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RELIGST 179: Doing the Sacred: Religion and Performance

This course investigates religion as practice and performance, rather than as belief and doctrine. A performance-centered emphasis helps us understand how domination and authority, as well as creativity and individual resistance, underlie culture. From initiatory rites to cyber sermons, human action offers raw, physical data that unveils the mechanisms of social control, ideology, and individual resistance. Reorienting religion from the perspective of religious acts / actors -- those who are doing something they consider sacred -- evokes many interpretive possibilities: How do these performances create and maintain communities? How do they resolve conflicts that arise within everyday affairs? In what ways do they generate meaning and shape identity? What can these enactments reveal about the constructions of power, gender, and race? This course explores such issues, probing the complicated relationship between human intention and social reality. Ultimately, a study of religion and perf more »
This course investigates religion as practice and performance, rather than as belief and doctrine. A performance-centered emphasis helps us understand how domination and authority, as well as creativity and individual resistance, underlie culture. From initiatory rites to cyber sermons, human action offers raw, physical data that unveils the mechanisms of social control, ideology, and individual resistance. Reorienting religion from the perspective of religious acts / actors -- those who are doing something they consider sacred -- evokes many interpretive possibilities: How do these performances create and maintain communities? How do they resolve conflicts that arise within everyday affairs? In what ways do they generate meaning and shape identity? What can these enactments reveal about the constructions of power, gender, and race? This course explores such issues, probing the complicated relationship between human intention and social reality. Ultimately, a study of religion and performance seeks to understand how performance and transcendence interact to make participants into who they are.nnThe readings cover an array of religious traditions -- medieval and evangelical Christian, Hindu, Native American, Jewish, Buddhist, African and Haitian Vodou -- all of which present a rich repertoire of sacred drama, dance, and music. We will discuss performances that make modern readers uncomfortable, such as sacrifice and flagellation, and examine why they are meaningful within their specific cultural context. Finally, we will consider how secular practices and the internet mimic religious behavior. However divergent, all of these examples demonstrate how religious performance is no mere artifice, but a vehicle for the practitioner's own pious posturing -- one that is spiritually innovative and self-affirming -- yet shaped by hierarchical regimes.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Spring 2015 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

RELIGST 218: Islam, Race and Revolution: A Pan-American Approach (AMSTUD 218, CSRE 218, RELIGST 318)

Taking a pan-American approach to the study of religious traditions, this upper-level course traces the history of the critical intersection between race, religion and revolution among Muslims from the turn of the nineteenth century until the present day. Moving from the Atlantic Revolutions of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, to the United States, to the decolonizing Third World, and then finally to the contemporary Middle East, this class will emphasize that Islam and race together have been used by many groups in order to challenge existing power structures, agitate for change, and more than occasionally, transform the social, cultural and governmental structures comprising their worlds. Moreover, although this class is concentrated upon religious formations in the Americas, students will explore global events throughout the Muslim world in order to examine how global politics contribute to religious formations, solidarities and identities. At the conclusion of th more »
Taking a pan-American approach to the study of religious traditions, this upper-level course traces the history of the critical intersection between race, religion and revolution among Muslims from the turn of the nineteenth century until the present day. Moving from the Atlantic Revolutions of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, to the United States, to the decolonizing Third World, and then finally to the contemporary Middle East, this class will emphasize that Islam and race together have been used by many groups in order to challenge existing power structures, agitate for change, and more than occasionally, transform the social, cultural and governmental structures comprising their worlds. Moreover, although this class is concentrated upon religious formations in the Americas, students will explore global events throughout the Muslim world in order to examine how global politics contribute to religious formations, solidarities and identities. At the conclusion of this course, students will be expected to write a 10-15 page research paper, and a topic will be chosen in consultation with the instructor. Students will also be expected to write weekly reflection papers, which will serve to facilitate class discussion. Undergraduates register for 200-level for 5 units. Graduate students register for 300-level for 3-5 units.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-ED, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Morgan, A. (PI)

RELIGST 246: Constructing Race and Religion in America (AFRICAAM 236, AMSTUD 246, CSRE 246, HISTORY 256G, HISTORY 356G, RELIGST 346)

This seminar focuses on the interrelationships between social constructions of race, and social interpretations of religion in America. How have assumptions about race shaped religious worldviews? How have religious beliefs shaped racial attitudes? How have ideas about religion and race contributed to notions of what it means to be "American"? We will look at primary and secondary sources, and at the historical development of ideas and practices over time.
Terms: Win | Units: 4-5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-ED, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Instructors: Lum, K. (PI)

