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Religious Studies

Spring 2019 Courses

RELS 104: Religion and Violence
Paul Powers TTH 9:40-11:10

Investigation of the oft-made claim that “religion causes much of the world’s violence,” exploring the best arguments for and against this proposition framed by maximalist claims that religion is inherently prone to inspiring violence, and minimalist claims that religion is either peaceful or subordinated to other (e.g., economic or political) concerns. Consideration of various definitions of “religion” to see how it might motivate a range of behaviors both peaceful and violent. Attention given to pervasive religious phenomena (such as sacrifice, conversion, holy/just war, and apocalypticism) that might inspire violence, as well as theological and ethical frameworks that may counteract violence. In a multi-stage, guided research project, students will pursue case studies of specific instances of violence apparently related to religion, thereby testing and employing the analytical lenses developed in the course.

Prerequisites: None.

RELS 242: Religions and Cultures of East Asia
Jessica D. Starling MWF 10:20AM - 11:20AM

Chinese and Japanese world views. Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Shintoism: their origins, development, interactions. Mutual influence of folk and elite traditions, expansion of Buddhism and its adaptation to different sociopolitical environments, effects of modernization on traditional religious institutions.

Prerequisites: None.

RELS 255: American Religion Through the Small Screen: Religious Themes in Contemporary Television
Susanna Morrill MWF 9:10AM - 10:10AM 

Exploration of key themes in American religious history as these are revealed in contemporary American television shows. These themes will include millennialism, exceptionalism, revivalism, restorationism, apocalypticism, freedom of religion, religious pluralism, fascination with the exotic “East,” and exploration of paranormal topics.

Prerequisites: None.

RELS 335: Gender, Sex, Jews, and Christians: Ancient World
Robert Kugler MWF 11:30AM-12:30PM

In this course we study the genesis of modern Jewish and Christian attitudes toward gender and sexuality, exploring the ways in which Greek and Roman attitudes toward gender and sexuality shaped Judaism and Christianity at their origins. We also assess the extent to which the two religious traditions shaped broader cultural attitudes and practices relating to gender and sex, and use our study of sex and gender in early Judaism and Christianity to take a critical look at how we define “religion” in the premodern world.

Prerequisites: At least one course in religious studies, classics, or

RELS 342: Mormonism in the American Religious Context
Susanna Morrill MWF 12:40PM-1:40PM

This course will use the origin and development of Mormonism in the U.S. as a case study to understand larger trends in American religious history, including the history and importance of folk and magical traditions in the U.S., prophetic/charismatic religious movements, the shifting relationship between church and state, public Protestantism in the U.S., secularization, and globalization.

Prerequisites: None.

Restrictions: Sophomore standing required.

RELS 490: Senior Thesis
Paul Powers TTH 1:50-3:20

Advanced readings and major works in religion. In consultation with faculty, selection of a thesis topic and further reading in the discipline and research in the topic area. Substantial written document demonstrating mastery of theory and methodology in the study of religion and the ability to integrate these into the thesis topic.

Prerequisites: None.

Restrictions: Senior standing required.

Religious Studies

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