Religion

Departmental Office: Room 103, 80 Claremont; 212-851-4122
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/religion

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Gil Anidjar, Room 207, 80 Claremont; 212-851-4130; ga152@columbia.edu

Director of Academic Administration and Finance: Meryl Marcus, Room 103B, 80 Claremont; 212-851-4124; mm3039@columbia.edu

The Religion Department's curriculum is designed to engage students in critical, comparative, and interdisciplinary exploration of religious life. The faculty's research and teaching build upon the shared understandings that religion continues to be a central and influential component of human life, society, and politics—and that, furthermore, religious transmission and authority are constantly being shaped in dynamic interactions with other religious traditions, societies, and cultures. Courses and seminars in religion teach students how to analyze and investigate religious texts, histories, beliefs, bodies, and communities using a variety of disciplinary and methodological approaches.

Students are also encouraged to conduct their studies by exploring one or more zone of inquiry. These are focus areas that integrated in the departmental curriculum and complement the tradition-based approaches. They provide broad and alternative frames that aim to identify problems, chart trajectories cutting across different field specialties, and set parameters for theoretical and methodological questions. The zones are: Time (History, Modernity), Transmission (Tradition, Memory, Institutions), Space (Place, Geography, Virtual Space), Body (Materiality, Mind, Bio-ethics), and Media (Transportation, Information, Communication).

Majors and concentrators in religion gain both a foundation in the study of religious traditions in historical contexts and zones of inquiry, all grounded in theoretical and methodological debates that shape academic and public discussions about religion. Lecture courses, seminars, and colloquia are designed to balance students’ growing understanding of particular religious topics, dynamics, and traditions with intensive engagement with critical theoretical, political, and philosophical debates. Students are encouraged to pursue a course of study in which they develop breadth and depth, as well as the tools and expertise to pose (and even answer) necessary questions about religious phenomena of the past or present.

As the study of religion is truly interdisciplinary, students find their work in the department enhanced by their coursework in the College's Core curriculum and in related departments. Many religion courses are listed in the College's Global Core requirement, and numerous religious works are central texts in Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization. Majors and concentrators are required to take courses outside of religion in related fields to expand their vision of approaches to religion.

In addition, the University's wide offerings in the languages of various religious traditions (including Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Persian, Latin, Sanskrit, and Tibetan) augment many students' abilities to conduct research in religion. Students likewise are actively encouraged to explore the world-renowned archival resources within Columbia's libraries (including the Rare Book and Manuscript Room, the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, the C.V. Starr East Asian Library), and to explore and investigate the equally wide range of living religious communities represented in New York's global neighborhoods.

Prospective majors should first arrange to meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. All students are then allocated a faculty adviser, and must submit a copy of the Declaration of Major form to the director of undergraduate studies. After agreeing upon a plan for the major or concentration, students must obtain final approval and confirmation from the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Guidelines for all Religion Majors and Concentrators

Major in Religion

All majors are encouraged to pursue both depth and breadth by constructing a program of study in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The program should include courses in a variety of religious traditions. Students who write a senior thesis may include a term of individually supervised research as one of the courses for their major. 

Courses

For the major the following 9 courses are required:

  • 1 gateway course (1000 level)
  • 2 introductory courses (2000 level).
  • 2 intermediate courses (3000 level).
  • 1 additional course at any level.

RELI UN3199 / V3799 Theory (formerly Juniors Colloquium)

Concentration in Religion

To be planned in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies and with a member of the faculty in an area in which the student has a particular interest. The program should include some study in a breadth of religious traditions.

Courses

For the concentration the following 7 courses are required:

  • 1 gateway course (1000 level)
  • 2 introductory courses (2000 level).
  • 2 intermediate courses (3000 level).
  • 1 seminar (4000 level).
  • RELI UN3199 / V3799 Theory

Departmental Honors

Students who write a senior thesis and maintain a GPA of 3.66 or above in the major may be considered for departmental honors. Writing a senior thesis qualifies a student for consideration for departmental honors but does not assure it. Normally no more than 10% of graduating majors receive departmental honors in a given academic year.

Course Numbering

Courses are numbered by level and type:
    2000-level: Introductory and “traditions” lectures
    3000-level: Intermediate lecture
    4000-level: Undergraduate seminar

and Zone:
    x100-199: Theory (RELI UN3199/V3799)
    x200-299: Time (zone)
    x300-399: Transmission (zone)
    x400-499: Space (zone)
    x500-599: Body (zone)
    x600-699: Media (zone)

Professors

  • Gil Anidjar
  • Peter Awn
  • Courtney Bender (Chair)
  • Beth Berkowitz (Barnard)
  • Elizabeth Castelli (Barnard)
  • Katherine Pratt Ewing
  • Bernard Faure
  • John Hawley (Barnard)
  • Rachel McDermott (Barnard)
  • Wayne Proudfoot
  • Robert Somerville
  • Mark Taylor
  • Robert Thurman

Associate Professors

  • Michael Como
  • David (Max) Moerman (Barnard)
  • Josef Sorett

Assistant Professors

  • Clémence Boulouque
  • Najam Haider (Barnard)
  • Katharina Ivanyi
  • Gale Kenny (Barnard)
  • Zhaohua Yang

Visiting Scholar

  • Obery Hendricks

Adjunct Faculty

  • David Kittay
  • Thomas Yarnall

Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Marion Dapsance
  • Isabelle Levy (IIJS)
  • Robban Toleno (EALAC)

On Leave

  • Prof. Anidjar (Spring 2017)
  • Prof. Faure (Spring 2017)
  • Prof. Hawley (2016-17)
  • Prof. Moerman (2016-17)
  • Prof. Wayne Proudfoot (2016-17)
  • Prof. Somerville (Fall 2016)
  • Prof. Sorett (2016-17)
  • Prof. Taylor (Spring 2017)
  • Prof. Thurman (Spring 2017)

Guidelines for all Religion Majors and Concentrators

Senior Thesis

Many students choose to write a senior honors thesis in order to pursue an advanced topic in greater depth, or to work on a particular area of interest with one of their professors. This opportunity is available to all students who major in the department, regardless of GPA, and serves for many as their undergraduate capstone experience.

Students who write a senior thesis may apply for up to 3 points of directed reading with their thesis adviser. The deadline for application for the honors thesis in religion is the last day of exams in the student's junior spring term, and must be submitted for approval to the director of undergraduate studies. The application must include both a prospectus for the paper and a letter of support by the faculty member who has agreed to direct the thesis. The prospectus (5-7 pages) should detail a research program and the central question(s) to be pursued in the paper, preparation for the thesis, and a timeline. The primary adviser of the thesis must be a member of the Religion Department faculty.

Many students find that identifying a thesis project earlier in the junior year, in conjunction with the Juniors colloquium, presents an opportunity to develop a proposal in advance of deadlines for summer research funding from various sources, including the undergraduate schools and the Institute for Religion Culture and Public Life.

Grading

Courses in which a grade of D has been received do not count toward the major or concentration requirements.


Major in Religion

All majors are encouraged to pursue both depth and breadth by constructing a program of study in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies and with a member of the faculty in an area in which they have particular interest. The program should include courses in a variety of religious traditions. Students who write a senior thesis may include a term of individually supervised research as one of the courses for their major.

A minimum of 36 points is required as follows:

Introductory Courses
Select two introductory courses to religious traditions (2000-level).
Intermediate Courses
Select four intermediate religion courses (3000-level).
Seminars
Select two seminars (4000-level).
Related Courses
Select two related courses in other departments (must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies).
Theory Course
RELI UN3199 Theory

Concentration in Religion

To be planned in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies and with a member of the faculty in an area in which the student has a particular interest. The program should include some study in a breadth of religious traditions.

A minimum of 23 points is required as follows:

Introductory Courses
Select two introductory courses to religious traditions (2000-level; one may be a Barnard 2000-level course).
Intermediate Courses
Select two intermediate religion courses (3000-level).
Seminars
Select two advanced seminars (4000-level).
Related Courses
Select one related course in another department (must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies).
Theory Course
RELI UN3199 Theory

Spring 2017

RELI UN1610 Religion and Popular Culture. 3 points.

When we hear "pop culture," we often think of it in comparison to a "high culture."  In reality, popular culture is something that everyone has easy access to, and represents a common language of the people.  religion permeates American popular culture in surprising ways, and is part of national vocabulary.  In addition, religious communities turn to popular culture as a way to preserve their own identities and uniqueness in the face of homogenization and assimilation.....

Spring 2017: RELI UN1610
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 1610 001/01337 M W 4:10pm - 5:25pm
405 Milbank Hall
Hussein Rashid 3 49/75

RELI UN2304 Christianity. 3 points.

Survey of Christianity from its beginnings through the Reformation. Based on lectures and discussions of readings in primary source translations, this course will cover prominent developments in the history of Christianity. The structure will allow students to rethink commonly held notions about the evolution of modern Christianity with the texture of historical influence.

Spring 2017: RELI UN2304
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 2304 001/13013 M W 4:10pm - 5:25pm
403 International Affairs Bldg
Robert Somerville 3 30/60

RELI UN2307 Chinese Religious Traditions. 3 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Historical survey highlighting major developments in Chinese religion: includes selections from the "Warring States" classics, developments in popular Daoism, and an overview of the golden age of Chinese Buddhism. Touches on "Neo-Confucianism," popular literature of the late imperial period, and the impact of Western ideas.

Spring 2017: RELI UN2307
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 2307 001/16106 T Th 11:40am - 12:55pm
702 Hamilton Hall
Robban Toleno 3 55/60

RELI UN3199 Theory. 3 points.

An exploration of alternative theoretical approaches to the study of religion as well as other areas of humanistic inquiry.  The methods considered include: sociology, anthropology, philosophy, hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, structuralism, genealogy, and deconstruction.  (Previous title: Juniors Colloquium)

Spring 2017: RELI UN3199
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3199 001/03887 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
227 Milbank Hall
Elizabeth Castelli 3 16/20
Fall 2017: RELI UN3199
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3199 001/25083 M 10:10am - 12:00pm
201 80 Claremont
Mark Taylor 3 8/25

RELI V3203 Religion in America II. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Historical Studies (HIS)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Cultures in Comparison (CUL).

Survey of American religion from the Civil War to the present, with an emphasis on the ways religion has shaped American history, culture, and identity.

RELI V3301 Hebrew Bible. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Ethics and Values.

Introduction to the literature of ancient Israel against the background of the ancient Near East.

