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REES 145D: Jewish American Literature (AMSTUD 145D, ENGLISH 145D, JEWISHST 155D)

From its inception, Jewish-American literature has taken as its subject as well as its context the idea of Jewishness itself. Jewish culture is a diasporic one, and for this reason the concept of Jewishness differs from country to country and across time. What stays remarkably similar, though, is Jewish self-perception and relatedly Jewish literary style. This is as true for the first-generation immigrant writers like Isaac Bashevis Singer and Anzia Yezierska who came to the United States from abroad as it is for their second-generation children born in the United States, and the children of those children. In this course, we will consider the difficulties of displacement for the emigrant generation and their efforts to sustain their cultural integrity in the multicultural American environment. We'll also examine the often comic revolt of their American-born children and grandchildren against their (grand-)parents nostalgia and failure to assimilate. Only by considering these transnational roots can one understand the particularity of the Jewish-American novel in relation to mainstream and minority American literatures. In investigating the link between American Jewish writers and their literary progenitors, we will draw largely but not exclusively from Russia and the countries of Eastern Europe.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Spring 2018 | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-AmerCul, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

RELIGST 1: Religion Around the Globe

This course surveys major religious traditions of the world. Through examination of a variety of materials, including scriptures and other spiritual writings, religious objects and artifacts, and modern documentary and film, we explore Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Daoism as rich historical and living traditions.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-GlobalCom, WAY-ED, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

RELIGST 2: Is Stanford a Religion?

This course seeks to introduce students to the study of religion by posing a two-part question: What is a religion, and does Stanford qualify as one? Scientific, pragmatic, seemingly secular, Stanford may not seem at all similar to religions like Christianity, Judaism or Buddhism, but a deeper look reveals that it has many of the qualities of religion--origin stories, rituals and ceremonies, sacred spaces and times, visions of the future, even some spirits. By learning some of the theories and methods of the field of religious studies, students will gain a better understanding not just of Stanford culture but of what motivates people to be religious, the roles religion plays in people's lives, and the similarities and differences between religious and secular culture.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Spring 2018 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

RELIGST 11N: The Meaning of Life: Philosophical, Aesthetic, and Religious Perspectives

Raise ultimate questions about life. Yes, the unexamined life is not worth living, but also the unlived life is not worth examining. Students and professor examine their own lives in the light of questions that the readings and lectures bring up: 1. The big picture: Is there such a thing as "the" meaning of life? 2. What is entailed in making personal-existential sense of one's own life? 3. What constitutes the good life, lived in society? 4. How can a university education bear upon the search for a meaningful life? 5. What "methods" for or approches to life can one learn from studies in the humanities? After introductory lectures, the seminar studies a series of artworks, poems, diverse texts, and a film, all of which bear on the questions mentioned above -- works such: 1. Plato's Allegory of the Cave, from "The Republic" 2. Manet's "A bar at the Folies Bergere" 3. A comparison/contrast of Monet's early (1862) "Still Life" and van Gogh's late (1889) "Irises" 4. Lyric poetry T.S. Eliot: "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," "The Waste Land," and "East Coker"; Edwin Muir: "The Heart Could Never Speak"; Philip Larkin: "Days" 5. Martin Heidegger's "What Is Metaphysics?" 6. Jean-Paul Sartre's novel "Nausea" 7. Marx's Paris Manuscripts of 1844 8. Bergman's "The Seventh Seal"
Terms: Win | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Instructors: Sheehan, T. (PI)

RELIGST 12N: Perspectives on the Good Life

The question is how to approach and evaluate different perspectives on the good life, especially when those perspectives are beautifully, and elusively, presented to us as texts. We will consider both classic and modern writers, from the West and from China; some are explicitly religious, some explicitly secular; some literary, some philosophical. Most of the class will revolve around our talk with each other, interpreting and questioning relatively short texts. The works we will read - by Dante, Dickenson, Zhuangzi, Shklar, and others - are not intended to be representative of traditions, of eras, or of disciplines. They do, however, present a range of viewpoint and of style that will help frame and re-frame our views on the good life. They will illustrate and question the role that great texts can play in a modern 'art of living.' Perhaps most important, they will develop and reward the skills of careful reading, attentive listening, and thoughtful discussion. (Note: preparation and participation in discussion are the primary course requirement. Enrollment at 3 units requires a short final paper; a more substantial paper is required for the 4-unit option.
Terms: Win | Units: 3-4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Instructors: Yearley, L. (PI)

RELIGST 14N: Demons, Death, and the Damned: The 'Other' and the Otherwordly in America

This course will examine how beliefs about the "other world" actually shape and are shaped by Americans' this-worldly actions and interactions (i.e. in the demonization of the "other," whether defined religiously, racially, ethnically, or in gendered terms). Students will ask how ideas about demons and death, heaven and hell have reflected the concerns, values, and identities of Americans over time. Students will learn how to read primary sources against secondary literature.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Autumn 2013 | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

RELIGST 17N: Love, Power, and Justice: Ethics in Christian Perspective

From its inception, the Christian faith has, like all religions, implied an ethos as well as a worldview, a morality and way of life as well as a system of beliefs, an ethics as well as a metaphysics. Throughout history, Christian thinkers have offered reasoned accounts of the moral values, principles, and virtues that ought to animate the adherents of what eventually became the world's largest religion. We will explore a variety of controversial issues, theological orientations, and types of ethical reasoning in the Christian tradition, treating the latter as one 'comprehensive doctrine' (John Rawls) among many; a normative framework (actually a variety of contested religious premises, moral teachings, and philosophical arguments) formally on par with the religious ethics of other major faiths as well as with the various secular moral theories typically discussed in the modern university. We will learn to interpret, reconstruct, criticize, and think intelligently about the coherence and persuasiveness of moral arguments offered by a diverse handful of this religious tradition's best thinkers and critics, past and present.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Spring 2016 | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

RELIGST 18N: Religion and Politics: Comparing Europe to the U.S. (JEWISHST 18N)

Interdisciplinary and comparative. Historical, political, sociological, and religious studies approaches. The relationship between religion and politics as understood in the U.S. and Europe. How this relationship has become tense both because of the rise of Islam as a public religion in Europe and the rising influence of religious groups in public culture. Different understandings and definitions of the separation of church and state in Western democratic cultures, and differing notions of the public sphere. Case studies to investigate the nature of public conflicts, what issues lead to conflict, and why. Why has the head covering of Muslim women become politicized in Europe? What are the arguments surrounding the Cordoba House, known as the Ground Zero Mosque, and how does this conflict compare to controversies about recent constructions of mosques in Europe? Resources include media, documentaries, and scholarly literature.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Spring 2014 | Units: 3-4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-GlobalCom, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

RELIGST 26: The Bible and its Interpreters

Introduction to major stories, figures, and themes of the Christian Bible and their retellings in theological writing, art, literature, film, and music throughout the ages.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Winter 2018 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

RELIGST 31: The Religious Life of Things

Temples, prayer beads, icons, robes, books, relics, candles and incense, scarves and hats, sacred food and holy water; objects of all sorts play a prominent role in all religions, evoking a wide range of emotional responses, from reverence, solace and even ecstasy, to fear, hostility and violence. What is it about these things that makes them so powerful? Is it beliefs and doctrines that inspire particular attitudes towards certain objects, or is it the other way around? Many see a tension or even contradiction between religion and material pursuits and argue that the true religious life is a life without things. But is such a life even possible? This course adopts a comparative approach, drawing on a variety of traditions to examine the place of images, food, clothing, ritual objects, architecture and relics in religious thought and practice. Materials for the course include scholarship, scripture, images and at least one museum visit.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
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