Religion

Undergraduate

To study religion is to ask questions about the many ways women and men have sought to make sense of their lives.

Program Overview

Examining religious traditions — their notable leaders, their valued texts, and the social behaviors designed to embody their visions — is a central way to study the profound questions that direct so many areas of human endeavor. The study of religion is an excellent way of organizing a liberal arts education so that diverse cultures, artistic expressions, political forces, and gender assignments can be questioned and set in historical and changing contexts.

Alum Connections

Stories from Religion Alums

Ellie Rounds '98 Access and Equity Coordinator

Melissa A. Danz ’17

Carrie Kortegast '98 PhD Assistant Professor of Higher Education

Our courses

We offer introductory courses (100 and 200 level) in major religious traditions and texts as well as contemporary topics such as ethics and public policy, spirituals and the blues, and women and Buddhism. These courses usually have no prerequisites. We welcome first-years into our 100 and 200 level courses. 

Advanced courses (300 level) offer a more in-depth study of particular topics and traditions. We regularly offer courses in a wide range of fields, including Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and African-American traditions.

Courses and Requirements

Learning Goals

The Religion major is, by its very nature, intercultural and comparative, multi-disciplinary, critical, integrative, creative and constructive. Students are expected to:

  • Explore more than one religious tradition and engage the phenomena of religion comparatively across and within cultures.
  • Understand and apply a range of methodological and theoretical approaches to religious phenomena.
  • Examine and engage religious phenomena, including issues of ethical and social responsibility, from a perspective of critical inquiry and analysis of both the other and the self.
  • Apply theoretical knowledge of religious phenomena to lived, practical contexts, both historical and current.
  • Employ knowledge of religious phenomena and the skills of religious studies in the solving of complex problems, including those raised in the personal and social engagement of issues of life, death, love, violence, suffering, and meaning.

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 32 credits:

20 credits in religion at any level20
12 additional credits in religion at the 300 level 112
Majors must ensure their course selections include at least three different religious traditions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, or Judaism. This requirement may be fulfilled by courses at any level and by courses that take a comparative approach.
Total Credits32
1

Only one 395 course will count toward the 300-level requirement

Additional Specifications

  • The Religion Major does not have a prescribed sequence of required courses. Students choose their course of study in close consultation with their advisors.
  • Independent work is encouraged and, if approved by the advisor, such work may constitute partial fulfillment of the above requirements.
  • Courses with a substantial focus on a religious tradition or a religious theme offered by other departments may be counted towards the Religion major with approval of the advisor and department chair. Examples include:
CLASS-211Gods and Mortals: Ancient Greek and Roman Myth4
POLIT-342Islamic Political Thought4
  • Please note this list is not comprehensive. Additional courses should be identified in consultation with the advisor or department chair.
  • One extra-departmental course on relevant methodological or theoretical approaches may be counted towards the major with permission of the advisor. Such a course may be of particular value for students planning to do independent research. Examples include:
ANTHR-275Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology4
SOCI-225Social Science Research and Data Analysis4
GNDST-201Methods and Practices in Feminist Scholarship4
  • Please note that such courses may have prerequisites set by their department or require the permission of the instructor.

Requirements for the Minor

A minimum of 20 credits:

Four courses in religion at any level16
At least one additional course in religion at the 300 level4
Total Credits20

Additional Specifications

  •  At least three of the courses should be taken in the Mount Holyoke Department of Religion.

Course Offerings

RELIG-100 Introduction to Religion

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course is an introduction to the study of religion, assessing the nature of religion and methodological approaches through an examination of subject matter drawn from numerous traditions.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
A. Steinfels
Restrictions: This course is limited to first-years, sophomores, and juniors

RELIG-102 Introduction to Islam

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines Islamic religious beliefs and practices from the origins of Islam to the present, focusing on such central issues as scripture and tradition, law and theology, sectarianism and mysticism. Attention will be given to the variety of Islamic understandings of monotheism, prophethood, dogma, ritual, and society.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
A. Steinfels

RELIG-108 Arts of Asia

Fall. Credits: 4

This multicultural course introduces students to the visual arts of Asia from the earliest times to the present. In a writing- and speaking-intensive environment, students will develop skills in visual analysis and art historical interpretation. Illustrated class lectures, group discussions, museum visits, and a variety of writing exercises will allow students to explore architecture, sculpture, painting, and other artifacts in relation to the history and culture of such diverse countries as India, China, Cambodia, Korea, and Japan.

