Graduate Level Courses in the Department of Religion

See the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Bulletin for all courses offered by the Division


Fall 2014 Graduate Courses

CAS RN524/XL560/STH TX826
Apocalypse and Literature

Topics in Religion and Literature
Faculty: Dennis Costa
W 3:00PM-6:00PM
Literary responses to the biblical book of Revelation, from ancient to modern times. Systematic analysis of the biblical text.  Readings from Dante, Langland, Rabelais, Blake, Hölderlin, Dostoevsky, García Lorca, Samuel Beckett, and Flannery O’Connor. Reference to artistic and musical representations of apocalypse.
Prereq: junior standing and one course in literature or religion, or consent of instructor.

CAS RN561/IR561/STH TX874
Religion and International Relations

Faculty: Jeremy Menchik
T 5:00PM-8:00PM
Explores the role of religion in contemporary international relations in the context of questions about the common core of modernity. Reviews scholarly and policy literature, and case studies, in order to elucidate religions intellectual and operational diversity in international relations.

CAS RN563/HI596/AH539/AN548/ STH TX847
Muslim Societies: An Interdisciplinary History

Faculty: Betty Anderson
R 12:00PM-3:00PM
Examines the states, empires, faiths, and ideologies of the Muslim world over a 1500-year period, including states from North and West Africa, through the Middle East, to Turkey, Iran, and then to Central and Southeast Asia.

Modern Islam

Faculty: Teena Purohit
TR 9:30AM-11:00AM
Focuses on formations of Islam in colonial and postcolonial periods. How modernist and Islamist thinkers have negotiated the encounter between tradition and modernity.
Prereq: one course in RN or PH, or CC101/102, or consent of instructor.

Jewish Mysticism I: Formative Traditions

Faculty: Steven Katz
TR 12:30PM-2:00PM
Analysis of the development of Jewish mysticism from the biblical to the early medieval era. Emphasis on the forms of mysticism–and the texts in which they are embedded–from the rabbinic era. No knowledge of Hebrew is required.

American Jewish Experiences

Faculty: Hillel Levine
TR 11:00AM-12:30PM
Traces the achievements and reputations of Jews, shaped by stereotypes of wealth, power, intellect and sexuality. Students examine film, literature, art, popular music, attitudes towards Israel, religious practices, and intermarriage rates for evidence of changing trends.

Mysticism and Philosophy: Jewish and Islamic Perspectives

Faculty: Diana Lobel
MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM
Thematic introduction to mysticism and philosophy, with a focus on dynamics of religious experience. Readings from medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy; Sufi mysticism and philosophy; Kabbalah, Biblical interpretation, Sufi poetry, Hebrew poetry from the Golden Age of Muslim Spain.

Confucian Religion

Faculty: Wiebke Denecke
TR 11:00AM-12:30PM
Religious aspects of Confucianism, with attention to the Analects. Topics include ceremony, song and poetry, morality and sagehood, ancestral sacrifice; establishment of Confucianism as state religion; role of women; and modernity.

Buddhist Literature

Faculty: Tom Michael
MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM
Focuses on Buddhist sutras and other literature to explore key issues of doctrine, philosophy, and praxis in the Theravada and Mahayana traditions of Buddhism. Topics include the Buddha’s life, practicing the path, emptiness, and interdependence.

American Evangelicalism

Faculty: Anthony Petro
TR 11:00AM-12:30PM
Major trends in American Evangelicalism, from the colonial awakenings and religious reform to the contemporary Christian Right. Focus on how evangelicals have negotiated and shaped central tenets of American culture, including understandings of gender, race, performance, nation, sexuality, and economics.

Culture, Society, and Religion in South Asia

Faculty: Frank Korom
MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM
Ethnographic and historical introduction to the Indian subcontinent with a focus on the impact of religion on cultural practices and social institutions.

The Holocaust

Faculty: Steven Katz
TR 3:30PM-5:00PM
Background of German (and European) anti-Semitism. Rise of Nazism and early oppression, initial Jewish reaction, mechanics of destruction, ghettos, camps, world response and nonresponse, literature of the Holocaust, and religious implications.

