Please note: The course descriptions displayed here are current as of Monday, April 27, 2015, but the official Course Catalog should be used for all official planning.

RLST 100
Introduction to Religious Studies

An introduction to the academic study of religion exploring cross-culturally some of the fundamental ways in which people experience and understand religion. Questions addressed include: What is religion? What are the basic forms of religious life? What connections exist among self-identity, the sacred, and society? How do those connections help to establish meaning and values in human existence? How is religious knowledge possible? Readings include primary religious texts and critical reflections on religion. Intended primarily for freshmen and sophomores or students with no prior work in the religious studies department. Units: 6.

RLST 150
Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

The purpose of this course is to survey the various genres of the Hebrew Bible, including narrative, law, poetry, historiography and prophecy. The main focus of the course will be a close reading of primary texts in order to familiarize students with major themes and scholarly debates. All readings are in English. Units: 6.

RLST 191
Directed Study in Religious Studies

Directed study follows a syllabus set primarily by the instructor to meet the needs or interests of an individual student or small group of students. The main goal of directed study is knowledge or skill acquisition, not research or creative work. Units: 1 TO 98. Prerequisite: Counter Registration Required.

RLST 210
Hinduism

A survey of the religious and philosophical elements that constitute the broad system of beliefs known as Hinduism. Emphasis is placed on intellectual history, but dominant patterns of ritual and religious experience are also covered. Readings include primary texts and associated commentaries. Units: 6.

RLST 215
Buddhism in India and Tibet

An introductory survey of Buddhist thought and practice in India and Tibet. The historical development of key Buddhist concepts and schools is emphasized. Readings include translations of Buddhist canonical works. Units: 6.

RLST 216
Buddhism in China and Japan

An introductory survey of Buddhist thought and practice in China and Japan. The history of key Buddhist concepts and schools in East Asia is the primary focus. Readings include translations from East Asian Buddhist canonical works. Units: 6.
Also listed as East Asian Studies 216

RLST 225
Introduction to Judaism: Canon, Thought, Practice

The oldest monotheistic religion, studied through its classic texts (including the Bible, Talmud, Maimonides, the Zohar and much more). Readings of the modern era will highlight the shift from a religion to a national/ethnic identity. In addition, key terms of the Jewish cycle of life will be introduced. Units: 6.
Also listed as Ethnic Studies 224

RLST 226
Religion in Indonesia

This course will study the religious traditions of Indonesia. We will concentrate on the island of Java and the history of the dominant Islamic faith, but we will also examine the Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian traditions in Indonesia and the form of civil religion known as Pancasila. Not open to students who have previously received, or need to receive credit for RLST 526. Units: 6.

RLST 235
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Founding Myths and Contemporary Realities

This course will examine key events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with special attention to the religious context, including themes such as sacred space, holy war, martyrhood, and messianism. These will be discussed in the context of 1948 and 1967 wars, Jewish settlers, the rise of Hamas, and Christian evangelism. Units: 6.

RLST 240
Islam

An introduction to Islam. Students will study primary sources beginning with the Quran and ending with a contemporary Muslim writer. Attention will be focussed on both the theological development of Islam and its lived experience as witnessed through the arts and architecture. Units: 6.

RLST 245
Apple, Google, Facebook

Our current relation to technology and information feels new, yet it fits with the cultural and religious transformations pointed to in Robert Bellah’s classic Habits of the Heart. The innovation exemplified by the three corporations in the title is changing notions of religiosity and our understanding of religious traditions. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing

RLST 246
Gender and Body in Jewish Literature

This course will explore representations of gender and body in Jewish literature from the ancient period to contemporary times. Issues will include Jewish law, the image of god, constructions of masulintiy and femininity in the jewish tradition, and female heroines. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing

RLST 260
Christianity through the 15th Century

An examination of the major developments in Christian thought and practice from its origin to the late Middle Ages. Topics include the formation of doctrine in the early church, Christian heresies, the cult of martyrs, the development of the monastic tradition, and the rise of the papacy. Units: 6.

RLST 265
Arabian Nights

The Arabian Nights, or 1001 Nights, with its imaginative stories provides a unique glimpse of popular Islam in the medieval period. In addition its appropriations by the West allows for a study of later perceptions of the Middle East and Islam. Units: 6.

RLST 270
Christianity in the Modern World

A selective study of Christian history from the Reformation to the present. Special attention paid to the impact of modernity (e.g., the rise of science, the development of the historical critical method, religious pluralism, secularization) on Christian belief. Units: 6.

