The MA in Religion requires 32 credit hours of graduate course work (total) at the 400 or 500 level. 12 hours (three courses) must be at the 500-level. 24 of the 32 required credit hours must be in, or cross-listed with, the Religion department. All MA degree and Graduate minor requirements can be found under Graduate Degree Requirements.
400 Level Courses
REL 401 - Gender and Hinduism
Exploration of the traditional identities, role and expectations of Hindu women and men, as well as popular Hindu beliefs and lived practices informed by understandings of gender, from the ancient period through the present day. Further, the course assesses the way in which these normative ideologies and gendered practices are being perpetuated and/or challenged in the modern world. Sources will include traditionally authoritative texts and treatises, myths and other historical narratives, contemporary ethnographies, and film. Same as SAME 410. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.
REL 403 - Women in Muslim Societies
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 405 - Jihad and Just War
Historical and conceptual overview of jihad and just war. The first half of the course focuses on the origins of these two doctrines and their roles in medieval Islamic and Christian civilizations. The second half focuses on the shifting modern understanding of the relationship of religion to the state and violence, European colonialism, the rise of terrorism, and the War on Terror. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.
REL 408 - Islam & Politics in Mid. East
Examines the role of Islam in contemporary politics, the contemporary resurgence of Islam, and the articulation of Islamic approaches to the new economic order, nationalism, and the changing role of women. Same as PS 408 and SAME 408. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: Junior standing or consent of instructor.
REL 409 - Transnational Islam, Europe-US
Same as ANTH 402 and ASST 402. See ANTH 402.
REL 412 - Readings in Sanskrit I
Same as SNSK 403. See SNSK 403.
REL 413 - Readings in Sanskrit II
Same as SNSK 404. See SNSK 404.
REL 414 - Advanced Biblical Hebrew
In-depth study of the grammar and syntax of selected texts from the Hebrew Bible. Texts to be studied will change from year to year. Selections will cover the full range of biblical genres and styles, including prophecy, law, historical narrative, psalms, and wisdom literature. Same as HEBR 414. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 undergraduate hours or 8 graduate hours in separate terms. Prerequisite: REL 205, or demonstrated proficiency at the 205 level.
REL 416 - Readings in Rabbinic Midrash
Seminar on the foundational text of Judaism- the Midrashic collections (3rd c. - 8th C.E.). We will consider the distinctiveness of Midrashic form and content, and also reflect upon the central methodological issues and problems for the study of this classic corpus. 3 undergraduate hours. 3 graduate hours.
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.
REL 420 - Jewish Life-Writing
Same as CWL 421, HIST 436, SLAV 420, and YDSH 420. See YDSH 420.
REL 424 - Philosophy of Religion
Same as PHIL 424. See PHIL 424.
REL 432 - Approaches to the Study of Religion
Introduction to the principal themes and debates that have animated the academic study of religion since the late nineteenth century. The relationship of religion to society, the economy, the state, culture, tradition, colonialism, and secularism are all considered, drawing on several different disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, philosophy and history. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.
REL 434 - History of Jews in Diaspora
Same as HIST 433. See HIST 433.
REL 435 - Revivalism and Evangelicalism
Examination of the history of revivalistic and evangelical Christianities in North America from the colonial period to the twenty-first century. A combination of primary texts and scholarly studies will focus on religious, social, and political legacies, and the current shape of evangelical Christianity in America. Same as HIST 486. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.
REL 436 - Religion in America: 1900-1941
An exploration of the religious lives and thoughts of Americans in the first four decades of the twentieth century and the many overlapping issues confronting American society and American religion during that time. Focuses on four themes: debates over the meaning of modernity, understandings of the relationship between religion and society, the gendering of faith, and the relationship between religion and American identity. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: REL 235 or REL 236.
REL 437 - Religion in American Cinema
By using films from the 1940s-2010s we will examine the changing religious dynamics of modern American society. We will also use the conceptual tools of religious studies to describe Americans' changing relationships to cinema. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: Course work in the religious history of the United States or in film studies.
REL 439 - Catholicism in the United States
Examines Catholic experiences in America from the colonial period to the present day. Mindful of the institutions that make Catholicism a credibly global community and of the diversity that has always characterized Catholic thought and practice, we will seek to highlight distinctive features of Catholicism in the United States and to chart changes in "American" Catholicism over time. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.
REL 440 - Early Christian Thought
Study of major developments in early Christian thought (first four centuries) through discussion of primary texts in translation. Same as MDVL 440. 3 undergraduate hours. 3 or 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: REL 121 or REL 202, or consent of instructor.
