Spring 2022 Department Course Offerings

REL 110: World Religions / CRN 66741

MW / 11:00 - 11:50 / Layton, R

Survey of the leading living religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; examination of basic texts and of philosophic theological elaborations of each religion. Students must register for one discussion and one lecture section.

Same as PHIL 110.


REL 115: Language and Culture in India / CRN 68465

Arranged / Mishra, M

Examines the relationship between language and culture in the multilingual and multicultural context of India. Special topics of focus are: linguistic and cultural diversity in India, impact of the language and cultural contact on the structure and function of languages (convergence, diglossia, code-mixing, pidgins and creoles), language and identity, language of religion, language and gender, language in the media, literature and culture, language and power, language and globalization.

Same as HNDI 115 and LING 115.


REL 120: A History of Judaism / CRN 66794

TR / 2:00 – 3:20 / Weiss, D

Examines the social, political, economic, and intellectual history of the Jews from Abraham to the present-day, with particular attention to Jewish thought and society.

Same as HIST 168 and JS 120.


REL 132: Zen / CRN 66810

F / 4:00 - 6:50 / Mayer, A

Introduces the history, teachings, and practice of Zen Buddhism in China and Japan.

Same as EALC 132.


REL 134: Religion, Race, and Resistance / CRN 70609

MW / 11:00 – 11:50 / McKinnis, L

Examination of religiously-informed responses to and rejections of racialized oppression in the history of North America, focusing on Native American, African American, and Muslim American experiences. Students must register for one discussion and one lecture section.

Same as AFRO 134.


REL 160: Ancient Greek & Roman Religion / CRN 68577

MWF / 11:00 – 11:50 / Bosak-Schroeder, C

Study of Greek and Roman Paganism and the rise of Christianity within that context. Readings are confined to ancient sources in English translation.

Same as CLCV 160.


REL 199: Religion and Popular Music / CRN 70171

TR / 9:30 – 10:50 / Williams, A


REL 202: New Testament in English / CRN 66811

MWF / 1:00 – 1:50 / Layton, R

Analyzes the literature of the New Testament in its social and religious setting, with special reference to the ministry and teaching of Jesus, the emergence of the church as a sect within ancient Judaism, and the development of Christian institutions in the Graeco-Roman world.

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or consent of instructor.


REL 208: Cultures & Literatures of South Asia / CRN 67039

MW / 4:00 – 5:20 / Mehta, R

Introduction to the literary traditions of South Asia from the beginnings to the end of the Mughal era. Students will read - in translation - selections from a wide range of texts beginning with the earliest Vedic Hymns to the seventeenth and eighteenth century Sufi poetry and songs. Provides students an understanding of the heterogeneous and rich literary and cultural past of the region.

Same as ASST 208, CWL 208, and SAME 208.


REL 214: Introduction to Islam / CRN 70163

TR / 11:00 – 12:20 / Ali, M

History of Islamic thought from the time of Muhammad to the present, including the prophethood of Muhammad, the Qur'an, theology and law, mysticism and philosophy, sectarian movements, modernism and legal reform, and contemporary resurgence.

Same as SAME 214. Credit is not given for both REL 213 and REL 214.


REL 223: The Qur'an (Koran) / CRN 66812

TR / 2:00 – 3:20 / Ali, M

Introduction to the Qur'an (Koran), the holy scripture of Islam, examining its major doctrines, thematic development, literary style, and its relationship to pre-Qur'anic, especially Biblical, traditions. Special attention is given to various methods Muslims have used to interpret the Qur'an.

Same as CWL 223 and SAME 223. Prerequisite: REL 213 or REL 214.


REL 286: Introduction to Hinduism / CRN 66813

TR/ 12:30 – 1:50 / Newman, A

Elements of Hindu thought and practice; selected topics presented in historical order and in the context of Indian cultural history (including the present).


REL 287: Introduction to Buddhism / CRN 69286

TR / 3:30 – 4:50 / Callahan, C

When you look at an image of the Buddha, what do you see? Who was “the” Buddha and what did he see when he attained enlightenment? When you imagine a Buddhist, whom do you see and what they doing? The act of seeing has a prominent place in the Buddhist tradition, a fact that is observable in the abundance of images of Buddhas and other Buddhist figures found across the Buddhist world and evident in the rich visual imagery employed in Buddhist texts to communicate the truth that the Buddha discovered. This course is designed to introduce students to Buddhism through the close reading of primary texts, images and movies, whereby we will examine its central doctrines and practices and open our eyes to the diverse cultural expressions of the Buddhist tradition in India, Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, Japan and the West.

Same as EALC 287.


REL 320: Responses to the Holocaust / CRN 68518

TR / 12:30 – 1:50 / Harris, R

Holocaust on Screen surveys documentaries, feature films and short films from Europe, the United States and Israel. The films cover a wide array of cinematic representation, plot and genre to consider the divergent strategies employed to represent the past, and to engage the present.

Same as CWL 320, ENGL 359, JS 320, and YDSH 320.


REL 335: Religion in Contemporary America / CRN 73401

TR / 12:30 – 1:50 / Williams, A

Examines the religious dynamics of the twenty-first century United States. Tasks will be to map the religious landscape of contemporary America, to learn something of the history of the many traditions being practiced and lived in our communities, and then to study a series of salient issues involving people of faith; the emergence of new religions, expressions of religious intolerance, religion and politics, race and religion, and religious interpretations of economics and the market.


REL 345: Medieval Civilization / CRN 68665

MWF / 1:00 – 1:50 / McLaughlin, M

This course focuses on the Central Middle Ages (roughly 1000-1350 C.E.) in Western Europe. The goal is to situate some of the glorious cultural achievements of this period in their historical context. We will consider how economic and social changes shaped the development of cities and urban culture; how military and political changes led to the development of "courtesy" and the rich art and literature aimed at the aristocracy; how religious and intellectual changes contributed to transformations in architecture, music, and intellectual life. Most of the readings will come from medieval primary sources--texts and images created during the period we are studying.