RLST 285
Hebrew Prophets

This course will cover the phenomenon of prophecy as it appears in the Hebrew Bible. We will focus especially on the major books of prophecy—Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel—but will turn our attention also to some of the minor and non-writing prophets as well. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing

RLST 290
Religion in Ancient Egypt: Pyramids, Wisdom, and Eternal Life

We will examine the religious tradition of Egypt as it developed in the old, middle, and new kingdoms. Ideas about eternal life as detailed in the Pyramid Texts and embodied in the Pyramids will be closely studied, along with the tradition of wisdom literature. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or consent of instructor

RLST 295
The Jew as Metaphor

This course will explore the representation of the Jew in literature, philosophy, and the social sciences. Readings will include writers such as Hegel, Marx, T.S. Eliot, Wagner, and Philip Roth. In each case the Jew functions as a metaphor that allows thinkers to articulate their own ideas about history, nationalism, culture, and religion. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing

RLST 305
Atheism

An examination of selected works from the so-called "New Atheism" movement. Modern thinkers like Dawkins and Hitchens have forcefully attacked the history, psychology, sociology, economics and ethics of religious belief. This course will utilize their works to investigate questions such as "Is religious belief unhealthy? Immature? Dangerous?" Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing

RLST 306
Nietzsche and Freud

A critical analysis of selected works of Nietzsche and Freud, focusing in particular on their psychological models of the self and their connections to their analyses of religion. No prior knowledge of either thinker is presumed. Units: 6.

RLST 316
Greek-Islamic Philosophical Tradition

After covering relevant fundamentals in Greek philosophy (Aristotle and Plato), we will proceed to later philosophers, both Greek (the Neoplatonists) and Islamic (Ibn Sina, Suhrawardi), whose work inherits the same methods and questions, Our special focus will be questions about philosophical method, the soul, and mystical experience. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing
Also listed as Classics 315

RLST 330
Rationality and Religious Belief

An examination of the range of views on the relationship between reason and religion, focusing in particular on theistic belief. Questions addressed include: Can God’s existence be proven? Is faith different from ordinary belief? Does mystical experience provide adequate grounds for religious belief? Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing

RLST 335
Cairo: Islam in Context

An examination of the place of Islam within medieval and modern Cairo. We will read historical and creative texts in order to better understand how this religion and social system constructed what we know as Cairo. Units: 6. Prerequisite: RLST 240 or consent of instructor

RLST 336
Religion and Global Systems

This course will investigate how religious traditions shape the values and culture of nations and other large-scale groups. We will read theorists such as Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Robert Bellah, Mary Douglas, and Olivier Roy with an eye toward works that emphasize the global impact of religion. Units: 6.

RLST 343
New England Puritan Poetry

A study of New England Puritan poetry in the context of new world spiritual aspirations and anxieties. Readings will include sections of Martin Luther's writings and Perry Miller's and others' criticism, as well as the poems of Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, Michael Wiggelesworth, and other minor and post-Puritan poets. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing
Also listed as English 443

RLST 350
Gandhi

An examination of the life, times, and thought of Mohandas Gandhi, emphasizing the religious concept of satyagraha (holding fast to the truth) and the philosophy of non-violence as the central precepts in his effort to transform Indian society and ultimately of his global influences. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing

RLST 355
Quran

An examination of the Quran in its historical context, which will include reading of pre-Islamic poetry and the earliest biographical traditions about Muhammad. We will read the work of recent historians like Fred Donner and Patricia Crone who have offered revisionist views of the earliest Islamic community. Units: 6. Prerequisite: RLST 240

RLST 365
Faith and Power in Mediterranean Cities

This course examines the complex histories of buildings and urban landscapes around the Mediterranean, emphasizing how religious and political structures transformed them from the Classical world, through Christian and Islamic empires, and down to modern nation states. The city of Istanbul will be a central focus, though case studies from other cities will be introduced. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing
Also listed as Art History 335

RLST 390
Tutorial Studies in Religious Studies

Advanced research, arranged and carried out under the direction of an instructor. Units: 1 TO 98. Prerequisite: Counter Registration Required.

RLST 391
Directed Study in Religious Studies

Directed study follows a syllabus set primarily by the instructor to meet the needs or interests of an individual student or small group of students. The main goal of directed study is knowledge or skill acquisition, not research or creative work. Units: 1 TO 98. Prerequisite: Counter Registration Required.

RLST 399
Independent Study in Religious Studies

Advanced research, arranged in consultation with the department. Students planning an honors project should register for this course, for one or more terms. Units: 1 TO 98. Prerequisite: Counter Registration Required.

RLST 400
Themes in Modern Western Religious Thought

A critical survey of one or more of the distinctive themes in the religious thought of the West since the Reformation.

Topic for Fall 2014: Nietzsche
An examination of Nietzsche’s thought, focusing in particular on his critique of the western theological and philosophical tradition, as well as the alternative way(s) of thinking (and existing) he wanted to promote.

Topic for Winter 2015: Modern Jewish Thinkers
This course will focus on Jewish philosophical responses to modernity. We will examine how thinkers such as Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas and Scholem came to redefine Judaism in the face of secularization.

Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing

RLST 420
Systems of Buddhist Philosophy

A detailed examination of five schools of Buddhist philosophy. Close study of each school’s explanation of key doctrines such as no-self, interdependent arising, samsara, nirvana, and enlightenment further clarifies the historical development of Buddhist thought in India and China. Readings emphasize primary texts (in translation). Units: 6. Prerequisite: RLST 215 or 220 and sophomore standing

RLST 450
Classic Texts in Religous Studies

This course will focus on reading a classic text related to the field of religious studies. The work chosen could be related to the philosophy or sociology of religion or have theological or historical importance within a specific religious tradition. May be repeated when topic is different. Units: 3.