Crosslisted as: ARTH-105
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
A. Sinha

RELIG-112 Introduction to Judaism

Spring. Credits: 4

Judaism is a 3,500-year-old tradition that has developed over time as Jewish communities all over the world creatively interacted with the different cultural and historical milieus in which they lived. This course explores the ways in which Judaism has sought to transform ordinary life into sacred life. What are the ways in which Judaism conceives of God, and what is the meaning of life? What roles do study, prayer, ethics, sex, marriage, family, rituals of the life cycle, and community play in Judaism? These and other questions will be taken up through study of diverse types of religious literature and historical evidence.

Crosslisted as: JWST-112
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
M. Benjamin

RELIG-163 Introduction to Buddhism

Fall. Credits: 4

Some scholars have argued that there is no such thing as 'Buddhism' in the singular, but only 'Buddhisms' in the plural. This course introduces students to select historically and culturally diverse forms of Buddhism, including Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhism, Japanese Zen Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism. The course pays particular attention to modern (and modernist) reinterpretations of Buddhism, including contested views of gender.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Mrozik

RELIG-181 Introduction to African Diaspora Religions

Fall. Credits: 4

Over the last century, religionists have labored to discover the meaning of African dispersal beyond the continent and its accompanying spiritual lineages. What theories of encounter sufficiently adjudicate the synthetic religious cultures of African-descended persons in North America, South America, and the Caribbean? What are the cross-disciplinary methodologies that scholars utilize to understand African religious cultures in the Western hemisphere? Firstly, this course will introduce the field of Africana religious studies. This background will inform the second and primary objective of the course: thematizing and exploring West and Central African religious traditions housed in the Americas.

Crosslisted as: AFCNA-181, CST-149AD
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
M. Coleman-Tobias

RELIG-201 Reading the Qur'an

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course examines the history, structure, and themes of the Qur'an and analyzes the place of the Qur'an in Islamic religious thought. Students will read the entire text of the Qur'an in translation, as well as selections from medieval and modern commentaries.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
A. Steinfels

RELIG-207 Women and Gender in Islam

Spring. Credits: 4

This course will examine a range of ways in which Islam has constructed women--and women have constructed Islam. We will study concepts of gender as they are reflected in classical Islamic texts, as well as different aspects of the social, economic, political, and ritual lives of women in various Islamic societies.

Crosslisted as: GNDST-210SL
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
A. Steinfels

RELIG-208 Religion and Science Fiction

Spring. Credits: 4

This course examines the representation of religion and religious communities in science fiction. We will read works that speculate on the nature, origin, and function of religious beliefs and practices, and on the place of religion in imagined futures and universes. We will also explore science fiction-based religious movements, the use of science fiction to communicate religious ideas, and Afro-futurism. We will focus on mostly American novels, short stories, film, television, and music. Readings will include works by Ursula. K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, and Joanna Russ.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
A. Steinfels

RELIG-209 Disability and Religion

Fall. Credits: 4

What do religions say about disability? How do people with disabilities engage with religious texts, images, practices, and communities? Drawing on different religions and cultures, the course explores the challenges and resources disability offers to religious communities. We study religious narratives that link disability to sin or karma and alternative narratives that reimagine the divine as disabled; access to worship spaces and rituals; ways healthcare professionals can support the religious needs of disabled clients; and the Disability Justice movement, which foregrounds the interlocking oppressions of disability, race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality.

Crosslisted as: CST-249DR
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Mrozik

RELIG-225 Topics in Religion

RELIG-225AN Topics in Religion: 'Arts of India'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

The multicultural course will survey architecture, sculpture, painting, and other arts of India from the earliest times to the twenty-first century. Students will explore the various arts as material expressions of a relationship between religious beliefs, geography and cultural conditions of the subcontinent of India in different historical periods. Class sessions will also provide opportunities for an examination of cross-cultural issues relating to the study of non-Western art in a Western academic discipline. Students will develop strategies for visual analysis and critical thinking through written assignments, class discussions, and close reading of scholarly articles.