RELI UN3303 Judaism and Translation in the Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean. 3 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

The course explores both the practice of translation (the rendering of texts from one language to another) and the idea of translation (as a medium of cultural transmission) in the medieval and early modern Mediterranean.

Spring 2017: RELI UN3303
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3303 001/77283 M W 10:10am - 11:25am
628 Kent Hall
Isabelle Levy 3 23/25

RELI UN3311 Islam in the Post-Colonial World. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC I)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC II).

This course focuses on the multiple manifestations of the Islamic vision in the modern world. It begins with a survey of core Muslim beliefs before shifting to an examination of the impact of colonization and secular modernity on contemporary formulations of Islam.

Spring 2017: RELI UN3311
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3311 001/02984 M W 10:10am - 11:25am
202 Milbank Hall
Hussein Rashid 3 29/40

RELI UN3511 Tantra in South Asia, East Asia & the West. 3 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

An introduction to the history, literature, and ideology of Tantra and Tantric texts, deities, rituals, and traditions, proceeding chronologically from the early centuries C.E. to current forms of Tantric practice, and primarily covering India, China, and Japan.  Attention will also be given to contemporary iterations of Tantra in the West.  Questions of definition, transmission, patronage, gender, and appropriation link the various sections of the course.  Readings include primary texts, secondary sources, local case studies, and art historical material.

RELI UN3575 Evangelicalism: Sex, Media, and Religion in America. 3 points.

Crossing denominations and encompassing a range of theological commitments, evangelical Christianity can be described as a theological disposition, a mode of hermeneutical practice, a theological-aesthetic sensibility, a mass spiritual movement, a practice of cultivating sacred affect, an errand to the world, and a genre of revivalism. This multidisciplinary seminar will emphasize the role of popular media in constituting an evangelical public, the gendered nature of evangelical subjectivity, the role of sex and sexuality in evangelical self-definition, and the ways that evangelical theological categories have shaped what we think of as "the secular" in the United States.

Spring 2017: RELI UN3575
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3575 001/78096 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
101 80 Claremont
Elizabeth Dolfi 3 13/15

RELI GU4212 Modern Buddhism. 4 points.

What most Americans and Europeans call ‘Buddhism’ today is in fact a hybrid tradition dating back to the 19th century. It owes as much to European philosophy and esoteric thought as to Asian traditions themselves and appeared in the context of decolonization. This course will survey the history of this recent tradition, identifying cultural and political trends that contributed to its creation in various geographical areas. Readings include several primary texts by important proponents of Modern Buddhism. The texts should also be read in comparison with the appropriate scholarly works on the Asian traditions they supposedly draw on. One course on Buddhism or East Asian Religions is recommended, but not required, as background.

RELI GU4305 Secular and Spiritual America. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Majors and concentrators receive first priority.

Are Americans becoming more secular or more spiritual (not religious), or both? What are the connections between secularism and what is typically called non-organized religion or the spiritual in the United States? We will address these questions by looking at some of the historical trajectories that shape contemporary debates and designations (differences) between spiritual, secular and religious.

Spring 2017: RELI GU4305
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4305 001/68575 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
201 80 Claremont
Courtney Bender 4 9/20

RELI GU4308 Jewish Philosophy and Kabbalah. 4 points.

The purpose of this seminar is to study the interactions between two major intellectual trends in Jewish History, the philosophical and the mystical ones. From the medieval period to the twenty-first century, we will discuss their interactions, polemics and influences. We will compare Philosophy and Kabbalah in light of their understanding of divine representation and in light of their respective Theology and conception of God.

Spring 2017: RELI GU4308
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4308 001/21783 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
201 80 Claremont
Clemence Boulouque 4 10/25

RELI GU4315 Sufis and the Qur'an. 4 points.

This course is a seminar for advanced undergraduates and graduate students who wish to gain an understanding of the complexity and richness of the Sufi exegetical tradition.  the Qur'an has been the main source of of inspiration and contemplation for Sufis for centuries....

Spring 2017: RELI GU4315
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4315 001/26281 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
101 80 Claremont
Katharina Ivanyi 4 9/20

RELI GU4365 Revolutionary Women and Political Islam. 4 points.

Muslim female reformers and revolutionaries were at the forefront of many of the 20th and early 21st centuries’ historic socio-political and religious movements across the Global South. Members of diverse classes, families, and ethnic communities, many worked within the tenets of Islam in multiple ways to construct religious identity and work towards achieving and demanding civil and political rights. Yet the myriad theoretical and popular discourses underpinning emergent and longstanding women’s movements within revolutionary contexts are frequently overlooked. Moreover, representations of Muslim women too often rely on essentialist, ahistorical, static, victim-centered, and Orientalist descriptions and analyses. As a result, shades of difference in interpretation, ideology, practice, and culture are minimized. This course situates Muslim women as complex, multidimensional actors engaged in knowledge production and political and feminist struggles. We will read key texts and analyses from scholars and activists writing on religion, gender, sexuality, family planning, and women’s status in the contemporary Global South. The following questions will emerge in our discussions:“When is a hejab just a hejab?,” “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?,” and “What is an ‘Islamic Feminist’ and Should We Care?” Readings include memoirs, editorials, ethnographies,and political treatises, as well as historical scholarship from North Africa, the Gulf, the Levant,and Southeast Asia.

Spring 2017: RELI GU4365
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4365 001/73698 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
101 80 Claremont
Kristin Batmanghelichi 4 8/18

RELI GU4514 Defining Marriage. 4 points.

This seminar examines the changing purpose and meaning of marriage in the history of the United States from European colonization through contemporary debates over gay marriage. Topics include religious views of marriage, interracial marriage, and the political uses of the institution.

Spring 2017: RELI GU4514
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4514 001/05390 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
502 Diana Center
Gale Kenny 4 15/24

RELI W4525 Religion, Gender, and Violence. 4 points.

Investigates relations among religion, gender, and violence in the world today. Focuses on specific traditions with emphasis on historical change, variation, and differences in geopolitical location within each tradition, as well as among them at given historical moments.

RELI GU4535 Buddhist Contemplative Sciences. 4 points.

This course will explore key Buddhist contemplative sciences, including: stabilizing meditation; analytic insight meditation; the four immeasurables; form and formless trances; mind training; and the subtle body-mind states activated and transformed through advanced Tantric yoga techniques. These will be explored both within their traditional interdisciplinary frameworks, as well as in dialog with related contemporary arts and sciences.

Spring 2017: RELI GU4535
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4535 001/82396 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
201 80 Claremont
Thomas Yarnall 4 20/25

RELI GU4616 Technology, Religion, Future. 4 points.

This seminar will examine the history of the impact of technology and media on religion and vice versa before bringing into focus the main event: religion today and in the future. We'll read the classics as well as review current writing, video and other media, bringing thinkers such as Eliade, McLuhan, Mumford and Weber into dialogue with the current writing of Kurzweil, Lanier and Taylor, and look at, among other things: ethics in a Virtual World; the relationship between Burning Man, a potential new religion, and technology; the relevance of God and The Rapture in Kurzweil's Singularity; and what will become of karma when carbon-based persons merge with silicon-based entities and other advanced technologies.

RELI GU4637 Talmudic Narrative. 4 points.

  This course examines the rich world of Talmudic narrative and the way it mediates between conflicting perspectives on a range of topics: life and death; love and sexuality; beauty and superficiality; politics and legal theory; religion and society; community and non-conformity; decision-making and the nature of certainty.  While we examine each text closely, we will consider different scholars’ answers – and our own answers – to the questions, how are we to view Talmudic narrative generally, both as literature and as cultural artifact?

Spring 2017: RELI GU4637
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4637 001/08735 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
406 Barnard Hall
Beth Berkowitz 4 14/20

RELI GR6410 Issues in the study of South Asian Religion. 3 points.

May be repeated for credit; content varies.

Consideration of critical themes or major issues in the study of South Asian religions, especially those having major methodological implications. Themes vary from year to year.

Fall 2017: RELI GR6410
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 6410 001/05432 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
101 80 Claremont
Rachel McDermott 3 0/15

RELI GR6610 Markets, Media, Music: Readings in American Religious History. 4 points.

This course is designed to immerse graduate students in recent scholarship on the history of religion in North America, with a particular focus on questions related to the role of music, media and the marketplace in shaping of religious ideas and practices. Previous background in American history and/or religious studies is preferable.

Fall 2017: RELI GR6610
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 6610 001/61046 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
201 80 Claremont
Josef Sorett 4 2/15

RELI GR9631 Buddhist Texts. 3 points.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission. Knowledge of Tibetan and Sanskrit preferred.

Selected readings in Sanskrit and Tibetan texts, original and translations.

Fall 2017: RELI GR9631
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 9631 001/22230 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
303 80 Claremont
Robert Thurman 3 0/15

Fall 2017

RELI UN2205 Buddhism: Indo-Tibetan. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Historical introduction to Buddhist thought, scriptures, practices, and institutions. Attention given to Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantric Buddhism in India, as well as selected non-Indian forms.

Fall 2017: RELI UN2205
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 2205 001/66198 T Th 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Room TBA
Robert Thurman 4 60/60

RELI UN2305 Islam. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

An introduction to the Islamic religion in its premodern and modern manifestations.  The first half of the course concentrates on “classical” Islam, beginning with the life of the Prophet, and extending to ritual, jurisprudence, theology, and mysticism.  The second half examines how Muslims have articulated Islam in light of colonization and the rise of a secular modernity.  The course ends with a discussion of American and European Muslim attempts at carving out distinct spheres of identity in the larger global Muslim community.  

Fall 2017: RELI UN2305
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 2305 001/04539 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Room TBA
Najam Haider 4 53/60

RELI UN2306 Intro to Judaism. 3 points.

A historical overview of Jewish belief and practice as these have crystallized and changed over the centuries. Special attention to ritual and worship, the forms of religious literature, central concepts, religious leadership and institutions, Israel among the nations.

Fall 2017: RELI UN2306
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 2306 001/04488 M W 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
Beth Berkowitz 3 30/60

RELI UN2308 Buddhism: East Asian. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Lecture and discussion. An introductory survey that studies East Asian Buddhism as an integral , living religious tradition. Emphasis on the reading of original treatises and historiographies in translation, while historical events are discussed in terms of their relevance to contemporary problems confronted by Buddhism.  There is a mandatory weekly discussion session.

Fall 2017: RELI UN2308
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 2308 001/72198 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
Michael Como 4 160/160

RELI UN3199 Theory. 3 points.

