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. 

 

Fall 2016 Courses

RELG 101 / JUST 280N - RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD

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 - 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 380B / ARAB 382A - ARABIC CIVILIZATION AND 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 texts in English dealing 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 are but 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) Empires, 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.

 

JUST 180A / COLI 180M - BIBLE AS LITERATURE

This course involves reading, discussing, and writing about selected books from the Bible. From a literary perspective the course will identify and interpret themes, narrative structure and other formal aspects of the books(s) within the Bible, as well as character, tone, and other aesthetic components. Because of the wide, global dissemination of the Bible, topics and questions related to translation will also arise. A preliminary reading includes Stephen Mitchell's translation of Genesis, Ariel & Chana Bloch's recent translation of Song of Songs, and a Bible in any English translation. Through critical & literary encounters with these texts and with other readers of them within the classroom, students will present students with opportunities to produce and reflect on their human experience.

 

JUST 311 / PHIL 311 - FAITH AND REASON

This reading-intensive seminar will explore the philosophical and religious tensions in and between the categories of faith and philosophy. What are the consequences of distinguishing faith from reason? How are we to understand the nature and demands of faith? What is the relationship between religious belief and rationality? Topics will include the nature of religious subjectivity, divinity, metaphysics the supernatural creation revelation, and religious experience. Figures will include: Maimonides, Spinoza, Kant, Schleiermacher, Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber and Franz Rosenweig. 

 

JUST 351 / HIST 380B - JEWISH NEW YORK

An exploration of Jewish New York with a focus on East European immigrant experience. What was Yiddish-speaking New York? How did Jews from a very different society and culture adjust to modern, urban life in the late 19th and early 20th century metropolis? Our course will travel from tenement to talking pictures, from political clubhouse to the vaudeville stage in search of New York’s Jewish immigrant past.

 

ANTH 380S RELIGION AND COSMOLOGY

What we think about humanity has been shaped by what we think about religion. Ideas about morality, modernity, history, personhood, and the cosmos have all been influenced by religions over the centuries, and these have shaped the theories of scientists in turn, including anthropologists. The topics of religious conversion, ritual, magic, and myth around the world have all figured prominently in the development of anthropological study over the last century. And the questions asked and approaches taken by anthropologists have been profoundly shaped by religious and secular ways of life in the societies that they come from. In this class, we will explore these issues as part of the bigger question of cosmology, that is, ideas about what exists and how best to relate to other beings, whether human or otherwise. We will ask how religious and secular social formations are best studied and in what ways analyses of such phenomena are fraught with bias. We will also consider alternative approaches to thinking about other-than-human beings—animal, spiritual, and alien—and what they can tell us about being human, living with others, and speculating about the universe we all inhabit.

 

HIST 381J - MARTYR & MONK, EARLY CHRISTIANITY

Christianity in the late antique period was marked by dramatic new roles for the holy man (and the holy woman). This course examines the spread of Christianity in its first half millenium, and the development of Church institutions and hierarchies, through the figures of the martyr, saint, and monk. The men and women who took on these roles battled the Roman state, the cosmic forces of evil, and the temptations of their own bodies. Analyzing stories about famous holy men and women, we’ll consider how the landscape of an evolving new religion was shaped by the sensational lifestyle choices of its adherents. How did early Christians understand spiritual authority? In what ways did Christian holy figures resemble pagan and Jewish models and in what ways did they overturn them? How was gender a factor in sanctity? These are questions we’ll ask as we investigate a fascinating group of sources. This course fulfills the J Gen-Ed requirement (both the Composition and Oral). Consequently, assignments will consist of two presentations, short papers, and a longer research paper.

 

JUST 484C / HIST 484Q - RELIGION AND THE ENLIGHTENMENT

This course has two major aims: first, to investigate various approaches to religious questions found in eighteenth-century Enlightenment literature, such as skepticism, toleration, and Deism; and second, to survey important religious currents developing contemporaneously with the Enlightenment but distinct from it, such as Methodism, Pietism, and Hasidism. The course presumes that religion played a greater a role in the intellectual life of the eighteenth century than it is usually given credit for. Indeed, we will look in the eighteenth-century materials for some of the seeds of modern religious life.

 

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 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

Last Updated: 11/11/16