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Religious Studies

Fall 2019 Courses

RELS 103: Asceticism
(Asceticism: Self-Discipline in Comparative Perspective)
Jessica D. Starling
MWF 9:10-10:10

Comparative approach to asceticism and examination of acts of self-discipline in Eastern (Jain, Hindu, Buddhist), Western (Stoic, Christian mystic), and modern secular (eco-activism, fasting diets, and extreme exercise regimes) cultural contexts. Consideration of the question: What good is self-discipline? Depriving oneself of sensual pleasures can be seen as an antidote to materialism and a means of liberating the soul from its fleshly shackles, but is denying our inborn desires a form of self-violence?

Prerequisites: None.

RELS 201: History and Theory
Jessica D. Starling
TTh 9:40-11:10

History of the field. Psychological, literary, anthropological, sociological, and historical
 approaches to the study of religion. Readings by major theorists. Should normally be taken no later than the junior year. 

Prerequisites: None.                                                                      

RELS 243: Buddhism: Theory/Culture/Practrice
Jessica D. Starling
MWF 11:30-12:30

Introduction to Buddhist thought and practice. Indian origins, contemporary Theravada Buddhism, emergence of the Mahayana, Buddhism and society in Tibet, Zen and Pure Land traditions of East Asia and the Western reception of Buddhism. Problems in the study of Buddhism.

Prerequisites: None.

RELS 251: Medieval Christianity   
Benjamin Westervelt
MWF 10:20-11:20

Formation and development of Western Christianity from late antiquity through the late medieval period (circa 250 to 1450 C.E.). The relation of popular piety to institutional and high cultural expressions of Christianity. Issues such as Christianity and the late Roman empire, the papacy, monasticism, religious art and architecture, and heresy and hierarchy discussed using theological texts, social histories, popular religious literature.

Prerequisites: None.

RELS 273: Islamic Origins
Dr. Paul Powers
TTh 1:50-3:20

Major religious and sociohistorical developments in the Islamic world from circa 600 to 1300 C.E. Focus on the Qur’an, Muhammad, early Islamic expansions and dynasties, and interactions with non-Muslims. Examination of the formation of orthodox beliefs and practices (e.g., theology, ritual, law), contestation over religious ideals and political power, and the emergence of Shi’ite and Sufi Islam.

Prerequisites: None. 

RELS 350: Social and Religious World of Early Judaism and Christianity
Dr. Robert A. Kugler
TTh 11:30-1:00

Recent research into the relationship between the social setting of early Judaism and Christianity and the texts both religions produced. Special
attention to the sociohistorical aspects of selected regional expressions of Judaism and Christianity (e.g., Asia Minor, Palestine, Egypt). Readings from the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish pseudepigrapha, the New Testament, other early Christian literature, and media interpretations of Judaism and Christianity to the present.

Prerequisites: One course in religious studies, classics, or history.

RELS 376: Religious Fundamentalism
Dr. Paul Powers
TTh 9:40-11:10

The perceptions and realities of religious resurgence in a supposedly secularizing world. Focus on the historical, theological, social, and
political aspects of Christian and Islamic fundamentalism. Themes include secularization theories and their critics; changing understandings of religion and modernity; connections among religion, politics, violence, sexuality/gender, and identity.

Prerequisites: None.

Restrictions: Sophomore standing required.

RELS 450: Seminar: Social and Religious World of Early Judaism and Christianity
Dr. Robert A. Kugler
TTh 11:30-1:00

Recent research into the relationship between the social setting of early Judaism and Christianity and the texts both religions produced. Special
attention to the sociohistorical aspects of selected regional expressions of Judaism and Christianity (e.g., Asia Minor, Palestine, Egypt). Readings from the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish pseudepigrapha, the New Testament, other early Christian literature, and media interpretations of Judaism and Christianity to the present. Emphasis on original student research. With instructor consent, may be taken twice for credit.

Prerequisites: One course in religious studies, classics, or history.

Restrictions: Sophomore standing required.

Religious Studies

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