Crosslisted as: ARTH-263
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
A. Sinha
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

RELIG-225JA Topics in Religion: 'Sacred Space in Jewish Antiquity'

Spring. Credits: 4

While the Jerusalem Temple is most well-known example of sacred space in Jewish antiquity, its destruction in 70 CE allowed a new type of sacred space to flourish in dispersed Jewish communities: the synagogue. These physical locations were sites of tension: between old traditions and new circumstances, between Jews as a people and their non-Jewish neighbors, and between different definitions of "who is a Jew." This course will use both textual and archaeological evidence to explore how diverse Jewish groups in antiquity constructed sacred spaces, and ultimately Jewish identity, through art, architecture, and ritual.

Crosslisted as: JWST-225JA, ARTH-290JA
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Fein

RELIG-225KG Topics in Religion: 'Knowing God'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course examines the following key texts from the ancient world that treat significantly the problem of knowing God and the mystery enveloping such knowledge: Sophocles' Oedipus the King, Plato's Phaedo, Cicero's Concerning the Nature of the Gods, Job, Paul's Epistle to the Romans, and others. Attention is also given to the different ways of thinking about the divine and human natures in these works, which are broadly reflective of Graeco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian value systems.

Crosslisted as: CLASS-260
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
B. Arnold

RELIG-225KH Topics in Religion: 'Kingdoms Human and Divine'

Spring. Credits: 4

How political authority is wielded is a theme of some of the greatest works in the Greco-Roman philosophical tradition: Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics, and Augustine's City of God. Authority exercised well gives rise to good order and human flourishing, but abusive authority results in the opposite: injustice, conflict, and ultimately destructive violence. In this course we will compare how these philosophers addressed the problem of political authority in the human realm with the theme of the kingdom of God in the Bible, especially as found in The Gospel of Matthew and The Book of Revelation.

Crosslisted as: CLASS-262
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
B. Arnold

RELIG-225LT Topics in Religion: 'Race and Religion in Latin America'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

We often imagine race and religion as two distinct aspects of social life. However, this course considers their historical and contemporary interconnections in Latin America. It begins with an investigation of the proto-racial and religious categories through which Europeans in the early modern era conceived of human difference. We then trace how the encounter between Europeans, Africans, and Indigenous Peoples transformed these notions, with particular attention to how the overlapping racial and religious hierarchies that emerged were both constructed and resisted. We conclude with a series of ethnographies that highlight the contemporary entanglements of race and religion in the region.

Crosslisted as: ANTHR-216LT
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
W. Girard
Prereq: ANTHR-105 or an introductory course in Religion.

RELIG-225NR Topics in Religion: 'Reimagining American Religious History: Race, Gender, and Alterity'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course invites its participants to place critical race and gender studies perspectives in dialogue with the emergence of new religious movements in the United States. Course participants rely on the presupposition that only through a thorough examination of religious traditions on the 'margin' can we fully understand the textured meaning of American religious history as a sub-discipline. Privileging the founding stories and institutionalization of minoritized American religious groups, the course considers how subaltern voices have shaped and transformed American religious life.

Crosslisted as: CST-249NR, GNDST-210NR
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
M. Coleman-Tobias

RELIG-225WT Topics in Religion: 'Witchcraft, Misfortune, and Ritual Healing'

Spring. Credits: 4

This course explores the often-misunderstood concept of "witchcraft," past and present. "Witchcraft" is at times used to characterize nuanced cultural systems of power and healing, which seek to explain and redress suffering. In turn, many societies experiencing environmental insecurity, health crises, and rapid economic transitions have seen the rise of "witch-hunting" movements, from the Salem witch trials to present-day global conspiracy theories. We consider the causes and trajectories of these movements, which often promise collective redemption and salvation through the scapegoating of suspected malefactors, and examine alternative approaches to redressing injustice and misfortune.

Crosslisted as: ANTHR-216WT
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
M. Auslander
Prereq: ANTHR-105.