An exploration of alternative theoretical approaches to the study of religion as well as other areas of humanistic inquiry.  The methods considered include: sociology, anthropology, philosophy, hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, structuralism, genealogy, and deconstruction.  (Previous title: Juniors Colloquium)

Spring 2017: RELI UN3199
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3199 001/03887 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
227 Milbank Hall
Elizabeth Castelli 3 16/20
Fall 2017: RELI UN3199
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3199 001/25083 M 10:10am - 12:00pm
201 80 Claremont
Mark Taylor 3 8/25

RELI UN3202 Religion in America I. 3 points.

Survey of American religion from the Civil War to the present, with the emphasis on the ways religion has shaped American history, culture, identity.

Fall 2017: RELI UN3202
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3202 001/06273 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Room TBA
Gale Kenny 3 23/50

RELI UN3407 Muslims in Diaspora. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Consideration of controversies surrounding mosque-building, headscarves, honor killing, and other publicized issues that expose tensions surrounding citizenship and belonging for Muslims in North America and Europe. Exploration of film and other media representations of Muslims in the West. There will be additional meeting times for film screenings

Fall 2017: RELI UN3407
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3407 001/21086 T Th 11:40am - 12:55pm
Room TBA
Hussein Rashid 4 60/60

RELI UN3901 Guided Reading and Research. 1-4 points.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

Fall 2017: RELI UN3901
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3901 001/71180  
Euan Cameron 1-4 0
RELI 3901 002/28965  
Michael Como 1-4 0
RELI 3901 003/70071  
Gary Dorrien 1-4 0
RELI 3901 004/25382  
Gil Anidjar 1-4 0
RELI 3901 005/21157  
Mark Taylor 1-4 0
RELI 3901 006/63144  
Josef Sorett 1-4 1
RELI 3901 007/69389  
Courtney Bender 1-4 0
RELI 3901 008/69902  
Clemence Boulouque 1-4 0
RELI 3901 009/73832  
Katherine Pratt Ewing 1-4 0
RELI 3901 010/12673  
Bernard Faure 1-4 0
RELI 3901 011/76916  
Robert Thurman 1-4 0
RELI 3901 018/06011  
Elizabeth Castelli 1-4 0
RELI 3901 019/02673  
Gale Kenny 1-4 0
RELI 3901 020/03612  
Rachel McDermott 1-4 0
RELI 3901 021/03779  
Najam Haider 1-4 0
RELI 3901 022/05677  
Beth Berkowitz 1-4 0
RELI 3901 023/03063  
John Hawley 1-4 0

RELI GU4105 Religion Lab. 4 points.

Discussion Section Required

In their research, scholars of religion employ a variety of methods to analyze "texts" ranging from historical documents to objects of visual culture. This course acquaints students with both the methods and the materials utilized in the field of religious studies. Through guided exercises, they acquire research skills for utilizing sources and become familiarized with dominant modes of scholarly discourse. The class is organized around a series of research "scavenger hunts" that are due at the start of each week's class and assigned during the discussion section (to be scheduled on the first day of class). Additional class meeting on Thursdays.

Fall 2017: RELI GU4105
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4105 001/03701 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Room TBA
Gale Kenny 4 11/20

RELI GU4202 Time, Modernity, Death. 4 points.

The notion of modernity in the West implies a distinctive interpretation of temporality and subjectivity, which grows out of theological and philosophical traditions.  Lutheran Protestantism, as developed by Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger, created the conditions for both the construction and the deconstruction of modernism and its extension in postmodernism.  The course will examine these two trajectories by considering their contrasting interpretations of the relationship of human selfhood to time and death.  On the one hand, the death of God leads to a radical immanence in which human subjectivity either is absolutized as the will to power or mastery that dominates or negates all difference and otherness, or is repressed by universal structures and infrastructues for which individual subjects are unknowing and unwitting vehicles.  On the other hand, human subjectivity appears to be finite because its irreducible singularity is always given by an other that can be neither known nor controlled.  The course will conclude by considering the alternative psychological, political, and ethical implications of these two contrasting positions.

Fall 2017: RELI GU4202
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4202 001/29695 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
201 80 Claremont
Mark Taylor 4 6/25

RELI GU4304 Krishna. 4 points.

Study of a single deity in the Hindu pantheon as illuminated in art, music, dance, drama, theological treatises, patterns of ritual, and texts both classic and modern. Special attention to Krishna's consort Radha, to Krishna's reception in the West, and to his portrayal on Indian television.

RELI GU4322 Exploring the Sharia. 4 points.

The platform of every modern Islamist political party calls for the implementation of the sharia. This term is invariably (and incorrectly) interpreted as an unchanging legal code dating back to 7th century Arabia. In reality, Islamic law is an organic and constantly evolving human project aimed at ascertaining God's will in a given historical and cultural context. This course offers a detailed and nuanced look at the Islamic legal methodology and its evolution over the last 1400 years. The first part of the semester is dedicated to classical Islamic jurisprudence, concentrating on the manner in which jurists used the Qur'an, the Sunna (the model of the Prophet), and rationality to articulate a coherent legal system. The second part of the course focuses on those areas of the law that engender passionate debate and controversy in the contemporary world. Specifically, we examine the discourse surrounding Islamic family (medical ethics, marriage, divorce, women's rights) and criminal (capital punishment, apostasy, suicide/martyrdom) law. The course concludes by discussing the legal implications of Muslims living as minorities in non-Islamic countries and the effects of modernity on the foundations of Islamic jurisprudence.

Fall 2017: RELI GU4322
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4322 001/07147 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Room TBA
Najam Haider 4 15/16

RELI GU4513 Buddhism and Neuroscience. 4 points.

With the Dalai Lama's marked interest in recent advances in neuroscience, the question of the compatibility between Buddhist psychology and neuroscience has been raised in a number of conferences and studies. This course will examine the state of the question, look at claims made on both sides, and discuss whether or not there is a convergence between Buddhist discourse about the mind and scientific discourse about the brain.

Fall 2017: RELI GU4513
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4513 001/19005 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
201 80 Claremont
Bernard Faure 4 23/25

RELI GU4515 Reincarnation and Technology. 4 points.

A seminar exploring reincarnation, resurrection, and their contemporary cyber-relatives, uploading and simulation.  We'll explore Abrahamic, Amerind, Chinese, Greek, and Indian accounts, the Tibetan Buddhist reincarnation tradition and methodology in detail, and contemporary research on reincarnation, near-death, and out-of-body experiences. We will then turn to contemporary developments in science, religion, and philosophy concerning uploading consciousness to computer media and the probability that we are living a simulation.  We will investigate whether religious traditions are consistent with or expressive of simulated reality, and the application of karma to all of the above.  

RELI GU4524 Theories of the Unconscious and Jewish Thought. 4 points.

This survey aims to reflect on the specific dialogue between faith and theories of the mind. After an overview of pre-Freudian notions of the unconscious, the course will examine Freud’s 1896 Theory of the unconscious mind and the key analytical concepts which display similarities between psychoanalysis and Jewish thought, from Talmudic hermeneutics to Kabbalah studies. We will explore the unconscious through readings from Leibnitz, Schelling, Goethe, von Hartmann, Freud, Jung, as well as its preludes and echoes in the Talmud and in  the writings of Azriel of Gerona, the Magid of Mezrich, Krochmal, Leiner, Lou Andreas Salomé, Scholem, Idel, Wolfson.  

Fall 2017: RELI GU4524
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4524 001/70135 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
201 80 Claremont
Clemence Boulouque 4 11/25

RELI GU4611 The Lotus Sutra in East Asian Buddhism. 4 points.

Prerequisites: open to students who have taken one previous course in either Buddhism, Chinese religions, or a history course on China or East Asian.

The course examines some central Mahayana Buddhist beliefs and practices through an in-depth study of the Lotus sutra. Schools (Tiantai/Tendai, Nichiren) and cultic practices such as sutra-chanting, meditation, confessional rites, and Guanyin worship based on the scripture. East Asian art and literature inspired by it.

Fall 2017: RELI GU4611
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4611 001/02088 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
David Moerman 4 3

All Courses (including those not offered in academic year 2016-2017)

RELI UN1615 Vampires. 3 points.

Do you believe in vampires? Like ghosts and zombies, vampires circulate in a secularized world and few are those who would speak of a “vampire religion.” This course will attempt to do that. It will ask about the ubiquitous figure of the vampire, insofar as it evokes the ancient and the archaic, the modern and the postmodern. With Bram Stoker’s Dracula as our guide, and with the help of film, we will explore the religious significance of vampires and what they mean for the salvation — or perdition — of the soul. We will wonder about vampires and sexuality, vampires and media, vampires and (geo-)politics, and even vampires and the economy.

RELI UN1620 Religion and the Movies. 3 points.

This class is an introduction to both film and religious studies and aims to explore their interaction. Ranging from auteurs to blockbusters, the course will analyze movies that make use of the sacred and of religious themes, figures or metaphors. The course will probe the definitions and boundaries of religion -as theology, myth, ideology- and will show students how religion remains a critical presence in the arts, even in a secular guise. We will look at the ways in which popular culture can serve religious functions in contemporary society and examine how faith is represented in popular culture.

RELI UN2205 Buddhism: Indo-Tibetan. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Historical introduction to Buddhist thought, scriptures, practices, and institutions. Attention given to Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantric Buddhism in India, as well as selected non-Indian forms.

Fall 2017: RELI UN2205
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 2205 001/66198 T Th 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Room TBA
Robert Thurman 4 60/60

RELI UN2305 Islam. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

An introduction to the Islamic religion in its premodern and modern manifestations.  The first half of the course concentrates on “classical” Islam, beginning with the life of the Prophet, and extending to ritual, jurisprudence, theology, and mysticism.  The second half examines how Muslims have articulated Islam in light of colonization and the rise of a secular modernity.  The course ends with a discussion of American and European Muslim attempts at carving out distinct spheres of identity in the larger global Muslim community.  

Fall 2017: RELI UN2305
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 2305 001/04539 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Room TBA
Najam Haider 4 53/60

RELI UN2308 Buddhism: East Asian. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Lecture and discussion. An introductory survey that studies East Asian Buddhism as an integral , living religious tradition. Emphasis on the reading of original treatises and historiographies in translation, while historical events are discussed in terms of their relevance to contemporary problems confronted by Buddhism.  There is a mandatory weekly discussion session.

Fall 2017: RELI UN2308
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 2308 001/72198 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
Michael Como 4 160/160

RELI UN3199 Theory. 3 points.

