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Please note that minors in Religious Studies can count other courses that do not fall explicitly under the "RELG" rubric, provided such courses deal primarily with the topic of religion in some form. 

Summer 2018 Courses

RELG 101 / JUST 100 / AFST 180E: RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD

Also offered Fall 2018

What does it mean to study various religions from an academic perspective? How do we, as outsiders at a public university, discuss different traditions responsibly? Answering questions like these and developing our skills as scholars of religion is of no small importance in an increasingly global society. This class will take a thematic approach to a number of traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Prominent themes include the history of Religious Studies as a discipline, religion and popular culture, religion and violence, the history of utopian thought, and the status of new and controversial movements across the globe.

JUST 351: JEWISH NEW YORK

Also offered Fall 2018

An exploration of why Eastern European Jews came to New York in the era of mass migration and what they made of city life once they arrived. Jewish New York is a study in both urban and immigrant history: examining how a newly arrived society responded to America's signature metropolis in an urban moment of extraordinary dynamism.

JUST 384E: SURVIVING THE HOLOCAUST

This course will examine what it means to write about the Holocaust; that is, what it implies to bear witness to a traumatic experience such as the Shoah. We will look at trauma and the narration of the traumatic event in a variety of genres –prose/ memoir, poetry and graphic novel. We will seek to answer the questions: What is gained/lost/recovered in the act of bearing witness to tragedy and what is the cost to the victim? How are the roles of victim and perpetrator assigned in the Holocaust? How does survivor guilt factor into the way the story is - has to be – told? What are the narrative devices employed by survivor-authors? How does the experience of having been a victim of the Shoah define Primo Levi and the survivor in general? The issue of language and the violence done to language during the Holocaust will also be examined. With Primo Levi at the center of the discourse, we will analyze the act of writing about the Holocaust, considering how his narrative style differs from that of other important survivor-authors. In addition, we will consider the contribution that the different genres make to the understanding of the event through literature. Italian majors will be expected to read the works in the original Italian, as well as complete a short essay in Italian. This is a 4-credit course, which means that students are expected to do an entire semester's worth of work in three weeks. This work includes completing the assigned readings, posting in the discussion forums, preparing written assignments, and other course-related tasks.

JUST 480E: JESUS THE JEWISH CHRIST

From Jesus of Nazareth to Julian of Toledo: Jewish Identity amidst Chaos and Crisis - This class explores the question of what it meant to be Jewish in the Mediterranean World, from the time of Jesus (ad 1st century) to that of Julian of Toledo (ad 7th century) on the eve of the Middle Ages. We'll explore the lives, writings and histories of Jewish figures and communities across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, and critically analyze the complex issues of self-definition and external perceptions with which they struggled and projected onto other members of the faith.

Fall 2018 Courses

RELG 101 / JUST 180B / AFST 180E / ANTH 180C: RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD  

Also offered online for Summer II

What does it mean to study various religions from an academic perspective? How do we, as outsiders at a public university, discuss different traditions responsibly? Answering questions like these and developing our skills as scholars of religion is of no small importance in an increasingly global society. This class will take a thematic approach to a number of traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Prominent themes include the history of Religious Studies as a discipline, religion and popular culture, religion and violence, the history of utopian thought, and the status of new and controversial movements across the globe.

RELG 180A / AFST 171 / ANTH 280L / SOC 180A: INTRO TO AFRICAN RELIGION 

E. A. Wallis Budge defined African religion as "the worship of the souls of the dead, commonly called Ancestor Worship." Also, Diodorus, a Greek historian, wrote over 2,000 years ago that blacks were "the first to be taught to honor the gods and to hold sacrifices and processions and festivals and other rites by which men honor the deity; and ... sacrifices practiced among the Ethiopians [black people] ... are those which are the most pleasing to heaven." Thus, the course reviews the history of religion as a discipline, nature and phenomenon of African religion, conception of God and gods and goddesses, ancestors and elders, witchcraft, and rituals and symbols that offer meaning to the lives of believers.

RELG 280A / JUST 201 / HIST 285E: JEWISH HISTORY ANCIENT TO 1500

This course provides an introduction to Jewish history from the Bible to the end of the Middle Ages. Topics covered include: the formation of the Hebrew Bible; the ancient Jewish state among the empires; the rise of Hellenistic Judaism and Christianity; the emergence of the Diaspora; Jewish life under and interaction with medieval Islam and Christendom. The course's two major themes are: 1) the evolution and development of Judaism, and 2) the shifting character of Jewish identity and peoplehood. No previous knowledge of Jewish history and religion is required or assumed.

