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REES 208C: Architecture, Acoustics and Ritual in Byzantium (ARTHIST 208C, ARTHIST 408C, CLASSART 108, CLASSART 208, 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.
Terms: Aut, Win, Spr | Units: 1-3 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Repeatable for credit | 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: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

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: poem, 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.
Terms: Win | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED, Writing 2 | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Instructors: Gelber, H. (PI)

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 | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
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, ancient Sumerian and 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, Snow Crash, Count Zero and the like explore religion in the contemporary imagination. Main assignment: write a short story.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-CE | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Instructors: Gelber, H. (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 | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

RELIGST 61: Exploring Islam

Introduction to the most important features of the Islamic religious tradition in the premodern period. The ways in which Muslims have interpreted and practiced their religion. The main subjects of discussion include the life of the Prophet Muhammad, the Qur'an, law, ritual, mysticism, theology, politics, and art, with reference to their historical contexts. Topics include abortion, gender, war, and the visual vocabulary of paintings. Important theories and methods in the academic study of religion. No prior knowledge of religion required.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Sadeghi, B. (PI)

RELIGST 62S: Philosophy of Religion (PHIL 77S)

Key philosophical questions concerning the nature of the divine and the religious through a close reading of some classic philosophical texts, while aiming to develop critical thinking about these issues. Topics include: the existence and nature of God, the problem of evil, the justification of religious belief, the nature of and relationship between faith and reason, and the function(s) of religion. Key texts will include Plato, St. Anselm, Hume, and Nietzsche.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

RELIGST 65: The Future of Christianity

Developments affecting the world's largest religion in the new millennium: shifting demographics leading to declining numbers in mainline Christian denominations in North America and Europe and the emergence of 'global 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. Will Christianity have a future? What kind of future?
Terms: not given this year | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-GlobalCom, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

RELIGST 71: Exploring Judaism (JEWISHST 71)

Introduction to the varied beliefs, ritual practices, and sacred stories of Judaism, moving from foundational texts like the Bible and the Talmud to recent changes in Jewish religious life that have arisen in response to secular and feminist critiques, the Holocaust, and the emergence of the State of Israel.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Instructors: Weitzman, S. (PI)
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