An exploration of alternative theoretical approaches to the study of religion as well as other areas of humanistic inquiry.  The methods considered include: sociology, anthropology, philosophy, hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, structuralism, genealogy, and deconstruction.  (Previous title: Juniors Colloquium)

Spring 2017: RELI UN3199
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3199 001/03887 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
227 Milbank Hall
Elizabeth Castelli 3 16/20
Fall 2017: RELI UN3199
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3199 001/25083 M 10:10am - 12:00pm
201 80 Claremont
Mark Taylor 3 8/25

RELI UN3202 Religion in America I. 3 points.

Survey of American religion from the Civil War to the present, with the emphasis on the ways religion has shaped American history, culture, identity.

Fall 2017: RELI UN3202
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3202 001/06273 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Room TBA
Gale Kenny 3 23/50

RELI UN3407 Muslims in Diaspora. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Consideration of controversies surrounding mosque-building, headscarves, honor killing, and other publicized issues that expose tensions surrounding citizenship and belonging for Muslims in North America and Europe. Exploration of film and other media representations of Muslims in the West. There will be additional meeting times for film screenings

Fall 2017: RELI UN3407
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3407 001/21086 T Th 11:40am - 12:55pm
Room TBA
Hussein Rashid 4 60/60

RELI UN3425 Judaism and Courtly Literature in Medieval and Early Modern Iberia and Italy. 3 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

The course explores secular Jewish literature composed in the medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean in the context of its Arabic and Romance-language counterparts. After examining the literary, linguistic and philosophical backdrop of Jews in the Islamic Empire, we will focus on poetry and prose of al-Andalus, Christian Spain and Italy. We will look at examples of how Jews depicted themselves and how Christian and converso thinkers portrayed Jews. In addition, we will consider two crossover writers, one Jew in Spain and one in Italy, whose compositions in Castilian and Italian were accepted and integrated into Christian society. Historical materials will accompany textual examples, which span the eleventh through sixteenth centuries.  

RELI UN3901 Guided Reading and Research. 1-4 points.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

Fall 2017: RELI UN3901
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 3901 001/71180  
Euan Cameron 1-4 0
RELI 3901 002/28965  
Michael Como 1-4 0
RELI 3901 003/70071  
Gary Dorrien 1-4 0
RELI 3901 004/25382  
Gil Anidjar 1-4 0
RELI 3901 005/21157  
Mark Taylor 1-4 0
RELI 3901 006/63144  
Josef Sorett 1-4 1
RELI 3901 007/69389  
Courtney Bender 1-4 0
RELI 3901 008/69902  
Clemence Boulouque 1-4 0
RELI 3901 009/73832  
Katherine Pratt Ewing 1-4 0
RELI 3901 010/12673  
Bernard Faure 1-4 0
RELI 3901 011/76916  
Robert Thurman 1-4 0
RELI 3901 018/06011  
Elizabeth Castelli 1-4 0
RELI 3901 019/02673  
Gale Kenny 1-4 0
RELI 3901 020/03612  
Rachel McDermott 1-4 0
RELI 3901 021/03779  
Najam Haider 1-4 0
RELI 3901 022/05677  
Beth Berkowitz 1-4 0
RELI 3901 023/03063  
John Hawley 1-4 0

RELI GU4105 Religion Lab. 4 points.

Discussion Section Required

In their research, scholars of religion employ a variety of methods to analyze "texts" ranging from historical documents to objects of visual culture. This course acquaints students with both the methods and the materials utilized in the field of religious studies. Through guided exercises, they acquire research skills for utilizing sources and become familiarized with dominant modes of scholarly discourse. The class is organized around a series of research "scavenger hunts" that are due at the start of each week's class and assigned during the discussion section (to be scheduled on the first day of class). Additional class meeting on Thursdays.

Fall 2017: RELI GU4105
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4105 001/03701 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Room TBA
Gale Kenny 4 11/20

RELI GU4513 Buddhism and Neuroscience. 4 points.

With the Dalai Lama's marked interest in recent advances in neuroscience, the question of the compatibility between Buddhist psychology and neuroscience has been raised in a number of conferences and studies. This course will examine the state of the question, look at claims made on both sides, and discuss whether or not there is a convergence between Buddhist discourse about the mind and scientific discourse about the brain.

Fall 2017: RELI GU4513
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
RELI 4513 001/19005 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
201 80 Claremont
Bernard Faure 4 23/25

RELI V1710 God. 3 points.

What is religion? And what does God have to do with it? This course will seek to engage a range of answers to these questions. The class is not a survey of all religious traditions. Rather, it will address religion as a comparative problem between traditions as well as between scholarly and methodological approaches. We will engage the issue of perspective in, for example, the construction of a conflict between religion and science, religion and modernity, as well as some of the distinctions now current in the media between religion, politics, economics and race.  And we will wonder about God and gods.

RELI V2005 Buddhism: Indo-Tibetan. 3 points.

Recitation Section Required

Historical introduction to Buddhist thought, scriptures, practices, and institutions. Attention given to Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantric Buddhism in India, as well as selected non-Indian forms.

RELI V2008 Buddhism: East Asian. 3 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Lecture and discussion. An introductory survey that studies East Asian Buddhism as an integral , living religious tradition. Emphasis on the reading of original treatises and historiographies in translation, while historical events are discussed in terms of their relevance to contemporary problems confronted by Buddhism. 

RELI V2105 Christianity. 3 points.

Survey of Christianity from its beginnings through the Reformation. Based on lectures and discussions of readings in primary source translations, this course will cover prominent developments in the history of Christianity. The structure will allow students to rethink commonly held notions about the evolution of modern Christianity with the texture of historical influence.

RELI V2110 Mormonism. 3 points.

Survey of history and theology of Mormonism: historical survey; analysis of extensive selections from the Book of Mormon; exploration of its contentious relationship with the federal government, cultural expressions.  Asking the question: how Mormonism has transformed itself from essentially an outlaw religion in the nineteenth century to the embodiment of American ideals?

RELI V2205 Hinduism. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement, Discussion Section Required

The origin and development of central themes of traditional Hinduism. Emphasis on basic religious literature and relation to Indian culture. Readings include original sources in translation.

RELI V2405 Chinese Religious Traditions. 3 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Development of the Three Teachings of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism: folk eclecticism; the contemporary situation in Chinese cultural areas. Readings drawn from primary texts, poetry, and popular prose.

RELI V2415 Japanese Religious Traditions. 3 points.

Study of the development of the Japanese religious tradition in the premodern period. Attention given to the thought and practices of Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism; the interaction among these religions in Japanse history; the first encounter with Christianity.

RELI V2505 Intro to Judaism. 3 points.

A historical overview of Jewish belief and practice as these have crystallized and changed over the centuries. Special attention to ritual and worship, the forms of religious literature, central concepts, religious leadership and institutions, Israel among the nations.

RELI V2510 Jews and Judaism in Antiquity. 3 points.

This course focuses on the varieties of Judaism in antiquity, from Cyrus the Great to the Muslim Conquest of Syria, and the emergence of rabbinic Judaism. Special emphasis is placed on hellenization, sectarianism, and the changes precipitated by the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.

RELI V2615 Religions of Harlem. 3 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Through a range of field exercises and classroom guests, this course will introduce students to the rich religious history of Harlem, while also challenging them to document and analyze the diversity of Harlem's contemporary religious scene.

RELI V2645 Religion in Black America: An Introduction. 3 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Undergraduate lecture course introducing students to the study of African American religion. While there are no required prerequisites for the course, prior coursework in religious studies or African American history is helpful. This course progresses as a historical survey and is intended to introduce students to important themes in African American (thus American) religious history (i.e. migration, urbanization, nationalism) through a rich engagement with the religious practices and traditions of black communities. Primary attention is given to Afro-Protestantism in North America; however, throughout the course attention is directed to religious diversity and varying religious traditions/practices in different diasporic locales. While this is a lecture course, students are expected to arrive each week having completed assigned readings and prepared to make informed contributions to class discussions (as class size allows). By the end of the semester students will be expected to possess a working knowledge of major themes/figures/traditions in African American religious life, as well as key questions that have shaped the study thereof.

RELI V2801 Introduction to Western Religions. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Cultures in Comparison (CUL).

Phenomenology of religious experience and the historical forms of religious life. The presuppositions, data, and documents of the religions of the West.

RELI V2802 Introduction to Asian Religions. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Cultures in Comparison (CUL).

Major motifs in the religions of East and South Asia - Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Daoist, Shinto. Focuses on foundational "classics" and on a selection of texts, practices, and political engagements that shape contemporary religious experience in Asia.

RELI V2803 Religion 101. 3 points.

This course has been replaced by RELI V3805.

RELI V3000 Buddhist Ethics. 3 points.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

An investigation of the main textual sources of the Buddhist ethical tradition, with attention to their historical operation within Buddhist societies, as well as consideration of their continuing influence on comtemporary developments, Western as well as Asian.

RELI V3017 Buddhism and Violence. 4 points.

Studies, from a number of methodological approaches and angles, the Buddhist views on violence and non-violence, and the historical record.

RELI V3130 The Papacy: Origins to the Sixteenth-Century Reformations. 3 points.

This is a one-semester lecture course offering a historical introduction to the papacy, moving from papal origins through the age of the institution's greatest influence, i.e., the Middle Ages, down to the age of the sixteenth-century Reformations. Reading assignments will be drawn from both primary and secondary sources in English.

RELI V3140 Early Christianity. 3 points.

Examination of different currents in early Christianity. Discussion of gnosticism, monasticism, conflicts of gender and class, and the work of writers such as Origen and Augustine.

RELI V3205 Vedic Religions. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA).

     

RELI V3212 Religions of the Oppressed: India. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Prior knowledge of South Asia preferred.

What are the stakes of religious identity for communities stigmatized, excluded, and oppressed?  This class interrogates classic social theory by exploring the religious history of Dalits, or "untouchables," in colonial and postcolonial South Asia: from mass conversions to Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity to assertions of autonomous and autochthonous religious identities.

RELI V3307 Muslims in Diaspora. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Consideration of controversies surrounding mosque-building, headscarves, honor killing, and other publicized issues that expose tensions surrounding citizenship and belonging for Muslims in North America and Europe. Exploration of film and other media representations of Muslims in the West. There will be additional meeting times for film screenings

RELI V3308 Origins of Judaism. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Historical Studies (HIS).
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Introduction to the Hellenistic period of Jewish history, with emphasis on sectarian movements and the emergence of rabbinic Judaism and Christianity as the two dominant religions of the West.

RELI V3314 Qu'ran in Comparative Perspective. 3 points.

This course develops an understanding of the Qu'ran's form, style, and content through a close reading of comparable religious texts. Major topics include the Qu'ranic theory of prophecy, its treatment of the biblical tradition (both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament), and its perspective on the pre-Islamic pagan religion.

