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RELIGST 113C: Asceticism: The Discipline of Desire

Asceticism is an intense negotiation of the self with its desires, usually taking the form of the attempt to repress or curtail desire. Asceticism is often understood as a radical response to the problem of obsessive desire. Excessive attachments to food, money, and sex are among the most common of these concerns¿today we refer to these as addictions¿both in the contemporary world and to those living in a pre-modern context. In this course, we will discuss the experiences of ascetic figures throughout history not as relics of history but as intelligible responses to the problem of obsessive desire common to all ages. We will comparatively examine case studies from the ancient Christian world and the modern Indian world. The first part of the course will be devoted to understanding some of the most notable theoretical approaches to ascetic behavior in the field of religious studies while the second part of the course will be devoted to close readings of the cases in light of these theoretical approaches. Cross-cultural comparison and contrast will also be stressed. In the final part of the course, we will turn to modern philosophical reflections on ascetic behavior, attempting to answer the question, does the ascetic response to obsessive desire make sense in the world we live in today?
| UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-SI

RELIGST 114: Yoga Ancient and Modern

Originating in ancient India, yoga went through many developments over more than 4000 years in India and other parts of Asia. Having migrated to Euro-America in the late nineteenth century, today yoga is everywhere--studios, schools, gyms, malls, resorts, ashrams, retreat centers. It comes in many flavors¿austere, with meditative instructors and Sanskrit chants; stylish, in 105-degree heat, with portable-miked instructors loudly motivating students to go through poses with speed and intensity; niche-crafted to meet the needs of busy professionals, pregnant women, senior citizens, or people with back problems. It may appear as a spiritual path or as a heavily marketed commodity. It generates lawsuits as teachers dispute ownership of certain styles, or as some Americans oppose its teaching yoga in public schools. In the first half of the course we will study the history of yoga in India, reading primary texts composed between about 500 BCE and 1600 CE. In the second half we will learn about yoga's globalization in the last century. Participating in a yoga class is recommended. 2 units of independent study (S-NC) are offered for those who participate in a weekly yoga class and write short reflections on the experience.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

RELIGST 117: Christianity in 21st-century America

As the largest religion practiced in the United States, Christianity not only shapes the lives of a large number of its citizens but also impinges on public discourse, policies, and debates. This course investigates the ways in which Christianity in America is changing and what these changes bode for its role in the public and private spheres. Issues include shifting demographics lead to declining numbers in 'mainline' denominations; the polarization of Christian conservatives and religious 'nones'; interfaith toleration and cooperation alongside interreligious conflict; the rise of 'spiritual, not religious' young adults; the effects of immigration; religion and science.
| UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-AmerCul, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED
Instructors: Pitkin, B. (PI)

RELIGST 118: Gandhi, Nonviolence, Religion

We will study Gandhi and his era, focusing on sources that relate Gandhi¿s theory and practice of nonviolence to religion and ethics. Topics include Gandhi¿s biography and personal influences; his construction of Hinduism and inclination to asceticism; his encounters with Jainism and Christianity; his attempts to negotiate the increasingly intractable and violent issues between Hindus and Muslims leading up to independence/partition; and the religious arguments involved in his bitter break with the leader of the anti-caste and ¿untouchable¿ liberation movement, B.R. Ambedkar. We will locate discussions of religion within larger political and social circumstances. Readings include The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Hind Swaraj, and other writings by Gandhi; the Bhagavad Gita; Erik Erikson¿s psychoanalytic study, Gandhi¿s Truth; and recent critical works on Gandhi and religion.
| UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-GlobalCom
Instructors: Hess, L. (PI)

RELIGST 119: Gandhi and His Legacy: Violence and Nonviolence in the World and in Ourselves

Gandhi, the pioneer of nonviolent political struggle in the first half of the 20th century, is used as a springboard to study violence more broadly¿what it is, what it does to individuals and societies, how it can be addressed and transformed. Special attention to connections between (non)violence on an individual/personal level and in the larger world. New format includes both academic study and experiential workshops
| UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-GlobalCom, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER
Instructors: Hess, L. (PI)

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"
| UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum
Instructors: Sheehan, T. (PI)

RELIGST 124: Sufi Islam

The complex of Islamic intellectual and social perspectives subsumed under the term Sufism. Sufi mystical philosophies and historical and social evolution. Major examples include: Qushayrî, Râbi'a, Junayd, Hallâj, Sulamî, Ibn al-'Arabî, Rûmî, Nizâm al-Dîn Awliyâ'. Social and political roles of Sufi saints and communities. Readings include original prose and poetry in translation, secondary discussions, and ethnography.
| UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

RELIGST 126: Protestant Reformation (HISTORY 126B)

The emergence of Protestant Christianity in 16th-century Europe. Analysis of writings by evangelical reformers (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Sattler, Hubmeier, Müntzer) and study of reform movements (Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist, Spiritualist) in their medieval context and as expressions of new and influential visions of Christian belief, life, social order.
| UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II
Instructors: Pitkin, B. (PI)

RELIGST 129: Modern Jewish Thought (JEWISHST 129)

From 1870 to the late twentieth century, Jewish thought and philosophy attempted to understand Judaism in response to the developments and crises of Jewish life in the modern world. In this course we shall explore the responses of figures such as Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Hermann Cohen, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Joseph Soloveitchik, Emil Fackenheim, and Emmanuel Levinas. Central topics will concern ethics and politics, faith and revelation, redemption and messianism, and the religious responses to catastrophe and atrocity. We shall discuss Judaism in European culture before and after World War I and in North America in the postwar period and after the Six Day War. A central theme will be the ways in which attempts to understand Jewish experience are related to history.
| UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II

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.
| UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum
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