See the CAS online bulletin for all the courses offered by the Religion Department.
Department of Religion
Fall 2022 Course Offerings
Introduction to Religion
Anthony Petro T/THR 11:00AM-12:15PM
Religion matters. It makes meaning and provides structure to life, addressing fundamental questions about body, spirit, community, and time. But what is it? How does it work in our world? This course explores religion in ritual, philosophical, experiential, and ethical dimensions. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS. Hub Units: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Creativity/Innovation.
CAS RN101/CAS JS120
Michael Zank MWF 12:20PM-1:10PM
An introductory study of Jewish and Christian scriptures; connections between biblical and related ancient cultures; biblical genres (epic narrative, law, prophecy, poetry, historiography, gospels, letters, apocalypse) and their literary character, major classical and modern strategies of reading. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS. Hub Units: Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness, Creativity/Innovation.
Religions of Asia
Yair Lior MWF 9:05AM-9:55AM
Study of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto. Focus on the world view of each tradition and the historical development of that world view. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS. Hub Units: Historical Consciousness, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Teamwork/Collaboration.
CAS RN104/CAS JS121
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Jonathan Klawans MWF 11:15AM-12:05PM
Islam, Christianity, and Judaism in historical and cultural context, origins to the present. Examines diversity of practices, belief systems, and social structures within these religions. Also addresses debates within and between communities as well as contemporary controversies and concerns. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS. Hub Units: Aesthetic Exploration, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, and Creativity/Innovation
Death and Immortality
Laura Harrington T/THR 11:00AM-12:15PM
Examines death as religious traditions have attempted to accept, defeat, deny, or transcend it. Do we have souls? Do they reincarnate? What to do with a corpse? Other topics include mourning, burial, cremation, martyrdom, resurrection, near-death experiences. Hub Units: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Creativity/Innovation.
Theoretical Approaches to the Study of Religion
Teena Purohit T/THR 9:30AM-10:45AM
Origins and history of the academic study of religion. Different constructions of religion as an object of study and the methods that arise from them. The role of the humanities and social sciences in understanding religion’s place in history and contemporary experience. Hub Units: Historical Consciousness, Philosophical Inquiry, and Life’s Meanings, Critical Thinking.
Frank Korom MWF 1:25PM-2:15PM
The course will provide the student with the opportunity to study on an introductory level Hinduism, the majority religion of India and Nepal. It is structured for the student who has had little or no previous background in the study of Hinduism from either an anthropological perspective or from a literary and historical point of view. It will focus on the development of the Hindu textual tradition, the philosophy and mythology it expounds, and the ritual practices related to it. Emphasis will be placed on how Hindu traditions adapted to changing historical conditions. Hub Units: Aesthetic Exploration, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings.
CAS RN242/CAS HI203
Magic, Science, Religion
Deeana Klepper T/THR 2:00PM-3:15PM
Boundaries and relationships between magic, science, and religion from late antiquity through the European Enlightenment. Topics include transformation of pagan traditions, distinctions between learned and popular traditions, Scientific Revolution, and changing assumptions about God and Nature. Also offered as CAS HI 203. CAS RN 242 carries humanities divisional credit in CAS. Hub Units: Historical Consciousness, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Critical Thinking.
CAS RN243/CAS AN243
Shamans and Shamanism
Frank Korom MWF 11:15AM-12:05PM
Shamans in global and theoretical perspectives. The origins and construction of the category of shamanism. Modern theories and debates about the category and the appropriateness of applying it cross-culturally. Also offered as CAS AN 243. Hub Units: Historical Consciousness, Social Inquiry I.
CAS RN245/CAS PH245
Quest for God and the Good
Diana Lobel MWF 1:25 PM-2:15 PM
Investigates the meaning and purpose of human life, the significance of God or an Absolute, the role of contemplation and action in the spiritual quest, relationships between philosophy and religious thought, East and West. Also offered as CAS PH 245. Hub Units: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy.
CAS RN250/CAS SO250
Introduction to the Sociology of Religion
Rachelle Reinhart MWF 10:10 AM-11:00 AM
Explores the role of religion in the organization of meaning within human societies and its contribution to the construction, maintenance, and transformation of the social order. Ways in which religion provides specific sets of solutions to the problems of social order are also explored. Hub Units: The Individual in Community, Social Inquiry I, Critical Thinking.
CAS RN296/CAS AA296
Religion and Hip Hop
Margarita Guillory MWF 10:10 AM-11:00 AM
Uses digital media studies to explore diverse religious expressions in hip hop culture. Through critical reading, community field trips, and hands-on technology usage, students consider an often overlooked element in the study of hip hop culture: religion. Hub Units: Digital/Multimedia Expression, Aesthetic Exploration, Creativity/Innovation.
CAS RN328/CAS JS 255/GRS RN628/STH TX828
Judaism in the Modern Period/The Modern Jew
Steve Katz T/THR 12:30PM-1:45PM
Exploration of complex encounters between Judaism and modernity from the Renaissance and Reformation to expulsion from Spain and creation of Jewish centers in the New World; emancipation and its consequences; assimilation, conversion, Reform Judaism, Zionism, the American Jewish community, modern anti-Semitism. Hub Units: Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Historical Consciousness, Critical Thinking.
CAS RN337/GRS RN637/CAS HI205/CAS JS377/CAS WS377
Gender, Sexuality, and Judaism
Deeana Klepper T/THR 12:30PM-1:45PM
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. Hub Units: Historical Consciousness, Writing-Intensive Course, Research and Information Literacy.