RELI V3335 History of Sufism. 3 points.

RELI V3410 Daoism. 3 points.

Philosophical ideas found in the Daode jing, Zhuang zi, hagiographies and myths of gods, goddesses and immortals, psycho-physical practices, celestial bureaucracy, and ritual of individual and communal salvation. Issues involved in the study of Daoism, such as the problematic distinction between "elite" and "folk" traditions, and the interactions between Daoism and Buddhism.

RELI V3411 Tantra in South Asia, East Asia & the West. 3 points.

An introduction to the history, literature, and ideology of Tantra and Tantric texts, deities, rituals, and traditions, proceeding chronologically from the early centuries C.E. to current forms of Tantric practice, and primarily covering India, China, and Japan.  Attention will also be given to contemporary iterations of Tantra in the West.  Questions of definition, transmission, patronage, gender, and appropriation link the various sections of the course.  Readings include primary texts, secondary sources, local case studies, and art historical material.

RELI V3495 Life After death. 3 points.

Western ideas of the afterlife, concentrating on ancient literature. Readings include Gilgamesh, and other ancient Near Eastern literature, the Bible, the Odyssey, Plato's Phaedo, Apuleius' The Golden Ass.

RELI V3501 Introduction To the Hebrew Bible. 3 points.

An introduction, by critical methods, to the religious history of ancient Israel against the background of the ancient Near East.

RELI V3508 Origins of Judaism. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Historical Studies (HIS).
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Introduction to the Hellenistic period of Jewish history, with emphasis on sectarian movements and the emergence of rabbinic Judaism and Christianity as the two dominant religions of the West.

RELI V3544 Jewish Family law. 3 points.

Jewish marriage and inheritance law. A survey of the legal obligations an individual owes, and the privileges he or she receives from being a member of a family.

RELI V3555 Development of the Jewish Holidays. 3 points.

Sources and historical development of Jewish holidays. An attempt to trace historically how the holidays took on their present form and, when feasible, to emphasize the different modes of observances among different groups.

RELI V3560 Jewish Liturgy. 3 points.

Survey of Jewish liturgy from the Bible to modern times, with occasional forays into Dead Sea prayer. Philosophy and theology for prayer considered, and when possible, the social message is emphasized.

RELI V3561 Classics fo Judaism: Ethics of the Fathers. 3 points.

Devoted to a close reading of a classic work of Jewish literature, Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the fathers, in English.  Pirkei Avot, a collection of teachings attributed to various sages of the classical period of Rabbinic JUdaism, stands as one of the most studied texts among observant Jews.   It affords an excellent introduction to Judaism as a religion and culture.

RELI V3570 Women and Judaism: Folklore or Religion?. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA).

Examines the relationship between Jewish women and religion that is both theirs and not theirs. Explores matters of low, ritual, practice, communal status, (re)reading of ancient texts, lived experiences.

RELI V3571 Judaism, Jewishness, and Modernity. 3 points.

Exploration of some of the major statements of Jewish thought and identity from the 19th century into the 21st.

RELI V3585 The Sephardic Experience. 3 points.

This course is a survey of the history and culture of the Sephardic Jews, originally from Spain and Portugal.  Focus will be given to different Sephardic populations and the rich culture and variegated religious life therein.

RELI V3602 Religion in America I. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Historical Studies (HIS)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Cultures in Comparison (CUL).

Survey of American religion from the Civil War to the present, with the emphasis on the ways religion has shaped American history, culture, identity.

RELI V3603 Religion in America II. 3 points.

Survey of American religion from the Civil War to the present, with an emphasis on the ways religion has shaped American history, culture, and identity.

RELI V3604 Religion in the City. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC I).
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Uses the city to address and investigate a number of central concepts in the study of religion, including ritual, community, worldview, conflict, tradition, and discourse.  We will explore together what we can learn about religions by focusing on place, location, and context.

RELI V3610 Religion in American Film. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: The Visual and Performing Arts (ART).

Exploration of relationships between religion and popular film with particular attention to the way religious narratives and symbols in film uphold and critique norms of race, class and gender in the formation of American societal institutions (political structures, economy, family and community organization).

RELI V3630 Religion and Black Popular Cultures. 3 points.

As an exploration of the relationship between religion, race, and popular culture, the course will begin with theoretical readings that expose students to a variety of definitions of and approaches to each of these categories. After tackling these theoretical concerns, the remainder of the course will entail a cross genre and thematic engagement with the terrain of black popular culture(s) in which students will be challenged to apply new theoretical resources in order to interpret a wide range of "religious" phenomena.

RELI V3650 Religion and the Civil Rights Movement. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Historical Studies (HIS).
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Examination of the role of religion in the drive for civil rights during the 1950s and 1960s. The course will look at the role of activists, churches, clergy, sermons, and music in forging the consensus in favor of civil rights.

RELI V3651 Evangelicalism. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC I).
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Survey of evangelicalism, "America's folk religion," in all of its various forms, including the holiness movement, fundamentalism, pentecostalism, the charismatic movement, neoevangelicalism, the sanctified tradition, and various ethnic expressions. The course will examine the origins of evangelicalism, its theology, and the cultural and political involvement of American evangelicals.

RELI V3652 Religion, Politics and the Presidency.. 3 points.

A survey of the intersections between religion and American political life, from the colonial era to the present. This course examines relevant political figures and movements, dissect the religious controversies in pivotal presidential campaigns, and study the influence of religion on various political issues.

RELI V3705 Literature, Technology, Religion. 3 points.

Digital media and electronic technologies are expanding the imagination, transforming humanity, and redefining subjectivity. The proliferation of distributed and embedded technologies is changing the way we live, think, write and create. This course will explore the complex interrelation of literature, technology and religion through an investigation of four American novels and four French critics/theorists.

RELI V3720 Religion and Its Critics. 3 points.

An examination of critiques of religious belief and practice offered by both religious and non-religious authors, and of some responses to those critiques.  Readings will be taken chiefly from eighteenth and nineteenth century European thought, including Spinoza, Hume, Mendelssohn, Kant, Schleiermacher, Feuerbach, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche.    

RELI V3727 Psychology of Religion. 3 points.

An exploration of the psychological dimensions of religious awareness and practice that will focus on dream analysis, therapy and personal structure and development.

RELI V3742 Freud and Derrida. 3 points.

From sexual difference to the difference writing makes, psychoanalysis and deconstruction have affected the way we think about reading, writing, learning. Both have become parts of cultural discourse in the form of catch phrases, categories of understanding, and political indictments. Psychoanalysis and deconstruction are also markers of a long conversation in which the meaning of subjectivity, authorship, agency, literature, culture and tradition is spelled out in detailed readings that intervene in and as dialogue and interruption. In this reading intensive class, we will attend to the basic texts and terms of psychoanalysis and deconstruction: the unconscious and sexuality, culture and religion, and more.

RELI V3760 Animal Rights: Ethical and Religious Foundations. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA).

Critical study of the treatment of animals in modern moral philosophy and in Jewish and Christian thought in order to show that no theory of ethics in either domain can be complete or fully coherent unless the question of animal rights is confronted and satisfactorily resolved.

RELI V3770 Terror. 3 points.

Analyzes the complex relationship among religion, violence and terror by examining representations of terror in religious texts, beliefs and practices as well as in recent philosophical, literary and filmic texts.   The relationship of terror to trauma and horror will also be considered.

RELI V3798 Gift and Religion. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC I).

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor; preference to Religion majors.

Examines theories of gift and exchange, the sacralization of economic relationships and the economic rationalization of sacred relationships. Part I focused on classic works on "the gift" in traditional socieities. Part II includes several perspectives on relationships of giving and taking in contemporary society.

RELI V3799 Theory. 4 points.

An exploration of alternative theoretical approaches to the study of religion as well as other areas of humanistic inquiry.  The methods considered include: sociology, anthropology, philosophy, hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, structuralism, genealogy, and deconstruction.  (Previous title: Juniors Colloquium)

RELI V3810 Millennium: Apocalypse and Utopia. 3 points.

A study of apocalyptic thinking and practice in the western religious tradition, with focus on American apocalyptic religious movements and their relation to contemporary cultural productions, as well as notions of history and politics.

RELI V3811 The Holocaust I. 4 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

The Holocaust is a major event of modern times. Its significance is at once historical, universal, global and theological, one might simply say, metaphysical. It is at the center of historical, legal, political, representational, psychological, aesthetic, and religious reflections and practices in Europe and the United States as well as in Africa and the Middle East and elsewhere. It permeates pedagogical understandings, memorial dispositions, political conceptions, and cultural expectations. Its magnitude demands a course — a demanding course — that engages with its multiple dimensions, beginning with its universal and/or global resonance.  There will be an additional weekly discussion section.

RELI V3840 Graeco-Roman Religion. 3 points.

Survey of the religions of Rome and the Hellenistic East from the late 4th century B.C.E. to the early 4th century C.E. Topics will include myth and ritual, religion and the state, and mystery religions, among others.

RELI V3860 Sociology of Religion. 3 points.

Prerequisites: prior coursework in religion or sociology is highly encouraged.

This course introduces classical and contemporary theoretical and empirical approaches to the sociological study of religion, including secularization and secularity, religious identity formation, and sociological approaches to religious practice and meaning. Special focus will be on contemporary American topics, including religion and transnationalism, the role of religious actors and discourses in American politics, law and economics, and everyday religious practice.

RELI V3865 Comparative Mysticism. 0 points.

An introduction to the comparative study of mysticism.  Students read primary texts against the backdrop of various theories on the nature of mysticism, addressing issues such as the relationship of mysticism to orthodox religion, madness, art, love, and morality.

RELI V3870 Inquisitions, New Christians, and Empire. 3 points.

Explores the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions of the early modern era. We will investigate the inquisitions from a variety of perspectives: the history of Christianity and some of its "unauthorized" permutations; the relevant history and religious culture of Judeoconversos, Moriscos, Afroiberians, magical practitioners; normativization and control of sexuality; historical ethnography; and the anthropology and/or sociology of institutions.

RELI W3201 Language and Religion in South Asia. 3 points.

This interdisciplinary seminar investigates the intersections between language and religion in South Asia over the course of two millennia. From ancient debates over the proper vehicles for religious transmission to the modern construction of a postcolonial nation-state, ideologies of language have been central to South Asian intellectual, philosophical, cultural, religious, and political life. Issues covered in the course include: the language of religious devotion (and the religion of language devotion); vernacular poetry and social protest; colonial ideologies and communal identities; the politics of translation; defining "religion"; and several others. No prior knowledge of South Asian language or religion is required.

