Religious Studies (including Religion)
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GRS RN 601: Varieties of Early Christianity
Undergraduate Prerequisites: At least one prior course in biblical or New Testament literature recommended.
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.
GRS RN 612: Buddhism in America
The transplantation and transformation of Buddhism in the United States. Time period ranges from the 18th century to the present, but the emphasis is on contemporary developments, including the new Asian immigration, Jewish Buddhism, feminization, and engaged Buddhism.
GRS RN 614: Religious Thought in America
Surveys many of the strategies that American religious thinkers have adopted for interpreting the cosmos, the social order and human experience, and the interaction of those strategies with broader currents of American culture. Also offered as GRS HI 708. Effective Fall 2018, this course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub areas: Historical Consciousness, Social Inquiry II.
GRS RN 616: Modern Islam
Graduate Prerequisites: graduate standing.
Focuses on formations of Islam in colonial and postcolonial periods. How modernist and Islamist thinkers have negotiated the encounter between tradition and modernity.
GRS RN 622: History of Judaism
This class surveys Jewish history from the classical period to modern times. It covers: the destruction of the 1st Temple; the encounter with Hellenism; the Roman period; the destruction of the 2nd Temple; the rise and influence of rabbinic Judaism; the medieval era under Muslim and Christian rule; medieval antisemitism; Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah); and philosophy (Maimonides). For the modern era we will discuss: the Renaissance; the Reformation; the complex issue of Emancipation; coming to America; the growth of American Judaism; religious reform; modern antisemitism; and Zionism. Effective Spring 2021, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Historical Consciousness, Critical Thinking.
GRS RN 625: Seminar: Early Jewish Mysticism
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.
GRS RN 626: Jewish Mysticism
Introduction to a major trend in Jewish mysticism that combined cosmic speculation and ecstatic practice, influenced Jewish prayer and Christian Renaissance thought, and remains popular today. Discusses Kabbalah's cultural roots, mystical techniques, major texts (including "Zohar"), and contemporary revival.
GRS RN 628: Modern Judaism
Encounters between Judaism and modernity from the Renaissance and Reformation; the Spanish expulsion and creation of Jewish centers in the New World; emancipation and its consequences; assimilation, Reform Judaism, Zionism, the American Jewish community, non-European communities, Jewish global migration, and modern antisemitism. Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Historical Consciousness, Critical Thinking.
GRS RN 634: Dead Sea Scrolls
Examination of the ancient Hebrew documents discovered in the Judean desert. Their authorship; the religious significance of the Scrolls; their relations to Ancient Judaism and early Christianity; the controversy over their release and publication. Effective Fall 2021, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Historical Consciousness, Critical Thinking.
GRS RN 637: Gender, Sexuality, and Judaism
Explores the role of gender and sexuality in Judaism and Jewish experience, historically and in the present. Subjects include constructions of masculinity and femininity, attitudes toward (and uses of) the body and sexuality, gendered nature of religious practice and authority.
GRS RN 638: Philosophy and Mysticism: Jewish and Islamic Perspectives
A thematic introduction to mysticism and philosophy, with a focus on the dynamics of religious experience. Readings will be drawn from medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy; Sufi mysticism and philosophy; Kabbalah, Sufi poetry, Hebrew poetry from the Golden Age of Muslim Spain. Effective Fall 2021, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Philosophical Inquiry and Life's Meanings, Critical Thinking.
GRS RN 640: The Quran
The emergence of the Quran as a major religious text, its structure and literary features, its principle themes and places within the religious and intellectual life of the Muslim community.
GRS RN 645: Shariah Law
Shariah Law looks behind the stereotypes and headlines--despotic rulers, barbaric punishments, women's oppression--to understand the origins, history, and structure of Islamic law. Explores its implementation in various times and places, modern transformations, and contemporary debates over legal reform.
GRS RN 648: Rumi and Persian Sufi Poetry
Introduction to the Persian Sufi poet Rumi's narrative and lyric writings. Beginning with an introduction to Islamic mysticism, studies the innovative aspects of Rumi's poetry and the problem of profane vs. sacred love. All readings in English translation.
GRS RN 664: Buddhist Literature
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.
GRS RN 665: Art, Media, and Buddhism
Examines how textual, visual, and material forms of religious expressions have been conceptualized by Buddhists as well as how Buddhist objects are understood and re- contextualized in the West. Topics include: self-immolation; museums; war propaganda, and pop culture. This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness, Teamwork/Collaboration.
GRS RN 669: Science and Religion: Dialogue and Debate
Challenges conventional wisdom that science and religion have always been at war in Europe and North America. Explores their interactions, mutual existence, and conflict from Copernicus' claim that the earth revolved around the sun to contemporary debates about evolution. Effective Fall 2019, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Historical Consciousness, Social Inquiry I.
GRS RN 675: Culture, Society and Religion in South Asia
Ethnographic and historical introduction to the Indian subcontinent with a focus on the impact of religion on cultural practices and social institutions.
GRS RN 682: History of Religion in Pre-Colonial Africa
Study of the development of religious traditions in Africa during the period prior to European colonialism. An emphasis both on indigenous religions and on the African roots and the growth and spread of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the continent as a whole. Also offered as GRS AA 882 and GRS HI 749.
GRS RN 683: African Diaspora Religions
An introduction to religions of the African Diaspora, with a specific focus on the Caribbean and the Americas. In this course, students engage diverse traditions such as Africanized Christianity, Cuban Santeria, Haitian Vodou, Brazilian Candomble, and African American Spiritualism.