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RELIGST 21: Religion in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Science fiction and fantasy create alternate worlds that incorporate religious institutions and beliefs that illuminate how we think about religion now and for the future. Texts work off diverse religious traditions: Islam, Buddhism, Catholic and Protestant forms of Christianity, Mayan religion, and Voudou are some that appear. Themes of free will and determinism, immortality, apocalypse and redemption. Myth, ritual, prophecy, the messianic hero, monasticism and mysticism. Texts like Dune, Count Zero, Sandman, Grass and the like explore religion in the contemporary imagination. Main assignment: write a short story.
Terms: Spr | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-CE

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: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II
Instructors: Pitkin, B. (PI)

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: Spr | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

RELIGST 36: Philosophy of Religion (PHIL 77S)

(Formerly RELIGST 62S) Explores fundamental questions about the existence of God, free will and determinism, faith and reason, through traditional philosophical texts. Course is divided into four sections: first asks what is religion; second surveys the western philosophical tradition from Boethius through Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Kierkegaard regarding the foundation for theist beliefs; third investigates questions mystical experience raises through both western and Buddhist materials; and fourth takes up the ethics of belief, what we have a right to believe, through the Clifford and James debate and the opposing stances of Camus and Pascal.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II
Instructors: Gelber, H. (PI)

RELIGST 61: Exploring Islam

This course introduces some of the most important features of the Islamic religious tradition. It explores the different ways in which Muslims have interpreted and practiced their religion. The main subjects of discussion --- including the life of the Prophet Muhammad, the Qur¿an, law, ritual, mysticism, theology, politics, and art --- will be considered with reference to their proper historical contexts. Some of the topics covered include abortion, gender, rebellion and violence, and the visual vocabulary of paintings. Students will be exposed to important theories and methods in the academic study of religion. No prior knowledge is required.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED
Instructors: Sadeghi, B. (PI)

RELIGST 65: Exploring Global Christianity

Explore the world¿s largest religion as a multicultural, global faith, with attention to Christianity¿s origins, spread and impact around the world up to the present. Special attention to recent shifting demographics leading to declining numbers in mainline Christian denominations in North America and Europe and the rapid expansion of Christianity in Africa, Asia, and South America; the explosion of international Pentecostalism and other new Christianities; Christianity, global politics, and the global economy; Christian-Muslim relations and conflicts.
| UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-GlobalCom, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

RELIGST 71: Jews and Christians: Conflict and Coexistence (JEWISHST 71)

The relationship between Judaism and Christianity has had a long a controversial history. Christianity originated as a dissident Jewish sect but eventually evolved into an independent religion, with only tenuous ties to its Jewish past and present. At the same time, Judaism has at times considered Christianity a form of idolatry. It seems that only since the catastrophe of the Holocaust, Jews and Christians (Catholics and Protestants) have begun the serious work of forging more meaningful relationships with each other. This course explores the most significant moments, both difficult and conciliatory ones, that have shaped the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, and introduces students to some of the most important literature, art, and music that are part of it. nSelected literature: Gospel according Matthew, the letters of St. Paul, St. Augustine, the Talmud (selections), Maimonides, Martin Luther's sermons on the Jews, Nostra Aetate (Vatican II)nArt and Music: Medieval art and sculpture, Haendel's Messiah.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

RELIGST 93: Exploring Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism was once considered one of the great religions of antiquity. It was the state religion of the Persian Empire and its theological influence has been traced in Graeco-Roman mystery cults, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Yet, today it is one of the least understood of living religions. This introductory class will introduce and analyze Zoroastrianism through some of its defining themes, including an examination of the figure of the prophet Zoroaster, modes of transmitting sacred knowledge, the nature of good and evil, and the importance of ritual practice and practitioners. We will also discuss how Zoroastrianism views the individual with respect to the body, the life cycle, and issues of gender and sexuality. Finally, this course will also examine the intersection of religion and ethnicity that has defined Zoroastrianism from its origins in the 2nd millennium BCE up to the present.
| UG Reqs: WAY-A-II

RELIGST 106: Religion and the Environment: The Moral Meanings of Nature

What does it mean to live in "harmony" with nature? What do humans seek and find in nature and our relationship to it? How have understandings of nature oriented human actions and values and given "place" to humanity in the cosmos? From religious texts to Deep Ecology, American conservationism to Buddhist and Romantic nature poetry, naturalist critics of religion to religious naturalists, and finally debates over the role of religion in dealing with environmental crisis, this course is designed as a general introductory survey of the topic of religion and the environment. It will be guided by the question of how conceptions of nature have been a source of reflection on the goals of life and the ways in which humans are to understand their existential "lot". Readings will include primary texts from major religious traditions, poetry, and scholarly and philosophical texts from figures including, among others, Descartes, Goethe, Nietzsche, J.S. Mill, Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Gary Snyder, and Peter Singer.
| UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER

RELIGST 108: Indian Epics: Past and Present (COMPLIT 148B)

The Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the two great epics of India, have been crucial texts in South Asian literatures and cultures for millennia. In this course, we will explore the diverse traditions of both epics from their Sanskrit versions, first composed more than 2,000 years ago, through retellings in newer media forms well into the twenty-first century. Among our primary interests will be comparing versions of each epic that have circulated in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the West at different times. We begin with abridged translations of both the Sanskrit Mahabharata (including the Bhagavadgita) and the Ramayana. We will discuss the major literary, religious, and social themes of each text as well as subsequent translations and transcreations of the stories in Indian and Southeast Asian contexts during the last thousand years. We will also investigate the modern lives of the epics, including their transformations into Indian television serials, film versions of both narratives (from India and America), and invocations of the epic stories in contemporary art, culture, and political disputes. Students will gain exposure to some of the foundational texts for the study of South Asia, both past and present. More broadly, students will cultivate the ability to fruitfully approach texts from different cultures and learn to critically analyze the impacts and roles of stories in various religious, literary, and historical contexts.
| UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED
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