RELI W4006 Japanese Religion through Manga and Film. 4 points.

This course will examine how the depiction of certain Japanese religious ideas through such medias has both breathed new life into and at the same time considerably modified tradition religious beliefs.  A study of Japanese religion through manga and film,supplemented by readings in the history of Japanese culture.

RELI W4010 Chan/Zen Buddhism. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Suggested preparation: An introduction to Buddhism by Peter Harvey (1990).

Historical introduction to Chan/Zen Buddhism: follows the historical development of Chan/Zen, with selections from the Chan classics, some of the high and low points of Japanese Zen, and examples of contemporary Zen writings.

RELI W4011 The Lotus Sutra in East Asian Buddhism. 4 points.

Prerequisites: open to students who have taken one previous course in either Buddhism, Chinese religions, or a history course on China or East Asian.

The course examines some central Mahayana Buddhist beliefs and practices through an in-depth study of the Lotus sutra. Schools (Tiantai/Tendai, Nichiren) and cultic practices such as sutra-chanting, meditation, confessional rites, and Guanyin worship based on the scripture. East Asian art and literature inspired by it.

RELI W4012 Buddhist Auto/Biography. 4 points.

The goal and nature of this course is to refine our abilities to critically examine the nature of writing about the self and its position in Buddhist contexts. 

RELI W4013 Buddhism and Neuroscience. 4 points.

With the Dalai Lama's  marked interest in recent advances in neuroscience, the question of the compatibility between Buddhist psychology and neuroscience has been raised in a number of conferences and studies. This course will examine the state of the question, look at claims made on both sides, and discuss whether or not there is a convergence between Buddhist discourse about the mind and scientific discourse about the brain.

RELI W4015 Reincarnation and Technology. 4 points.

A seminar exploring reincarnation, resurrection, and their contemporary cyber-relatives, uploading and simulation.  We'll explore Abrahamic, Amerind, Chinese, Greek, and Indian accounts, the Tibetan Buddhist reincarnation tradition and methodology in detail, and contemporary research on reincarnation, near-death, and out-of-body experiences. We will then turn to contemporary developments in science, religion, and philosophy concerning uploading consciousness to computer media and the probability that we are living a simulation.  We will investigate whether religious traditions are consistent with or expressive of simulated reality, and the application of karma to all of the above.  

RELI W4018 Interpreting Buddhist Yoga: Hermeneutics East West Quantum. 4 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

A seminar exploring the meanings of Buddhist Tantra and being, time, space, gender, technology, and mysticism through traditional religious, modern, post-modern, digital, quantum, and Buddhist "hermeneutics," the science and art of interpretation. We will read ancient and modern classics on hermeneutics, by Schleiermacher, Gadamer, Heidegger, Barthes, and Ricouer; Indian and Tibetan works on their systems of interpretation, at least as sophisticated as anything from Europe; and contemporary works on how digital technology brings us into a world of new meaning for everything, including Buddhist yoga.

RELI W4020 Liberation and Embodiment in Indo-Tibetan Yoga Traditions. 4 points.

Prerequisites: at least one course in Asian Religions, such as RELI V2005, RELI V2008, RELI V2205, RELI V2415, RELI V2405, or equivalent; and the instructor's permission.

With extensive readings on the concepts and practice of the Indic category of "yoga practice", this seminar is an inquiry into the conceptualization of the "body" and its "liberation" in South and Himalayan Asia. Special attention will be given to development of contemplative yogic traditions within what come to be known as Tantric lineages of Buddhist and Hindu traditions.

RELI W4030 Topics in Tibetan Philosphy. 4 points.

Examination of topics in the religious philosophy of Tibet.

RELI W4035 Buddhist Contemplative Sciences. 4 points.

This course will explore key Buddhist contemplative sciences, including: stabilizing meditation; analytic insight meditation; the four immeasurables; form and formless trances; mind training; and the subtle body-mind states activated and transformed through advanced Tantric yoga techniques. These will be explored both within their traditional interdisciplinary frameworks, as well as in dialog with related contemporary arts and sciences.

RELI W4040 Women and Buddhism in China. 4 points.

Nuns and laywomen in Chinese Buddhism, Buddhist attitudes toward women, ideals of female sanctity; gender and sexuality, women leaders in contemporary Chinese Buddhism.

RELI W4110 Asceticism and the Rise of Christianity. 4 points.

Explores the paradox of renunciation and power in early Christianity. Traces the changing understanding of renunciation from the 1st to the 5th centuries C.E., and the changing languages by which Christians signaled their allegiance to otherworldly ideal despite increasing involvement in the secular realm.

RELI W4120 Gender In Ancient Christianity. 4 points.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

The function of gender in the construction of religious identity across Christianity's formative centuries. Close attention is paid to the alternative views of male and female writers and to the alternative models of the holy life proposed to male and female Christians.

RELI W4160 Gnosis. 4 points.

Enrollment limited to 20.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission. Previous work in biblical studies or early Christianity preferred.

Examines the religious and social worlds of ancient Mediterranean gnosis alongside its modern remnants and appropriations. Special attention is paid to scholarly reconstructions of ancient "gnosticism" and to theoretical problems associated with the categories of orthodoxy and heresy in Christian history. Strong emphasis on reading primary sources in translation.

RELI W4171 Law and Medieval Christianity. 4 points.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

An introduction to the importance of Church law for the study of medieval Christianity through readings in both primary and secondary sources (all in English or English translations). Topics will be selected, as the sources permit, to illustrate the evolution of Western canon law and its impact both as a structural and as an ideological force, in medieval Christianity and in medieval society in general.

RELI W4180 Conversion in Historical Perspective. 4 points.

Boundary crossers have always challenged the way societies imagined themselves. This course explores the political, religious, economic, and social dynamics of religious conversion. The course will focus on Western (Christian and Jewish) models in the medieval and early modern periods. It will include comparative material from other societies and periods.  Autobiographies, along with legal, religious and historical documents will complement the readings.

RELI W4203 Krishna. 4 points.

Study of a single deity in the Hindu pantheon as illuminated in art, music, dance, drama, theological treatises, patterns of ritual, and texts both classic and modern. Special attention to Krishna's consort Radha, to Krishna's reception in the West, and to his portrayal on Indian television.

RELI W4205 Love, Translated: Hindu Bhakti. 4 points.

Hindu poetry of radical religious participation-bhakti-in translation, both Sanskrit (the Bhagavad Gita) and vernacular. How does such poetry/song translate across linguistic divisions within India and into English? Knowledge of Indian languages is welcome but not required. Multiple translations of a single text or poet bring to light the choices translators have made.

RELI W4215 Hinduism Here. 4 points.

Historical, theological, social and ritual dimensions of "lived Hinduism" in the greater New York area. Sites selected for in-depth study include worshipping communities, retreat centers, and national organizations with significant local influence. Significant fieldwork component

RELI W4313 Revival and Revolution in the Muslim World. 4 points.

This class focuses on the history and development of revolutionary movement in the Muslim world.  It begins by forwarding the life of the Prophet as a template (and inspiration) for subsequent movements and proceeds to examine a range of revolutions through the modern period.

RELI W4321 Islam in the 20th Century. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Historical Studies (HIS).

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor (undergrad majors, concentrators, and grad students in religion given priority.

Investigates the debate around the "origins" of Arab nationalism and various strands of modernist/reformist thought in the contemporary Islamic world - with particular emphasis on developments in Egypt and Iran.

RELI W4326 Sufism in South Asia. 4 points.

Sufism has been described as the mystical side of Islam. This seminar for advanced undergraduates and graduate students will examine Sufism in South Asia as a spiritual, ethical and self-forming activity that has been profoundly affected by the historical, sociocultural, political, and everyday environments in which is it experienced and practiced.

RELI W4330 Seminar on Classical Sufi Texts. 4 points.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

Close study of pivotal texts from the classical periods of Islamic mysticism, including works by Hallaj, Attar, Rumi, In Arabi, and others (all texts in English translation).

RELI W4335 Shi'ism. 4 points.

This course offer a survy of Shi'ism with a particular focus on the "Twelvers" or "Imamis." It begins by examining the interplay between theology and the core historical narratives of Shi'i identity and culminates with an assessment of the jarring impact of modernity on religious institutions/beliefs.

RELI W4350 Orality and Textuality in Islam. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Instructor's permission

A study of the interface between the written and oral traditions in Islam, both in the idealized religion preserved in the texts, as well as its variegated cultural expressions.

RELI W4401 Mountains and Sacred Space in Japan. 4 points.

Explores the role that mountains have played in Japanese cosmology, particularly in religion and folklore. We will examine various aspects of mountain veneration such as mountains as portals to the world of the dead, as the embodiment of the universe, as ascetic training ground, as mandalized space, as restricted ground, and as space transformed by history.

RELI W4402 Shinto in Japanese History. 4 points.

This course examines the development of Shinto in Japanese history and the historiography of Shinto.We will cover themes such as myth, syncretism, sacred sites, iconography, nativism, and religion and the state.

RELI W4403 Bodies and Spirits in East Asia. 4 points.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

This seminar will focus on the role of early conceptions of both the body and demonology in the development of Chinese and Japanese religious traditions. By focusing on the development of ritual responses within these traditions to disease and spirits, the course will highlight the degree to which contemporaneous understandings of the body informed religious discourse across East Asia.

RELI W4405 Ghosts and Kami. 4 points.

Ghosts have long functioned in East Asian cultures as crucial nodal points in political and religious discourses concerning ancestors, kinship, ritual and land. By reading a small cluster of Western theoretical works on ghosts together with recent discussions of the role of ghosts in China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea, this seminar will explore the ways that ghosts continue to haunt and inhabit a variety of conceptual and religious landscapes across East Asia.

RELI W4412 Material Culture and the Supernatural in East Asia. 4 points.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

Although Protestant notions of textuality and the disjunction of matter and spirit have exerted an enduring influence over much of the study of religion, this seminar will explore the role of material objects in both representing and creating the categories and paradigms through which religion has been understood and performed in pre-modern East Asia. By focusing upon the material context for religious performance-by asking, in other words, how religious traditions are constituted through and by material objects-the course will seek to shed light on a cluster of issues concerning the relationship between art, ritual performance, and transmission.

RELI W4501 Psalms Through the Commentary of the Baal Shem Tov. 4 points.