RELIG-226 Philosophy of Religion

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Is there a God? If there is, what is God like? Could all religions be true, or are they contradictory? Is religion in conflict with science? Can we have morality without religion? What happens when we die? In this class, we will consider arguments for and against different positions that people have on these questions. This course will give students a sense of the issues that philosophers of religion are currently thinking and writing about. As we think through topics such as these, we will be working to develop and hone philosophical skills such as analyzing concepts, constructing and critiquing arguments, and evaluating philosophical theories.

Crosslisted as: PHIL-226
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
J. Mooney

RELIG-234 Women and Gender in Judaism

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines gender as a key category in Jewish thought and practice. We will examine different theoretical models of gender, concepts of gender in a range of Jewish sources, and feminist Jewish responses to those sources.

Crosslisted as: JWST-234, GNDST-210JD
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
M. Benjamin

RELIG-241 Women and Gender in Buddhism

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Can women become Buddhas? Why is the Buddha called a "mother"? Who gets to ordain? Why would anyone choose celibacy? Who engages in religious sexual practices and why? This course examines the centrality of gender to Buddhist texts, practices, and institutions. We pay particular attention to the challenges and opportunities Buddhist traditions have offered women in different historical and cultural contexts. Throughout the course we consider various strategies of empowerment, including feminist, postcolonial, queer, trans*, and womanist.

Crosslisted as: GNDST-210BD
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Mrozik

RELIG-246 Womanist Religious Thought

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

As a conceptual framework which reconsiders the rituals, scriptures, and allegiances of religious black women, womanist thought has expanded the interdisciplinary canon of black and feminist religious studies. This course is a survey of womanist religious scholars from multiple religious traditions: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Yoruba-Ifa -- as well as theorists who understand womanism as a "spiritual but not religious" orientation. Course participants will use the interpretive touchstones of cross-culturalism, erotics, earthcare, and health -- among others -- to examine contemporary womanist religious thought.

Crosslisted as: AFCNA-246, GNDST-210WR
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
M. Coleman-Tobias

RELIG-248 Islam in America: From Slavery to the "Muslim Ban

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Is Islam an American religion? Muslims in the United States have often been treated with suspicion and their religion viewed as foreign and incompatible with American values. Yet, Islam was present in North America since at least the 1700s in the lives of enslaved Africans. And it was theoretically included in the religions whose free exercise is protected by the First Amendment. This course traces the fraught and complex history of Islam and Muslims in North America, from the loss and preservation of Islamic practices under the regime of slavery through the reclamation of Islamic symbols and identities in African-American movements of the 20th century (e.g., The Moorish Science Temple, The Nation of Islam, and The Five-Percenters) to the rapid growth of a diverse immigrant Muslim community post-1965. Particular attention will be paid to: the intertwining of race, gender, and religion in the self-construction of Muslim identities and the policing of Muslim persons; the depictions of Islam and Muslims in U.S. society and politics; and the use of Islamic themes and symbols in contemporary popular culture, such as hip-hop.

Crosslisted as: CST-249SM
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
A. Steinfels

RELIG-254 Eat This Book: A Cross-Cultural Introduction to Sacred Text

Fall. Credits: 4

Scripture is not only read or interpreted; it is also sung, illuminated, held aloft, buried, recited, eaten, and worn. In this thematic course, students examine what makes a text "scripture" by examining the idea of sacred text across multiple traditions. Students will become familiar with hermeneutic theory and will analyze embodied, material, and performative aspects of religious life as they pertain to the broad category of scripture.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
M. Benjamin

RELIG-267 Buddhist Ethics

Spring. Credits: 4

This is an introduction to contemporary and classical Buddhist ethical ideals. Working with primary and secondary sources, we will ask the following questions: Is the universe moral? What are Buddhist ethical ideals and who embodies these? How do contemporary Buddhists interpret classical ethical ideals? What moral dilemmas do Buddhists face today? How do Buddhists grapple with moral ambiguity? We will consider the perspectives of Buddhists from different cultures including India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, and the United States.

Crosslisted as: CST-249BE
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Mrozik

RELIG-269 Citizens and Subjects: Jews in the Modern World

Spring. Credits: 4

This course examines key themes in Jewish intellectual, religious, and political life from the late 17th century to the present. We examine: the effect of civil emancipation and the Enlightenment on Jewish philosophy and theology; Jews as both architects of modern thought and the paradigmatic Other in European liberal nation-states; the transformation of traditional Jewish religious rituals and belief systems in response to dramatic social and political life; new patterns of gender and family organization; the effect of antisemitism, Zionism, and imperialism on Jewish politics; and contemporary Jewish intellectual innovation, including feminist and queer thought.