RLST 500
Seminar: Kierkegaard

Intensive study of the works of the Danish philosopher/theologian considered to be the father of Existentialism. Concentration on Kierkegaard’s view of the self and its relation to his stages of existence, with particular attention to his view of faith. Some consideration to the historical context of his thought and his influence on 20th-century theology and philosophy. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Junior standing or consent of the instructor.

RLST 505
Seminar: The Bible's Earliest Interpreters

This course will survey the reception, interpretation and adaptation of the biblical text in late antiquity by Jews, Christians, Gnostics, and others.

Topic for Spring 2015: Flood Narratives
Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing and one course in religious studies, or consent of instructor

RLST 510
Seminar: Zen Buddhism

Zen Buddhism is perhaps the most widely known form of Buddhism in the West and also the most widely misunderstood. This course provides a detailed look at the history and doctrines of Zen Buddhism in China and Japan. Combining the use of original source materials (in translation) with an emphasis on intellectual history, the course covers specific doctrines that have differentiated the major schools of Zen. Units: 6. Prerequisite: RLST 220 or RLST 216
Also listed as East Asian Studies 510

RLST 515
Sacred Mountains of Asia

This course explores Asian sacred mountains from a religious and cultural perspective, focusing on the connections between traditions, following these traditions from their earliest sources to the modern period where they begin to interact with nationalism and modern recreation. This course is designed for upper-level East Asian Studies majors, Environmental Studies majors, and Religious Studies majors who are interested in the intersection between geography, religion, culture, and conservation. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing; EAST 140, EAST 150, or RLST 216, or consent of instructor
Also listed as East Asian Studies 515

RLST 525
Conversion Narratives

This course will explore literary, philosophical and autobiographical texts dealing with conversion. While we will be focusing primarily on coversions to and from Judaism--primarily in the modern era--we will cover excerpts from Augustine's Confessions and St. Paul's Letters. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing

RLST 526
Religion in Indonesia

This course will study the religous traditions of Indonesia. We will concentrate on the island of Java and the history of the dominant Islamic faith, but we will also examine the Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian traditions in Indonesia and the form of civil religion known as Pancasila. Students will also meet once a week to read sections of Clifford Geertz's classic The Religion of Java and also complete a seminar paper. Not open to students who have previously received credit for RLST 226. Units: 6.

RLST 560
Seminar: The Problem of Evil

An examination of one of the classic problems of philosophy of religion; the course will examine both traditional theistic analyses of the problem (is the existence of an omni-god incompatible with the existence of evil?) as well as more recent, non-theistic analyses of evil as a social phenomenon. Units: 6. Prerequisite: RLST 330 or consent of instructor

RLST 580
Seminar: Islam and Globalization

This class offers both an introduction to theories of globalization and examines how Islam has interacted over the last generation with stresses related to globalization. Readings will include works by Edward Said, Oliver Roy, V.S. Naipaul, Abdellah Hammoudi, Orphan Pmuk and Colin Thubron. Units: 6. Prerequisite: RLST 240

RLST 590
Tutorial Studies in Religious Studies

Advanced research, arranged and carried out under the direction of an instructor. Units: 1 TO 98. Prerequisite: Counter Registration Required.

RLST 591
Directed Study in Religious Studies

Directed study follows a syllabus set primarily by the instructor to meet the needs or interests of an individual student or small group of students. The main goal of directed study is knowledge or skill acquisition, not research or creative work. Units: 1 TO 98. Prerequisite: Counter Registration Required.

RLST 599
Independent Study in Religious Studies

Advanced research, arranged in consultation with the department. Students planning an honors project should register for this course, for one or more terms. Units: 1 TO 98. Prerequisite: Counter Registration Required.

RLST 600
Seminar in Methodology

An examination of approaches to the study of religion selected from a school of thought or a more eclectic group of authors. Students are encouraged to draw upon previous coursework. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Two courses in religious studies or consent of instructor

RLST 610
Senior Projects

The goal of this class is to give advanced RLST students (juniors or seniors) space to write a paper or finish a senior capstone. We will discuss the challenges of research and the use of sources. Reading will consist of contemporary academic articles designed to highlight styles of argument. Units: 6. Prerequisite: Junior standing

RLST 690
Tutorial Studies in Religious Studies

Advanced research, arranged and carried out under the direction of an instructor. Units: 1 TO 98. Prerequisite: Counter Registration Required.

RLST 691
Directed Study in Religious Studies

Directed study follows a syllabus set primarily by the instructor to meet the needs or interests of an individual student or small group of students. The main goal of directed study is knowledge or skill acquisition, not research or creative work. Units: 1 TO 98. Prerequisite: Counter Registration Required.

RLST 699
Independent Study in Religious Studies

Advanced research, arranged in consultation with the department. Students planning an honors project should register for this course, for one or more terms. Units: 1 TO 98. Prerequisite: Counter Registration Required.

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