REL 442 - History of Early Judaism
The history of Judaism from Ezra to the rise of Islam: Hellenism and Judaism, varieties of Judaism, Palestinian Judaism and its documents, Babylonian Judaism, the rabbis, and popular Jewish culture. Same as HIST 432 and JS 442. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: Credit in one course in religion at the 200-, 300-, or 400-level, or consent of instructor.
REL 461 - Indigenous Traditions
Interdisciplinary seminar on indigenous religious traditions, focusing especially on the study of native North American religions. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.
REL 463 - Religion and Society
Same as ANTH 463. See ANTH 463.
REL 464 - Theories & Theologies of Liberation
Same as AAS 464, ANTH 464, and GWS 464. See GWS 464.
REL 472 - Kierkegaard and the Self
Same as CWL 472, PHIL 472, and SCAN 472. See SCAN 472.
REL 478 - 19th C. US Intel & Cultr Hist
Same as HIST 479. See HIST 479.
REL 479 - 20th Century US Culture Wars
Same as HIST 481. See HIST 481.
REL 480 - Islamic Law
Introduction to Islamic legal philosophy and the historical evolution of Islamic legal and jurisprudential system. Begins by studying the origins, nature, sources and interpretive methodologies of classical Islamic law, and the main institutions for upholding this law, the madhhab, or school of law, examining its development from the formative to the post-formative periods and highlighting important controversies generated along the way. Then looks at the early encounter of Islamic law with modernity. Followed by an exploration of several contemporary topics that have served as catalysts for new tensions and alternative approaches and interpretive theories. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: Previous coursework on Islam or consent of instructor.
REL 481 - Muslim Ethics in Global Age
Exploration of contemporary, often revisionist Muslim ideas on a broad range of ethical issues that face societies today, such as human rights, democracy, gender equality, just war, pluralism, and bioethics. Same as SAME 481. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: Previous coursework on Islam or the Middle East.
REL 482 - Muslim-Christian Interactions
Explores the complexity of Muslim-Christian interactions since early Islam, including theological and philosophical exchanges, debates, polemics, interfaith dialogue, perceptions of each other, Muslim minorities in the West, and Christian minorities in the Muslim world, and the relationship of religion to culture. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.
REL 484 - Buddhist Meditation
Examines classical systems of Buddhist meditation and their relation to Buddhist psychology and world view. Same as EALC 484. 3 undergraduate hours. 3 graduate hours. Prerequisite: REL 287 or consent of instructor.
REL 488 - History of Chinese Buddhism
Same as EALC 488. See EALC 488.
REL 493 - Honors Senior Thesis
Two-term research project. 3 undergraduate hours. No graduate credit. May be repeated in separate terms for a total of 6 undergraduate hours. Prerequisite: Senior majors in religion who are eligible for graduating with distinction from the program.
REL 494 - Topics in Religious Thought
Various topics in religious thought. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. May be repeated as topics vary.
Fall 2021 - African American Rel History
African American Religious History will be taught by Professor Alexia Williams This seminar is an examination of African American religious history and culture from 1526 – 2020. Beginning with the 16th century transatlantic slave trade, to 20th century civil rights activism and the current Black Lives Matter movement, students will historicize the formation of black religious communities, migrations and social movements throughout US history. Note: This course meets with AFRO 498
Spring 2021 - Yoga, Art & the Hindu Temple
This seminar is a journey into the body disciplines of ancient India- yoga, dance, theatre- and their relationship with the Hindu temple. During the course, we will make use of textual, epigraphical and visual materials to investigate the role of the ancient Hindu temple as the space where these disciplines were performed and also represented in the temple sculptures. We will explore the theoretical foundations behind the “moving body” of yoga and dance with a special focus on the concepts of āsana, mudrā, nāṭya, abhinaya and rasa and we will discuss the form and the function of their representations in the temple sculptures. The seminar will feature a wide range of visual material. A series of guest speakers will contribute to the teaching. Will be taught by Dr. Anna Tosato
Spring 2020 - Islam in/and Russia
This course is a Big Ten Academic Alliance course and is taught via video conference from Michigan University.
REL 495 - Topics in Asian Religions
Topics in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and other Asian religious traditions. Same as EALC 495. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. May be repeated to a maximum of 6 undergraduate hours or 8 graduate hours as topics vary. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or consent of instructor.
