Course Offerings for Spring ‘24: Religion

REL 109: Religion & Society in West II

Introduction to classic writers and texts in Western religious and social thought from the Enlightenment to the present, with emphasis on their social and historical contexts. Same as ANTH 109 and PHIL 109.

  • Professor Jon Ebel – TR 12:30-1:50 – CRN 66735

REL 110: World Religions

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. Same as PHIL 110.

  • Professor Richard Layton – MW 9:00-9:50 – CRN 66741

REL 112: Elementary Greek II

  • Professor Kirk Sanders – MWF 11:00-11:50 – CRN 67014

REL 115: Language and Culture in India

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.

  • Professor Mithilesh Mishra – Online – CRN 68465

REL 120: History of Judaism

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.

  • Professor Dov Weiss – Online MW 12:30-1:50 – CRN 66794

REL 208: Cultures & Literatures of South Asia

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.

  • Professor Rini Mehta – Online – CRN 67039

REL 214: Introduction to Islam

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.

  • Professor Mukhtar Ali – TR 11:00-12:20 – CRN 70163

REL 231: Religion and Philosophy

Introduces students to philosophical and theological perspectives and methodologies by focusing on one or two key thinkers, books, or topics. Study and critical assessment will attend to the larger historical context. Same as PHIL 231.

  • Professor Stephanie Thurston – TR 9:30-10:50 – CRN 74579

REL 286: Introduction to Hinduism

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

  • Professor Adam Newman – MWF 11:00-11:50 – CRN 66813

REL 287: Introduction to Buddhism

Thematic approach to the history of Buddhism from its origin in India to its spread throughout China and Japan; explores how the doctrinal and social development of Buddhism in East Asia is related to the process of cultural adaptation. Same as EALC 287.

  • Professor Christopher Callahan – TR 2:00-3:20 – CRN 69286

REL 335: Religion in Contemporary America

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.

  • Professor Alexia Williams – TR 11:00-12:20 – CRN 73401

REL 343: Islamic Philosophy

Survey of major developments within Islamic philosophy from the early classical to the early modern period. Focuses on the ideas and figures that have shaped Islamic philosophy through the centuries, as well as the contexts in which those ideas were produced. Topics covered include the transmission of Greek philosophy into Arabic. Islamic Peripatetic philosophy, Illuminationism, Shi'ite philosophy, and philosophical Sufism, including the great synthesis of Mulla Sadra.

  • Professor Mukhtar Ali – TR 2:00-3:20 – CRN 75709

REL 345: Medieval Civilization

The architectural, artistic, philosophical, political, and religious components of medieval culture, thought, and patterns of behavior; includes monasticism and society and the individual. Same as HIST 345 and MDVL 345.

  • Professor Carol Symes – TR 2:00-3:20 – CRN 68665

REL 418: Afterlife in Early Judaism

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.

  • Professor Dov Weiss – Online W 3:00-5:30 – CRNs 71824 & 71823

REL 494: Topics in Religious Thought “Black Diasporic Religions”

This course examines the diversity of Black religious life that emerges within the context of the absurd. It focuses our attention on the ways in which African Americans employ religion as the vehicle through which to dream of other worlds while resisting white supremacy and its religion. We will pay special attention to groups such as the Nation of Islam, Hebrew Israelites, Black Coptics, among others. Our quest in this course is to engage questions of Black Studies such as the human, the production of knowledge, and Afro-pessimism, through the lens of Diasporic Black religious imaginations. This course meets with AFRO 398.

  • Professor Leonard McKinnis – W 2:00-4:50 – CRN 68315

REL 495: Topics in Asian Religions "Yoga Traditions in South Asia”

Same as EALC 495.

  • Professor Adam Newman– MW 2:00-3:20 – CRNs 71829 & 71847

REL 495: Topics in Asian Religions "Material Jainism”

Same as EALC 495.

  • Professor Anna Tosato – TR 12:30-1:50 – CRNs 75819 & 75820

REL 495: Topics in Asian Religions "Death, Dying and the Dead in Japanese Buddhism”

From its inception, the Buddhist tradition has shown an abiding concern for death, the dying and the dead. This upper level seminar will examine the doctrinal and symbolic meanings of death, the ritual and meditative practices of the dying, as well as the treatment of the dead in the context of Japanese Buddhism. Drawing on recent secondary scholarship, we will examine the interface between doctrine and social practice in deathbed rituals, funerary practices and memorial services, the material, visual and literary culture of the dying and the dead, and the ethical and societal issues concerning death, dying and the dead in Japan. Same as EALC 495.

  • Professor Christopher Callahan – F 1:00-3:50 – CRNs 68098 & 68097

REL 511: Seminar in Study of Religion “Body Culture in India”

  • Professor Anna Tosato – MW 4:00-5:20 – CRN 76024

REL 511: Seminar in Study of Religion “Crime, Punishment, Redemption”

The criminal-penal system in the United States is a complex web of mutually reinforcing institutions, practices, and moral values. Furthermore, ideas about what constitutes a crime (or harm) and what punishment is due have shifted over time. Beginning in the 1980s, the United States entered an era of what is commonly called mass incarceration. In short, this country incarcerates more people than any other and has the highest incarceration rate. What’s more, the institutions that police and confine individuals are myriad: sheriffs, ICE, local jails, CPB, and federal and state prisons. Broadly, this course aims to foster a deep analysis of the U.S. criminal-penal system. First, this requires analyzing how its policies, practices, and moral values intersect with social categories like race, ethnicity, gender, class, and citizenship status. Importantly, this course focuses on the religious concepts that have informed our moral imaginations, which in turn, inform the social practices we enact and the institutions we build and maintain. Further, the course materials explore the religious concepts that have informed social and political resistance against our criminal-penal system. Finally, this course takes an interdisciplinary approach by drawing from multiple disciplines, including: history, sociology, theology and ethics.


  • Professor Stephanie Thurston – M 3:00-5:30 – CRN 68627