Close reading of selected psalms along with the commentary attributed to the Ba'al Shem Tov, one of the founders of Hasidism. Offers an opportunity to gain experience in close reading of major Jewish texts in the original language (Hebrew). Provides students simultaneous exposure to a major biblical book, Psalms, which has a long and rich reception history, both textually and spiritually, as well as to a significant text of Hasidic thought. The two texts and their historical/discursive framings will be read complementarily or against one another. Additional readings will give supplementary perspectives, raising questions that include the production history of the Book of Psalms, comparative mythology, the liturgical and ritual use of psalms historically, and mystical readings of the Book of Psalms. Through the combination of perspectives we will learn about the variety of the interpretative approaches to a canonical texts such as the Book of Psalms: the dense web of meanings and uses given to one biblical text over the course of Jewish history; the methods and goals of Hasidic exegesis of the Bible.

RELI W4502 Jewish Rites of Passage. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing.

Undertakes an interdisciplinary exploration of historical and contemporary Jewish rites of passage and life-cycles events, focusing on the interplay between ritual and gender, sexuality and power. Our examination of the tensions between tradition and modernity will encompass traditional passage, wedding ceremonies and more modern rituals.

RELI W4503 Readings from the Sephardic Diaspora. 4 points.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

Close readings of some canonical 15th- and 16th-century works (in translation) from the Sephardic diaspora that touch on theology, philosophy, ethics and mysticism.

RELI W4504 Reading the Patriarchal and Matriarchal Stories in Genesis. 4 points.

Aims to clarify the intellectual assumptions governing how different individuals conceive of their conversion experiences. Through the study of classic and lesser known accounts we will examine some common metaphors and images (rebirth, awakening, being lost and found) and how they shape narratives of one's life.

RELI W4505 The Beginnings of Jewish Mysticism. 4 points.

Study of biblical and Hellenistic foundations for Western mysticism - scriptual visions of God, apocalyptic literature, Graeco-Roman magic, and the merkabah mystical movement in Judaism.

RELI W4506 Jewish Martyrdom. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. Sophomore Standing. Enrollment limited to 20.

Utilizes major episodes of Jewish martyrdom as a basis for discussion of some of the key problems in the study of martyrdom. Among the questions it will raise: How have major scholars analyzed the origins of a martyrdom ideal in late antiquity? What questions do social scientists raise concerning the phenomenology of martyrdom, and how have these questions been addresses with respect to Jewish martyrdom? How do ancient and medieval traditions of martyrdom, despite their drastic tendency to draw strict boundaries, betray the influence of other (even hostile) traditions? And how do traditions of martyrdom undergo mutation in response to new historical and cultural realities?

RELI W4507 Readings in Hasidism. 4 points.

Prerequisites: at least one previous course on Judaism or familiarity from elsewhere with the normative, traditional Judaism.

An exploration of Hasidism, the pietist and mystical movement that arose in eastern Europe at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Hasidism stands as perhaps the most influential and significant movement within modern Judaism.

RELI W4508 Jewish Philosophy and Kabbalah. 4 points.

The purpose of this seminar is to study the interactions between two major intellectual trends in Jewish History, the philosophical and the mystical ones. From the medieval period to the twenty-first century, we will discuss their interactions, polemics and influences. We will compare Philosophy and Kabbalah in light of their understanding of divine representation and in light of their respective Theology and conception of God.

RELI W4510 The Thought of Maimonides. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA).

Close examination of Maimonides' major ideas, with emphasis on the relationship between law and philosophy; biblical interpretation; the nature of God; creation and providence; human nature; ethics and law; and human perfection.

RELI W4511 Jewish Ethics. 4 points.

This course is divided into two parts-- theoretical and practical. In the first part we will examine major philosophical issues concerning the nature and basis of Jewish ethics; in the second, we will examine a selected group of practical ethical issues.   All assignments will be in English, and any Hebrew phrases used in course discussion will be translated.

RELI W4513 Homelands, Diasporas, Promised Lands. 4 points.

This seminar will explore religious, political and philosophical aspects of homelands, collective exile from homelands and the question of whether or not return is possible or desirable.

RELI W4515 Reincarnation and Technology. 4 points.

A seminar exploring reincarnation, resurrection, and their contemporary cyber-relatives, uploading and simulation.  We'll explore Abrahamic, Amerind, Chinese, Greek, and Indian accounts, the Tibetan Buddhist reincarnation tradition and methodology in detail, and contemporary research on reincarnation, near-death, and out-of-body experiences. We will then turn to contemporary developments in science, religion, and philosophy concerning uploading consciousness to computer media and the probability that we are living a simulation.  We will investigate whether religious traditions are consistent with or expressive of simulated reality, and the application of karma to all of the above.  

RELI W4520 Patriarchal and Rabbinic Authority in Antiquity. 4 points.

Tries to solve the problem of the origins and roles of the rabbis in antiquity through careful study of rabbinic, Christian, and Roman sources.

RELI W4537 Talmudic Narrative. 4 points.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission. Background in Talmud and Hebrew is encouraged.

This course examines the rich world of Talmudic narrative and the way it mediates between conflicting perspectives on a range of topics: life and death; love and sexuality; beauty and superficiality; politics and legal theory; religion and society; community and non-conformity; decision-making and the nature of certainty. While we examine each text closely, we will consider different scholars’ answers – and our own answers – to the questions, how are we to view Talmudic narrative generally, both as literature and as cultural artifact?

RELI W4538 Re-reading the Talmud. 4 points.

Prerequisites: basic knowledge or previous study of Talmud.

In the past century, advances in theories of how to read the Babylonian Talmud, the Bavli, and in the models of its formation and redaction have opened up new avenues for understanding what the text says and, more importantly, how it works. This course will examine in-depth several demonstrative literary units, sugyot, through the lens of the evolution of the major critical schools of the past century and contrast them with the interpretation approach of selected medieval scholars, the rishonim. All texts will be read in the original but translations will be provided.

RELI W4560 Political Theology. 4 points.

This reading-intensive course will engage the notion of "political theology," a notion that emerges within the Western tradition (Varro, Augustine) and has become instrumental in thinking and institutionalizing the distinction between religion and politics over the course of the twentieth century. We will take our point of departure the key texts that have revived this notion (Schmitt, Kantorowicz), engage their interpretation of the Bible and of Augustine and medieval followers. We will then examine the role of Spinoza and Moses Mendelsohn, the extention of the notion of religion to "the East" (Said, Grosrichard, Asad), and conclude with some of the current debates over secularization in the colonizing and colonized world.

RELI W4610 Science, Nature, and Religion in 20th Century America. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA).
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Examination of the relationship between scientific and religious ideas, with particular reference to American culture in the twentieth century. Explores the impact of such events as the Scopes trial and the popular faith in science and technology of the religious attitudes and beliefs of 20th-century Americans.

RELI W4612 Religion and Humanitarianism. 4 points.

This seminar examines the role of religion in the antislavery movement, foreign missions, and women's rights in the nineteenth century, and its relevance to contemporary humanitarian activism.

RELI W4614 Defining Marriage: A History of Marriage in the United States. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Historical Studies (HIS).
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

This seminar examines the changing purpose and meaning of marriage in the history of the United States from European colonization through contemporary debates over gay marriage.  Topics include religious views of marriage, interracial marriage, and the political uses of the institution.

RELI W4620 Religious Worlds of New York. 4 points.

This seminar teaches ethnographic approaches to studying religious life with a special focus on urban religion and religions of New York. Students develop in-depth analyses of religious communities using these methods. Course readings address both ethnographic methods and related ethical and epistemological issues, as well as substantive topical issues of central importance to the study of urban religion, including transnationalism and immigration, religious group life and its relation to local community life, and issues of ethnicity, race and cosmopolitanism in pluralistic communities.

RELI W4622 The Spiritual Quest of August Wilson. 4 points.

August Wilson is hailed as one of America’s greatest playwrights. His Century Cycle of ten stage plays foregrounds unfolding shifts in African American political and cultural life in each decade of the twentieth century. Reflected in each work is a vibrant thread of spirituality and religious sensibility that continues to inform and enrich African American life.   Through a close reading of Wilson’s plays supplemented by readings in drama criticism, African and African American religions and the African American blues and conjure traditions, this course will explore Wilson’s quest to survey the landscape of African American spirituality and seek its meaning for America today.  

RELI W4625 Contemporary Mormonism: Mediating Religious Identity in the 21st Century City. 4 points.

The seminar will give students first-hand experience with Mormonism as it is lived in New York City today. The aim of the course is to understand how Mormons adapt or cast off their religion in the modern city. Experiential learning as opposed to text learning will be emphasized. There will be additional meeting times to visit Mormon sites.

RELI W4630 African-American Religion. 4 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Explores a range of topics in African-American Religion, which may include the African background and the transmission of African cultures, religion under slavery, independent black churches, religion and race relations, and modern theological movements. In Spring 2008, the course will focus on the religious lives of African immigrants to the US, emphasizing field and documentary methods.

RELI W4640 Religion in the American Public Sphere. 4 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Introduction to questions surrounding the relationships between religion and the public sphere in the United States. Approaches topics of civil religion, church-state relations, religious pluralism in the public sphere, and the role of congregations in local communities using sociological theories and methods.

RELI W4645 American Protestant Thought. 4 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Looks at the relation between inquiry and imagination in selected religious writers and writers on religion in the American Protestant tradition. How does imagination serve inquiry? What are the objects of inquiry in these writings? Most of these authors reflect explicitly on imagination and inquiry, in addition to providing examples of both at work on religious topics.

RELI W4650 Religion and Region in North America. 4 points.

Prerequisites: RELI V3502 or V3503.

Examination of some of the regional variations of religions in North America, with an emphasis on the interaction of religious communities with their surrounding cultures.

RELI W4655 The African American Prophetic Political Tradition from David Walker to Barack Obama. 4 points.

Through a wide range of readings and classroom discussions, this course will introduce students to the crucial role that the unique African-American appropriation of the Judeo-Christian prophetic biblical tradition has played -- and continues to play -- in the lives of black people in America.

RELI W4660 Religious History of New York. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Historical Studies (HIS).
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Survey of religious life in New York City, from the English conquest of 1684 through changes to the immigration laws in 1965.

RELI W4670 Native American Religions. 4 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. Limited to 20 students.

Examines the varieties of Native American religions and spirituality, from contact to the present, including a look at the effects of European religions on Native American traditions.

RELI W4708 Last Works. 4 points.

Intended for advanced undergraduates and graduate students.