CAS RN397/PH456/GRS RN697/PH656/STH TT821
Philosophy and the Future of Religion

Topics in Philosophy and Religion
Faculty: David Eckel
W  5:00PM-8:00PM
Examines key questions in the contemporary philosophy of religion, including the possibility of religion without God, “naturalized” or scientific views of religion, religious pluralism, and inter-religious tolerance. Featuring visiting lecturers in fall Institute for Philosophy and Religion lecture series.

GRS RN710 /STH TX 871
Religion, Community, and Culture in Medieval Spain

Faculty: Deeana Klepper
T 3:30PM-6:30PM
Interactions between Muslims, Christians, and Jews in medieval Europe’s most religiously diverse region — from the establishment of an Islamic al-Andalus in 711 CE to the final Christian “reconquest” of the peninsula and expulsion of the Jews in 1492 CE.

GRS RN723/STH TX 895
Core Texts and Motifs of World Religions: West

Faculty: Jonathan Klawans
MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM
An intensive seminar in primary texts and key ideas of theology and religious philosophy as developed in representative world religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. First course in a year-long sequence. Each semester may be taken independently.
Prereq:(CASCC101 & CASCC102) or two courses in religion or philosophy.

GRS RN725 B1/STH TX 825 B1
Lived Islam

Topics in South Asian Religions
Faculty: Frank Korom
M 6:00PM-9:00PM
South Asian religions can be studied as textual traditions or as contextual ones. This seminar will explore how Islam is lived on a daily basis by Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent. Emphasis will be placed on orthopraxy over orthodoxy.

American Spiritual Autobiography

Topics in American Religion
Faculty: Stephen Prothero
M 2:00PM-5:00PM
Exploration of the art of portraying the self in the light of the divine in U.S. history with an emphasis on contemporary work. Possible authors include: Thomas Merton, Swami Yogananda, Malcolm X, Ann Lamott, Richard Rodriguez, Elie Wiesel, Jarena Lee.

Buddhism, the State, and Politics in East Asia

Topics in East Asian Religions
Faculty: Gina Cogan
TR 12:30PM-2:00PM
Analyzes models of the ideal Buddhist ruler in China, Korea, and Japan and their behaviors both historically and in the present.  Topics include state patronage and persecution of Buddhism as well as Buddhist rebellions and resistance to state control.

Happiness, East and West

Topics in Religious Thought
Faculty: Diana Lobel
TR 2:00PM-3:30PM
What is happiness? How can we achieve a balanced, healthy, fulfilling life? Classical thinkers such as Aristotle, Plato, Chuang Tzu; Buddhist, Confucian, Epicurean, and Stoic paths; comparison with contemporary studies of happiness.

Religion and the Problem of Tolerance

Faculty: Adam Seligman
TR 2:00PM-3:30PM
Explores the religious roots of tolerance as an alternative to secular, more liberal foundations for pluralism. Grapples with the challenge of tolerance to the revealed religions and the ways different societies have met or failed to meet this challenge.

Social Science Approaches to Religion

Faculty: Nancy Ammerman
T 3:30PM-6:30PM
Introduces major theoretical questions in the social scientific study of religion. Examines approaches of Marx, Durkheim, and Freud among others.

Philosophical and Theological Approaches to Religion

Faculty: Michael Zank
W 6:00PM-9:00PM
An introduction to the philosophical and theological approaches to the study of religion(s) as distinct from other humanities-based and social-scientific approaches. Provides a common vocabulary for students pursuing historical, constructive, or interdisciplinary projects related to religions thought.


Spring 2014 Graduate Courses

Varieties of Early Christianity

David Frankfurter
TR 12:30PM-2:00PM
Surveys the many different and often competing forms of Christianity that arose and flourished in the second to the seventh century, from the “apostolic period” to the Arab conquest in the Middle East.
Prereq: junior standing. At least one prior course in biblical or New Testament literature recommended.

GRS RN629/STH  TX829
Modern Jewish Thought

Thomas Meyer
TR 9:30AM-11:00AM
Reading Jewish thinkers from the radical Enlightenment to twentieth century existentialism and Zionism,this course introduces some of the great philosophical debates on religion and secularism, revelation and scientific reason, and ethnic particularism and universal ethics.