Same as HIST 345 and MDVL 345.


REL 403: Women in Muslim Societies / CRN 70406 / 70408

T / 12:30 – 3:20 / Erten, N

Examination of gender ideologies and social realities affecting the lives of women in various Muslim countries.

Same as ANTH 403, GLBL 403, GWS 403, HIST 434, and SAME 403. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: A course in Islam or the Middle East, or consent of instructor.


REL 418: Afterlife in Early Judaism / CRN 71823 / 71824

W / 3:00 – 5:30 / Weiss, D

Examines Israelite and Jewish attitudes to death and the afterlife from Ancient Israelite belief until the rise of Islam. Topics include death, divine judgement, immortality of the soul, resurrection, and hell. We will also selectively compare Jewish afterlife traditions to those found in early Christianity. Particular attention will be paid to the transformations of belief over time, and to the changing contexts that gave rise to new Jewish soteriologies and eschatologies.

3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.


REL 488: History of Chinese Buddhism / CRN 68697 / 71283

W / 3:00 – 5:50 / Mayer, A

Survey of the history of Chinese Buddhism since its introduction; analysis of Buddhological trends and styles; and the sociocultural milieu of Chinese Buddhism and its place in the total history of ideas and lifestyles.

Same as EALC 488. 3 undergraduate hours. 3 or 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: REL 287 or consent of instructor.


REL 494: Race, Body and Being / CRN 71827 / 71828

M / 2:00 – 4:50 / McKinnis, L

This interdisciplinary seminar commences with the question of being within the context of existential absurdity.  That is, we shall interrogate and consider the ontological and anthropological condition of Blackness within the materiality of the absurd. We will engage critical race theory, afro-pessimism, and mysticism via a religious studies lens, considering the question of the human, Black being, freedom, and otherwise possibilities and imaginations.    

3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.


REL 494: Rumi: Poetry, Wisdom, Metaphysics / CRN 71825 / 71826

M / 3:00 – 5:50 / Ali, M (Part of Term B)


Hailed as one of the world’s greatest mystical poets, Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273) transcends the boundaries of language, religion and ethnicity. Today Rumi’s poems can be heard in mosques, monasteries, churches and synagogues. This course examines Rumi’s teachings, the metaphysics of love and his perennial wisdom through translations of his sublime verse, the quintessential art form of the Sufis.


3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.


REL 495: Pure Land Buddhism / CRN 68097 / 68098

F / 11:00 – 1:50 / Callahan, C

Across East Asia, in the countries of China, Korea and Japan, it is common to hear the chanting of the name of Amitābha Buddha and to encounter practitioners expressing their wish to be reborn in his paradisiacal Land of Bliss in the West, commonly known as the Pure Land. Who is this Buddha and how is the wish to be reborn in his Land of Bliss in keeping with the Buddhist teachings of renunciation, meditation and enlightenment? Despite the widespread impact and significance of Pure Land Buddhism in East Asia, it is widely unknown to western audiences and relatively understudied compared to that of other forms of Buddhism, such as Theravada, Zen and Tantric Buddhism. This course seeks to remedy that lack by exposing students to the rich doctrinal, literary, ritual and artistic traditions and practices associated with this widespread and popular devotional form of Buddhism and to familiarize them with the scholarly issues related to its study. Particular focus will be given to the forms of Pure Land Buddhism that took shape in Japan.

3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.


REL 520: Hindu Pilgrimage, Power, & Place / CRN 66835

W / 3:00 – 5:30 / Newman, A

What is a pilgrimage? Who becomes a pilgrim, and how or why do they do so? What does it mean to undertake a pilgrimage? Who or what are the objects of devotion or the physical and/or spiritual destination guiding these pilgrims? What is physically or symbolically gained or lost in the course of these journeys? This course seeks to explore the ancient and multicultural concept and practice of pilgrimage as it is experienced in the Hindu world today. Our primary objective is two-fold. First, we will use the study of pilgrimage, power, and place as a lens through which to examine in detail the interplay of Hindu belief and practice. Second, we will examine the study of pilgrimage itself and critically reflect on the different methodological approaches and theoretical frameworks scholars employ, including (but not limited to) discussions of ritual process, agency, typology of sacred sites, and secular aspects of pilgrimage. Our guides throughout the semester will be several ethnographies that grapple with the varied and vibrant dynamics of pilgrimage in South Asia, particularly India. These ethnographies will take us on pilgrimages through several regions of India, including West Bengal, the Himalayas, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Vrndavan. They will introduce to us to different local, regional, and pan-Hindu gods and goddesses and their most sacred sites. We will meet pilgrims from an array of socioeconomic backgrounds and learn about their motivations for and experiences of pilgrimage. These ethnographies employ both oral and written sources to contextualize both the historical practice of pilgrimage in the Hindu world and its contemporary practice that has become an important part of India’s social and political economy today. These ethnographies will be our steadying walking sticks throughout semester, but we may periodically supplement with additional readings that further elucidate their theoretical foundations or highlight specific issues that are increasingly impacting Hindu pilgrimage and important pilgrimage sites, such as environmental disasters and overtaxed infrastructures.

Same as SAME 520. 4 graduate hours. No professional credit.


REL 535: Historiography of Religion in America / CRN 71817

T / 3:00 – 5:30 / Ebel, J

Immerses students in major works of recent American religious history. Written from multiple disciplinary perspectives and wrestling with the knotty problems in which religion has been interwoven, these books will give the student a solid foundation in American religious history.

Same as HIST 574. 4 graduate hours. No professional credit.