RELIGST 255: Religion and Power in the Making of Modern South Asia (HISTORY 297F, RELIGST 355)

This course examines the diverse ways that religious traditions have been involved in the brokering of power in South Asia from the late seventeenth century to the present day. We will examine the intersection of religion and power in different arenas, including historical memory, religious festivals, language politics, and violent actions. At the core of our inquiry is how religion is invoked in political contexts (and vice-versa), public displays of religiosity, and the complex dynamics of religion and the state. Among other issues, we will particularly engage with questions of religious identity, knowledge, and violence. Undergraduates must enroll in RELIGST 255 for 5 units. Graduate students must enroll RELIGST 355 for 3-5 units. HISTORY297F must be taken for 4-5 units.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Spring 2016 | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-GlobalCom, WAY-ED, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

RELIGST 262: Sex and the Early Church (FEMGEN 262, RELIGST 362)

Sex and the Early Church examines the ways first- through sixth-century Christians addressed questions regarding human sexuality. We will pay particular attention to the relationship between sexuality and issues of gender, culture, power, and resistance. We will read a Roman gynecological manual, an ancient dating guide, the world's first harlequin romance novels, ancient pornography, early Christian martyrdom accounts, stories of female and male saints, instructions for how to best battle demons, visionary accounts, and monastic rules. These will be supplemented by modern scholarship in classics, early Christian studies, gender studies, queer studies, and the history of sexuality. The purpose of our exploration is not simply to better understand ancient views of gender and sexuality. Rather, this investigation of a society whose sexual system often seems so surprising aims to denaturalize many of our own assumptions concerning gender and sexuality. In the process, we will also examine the ways these first centuries of what eventually became the world's largest religious tradition has profoundly affected the sexual norms of our own time. The seminar assumes no prior knowledge of Judaism, Christianity, the bible, or ancient history.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Penn, M. (PI)

RELIGST 264: Hindu Tantra (RELIGST 364)

What is Tantra? Tantric forms of ritual and philosophy have been integral to the practice of Hinduism for most of its history. Tantra has provided initiates with a spiritual technology for embodying the divine and transcending the cycle of rebirth; on a social and political level, Tantra has mediated the institutions of Hindu kingship and appealed to a diverse population of initiates. This course covers a number of influential and well-documented Hindu tantric traditions, exploring several prominent features of Tantric religion as they develop historically, including: tantric ritual practice (core technologies of the subtle body, mantras, ma, alas, etc., along with the more notorious elements of sex and transgression), theology and philosophical speculation, as well as Tantra's relationship to the outside world and state power.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Fisher, E. (PI)

RELIGST 281: Asian Religions in America; Asian American Religions (AMSTUD 281, ASNAMST 281, RELIGST 381)

This course will analyze both the reception in America of Asian religions (i.e. of Buddhism in the 19th century), and the development in America of Asian American religious traditions.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Winter 2014 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

SINY 148: Grappling with the Global: Gentrification, Immigration, and Sustainability in New York City

This course will examine the impacts of gentrification, immigration, and global environmental concerns on place-making in New York City, deploying ethnographic fieldwork and first-hand accounts of everyday urban life as tools to document and understand urban change.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-ED, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

SIW 107: Civil Rights Law

This course analyzes the major civil rights laws that Congress has enacted since the 1960s, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing Act, the Public Accommodations ACt, the AGe Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The course provides an in-depth study of the statutory language of each of these laws, examines how courts have interpreted the statutes, and explores the policy arguments in favor and against such laws. The course also reviews the history context surrounding the enactment of these statutes, including an examination of the civil rights movement as a political and social force.
Terms: Aut, Win, Spr | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:EC-AmerCul, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

SLE 93: Structured Liberal Education

Focusing on great works of philosophy, religion, literature, painting, and film drawn largely from the Western tradition, the SLE curriculum places particular emphasis on artists and intellectuals who brought new ways of thinking and new ways of creating into the world, often overthrowing prior traditions in the process. These are the works that redefined beauty, challenged the authority of conventional wisdom, raised questions of continuing importance to us today, and¿for good or ill¿created the world we still live in. Texts may include: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Du Bois, Eliot, Woolf, Kafka, Brecht, Vertov, Beauvoir, Sartre, Fanon, Gandhi, and Morrison.
Terms: Spr | Units: 8 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:IHUM-3, THINK, WAY-ED, Writing SLE | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
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