Focus on Race

The following upcoming courses include a substantial focus on issues of race and the intersection of race and religion.

2022 Spring Term Courses

REL 66 Women, Religion, and Social Change in Africa (Identical to AAAS 42 and WGSS 44.03)

This introductory, multidisciplinary course examines women's religions ideas, beliefs, concerns, actions, rituals and socio-cultural experiences in African societies and cultures from a comparative, historical and gender perspective. We will look at women's experiences of social change in African religions, the encounter with Islam, slavery, Christianity, and colonialism. We will analyze the articulations of economic and political power or lack of power in religious ideas as we ask questions such as: What are the different antecedents and circumstances in which women exercise or are denied agency, leadership, power and happiness in their communities? Texts will include nonfiction, fiction, and film narratives. Open to all students.

2022 Fall Term Courses

REL 1.06 Getting Religion

This introductory course invites students to "get religion" as a historical and lived reality in the modern world by engaging religious belief, belonging, and behavior in the unfolding spiritual landscape of the Atlantic world, from the beginning of colonial encounters to the present era.  Exploring how individuals, families, and groups of people "get religion" under free, un-free, and secretive conditions, students will examine key historical episodes of modern religious encounter, embrace, and exchange.

2023 Winter Term Courses

REL 7.09 Living with the Dead: Religion and Spirituality in American History

This First-Year Seminar introduces students to American religious history and spirituality by focusing on how humans deal with death and the dead. Encounters with immaterial human subjects in North American history are somewhat distinct from communing and communicating with deities in a religion's pantheon. They involve religious subjects performing ritual engagement with human beings across time and space—those who have "passed on"—for familial, social, and even political purposes.  Religious uses of the language of ancestors, "mystical persons," and concepts of martyrdom and "mortuary politics" invite reflection on the material impacts of spiritual subjects in this world for various groups.  This course will familiarize students with various "Spiritual" traditions in North American religious history, paying attention to the complex categories and identities of race and gender in living religious subjects as well as the deceased subjects they engage—the dead who "talk back."

As a First-Year Seminar, this course will prepare students to analyze American religion as thoughtful writers. For each evening meeting of the course, we will gather to focus on historical or ethnographic monographs, spanning the period of colonial encounters in America to the present.  A variety of course media, including documentaries, interviews, films, podcasts, websites, and material/visual archives will supplement our learning experience. To develop analysis as writers over the term, students will produce 5 (five) 1-page response papers to religious documentaries and films, one short essay on an extended poem about communicating with the dead, and one culminating research paper.  Dist: TMV.


REL 61 Religion and the Civil Rights Movement (Identical to AAAS 22)

This course presents the religious dimensions of civil rights activism in twentieth-century United States history. Students will explore the theologies of African American Protestants, liberal religious thinkers, and adherents to Gandhian philosophy as they waged nonviolent struggle against Jim Crow oppression in the United States. In-class discussions and exercises will examine the religious rhetoric and creative protest strategies of movement activists. Open to all.