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RELIGST 51: Exploring Buddhism in Tibet and the Himalayas

From elaborate sand mandalas, masked dances, and entrancing ritual music to meditating yogis, robed monks, and the Dalai Lama himself, Tibetan forms of Buddhist traditions have for decades been an integral part of our modern globalized world. This course introduces the history, institutions, doctrines, and practices of Buddhism in Tibet and the broader Himalayan region.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II
Instructors: Gentry, J. (PI)

RELIGST 53: Exploring Jewish Spirituality (JEWISHST 53)

It was once accepted as fact that Judaism is, at its core, a rational religion devoid of any authentic mystical tradition. But the past century of scholarship has reversed this claim, demonstrating that the spiritual life has been integral to Judaism's vital heart since ancient times. This yearning for a direct immediate experience of God's Presence, a longing to grasp the mysteries of the human soul and know the inner dynamics of the Divine realm, has taken on many different forms across the centuries. This course will introduce students to the major texts--from theological treatises to poems and incantations--and core ideas of Jewish mysticism and spirituality, tracking their development from the Hebrew Bible to the dawn of modernity. Close attention will be paid to the historical context of these sources, and we will also engage with broader methodological approaches--from phenomenology to philology--regarding the academic study of religion and the comparative consideration of mysti more »
It was once accepted as fact that Judaism is, at its core, a rational religion devoid of any authentic mystical tradition. But the past century of scholarship has reversed this claim, demonstrating that the spiritual life has been integral to Judaism's vital heart since ancient times. This yearning for a direct immediate experience of God's Presence, a longing to grasp the mysteries of the human soul and know the inner dynamics of the Divine realm, has taken on many different forms across the centuries. This course will introduce students to the major texts--from theological treatises to poems and incantations--and core ideas of Jewish mysticism and spirituality, tracking their development from the Hebrew Bible to the dawn of modernity. Close attention will be paid to the historical context of these sources, and we will also engage with broader methodological approaches--from phenomenology to philology--regarding the academic study of religion and the comparative consideration of mysticism in particular. This course assumes no prior background of Judaism or any other religious traditions. All readings will be made available in English. Students are, however, invited to challenge themselves with the "optional/advanced" readings of sources both primary and secondary. Pending interest, students with facility in the original languages (Hebrew or Aramaic) will be given the opportunity to do so.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II
Instructors: Mayse, E. (PI)

RELIGST 55: Exploring Zen Buddhism

This course is an introduction to Chan/Zen Buddhism. We will study the historical and doctrinal development of this tradition in China and Japan and examine various facets of Zen, such as the philosophy, practices, rituals, culture, and institution. For this aim, we will read and discuss classical Zen texts in translation and important secondary literature. This class will further feature a visit of a Zen teacher, who will give an introduction to sitting meditation.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

RELIGST 56: Exploring Chinese Religions

An overview of major themes and historical developments in 5000 years of Chinese religion. In this course, we will try as much as possible to appreciate Chinese religion from the Chinese perspective, paying particular attention to original texts in translation in an attempt to discern the logic of Chinese religion and the role it has played in the course of Chinese history. To a greater extent perhaps than any other civilization, Chinese have left behind a continuous body of written documents and other artifacts relating to religion stretching over thousands of years, providing a wealth of material for studying the place of religion in history and society.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED
Instructors: Tuzzeo, D. (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: Bigelow, A. (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.
Last offered: Winter 2016 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-GlobalCom, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

RELIGST 86: Exploring the New Testament (CLASSICS 43, JEWISHST 86)

To explore the historical context of the earliest Christians, students will read most of the New Testament as well as many documents that didn't make the final cut. Non-Christian texts, Roman art, and surviving archeological remains will better situate Christianity within the ancient world. Students will read from the Dead Sea Scrolls, explore Gnostic gospels, hear of a five-year-old Jesus throwing divine temper tantrums while killing (and later resurrecting) his classmates, peruse an ancient marriage guide, and engage with recent scholarship in archeology, literary criticism, and history.
Last offered: Winter 2019 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-SI

RELIGST 113: 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.
| UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

RELIGST 114: Yoga: Ancient and Modern

In both Western popular culture and the Indian political arena, Yoga has become emblematic of the cultural heritage of India. But how did the phenomenon that is global postural yoga, with its secular wellness ethos and athleticism, come into existence? And how does it relate to the contemplative and ascetic disciplines that were practiced in the premodern Indian past? This course explores the early history of yoga through its philosophy and esoteric practices, concluding with a look at the ramifications of yoga in contemporary culture and politics. 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: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

RELIGST 116: Buddhist Philosophy

What do Buddhists mean when they argue that there is "no self?" What about their claim that everything is "empty?" Is their theory of karma a type of "fatalism" (that everything is just a matter of predetermined fate)? Does Buddhism really teach that we are all connected with one another? This course aims to answer these questions, and many others related to Buddhist philosophy. We will begin by exploring the central philosophical arguments attributed to the historical Buddha, and study the major philosophical traditions of Buddhism and the debates between them over the issues of metaphysics (what is really real?), ethics (what should we do?), and epistemology (what and how do we know?). We will also learn about the problems and significance of the modern interpretations of Buddhist philosophy. Through these discussions, we will attempt to critically appreciate both the universality and the particularity of the Buddhist ways of thinking.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II
Instructors: Lee, S. (PI)
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