Crosslisted as: JWST-269, CST-249JM
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
M. Benjamin

RELIG-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

RELIG-311 Sufism: The Mystic Path in Islam

Fall. Credits: 4

Exploration of the mystical tradition in Islam known as Sufism, from its origins in medieval Iraq to its role in contemporary Islamic societies. This course focuses on how the Sufi pursuit of unity with, or annihilation in, God relates to the core monotheistic beliefs of Islam. Sufi theories and practices are studied through primary source materials. Special attention will be paid to the themes of love, desire, and beauty in the literature of Sufism.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
A. Steinfels
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors

RELIG-331 Advanced Topics in Religion

RELIG-331AF Advanced Topics in Religion: 'African American Spiritualities of Dissent'

Fall. Credits: 4

This course seeks to understand how protest fuels the creation and sustenance of black religious movements and novel spiritual systems in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will examine the dissentive qualities of selected African American activists, community workers, scholars, spiritual/religious leaders and creative writers. By the end of this course, students will be able to thoughtfully respond to the questions, "What is spirituality?"; "What is dissent?"; and "Has blackness required resistive spiritual communities?

Crosslisted as: AFCNA-341AF, CST-349AF
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
M. Coleman-Tobias

RELIG-331CA Advanced Topics in Religion: 'Carbon Christianity'

Fall. Credits: 4

This seminar investigates the multiple connections between modern forms of Christianity and fossil fuels. The course begins with a consideration of recent scholarship that details how workers' everyday experiences in coal mines and oil fields profoundly shaped their religious sensibilities. We then examine how fossil fuel companies funded many of the most significant Christian institutions in the United States-both liberal and conservative -- during the twentieth century. Finally, the course will reflect on contemporary Christian responses to climate change, both those that seek to halt the burning of fossil fuels and those that deny it is taking place.

Crosslisted as: ANTHR-316CA
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
W. Girard
Prereq: 8 credits in Anthropology or Religion.

RELIG-331LA Advanced Topics in Religion: 'Race and Religion in Latin America'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

The course will begin with an investigation of the proto-racial and religious categories through which Europeans in the early modern era understood human difference. From there, we will trace how these notions were re-conceptualized in the centuries following the encounter between Europeans, Africans, and the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. As we examine this history -- including the emergence of slavery, eugenics, mestizaje, and Liberation Theology -- we will pay particular attention to how interwoven racial and religious hierarchies were both constructed and resisted. The final section of the course will concentrate on the contemporary entanglements of race and religion in the region.

Crosslisted as: ANTHR-316LA
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
W. Girard
Prereq: 8 credits in Anthropology, Religion, or Latin American Studies.

RELIG-331LV Advanced Topics in Religion: 'Living in End Times: Religion and Climate Change'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Religion and climate change might seem to be an odd combination. After all, we tend to imagine religion as the domain of faith, emotion, and the otherworldly and the climate as the realm of science, objective knowledge, and the here and now. Nevertheless, this course investigates the sometimes surprising connections between them. For example, how do religious communities work to promote or oppose political action on climate change? How do religious conceptions about God's relationship with nature or with humanity have consequences for adherents' views on climate change? How do the futures predicted by climate models and those prophesied in sacred texts affect people's actions today?

Crosslisted as: ANTHR-316LV
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
W. Girard
Prereq: 8 credits in anthropology or religion.

RELIG-331NW Advanced Topics in Religion: 'Religion: It's Not What It Used to Be'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Not so long ago, anthropologists had a relatively clear understanding of what they meant by "religion" -- any and all manner of beliefs and practices related to the supernatural or the sacred. However, in recent years, religion has been rethought in light of its own specific Western history, its normative tendencies, and its place in colonialism and other projects of domination. This course will begin with a review of the conventional ways that anthropologists have conceived of religion. It will then move on to investigate the exciting new theoretical and ethnographic perspectives that have emerged to more fully take into account the diverse world-making practices that humans engage in.