RELG 280D / HIST 285D / JUST 287A: JEWISH RESISTANCE IN ANTIQUITY 

The ancient world was full of passive and violent resistance. In this class, we will examine the diverse range of rioting and rebellion that occurred in antiquity (c. 200 bc – ad 600), with an emphasis on those events, discourses, texts and representations pertaining to Jewish struggles, both personal and communal. We will also, when possible, compare ancient representations of resistance to readings from today, in order to reflect on changing attitudes - about protest, violence, equality and justice - and how those shape our understanding of Jewish history.

RELG 380A / JUST 380C / HIST 385E: HISTORY OF CONVERSION TO & FROM JUDAISM

This course will concentrate on the history of conversion to and from Judaism. It will begin with an examination of Jewish and Christian missionary efforts in antiquity and conclude with a study of conversion from Judaism in modern Europe and conversion to Judaism in contemporary Israel. The readings will include the autobiographies of converts both to and from Judaism. Additional notes: The personal narratives of converts constitute a window into the way in which thoughtful and troubled human beings deal with questions of fundamental importance. Selected Topics: Conversion to Judaism in the Hellenistic world, inauthentic conversions in the era of the Spanish Inquisition, waves of conversion from Judaism in 19th and early 20th century Europe, current controversies over conversion in the State of Israel.

RELG 380B / AFST 372 / ANTH 380C / ARAB 384 K: ARABIC CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

This course aims to give an overview of the Civilization and Culture of the Arab peoples in Africa and elsewhere, starting with their origins and continuing through the present. A selection of texts­in English­dealing with and pertaining to different aspects and areas of Arabic life and culture will be read and discussed. The texts have been selected with the intent to compare and analyze approaches in those written by Arab writers and those written by non-Arab writers. Among the topics to be covered are­but not limited to: The origins of the Arabs; pre-Islamic Arab society; Arab-Islamic society and the Islamic Empire; Arabs in Africa and Europe, Arab-African (Amazigh) Epires, Arabic-Islamic culture in Africa and its contribution to world culture; decadence and fall of the Arab-Islamic Empire; European Infiltration and Colonialism (18-19 C); Independence and the creation of Nation-States. We will also analyze and discuss modern concerns and problems of the area focusing on the Maghrib, the Sahel and West Africa.

RELG 380G / ISRL 386K / JUST 386B: RELIGION AND FAITH IN ISRAEL 

This course examines religion in Israel from an ethnographic perspective. That is, it centers on knowledge that emerges from real-life encounters and experiences. Accordingly, we will engage with ethnographic works as a way of gaining a deeper understanding of the diversity of Israeli religious realities. The course will cover topics such as Religious Zionism, Ultra Orthodoxy, fundamentalism, Christian pilgrimage, Islamic and Jewish revival, New Age and more.

Permanent Courses

Please Note:  Many courses not listed as permanent or topics courses might count toward the Religious Studies minor. Both lists are subject to change, as courses are added to the curriculum and as course topics change over time.  Please be in touch with Professor Friedman or Professor Jones with any questions.

(click on department heading for more information about course offerings)

Asian and Asian American Studies

AAAS 105   INTRODUCTION TO ASIAN PHILOSOPHY
AAAS 280K   RELIGIONS, IMMIGRANTS, CONTEMPORARY U.S.
AAAS 313   RELIGIONS AND POPULAR CULTURES OF KOREA
AAAS 380J   WOMEN IN ASIAN RELIGIONS
AAAS 431   CONFUCIANISM IN KOREA
AAAS 462   CONFUCIUS' ANALECTS

Africana Studies

AFST 180E   INTRO. TO AFRICAN RELIGION
AFST 235   (also HIST 235) MUSLIM PEOPLES
AFST 283F   ISLAMIC CULTURES IN AFRICA
AFST 372   ARABIC CIVILIZATION AND CULTURE
AFST 375   (also HIST 375) MUSLIM SOCIAL HISTORY TO THE 19th CENTURY
AFST 378   AFRICAN METAPHYSICS