What does a writer's last work tell us about his or her other works? About his or her life? About the lives of others? What is the relation between a writer's life and work? What is the relationship between the work and the life of the reader? Special attention will be given to the way psychological and religious preoccupation intersect to create the sense of an ending. The last works of the following writers will be read: Edward Said, Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Henry David Thoreau, Sigmund Freud, Samuel Beckett, Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Philip Roth, and David Foster Wallace.

RELI W4710 Kant and Kierkegaard on Religion. 4 points.

Examines the relationship between morality and religious faith in selected works of Immanuel Kant and Soren Kierkegaard. Examines Kant's claim that religious thought and practice arise out of the moral life, and Kierkegaard's distinction between morality and religious faith.

RELI W4712 Recovering Place. 4 points.

This seminar will reexamine the question of place and locality in an era characterized by virtualization and delocalization brought by digital media, electronic technology, and globalization. Readings will include theoretical as well as literary and artistic texts. Special attention will be given to the question of sacred places through a consideration of forests, deserts, gardens, mountains, caves, seas, and cemeteries.

RELI W4720 Religion and Pragmatism. 4 points.

An examination of the accounts of and methods for philosophical inquiry set out by Charles Peirce, William James, and John Dewey and by some contemporary representatives of the pragmatist tradition, with a focus on implications for the philosophy of religion.

RELI W4721 Religion and Social Justice. 4 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. Sophomore standing.

Examines current debates on three topics (religious reasons in public discourse, human rights, and democracy). Also looks briefly at some uses of the Exodus story, focusing on Michael Walzer's study of its political uses, Edward Said's criticism of Walzer's use of it in connection with contemporary Israel, and its role in debates among African Americans in the nineteenth century.

RELI W4722 Nothing, God, Freedom. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Students in Religion and Philosophy will be given preference.

Focuses on three interrelated issues that lie at the heart of various religious, literary and artistic traditions. The approach will introduce students to rigorous cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary analysis. The aim of the inquiry will be to explore the similarities and differences of contrasting considerations of the problems of nothing, God and freedom in different religious traditions as well as alternative modes of interpretation and expression.

RELI W4725 Religion and Modern Western Individualism. 4 points.

Intended for advanced undergraduates and graduate students.

Over the course of the past three centuries, individualism has become more or less institutionalized in Europe and North America. At the same time, it is deeply opposed to dominant patterns in the pre-modern West and in virtually all of the rest of human history. The focus of this course is to understand the complex relationship of religion to individualism as it has arisen initially in the West and in recent decades also become influential globally, with the aim of appreciating both the power and the limitations of this set of developments.

RELI W4730 Exodus and Politics: Religious Narrative as a Source of Revolution. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Cultures in Comparison (CUL).

Examination of the story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, as it has influenced modern forms of political and social revolution, with emphasis on political philosopher Michael Walzer. Examination of the variety of contexts this story has been used in: construction of early American identity, African-American religious experience, Latin American liberation ideology, Palestinian nationalism, and religious feminism.

RELI W4732 Job and Ecclesiastes. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. Graduate students, undergraduate majors and minors given priority.

Examines Pascal's claim that to the extent that the Bible can be said to have a philosophy, it is contained in the Books of Job and Ecclesiastes. Examines this claim critically by reading these Biblical books against the history of their philosophical interpretation. Among the authors to be considered will be Gregory the Great, Aquinas, Maimondies, Calvin, Hobbes, Kant, Kierkegaard, Jung, Barth, and Rene Girard.

RELI W4734 Religious Concepts: Conversion. 4 points.

Examines critically the concept of 'conversion' as it appears in Western thought through an examination of religious, philosophical, and political texts.

RELI W4735 Ideology and Masses. 4 points.

Considers Marxian conceptions of religion--the sigh of the oppressed, heart of a heartless world, halo of the vale of tears, and beyond--and critically examine theories of knowledge, interpretation, agency, and culture that are associated with them.   The inquiry will be directed at defining and prescribing the role of religion in social analysis, as well as examining the use of Marxian concepts such as illusion, alienation, and fetishism. Texts include writings by Marx, Engels, Lukacs, Gramsci, Adorno & Horkheimer, Marcuse, Bataille, Althusser, Foucault, and Zizek.

RELI W4736 Time, Event, Rupture. 4 points.

Investigates theories of temporality, paying particular attention to the concept of an 'event' and the causes and implications of irruptions in consciousness.   The inquiry will consider the relationships between time and truth, knowledge, subject/object, transcendence, origin,  history, memory, and spirit, as well as approaches to temporal cohesion and rupture.  Readings include texts by Husserl, Schelling, Benjamin, Heidegger, Lacan, Ricoer, Blanchot, Derrida, Stiegler, Foucault, and Badiou.

RELI W4740 Genealogy, Pragmatism and the Study of Religion. 4 points.

Topics include:  knowledge, truth, concepts of self and God, religious experience and practice.  Works by Nietzsche, C. S. Peirce, William James, Dewey, Rorty, Bernard Williams and others.

RELI W4800 The Science-Religion Encounter in Contemporary Context. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.

Focuses on differing models for understanding the relationship between religion and science, with emphasis on how the models fare in light of contemporary thinking about science, philosophy, and religion.

RELI W4801 World Religions: Idea and Enactment. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Cultures in Comparison (CUL).

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor; some prior work in religion.

Historical and contemporary investigation of the concept of "world religions"- its origin, production, and entailments. Topics include the Chicago World's Parliament of Religions (1893); the choice and numbering of the "great religions;" several major comparativists; and the life of "world religions" in museums, textbooks, encyclopedia, and departmental curricula today.

RELI W4805 Secular and Spiritual America. 4 points.

Priority given to majors and concentrators.

Are Americans becoming more secular or more spiritual (not religious), or both? What are the connections between secularism and what is typically called non-organized religion or the spiritual in the United States?  We will address these questions by looking at some of the historical trajectories that shape contemporary debates and designations (differences) between spiritual, secular and religious.

RELI W4806 Religious Studies at Columbia. 4 points.

This course will draw on the rich expertise represented by the Religion faculty.  Each week, a faculty member will present his or her field of specialization and methodological/theoretical approach to it.  Students will read representative samples of this faculty's scholarship and will discuss them with the instructor during a follow-up session.

RELI W4807 Divine Human Animal. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Ethics and Values.

This course focuses on "thinking with" animals (Levi-Strauss) through the lens of the religious imagination. The concentration will be primarily on "Western" religious cultures, especially Judaism and the question of Jewishness.

RELI W4810 Mysticism. 4 points.

Introduction to the comparative study of mysticism. Primary texts read against the backdrop of various theories of the nature of mysticism, addressing issues such as relationship of mysticism and tradition and the function of gender in descriptions of mystical experiences.

RELI W4811 Mystical and Dimensions of Islam and Judaism. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Cultures in Comparison (CUL).

Prerequisites: Instructor's permission (undergrad majors, concentrators and grad students in religion given priority).

Explores mystical dimensions that have evolved in Judaism and Islam in a comparative perspective with the aim of pointing to similarities and differences between the two major religions of Abraham. Topics include: mystical experience and the possibility of union in a theistic tradition and the sanctity of scriptural language and the limits of speech.

RELI W4812 Angels and Demons. 4 points.

Angels and demons -- and similar intermediary beings -- comprise a prominent and ubiquitous feature of the cultures influenced by the three major monotheisms, as well as of the cultures influenced by other spiritual traditions. With a focus on Jewish, Christian and post-religious environments of "The West," this seminar explores the history of angels and demons, and their changing theological meanings, psychological and cultural roles.

RELI W4814 Migration and Religious Change in Comparative and Historical Perspective. 4 points.

Looking at various forms of migration (voluntary and forced displacement) and religious communities (African, Muslim, Jewish), this seminar will explore two critical issues in relation to mobility and religion. The first is how does geographic mobility affect immigrant faith, and the second is how does migration influence the development of religion in the sending and receiving countries of migrants or diasporas?

RELI W4815 Technology, Religion, Future. 4 points.

This seminar will examine the history of the impact of technology on religion and vice versa before bringing into focus the main event: religion today and in the future. We'll bring thinkers such as E.M. Forster, Mircea Eliade, and Marshall McLuhan into dialogue with the writings of Arthur Clarke, Ray Kurzweil, and Jaron Lanier, and look at ethics in a Virtual World; the relationship between Burning Man, a potential new religion, and technology; the relevance of God and The Rapture in Kurzweil's Singularity; what will become of karma when carbon-based persons merge with silicon-based entities and other advanced technologies; and the ramifications of immortality, now imaginable through technology, even for materialists.

RELI W4816 Law and Religion. 4 points.

A seminar introducing the past, present, and future of law and religion, exploring U.S. and Indian Supreme Court and Beth Din decisions, Moslem Shari'a, Hindu and Buddhist dharma and karma, the influence of advanced technology, civil and criminal liability compared with heterodoxy and heresy, originalism and fundamentalism, and the ethics of compassionate lawyering. Reading includes Buddhist Sutras, the Qur'an, the Bible, Hindu Dharmashastra, and works by Dostoyevsky, Isaac Singer, Holmes, Dworkin, Plato, Posner, Scalia, al-Shafi'a, and Google's Chief Engineer.

RELI W4824 Gender and Religion. 4 points.

Examination of the categories and intersections of gender and religion in understanding of religious origins, personal identities, religious experience, agency, body images and disciplines, sexuality, race relations, cultural appropriations, and power structures.

RELI W4826 Religion, Race and Slavery. 0 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

This course explores the religious aspects of race and slavery from the Bible through the abolition of slavery in and around the Enlightenment, ending in the post-colonial era.  The focus is mostly on the Atlantic World.

RELI W4828 Religion and the Sexual Body. 4 points.

Theoretical approaches to gender and sexualities, focusing on the articulation, cultivation, and regulation how bodily practices are within various religious traditions, including modern secularism.

RELI W4905 Religion Lab. 4 points.

Discussion Section Required

In their research, scholars of religion employ a variety of methods to analyze "texts" ranging from historical documents to objects of visual culture. This course acquaints students with both the methods and the materials utilized in the field of religious studies. Through guided exercises, they acquire research skills for utilizing sources and become familiarized with dominant modes of scholarly discourse. The class is organized around a series of research "scavenger hunts" that are due at the start of each week's class and assigned during the discussion section (to be scheduled on the first day of class). Additional class meeting on Thursdays.

RELI W4910 Religion and International Development: Theory and Practice. 4 points.

Both the theory and the practice of international relief and development raise a host of normative as well as descriptive issues. This course will examine recent analyses of the impact of assistance programs on the social and cultural conditions in the developing world. While the focus will be on the economic and political developments, the role of religious communities will also be considered (on both the giving and the receiving ends of the aid transactions).