Fall 2021 - The Lotus Sutra and Japanese Culture
Spring 2021 - Karma of Words
The Karma of Words: Buddhism, Language and the Literary Arts of Japan. This course explores the relation between Buddhism, Language and the Literary Arts of Japan. After introducing the ideas, motifs, paradigms and images of the Buddhist tradition and reading Buddhist scriptural texts (Buddhcarita, Vimalakirti Sutra, Lotus Sutra) from a literary perspective, we will then analyze how Buddhism was re-expressed and reshaped in Japanese literature through a close reading of court poetry, tales of karma and love, literary essays, noh drama, linked verse and haiku. In addition to these works of literature, we will examine two pivotal thinkers on Buddhism, Language and Literature in Japan: Kūkai and Dōgen.
Fall 2020 - Death in JAPN Buddhism
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 and dying in Japan.
REL 496 - Topics in History of Judaism
Examination of two or three of the most important practices, beliefs, icons, texts, myths, and spiritual encounters that have and continue to shape Judaism as a religion. Same as JS 496. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. May be repeated to a maximum of 6 undergraduate hours or 8 graduate hours.
Fall 2020 - Readings in Rabbinic Midrash
Seminar on the foundational text of Judaism- the Midrashic collections (3rd c. - 8th C.E.). We will consider the distinctiveness of Midrashic form and content, and also reflect upon the central methodological issues and problems for the study of this classic corpus. Course Information: Graduate 4 credits. Undergrads see REL 416
REL 498 - Topics in Biblical Studies
Detailed interpretation of selected books of the Bible. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. May be repeated to a maximum of 6 undergraduate hours or 8 graduate hours as topics vary.
500 Level Courses
REL 504 - Genesis in History
Survey of Jewish and Christian cultural reception of Genesis in the ancient and medieval worlds. Examines techniques of exegesis and strategies of interpretation in the ancient world, such as allegory, narrative expansion, and retelling. Engages with foundational studies of modern scholarship on biblical reception. While focusing on the initial chapters of Genesis, we will also explore the appropriation of Abraham traditions and the Joseph story. Same as MDVL 504.
REL 510 - Graduate Intro to Religion
Introduction for first semester graduate students to selected methods and techniques for conducting research in the area of Religion. Students will receive general guidance on strategies for conducting bibliographic research and designing research projects. Includes study of some currently salient issues and areas of inquiry in a number of disciplines pertaining to the study of religion. The course will be supervised by one professor and will offer a series of presentations on several methodologies and historical issues by experts in various fields. 4 graduate hours. No professional credit.
REL 511 - Seminar in Study of Religion
Intensive study of select topics or issues in the study of religion. May be repeated in the same or separates terms as topics vary.
REL 514 - Islamic Theology
Study of the language, arguments and schools of classical Islamic theology, mainly through direct study of English translations of theological texts from two different theological schools. Same as SAME 514.
REL 515 - History of Jewish Theology
Study of Israelite and Jewish thought from the biblical to modern period. Particular attention will be paid to theological matters and to the historical, cultural and intellectual challenges that engendered a re-thinking and re-conceptualization of the Jewish faith.
REL 520 - Hindu Pilgrimage, Power & Place
This course undertakes a critical examination of the nature and practices of Hindu pilgrims, pilgrimages, and pilgrimage sites. We will examine central beliefs and practices of lived religion in the Hindu tradition and situate Hindu pilgrimage within the broader context of pilgrimage and related discussions of power and place. Same as SAME 520. 4 graduate hours. No professional credit.
REL 535 - Historiography of Religion in America
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.
REL 564 - Global Religion and Politics
Same as SAME 564 and SOC 564. See SOC 564.
REL 567 - Mahayana Buddhism
An investigation of Buddhist core notions as conceived from the point of view of the three Major Mahayana traditions with an examination of the ways in which these Mahayana traditions are presented in modern and early modern scholarship. At stake is the fundamental hermeneutic issue of the ways in which the "moderns" look at pre-modern thought, that is, the questions of the historical situatedness of thought. Prerequisite: At least one previous course in Buddhism or consent of instructor.
REL 568 - Popular Religion in East Asia
Study of the history of East Asian religions through primary and secondary sources primarily focusing on Buddhism and indigenous faiths. Students will gain an understanding of the social and historical character of popular religion through East Asia. Same as EALC 567. Prerequisites: Graduate Students majoring in East Asian religions must be prepared to read some primary sources written in the original language; graduate students in the other majors are not required to read in the original language.
REL 590 - Independent Study
Special topics not treated in regularly scheduled courses; for graduates. 2 to 6 graduate hours. No professional credit. May be repeated. Prerequisite: Evidence of adequate preparation for such study and consent of staff member supervising the work.
REL 599 - Thesis Research
Researching and writing a thesis in consultation with a faculty adviser. 0 to 16 graduate hours. No professional credit. Approved for S/U grading only. May be repeated. The M.A. program in Religion allows students to receive a maximum of 8 hours for the M.A.