Gender and Judaism

Deeana Klepper
TR 12:30PM-2:00PM
In this course, we will explore the role of gender and sexuality in Judaism and Jewish experience, historically and in the present. Subjects will include constructions of masculinity and femininity, attitudes toward (and uses of) the body and sexuality, textual traditions, and the gendered nature of religious practice and religious authority.

Zen Buddhism

Gina Cogan
MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM
A study of Zen teachings and practices as a sect of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, as a philosophic system, and as a pattern of culture.

GRS RN682/
AA882/HI749/STH TX883
History of Religion in Pre-Colonial Africa

John Thornton
TR 12:30PM-2:00PM
The study of the development of religious traditions in Africa during the period prior to European colonialism. An emphasis on both indigenous religions and the growth and spread of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the continent as a whole.

GRS RN687/AN384/GRS AN784/STH TX887
Anthropology of Religion

Faculty: Frank Korom
TR 9:30AM-11:00AM
Myth, ritual, and religious experience across cultures. Special attention to the problem of religious symbolism and meaning, religious conversion and revitalization, contrasts between traditional and world religions, and the relation of religious knowledge to science, magic, and ideology.

GRS RN697/PH656/STH TT819
Heidegger and Cassirer at Davos, 1929

Topics in Philosophy and Religion
Michael Zank/Thomas Meyer
R 3:30PM-6:30PM
Remembered as one of the seminal moments in 20th-century history, this great debate on the legacy of Kant pitted against one another science-oriented neo-Kantianism and a new, radical departure within the western tradition represented by Martin Heidegger. This course will review the basic texts, some of them newly published, and the philosophical problems at stake.

GRS RN720/PH609/STH TX879

Michael Zank
TR 2:00PM-3:30PM
A study of major aspects of the thought of Maimonides. Primary focus on the Guide of the Perplexed, with attention to its modern reception in works by Baruch Spinoza, Hermann Cohen, Leo Strauss, and others.

Core Texts and Motifs of World Religions: East

Diana Lobel
TR 2:00PM-3:30PM
An intensive seminar in primary texts and key ideas of theology and religious philosophy as developed in representative world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism. Second course in a year-long sequence. Each semester may be taken independently.

Sufism in South Asia

Topics in South Asian
Frank Korom
TR 12:30PM-2:00PM
Advanced seminar exploring the history and development of Sufism in the Indian subcontinent. Readings and lectures will focus on both historical and contemporary perspectives. The course will conclude with an exploration of the globalization of South Asian Sufism.

Jewish Bioethics

Michael Grodin
R 3:30PM-6:30PM
Exploration of Jewish perspectives on life, death and dying, abortion, the new reproductive technologies, organ transplantation and genetic engineering. Examination of the impact of the Nazi doctors, racial hygiene, euthanasia, and genocide on contemporary bioethics.

Religion and the Problem of Tolerance

Adam Seligman
TR 11:00AM-12:30PM
Explores the religious roots of tolerance as an alternative to secular, more liberal foundations for pluralism. Grapples with the challenge of tolerance to the revealed religions and the ways different societies have met or failed to meet this challenge.

CAS RN556/LI556/XL385/STH TX866
Dante: The Divine Comedy II: Purgatorio and Paradiso

Dennis Costa
TR 11:00AM-12:30PM
Focus on the literary, philosophical, and theological ideas Dante uses to represent his experience of himself and of human nature. Bi-lingual texts. Lectures and discussions in English.

Humanities Approaches to Religion

Anthony Petro
W 6:00PM-9:00PM
Introduces major theoretical questions in the humanistic study of religion. Examines the nature and origin of religion as well as definitions and critiques of religion from comparative, historical, sociological, literary standpoints as well as postmodern and gender studies approaches.

Topics in Theory of Religion

Seminar in Religion
Christopher Lehrich
T 3:30PM-6:30PM
Prospective students will meet with Prof. Lehrich in the fall 2013 semester to determine a focal topic for discussion and readings.