Spring Courses 2024


In Person

Instructor: David Woodington
Meeting Days: Tuesdays & Thursdays
Meeting Times: 9:30AM - 10:45AM
Building and Room number: WES 4002
Course Description: An introduction to the history and literature of the Bible. This course will explore the meaning of the Bible in its ancient cultural context.

Instructor: Rachel Schwaller
Meeting Days: Tuesday & Thursday
Meeting Times: 11:00AM - 12:15PM
Building and Room number: SUM 427
Course Description: A broad introduction to religion in American culture. This class emphasizes the well-established religions with large followings (viz. Judaism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism). Some attention is also given to other religions active in America. Other topics covered include the relationship of church and state, religion in ethnic and racial minority groups, and women and religion.

Instructor: Carter Higgins
Meeting Days: Tuesday & Thursday
Meeting Times: 4:00PM - 5:15PM
Building and Room number: BA 202
Course Description: This course addresses diverse aspects of the philosophies and expressions of intimacy and pleasure as found in India. Using old and new literature, including from the Kamasutra, as well as media, we examine the following: how and why in ancient times sensual pleasure was another path for ultimate bliss; how perspectives and traditions of intimacy have changed over time; diverse types of marriages; the culture and practice of arranged marriages; same-sex intimacy; and universal concepts of love.

Instructor: Nikia Smith Robert
Meeting Days: Monday & Wednesday
Meeting Times: 11:00AM - 12:15PM
Building and Room number: BA 202
Course Description: This course introduces students to Black feminist and Womanist religious scholarship, fields of study that focus on the experiences of Black women with interlocking systems of oppression in secular and sacred contexts. This class explores how racial, gendered, and economic inequities create unique burdens for Black women. Students will examine teachings of sin, sacrifice, and surrogacy and analyze how these church theologies may or may not reproduce carceral logic. We will also interrogate ethical practices that are harmful and condemn Black mothers' moral agency. Specifically, students will explore real life issues such as the criminalization of poverty and welfare reform and consider how social and ecclesial appraisals construct poor Black women as unworthy of moral concern. Students will construct helpful ways to apply liberatory Womanist religious values with abolitionist principles to shift narratives of deviance and create moral reappraisals that advocate for the flourishing of Black women beyond punishment and prisons.

Instructor: Michael Zogry
Meeting Days: Tuesday & Thursday
Meeting Times: 1:00PM - 2:15PM
Building and Room number: 
Course Description: Survey of the development of religious institutions and ideas in America from colonial times to the present. Emphasis is given to the mainstream religious traditions (Protestant, Catholic, Jewish), but attention is also paid to other phenomena, including nonwestern and native American religions.

Instructor: Carter Higgins
Meeting Days: Tuesday & Thursday
Meeting Times: 2:30PM - 3:45PM
Building and Room number: BA 202
Course Description: This course explores the dynamic diversity of gods and goddesses in South Asian religious life through examination of their basic iconography, religious narratives and devotional poetry, temple images and architecture, ritual practices, performance traditions, and film.

Instructor: Samuel Brody
Meeting Days: Monday & Wednesday
Meeting Times: 12:30PM - 1:45PM
Building and Room number:  BA 202
Course Description: The course will examine what religious traditions have had to say about controversies in economic ethics, focusing on how religious thinkers develop arguments on the basis of methods particular to their traditions. At the same time, it presents these traditions alongside secular approaches to economic ethics. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism will be considered, as will liberalism, Marxism, feminism, and natural law theory. Topics include economic inequality, wealth accumulation, licit and illicit commerce, slavery, and profit. Attention will also be paid to the methodological challenges of the study of the topic, which necessarily brings together political economy, ethics, economic history, and hermeneutics. Students will work with a diverse array of primary sources, from ancient scriptures to modern thinkers. The ultimate goal will be to understand how it is possible for thinkers within the same religious tradition to take differing stances on economic ethics, while considering themselves wholly grounded in tradition, depending on their relationships to the modern secular approaches we discuss.

Instructor: Samuel Brody
Meeting Days: Monday & Wednesday
Meeting Times: 11:00AM - 12:15PM
Building and Room number: BA 315
Course Description: A consideration of the relationship between religion and politics in Judaism, and of the relevance of Judaism to broader discussions about religion and politics. Topics will include sovereignty, secularization, pluralism, democracy, and revolution.

Online

Instructor: Amanda Pumphrey
Meets: Online
Meeting Times: 1/16 - 3/8
Course Description:  This course will examine the connection between violence and religion from an ethical perspective. It will focus primarily on Jewish, Christian and Muslim ethical theories, which will be compared and applied to specific cases. We will also consider the ethical justifications for inter-religious conflict and the impact violence has had on targeted religious communities. The course will begin with an interrogation of the meaning of religion, ethics and religious violence-exploring questions like: Are religions inherently violent? Are theories derived from religious ethics used to justify violence? How are acts of violence morally justified? We will then consider these questions in more depth by comparing ethical theories within Judaism, Christianity and Islam, such as just war theory and jihad theory, to see whether religions encourage or seek to curb violence. In addition, each moral theory will be studied in light of specific historical or present cases. Case studies include the Crusades, Medieval Spain, ISIS, white nationalism in America, and recent killings in places of worship. The course will end on a positive note, by examining ethical theories within religions that promote peace, and comparing theories that justify peace with theories that justify war.

Instructor: Michael Zogry
Meets: Online
Meeting Times: 3/18 - 5/10
Course Description: This course introduces students to the academic study of religions. It acquaints students with key methods and issues in religious studies, and provides an introductory survey of selected religions.

Instructor: William Lindsey
Meets: Online
Meeting Times:  1/16 - 3/8
Course Description: A basic introduction to religion in India, China, and Japan with emphasis upon religions that affect the modern period.

Instructor: Nikia Smith Robert
Meets: Online
Meeting Times: 1/16 - 3/8
Course Description: When faced with ethical dilemmas how do we decide what is the right course of action? In what ways are our decisions affected by religious ideas about morality? In this class we examine the ethical problems we encounter every day in light of the solutions offered from various religious traditions. Cases to be examined include issues of life and death, war and peace, sexual morals, torture, the treatment of animals and the environment.

Instructor: William Lindsey
Meets: Online
Meeting Times: 3/18 - 5/10
Course Description: This class is both a historical and thematic exploration of religious thought and practice in Japan from the Jomon period to the present. Readings come from a variety of sources including translations of primary documents and a full array of secondary scholarly descriptions and interpretations. Course material will also include lectures, class discussions, and a variety of visual sources. This course is offered at the 300 and 500 level with additional assignments at the 500 level. Not open to students with credit in REL 509.

Instructor: Benjamin Guyer
Meets: Online
Meeting Times: 3/18 - 5/10
Course Description: This class examines the variety of ways religious and environmental attitudes intersect in US culture, and how religious traditions can be (and have been) used both to alienate people from the environment and to foster an ethic of environmental responsibility. The course will focus on appreciating the diversity within and across religious traditions when it comes to attitudes on the environment, and understanding the different contexts and assumptions that lead to such diversity. Amidst all this diversity, similarities will also be noted in how people from all different backgrounds are drawing on the resources of their religious traditions to promote more sustainable ways of being.