Crosslisted as: ANTHR-316NW
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
W. Girard
Prereq: 8 credits in Anthropology or Religion.

RELIG-331SE Advanced Topics in Religion 'Anthropology of Secularism'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

What is secularism? For many of us, the answer is obvious: the world without religious belief, or the separation of church and state, or even the "really real" world. In recent years, scholars in number fields have begun to question these common sense notions about secularism. In this course, we will investigate this rapidly expanding literature and the critical lines of inquiry it has opened up: Under what specific cultural and historic conditions did secularism first emerge? Is secularism experienced today in the same way throughout the world? If not, how do they vary? What ways of being and living does secularism encourage or allow to flourish? Which does it stunt, block, or prohibit?

Crosslisted as: ANTHR-316SE
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
W. Girard
Prereq: 8 credits in Anthropology or in Religion.

RELIG-331SL Advanced Topics in Religion: 'Spain and Islam'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course will explore questions and concerns regarding the "Islamic constant" of Spanish history. We will focus on four major political and cultural contexts: the coexistance and conflicts among Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Medieval Iberia; the "moriscos" (converted Muslims) of Imperial Spain (sixteenth-seventeenth centuries); Spanish orientalism and colonial enterprises in Africa between the end of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries; and the question of the Muslim emigrants in contemporary Spain. Readings will include literary texts, political and legal documents, historical accounts, and other cultural material such as arquitecture, film, and documentaries.

Crosslisted as: SPAN-330SL
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
N. Romero-Díaz
Prereq: Two 200-level Spanish courses above SPAN-212.
Notes: Taught in Spanish

RELIG-343 The Sabbath

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

The practice of a weekly sacred day of rest has organized Jewish life for millennia. In this seminar, students will examine the Sabbath using narrative, folk, and legal primary sources from the biblical, Second Temple, rabbinic, medieval, and modern periods. Key themes include sacred time, cultural identity, and the transformation of religious practice. Experiential learning, and critical thinking about your experiential learning, are integral to this seminar.

Crosslisted as: JWST-343
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
M. Benjamin
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

RELIG-352 Body and Gender in Religious Traditions

Spring. Credits: 4

Do bodies matter in religious traditions? Whose bodies matter? How do they matter? By studying religious body ideals and practices, we examine the possibilities and problems different kinds of bodies have posed in religious traditions. Topics include religious diet, exercise, and dress; monasticism, celibacy, and sexuality; healing rituals, and slavery and violence. We pay special attention to contemporary challenges to problematic body ideals and practices coming from feminist, disability, postcolonial, queer, and trans theorists and activists.

Crosslisted as: GNDST-333RT, CST-349RE
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
S. Mrozik
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors

RELIG-361 The Aquatic Life of Black Devotion

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Water informs religious and spiritual worldviews the world over; commonplace rituals from baptism to libation underwrite its prescience. The religious cultures of West and Central Africa, along with its multiple diasporas, theorize, encounter, and engage water centrally. Seminar participants will dive deeply into the water-based epistemologies of African and African diaspora religions, probing liturgical language, ritual performance and spiritual entities for aquatic common threads. Seminar participants will analyze the historical realities that have made water such a contested yet indispensable feature of black religious life.

Crosslisted as: AFCNA-361
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
M. Coleman-Tobias
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors

RELIG-363 Rastafari

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

From its counterhegemonic beginning as a nexus of Garveyism, Ethiopianism, and Pan-Africanism, Rastafari has shifted from a Caribbean theological movement to a new religious and socio-political movement globally. What were the epistemological tenets that enabled Rastafari to boast such a multi-sited diaspora? What was the role of reggae music in spreading the religious culture? How have women negotiated their roles within its textured prescriptions? Seminar participants will explore these questions, among others. Beyond understanding the diverse beliefs and practices of global Rastafari, seminar participants will consider some of the enduring motifs of black, dissentive religions as iterated through Rastafari.

Crosslisted as: AFCNA-363
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
M. Coleman-Tobias
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors

RELIG-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.

Contact Us

The Department of Religion helps students organize a liberal arts education so that diverse cultures, artistic expressions, political forces, and gender assignments can be questioned and set in historical and changing contexts.

Natalina Tulik
  • Academic Department Coordinator

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