Anthropology

ANTH 111   INTRODUCTION TO ANTHROPOLOGY
ANTH 117   SEX, FOOD, DRUGS, DISEASE AND RELIGION
ANTH 166   INTRODUCTION TO CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY
ANTH 124   MULTICULTURALISM IN THE 21ST CENTURY
ANTH 252   PEOPLES OF THE PACIFIC
ANTH 254   PEOPLES AND CULTURES OF THE MIDDLE EAST
ANTH 255   also LAC 255) INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF TROPICAL LOWLAND SOUTH AMERICA
ANTH 256   (also HIST 258) NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE AND HISTORY
ANTH 258   PEOPLES AND CULTURES OF EUROPE
ANTH 261   (also JUST 261) ARCHAEOLOGY OF BIBLICAL LANDS
ANTH 262   ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS OF PERU
ANTH 263   ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE INCAS AND S. AMERICAN EMPIRES
ANTH 273   NORTHERN IRELAND: POLITICS AND IDENTITY
ANTH 300   HISTORY OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL THOUGHT
ANTH 370   NATIVE AMERICA TODAY
ANTH 374   ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE MIDDLE EAST
ANTH 375   ARCHEOLOGY OF AFRICA
ANTH 377   EMPIRES OF THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST
ANTH 380C   (also AFST 380/ARAB 384) INTRO ARABIC CIVILIZATION & CULT
ANTH 380   MUSLIMS JEWS CHRISTIANS

Art History

ARTH 104   (also AAAS 104) INTRO TO ART AND ARCHITECTURE OF THE ASIAN WORLD
ARTH 325   RELIGION AND IMAGES ACROSS THE EARLY MODERN WORLD
ARTH 386A    (also MDVL 382C) GILDED PAGES: CALLIGRAPHY, ILLUMINATION, AND PAINTING
IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD

Comparative Literature

COLI 110   WORLD LITERATURE (BIBLE AS LITERATURE)

English

ENG 370J   19C AMERICAN TRANSCENDENTALISM AND ASIAN RELIGIONS

Hebrew

HEBR 331   HEBREW LITERATURE BETWEEN THE BIBLE AND THE MODERN PERIOD

History

HIST 235   MUSLIM PEOPLES
HIST 301   ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN RELIGIONS

Judaic Studies

JUST 111   PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION
JUST 241   (also HIST 241) HISTORY OF ANCIENT ISRAEL
JUST 243   (also HIST 243) MEDIEVAL JEWISH HISTORY
JUST 244   (also HIST 244) MODERN JEWISH HISTORY
JUST 311   FAITH AND REASON
JUST 317   AMERICAN JEWISH THOUGHT
JUST 342   BETWEEN PERSIANS AND ISLAM
JUST 344   RENAISSANCE AND EARLY MODERN JEWISH HISTORY
JUST 361   (also HIST 380P) THE BIBLE AND ITS INTERPRETATION
JUST 411   PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

Philosophy

PHIL 105   (also AAAS 105) INTRODUCTION TO ASIAN PHILOSOPHY
PHIL 111   PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION
PHIL 311   FAITH AND REASON
PHIL 312   SCIENCE AND RELIGION
PHIL 336   (also AAAS 336) BUDDHIST METAPHYSICS
PHIL 344   (also AAAS 344) BUDDHIST ETHICS
PHIL 411   ADVANCED TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

Political Science

PLSC 403   ISLAM IN WORLD POLITICS

Psychology

PSYC 111   GENERAL PSYCHOLOGY
PSYC 228   SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
PSYC 344   RESEARCH METHODS IN PSYCHOLOGY

Sociology

SOC 100A   SOCIAL CHANGE: AN INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY
SOC 100B   SOCIAL CHANGE: AN INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY
SOC 302   SOCIOLOGY OF LATIN AMERICA
SOC 369   SOCIOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY ASIA

Spring 2017

SCHL 280W - What is Mormonism? 

Currently there are over 15 million Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in the world.  It is one of the fastest growing religions with its missionary force of over 50,000 young men, women, and senior members proselyting world-wide.  Mormonism is known for its controversial beliefs and ceremonies (Polygamy, Adam-God Theory, Dietary Restrictions, Temple Marriage, Baptisms for the Dead, Living Prophets & Apostles, New Scripture, Book of Mormon, Godhood for Members, Patriarchy, Personal Revelation, Pioneer Heritage, etc.), and exclusive claims as the one true religion that holds all the truth to eternal life.  Drawing on approaches to religious and American studies this course academically and critically investigates the origins, development, doctrines, practices, and controversy surrounding the LDS Church and its members from the 1820s in Upstate New York till today as it attempts to be a mainstream global Christian church.  Included in this course are investigations regarding the church’s relationship with persons of color, women and the LGBTQ community, Mormonism’s relationship to Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and issues dealing with its expansion world-wide.  Additionally, the course will visit key historic sites to the early development of the LDS Church in Palmyra, NY and Susquehanna, PA. Course assessment includes short response papers to assigned weekly readings, two oral presentations, and a research paper on a topic related to the course chosen in consultation with the instructor.

