th century up to the present. By examining a variety of early movie serials, radio dramas, pulps and comics we will map the legacy of the appropriation of esoteric theology, "Eastern” religious imagery and a host of colonial stereotypes, in creating the genre of the masked superhero that has come to dominate popular culture in America and the world at large.

Courses From Other Departments

Celtic Studies 173 Celtic Christianity
  • TuTh 2:00-3:30
  • A. Rejhon
  • 209 Dwinelle
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 10204

The course will examine the early reception and development of Christianity in Ireland and Britain. Particular attention will be paid to the role that insular pre-Christian Celtic religious systems played in this reception and the conversion to Christian belief.  Lectures and primary works that will be read (complete or in extract) to elucidate this issue will be drawn from wisdom texts, secular and canon law texts, ecclesiastical legislation, penitentials and monastic rules, apocrypha, and lyric poetry.  A selection of saints' lives, both Irish and Welsh, with a French connection via St. Martin of Tours, will round out the course.

Religious Studies C 108 Scandinavian Myth and Religion
  • MWF 10:00-11:00
  • J. Wellendorf
  • 219 Dwinelle
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 77621

Three hours of lecture and discussion per week. The course is intended to present a survey of the religious beliefs of Scandinavia from prehistory through the conversion to Christianity (eleventh century), as illustrated in narrative and, to a lesser extent, archaeological materials. The approach will be primarily source-critical, with some use of comparative Germanic and Indo-European data. By the end of the course, students should know the sources well, have an understanding of the major problems involved in this study, and be aware of the more important scholarly trends in the field. 

Religious Studies C 166 India's Great Epics: The Mahabharata and the Ramayana
  • MWF 11:00-12:00
  • R. Goldman
  • 2060 Valley LSB
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 77633

The course entails substantial selected readings from the great Sanskirt epic poems--the Mahabharata and the Ramayana in translation, selected readings from the corpus of secondary literature on Indian epic studies as well as lectures on salient issues in both. Discussion will focus on a variety of historical and theoretical approaches to the study of the poems and their extraordinary influence on Indian culture. Readings will be supplemented with selected showings of popular cinematic and television versions of the epics.