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REES 208C: Architecture, Acoustics and Ritual in Byzantium (ARTHIST 208C, ARTHIST 408C, CLASSICS 175, MUSIC 208C, MUSIC 408C, REES 408C, RELIGST 208C, RELIGST 308C)

Onassis Seminar "Icons of Sound: Architecture, Acoustics and Ritual in Byzantium". This year-long seminar explores the creation and operations of sacred space in Byzantium by focusing on the intersection of architecture, acoustics, music, and ritual. Through the support of the Onassis Foundation (USA), nine leading scholars in the field share their research and conduct the discussion of their pre-circulated papers. The goal is to develop a new interpretive framework for the study of religious experience and assemble the research tools needed for work in this interdisciplinary field.
Last offered: Spring 2014 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Repeatable for 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.
Last offered: Winter 2015 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II

RELIGST 13Q: Mystical Journeys: Beyond Knowing and Reason

What makes a mystic a mystic? This question has many sides. Why do we call someone a mystic? Is there such a thing as mystical experience? Do experiences make a mystic? Do beliefs? Practices? Many religious traditions have records of visionaries whose lives and writings open windows on the more hidden and aspirational aspects of belief and practice. These writings also take many forms: poems, letters, teachings, and accounts of visions, which we will encounter in the course of the quarter. Readings for the course will cover a cross-section of texts taken from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Native American sources.
Last offered: Winter 2015 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED, Writing 2

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: Spr | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER
Instructors: Sockness, B. (PI)

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.
Last offered: Spring 2015 | 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: Win | 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.
Last offered: Spring 2015 | 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.
Last offered: Autumn 2014 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II

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

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.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-GlobalCom, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED
Instructors: Pitkin, B. (PI)
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