RELG 101 / JUST 280N - Religions of the World

This course is intended as introduction to the study of religion in this sense. What does it mean to approach various religions from an academic perspective? How do we, as outsiders at a public university, discuss different traditions responsibly? Answering questions like these and developing our skills as scholars of religion is of no small importance in an increasingly global society. This class will take a thematic approach to a number of traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Prominent themes include the history of “Religious Studies” as a discipline, religion and popular culture, religion and violence, the history of utopian thought, and the status of new and controversial movements across the globe.

RELG 212 / JUST 212 – Radical Religious Movements

​This course focuses on movements that, while falling under the larger umbrella of "World Religions" are nonetheless deemed radical by their contemporaries. Topics will vary from week to week, though generally we will focus on the self-professed religious identity of these movements alongside their relationship with the broader religious culture. Do these movements consider themselves radical or sectarian? How do they communicate with, or seek to influence, the mainstream? We begin in the sixteenth-century with the Anabaptist takeover of the city of Münster before moving on to the proliferation of communalist, utopian, and messianic movements in the middle seventeenth-century. Later topics include socialism and religion in the nineteenth-century, terrorism, new religious movements and the anti-cult movement in America, and the relatively recent appearance of so-called “invented religions.”​ 

JUST 211 / ISRL 280A – Early Zionist Thought

This course will explore early Zionist thought in its historical contexts, focusing on debates between political, cultural, and religious Zionists. The course is intended to provide a grounding in the foundational nineteenth and early twentieth century texts of Zionism and to understand the philosophical and religious background, ideas, consequences (and debates between) some of the various voices in early Zionist thought. Topics and themes will include: emancipation, anti-Semitism, assimilation, sources of authority, models and visions of nation and nationalism, religion and secularism, exile, diaspora, and relation to ancient history and tradition. 

JUST 248B – Jewish Mysticism

This course focuses on the Jewish mystical response to existential questions about the origin and purpose of the universe, the relationship of man and God, the source and nature of man's soul and the cosmic effects of humankind's actions and its interplay with other spheres of existence. Through a study of various literary forms -- from the earliest Biblical sources to twentieth century texts -- this course provides a survey of basic concepts in Kabbalah ( the Jewish mystical tradition) such as :Ein Sof: The Dialectic of the Infinite, Tzimtzum : a Kabbalistic Theory of Creation, Sefirot: Foundations for a Ten Dimension Universe, and Olamot: The Worlds as described in Kabbalah, among others. Books include: The Anthology of Jewish Mysticism by Raphael Ben Zion, The Kabbalistic Tradition by Alan Unterman, The Thirteen Petaled Rose by Adin Steinsa 

ANTH 280V – Islamic Cultures in Africa

Islam has a rich cultural and artistic heritage in Africa. With a history that goes back to the seventh century, it is now a vital part of the African cultural landscape. This introductory course explores a range of Islamic cultural productions from the advent of Islam to modern times by Muslim men and women in different regions of Africa from North to South and from East to West. It will focus on religious didactic writings, literature, music, architecture and documentary films in studying the syncretism of Islam and indigenous African religions and/or cultures, and in highlighting the unifying cultural influences of the religion. The course will also attend to the distinctive character of the vast contemporary post-colonial cultural productions in music (religious & profane), film, architecture and literature in large African metropolises with significant Islamic populations, and it will devote attention to the underlying factors and issues of artistic production of Muslims of Africa.

RELG 280C / AFST 203 – Afro-Brazilian & Caribbean Religions

In a journey more than geographic, Africans in the New World lost all outward expressions of their religions. Yet, African religions survived to help create syncretistic religious traditions for descendants of Africans in the New World. How was that possible? For answers, the course looks at the nature of African religions, influence of non-African religions and culture on African descended peoples, and examination of Candomble, Voodoo, Obeah, and Rastafari. 

AFST 370 / WGSS 380F – Religious Harmony in Islamic Spain

This course acquaints students with the contribution of Muslims, Christians and Jews to Al-Andalus (Islamic Spain & Portugal), from the eighth century to the 1400's. In the Islamic far west, Andalusian society was different from what existed in the Arabic-Islamic East and far more developed and sophisticated than any civilization Europe had known. During this time period, Al-Andalus was the most materially advanced area of Europe. Ethnic (Arabs, Iberians, North Africans) and religious minorities such as Christian Muwallads and Mozarabs enjoyed a high degree of tolerance and, like the Jews, formed prosperous and erudite communities. Women were, with the exception of those of Baghdad, the envy of even other Arabic-Muslim women. Cordoba was the most splendid city on the European continent with magnificent buildings, gardens, libraries, baths. There was a stable political system that facilitated opulence, education, beautiful homes, well-designed cities and towns, art and scholarship. This course will examine the civilization and culture of Islamic Spain and the contribution of each of the religious groups to its greatness. 

 

Last Updated: 5/10/18