CAS RN338/CAS JS348/GRS RN638/CAS PH495/STH TT811
Philosophy and Mysticism: Jewish and Islamic Perspectives
Diana Lobel T/THR 2:00PM-3:15PM
A 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. Hub Units: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, and Critical Thinking.
Religion and Violence
Teena Purohit T/THR 12:30PM-1:45PM
What is the relationship between religious belief and violence enacted in the name of religion? This course will explore historical, social, ideological, and political contexts from which violent acts, conducted in the name of religion, emerge through studies of sacred texts, religious activists’ writings, and recent case studies in multiple traditions and geographic contexts. Hub Unit: Social Inquiry I, Research, and Information Literacy.
CAS RN364/GRS RN664/STH TX878
Laura Harrington T/THR 2:00PM-3:15PM
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. Hub Units: Aesthetic Exploration, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Teamwork/Collaboration.
CAS RN365/CAS AH325/GRS RN665
Art, Media, and Buddhism
April Hughes T/THR 11:00AM-12:15PM
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. Hub Units: Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness, Teamwork/Collaboration.
CAS RN383/CAS AA383/GRS RN683/GRS AA683
African Diaspora Religions
Margarita Guillory MWF 12:20PM-1:10PM
This course introduces students to religions of the African Diaspora, with a specific focus on the Caribbean and the Americas. Religious traditions such as Africanized Christianity, Cuban Santería, Haitian Vodou, Brazilian Candomblé and African American Spiritualism will be explored. Also offered as CAS AA 383. Hub Units: Historical Consciousness, The Individual in Community, and Research and Information Literacy.
CAS RN384/CAS JS260/GRS RN684/STH TX884
Steven Katz T/THR 3:30PM-4:45PM
Rise of German (and European) antisemitism; rise of Nazism; 1935 Nuremberg Laws; the initial Jewish reaction; racial theory; organizing mass murder including ghettos, concentration camps, killing squads, and gas chambers; bystanders and collaborators (countries, organizations, and individuals); Jewish resistance; post-Holocaust religious responses; moral and ethical issues. Hub Unit: Ethical Reasoning, Historical Consciousness, Critical Thinking.
GRS RN685/CAS XL281/CAS JS261/CAS CI269
Alissa Leigh-Valles T/THR 11:00AM-12:15PM
Questions of representation in literature and film about the Holocaust, including testimonial and fictive works by Wiesel and Levi, Ozick, and others; films include documentaries and feature films. Discussions of the Holocaust as historical reality, metaphor, and generative force in literature. Hub Units: Historical Consciousness, Ethical Reasoning.
CAS RN397/CAS PH456/GRS RN697/GRS PH656
Topics in Philosophy and Religion
David Decosimo T 5:45PM-8:30 PM
Why are we here? Alongside philosophers and religious thinkers, this course explores different versions of this question. Why are we here reading and talking? Why are we at BU? Why are we here at all? Does life have some meaning? Hub Units: Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Critical Thinking.
CAS RN406/CAS JS416/GRS RN706/STH TN850
Biblical Fakes and Forgeries
Jonathan Klawans M 1:25PM-3:05PM, W 1:25-2:15
Examines forged documents and artifacts relating to Hebrew Bible and New Testament, probing historical and ethical questions they raise. Examples (alleged and certain forgeries) include book of Daniel, Gnostic Gospels, Secret Gospel of Mark, and forged Dead Sea Scroll fragments. Hub Units: Ethical Reasoning, Historical Consciousness, Critical Thinking.
CAS RN420/CAS PH409/GRS RN720/GRS PH609/STH TX879
Michael Zank M 6:30PM-9:15PM
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. Also offered as CAS PH 409. Hub Units: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Oral and/or Signed Communication.
CAS RN450/GRS RN750Topics in Religion, Health, and Medicine*April Hughes T/THR 2:00PM-3:15PM Health and Medicine in Asian Religions. This seminar investigates how religious and moral narratives in Asian religions have informed understandings of the body in premodern and modern times. We will pay specific attention to how notions of embodiment and health surface in debates over gender differences. Our readings will focus on various traditions and geographic areas in Asia, with particular attention to East Asia. Hub Units: Historical Consciousness, Oral and/or Signed Communication, Critical Thinking Topic for Fall 2022:*This course can be repeated for credit*
CAS RN466/GRS RN766/STH TX854
Religion and the Problem of Tolerance
Adam Seligman T/THR 11:00AM-12:15PM
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. Hub Units: Ethical Reasoning, The Individual in Community, Teamwork/Collaboration.
CAS RN532/CAS AN532
Literacy and Islam in Africa
Fallou Ngom T/THR 11:00AM-12:15PM
Examines the Islamization of Africa and literary traditions. Students learn about African texts written in the Arabic script (Ajami) and the spread of Islam and its Africanization throughout the continent. Texts written by enslaved Africans in the Americas are examined.
Approaches to Religion II: Religion and Contemporary Theory
David Frankfurter T 3:30PM-6:15PM
Surveys contemporary theoretical and methodological works in religious studies. Topics might include the category of experience; ritual; modernism and postmodernism; sexual, racial, and cultural difference; postcolonial theory; historicism; narrative theory; gender and sexuality studies; secularism; and the politics of interpretation.