Topics in Study of Religion
An introduction to the study of religion through topics from a variety of traditions and perspectives, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Topics may be comparative or focused within a particular tradition and will allow students to understand the distinctive perspective the study of religion brings in both contemporary and historical contexts. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV or INT.
REL 1.01 What Matters
What does it mean to say that something matters and how can we know that it does? This is an introductory course to modern religious thought, examining the quest for meaning, value, and significance as captured in religious, ethical, and philosophical language in Western tradition. The intent is to provide students with a broad exposure to the various ways humans in modernity have attempted to make sense of their condition. What are some of the changes brought about by life in the modern world that prompt new questions about human life and purpose? What new answers have been provided to explain our place in the cosmos and reason for being? We explore questions of belief, value, significance, meaning, suffering, love, and justice. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV or INT.
REL 1.02 Contemporary Religion
This course is designed to give an impressionistic overview of contemporary religion. We’ll begin with readings designed to help you think about contemporary religion in general, and then we’ll begin a survey of some issues and places where religion is salient in the early 21st century. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV or INT.
REL 1.03 Patterns of Religious Experience
A comparative study of some of the basic patterns of religion. The course will focus upon such themes as religious experience, myths of creation, stories of religious founders and heroes, the origin and resolution of human suffering, and the structure and meaning of religious community and ritual. Source material for these themes will be taken from the literary and artistic resources of the following religious traditions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV or INT.
REL 1.04 Beginnings and Ends of Time
This course examines the visions of the emergence, decline, and extinction of the world in several religious cultures: Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Daoism, and contemporary USA. After investigating different ideas of how the world came to exist and various views of the end of time, we will compare different notions of salvation by which various religious cultures tried to assuage fears of the end of the world. With expectations for messianic redemption or visions of power these catastrophic imaginings and ideas of salvation served as the basis for missionary work and conversion as well as impetus for social and political transformations, rebellions, wars, imperial programs. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV or INT.
REL 1.05 Religion & Gender
Are all religions sexist? How can we know? This course is about approaches to the study of religions from the perspective of gender. We will read foundational works of religious history and feminist and queer theology that shed light on questions such as how normative masculinity, femininity, and sexuality are defined across religions, what is the difference between religion and culture in constructing gender and gender roles, and how are religious ideas gendered. In asking these questions we will focus on scholars’ interpretive methods in order to understand how variant they are and how important they are in creating meaning out of religious texts and practices about gender and gender roles. Specific topics will include the body, embodiment of religious rituals, purity, menstruation, religious authority, marriage and divorce, sexuality and sexual ethics, and motherhood. Open to all classes. Dist: INT or TMV.