RELI V2005x Buddhism: Indo-Tibetan 3 pts. Historical introduction to Buddhist thought, scriptures, practices, and institutions. Attention given to Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantric Buddhism in India, as well as selected non-Indian forms. Recitation Section Required.
RELI V2008x Buddhism: East Asian 3 pts. Lecture and discussion. An introductory survey that studies East Asian Buddhism as an integral , living religious tradition. Emphasis on the reading of original treatises and historiographies in translation, while historical events are discussed in terms of their relevance to contemporary problems confronted by Buddhism. CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.
RELI V2105y Christianity 3 pts. Survey of Christianity from its beginnings through the Reformation. Based on lectures and discussions of readings in primary source translations, this course will cover prominent developments in the history of Christianity. The structure will allow students to rethink commonly held notions about the evolution of modern Christianity with the texture of historical influence.
RELI V2110x Mormonism 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. A survey of the history and theology of Mormonism, one of the religious traditions indigenous to America. We'll examine the history of the movement, read extensive selections from the Book of Mormon, and chart the history of the movement, including it's contentious relationship with the federal government. We'll look, finally, at some of the cultural expressions of Mormonism and examine the ways that Mormonism has transformed itself from what was essentially an outlaw religion in the nineteenth century to the embodiment of American ideals.
RELI V2205y Hinduism 3 pts. The origin and development of central themes of traditional Hinduism. Emphasis on basic religious literature and relation to Indian culture. Readings include original sources in translation. Discussion Section Required. CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.
RELI V2305x Islam 3 pts. Islamic institutions, ideas, and spirituality; their origin and development in the formative and classical periods (7th-13th century A.D.); and their continued evolution in a variety of cultural settings. CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.
RELI V2405y Chinese Religious Traditions 3 pts. Development of the Three Teachings of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism: folk eclecticism; the contemporary situation in Chinese cultural areas. Readings drawn from primary texts, poetry, and popular prose. CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.
RELI V2415x Japanese Religious Traditions 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Study of the development of the Japanese religious tradition in the premodern period. Attention given to the thought and practices of Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism; the interaction among these religions in Japanse history; the first encounter with Christianity.
RELI V2505x Intro to Judaism 3 pts. A historical overview of Jewish belief and practice as these have crystallized and changed over the centuries. Special attention to ritual and worship, the forms of religious literature, central concepts, religious leadership and institutions, Israel among the nations.
RELI V2510x Jews and Judaism in Antiquity 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This course focuses on the varieties of Judaism in antiquity, from Cyrus the Great to the Muslim Conquest of Syria, and the emergence of rabbinic Judaism. Special emphasis is placed on hellenization, sectarianism, and the changes precipitated by the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.
RELI V2615y Religions of Harlem 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Through a range of field exercises and classroom guests, this course will introduce students to the rich religious history of Harlem, while also challenging them to document and analyze the diversity of Harlem's contemporary religious scene.
RELI V2645x Religion in Black America: An Intro 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This is an undergraduate lecture course introducing students to the study of African American religion. While there are no required prerequisites for the course, prior coursework in religious studies or African American history is helpful. This course progresses as a historical survey and is intended to introduce students to important themes in African American (thus American) religious history (i.e. migration, urbanization, nationalism) through a rich engagement with the religious practices and traditions of black communities. Primary attention is given to Afro-Protestantism in North America; however, throughout the course attention is directed to religious diversity and varying religious traditions/practices in different diasporic locales. While this is a lecture course, students are expected to arrive each week having completed assigned readings and prepared to make informed contributions to class discussions (as class size allows). By the end of the semester students will be expected to possess a working knowledge of major themes/figures/traditions in African American religious life, as well as key questions that have shaped the study thereof. CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.
RELI V2800x Religion and the Modern World 3 pts. An exploration of how religion has shaped modern society and culture and has influenced science, politics, economics and art. The course begins with the Reformation and proceeds to consider the critiques of religion during the Enlightenment and the responses to these critiques during the 19th and early 20th century. Consideration is also given to the theological background of leading social theorists like Adam Smith, Marx, Freud, Durkheim and Nietzsche.
RELI V2803x and y Religion 101 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This course has been replaced by RELI V3805.
RELI V3000y Buddhist Ethics 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Prerequisites: instructors permission An investigation of the main textual sources of the Buddhist ethical tradition, with attention to their historical operation within Buddhist societies, as well as consideration of their continuing influence on comtemporary developments, Western as well as Asian.
RELI V3017y Buddhism & Violence 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This course will study, from a number of methodological approaches and angles, the Buddhist views on violence and non-violence, and the historical record.
RELI V3120x Introduction to the New Testament 3 pts. An introduction, by critical methods, to the religious history of the Christian movement in the New Testament period.
RELI V3140x Early Christianity 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Examination of different currents in early Christianity. Discussion of gnosticism, monasticism, conflicts of gender and class, and the work of writers such as Origen and Augustine.
RELI W3201y Language and Religion in South Asia 3 pts. This interdisciplinary seminar investigates the intersections between language and religion in South Asia over the course of two millennia. From ancient debates over the proper vehicles for religious transmission to the modern construction of a postcolonial nation-state, ideologies of language have been central to South Asian intellectual, philosophical, cultural, religious, and political life. Issues covered in the course include: the language of religious devotion (and the religion of language devotion); vernacular poetry and social protest; colonial ideologies and communal identities; the politics of translation; defining "religion"; and several others. No prior knowledge of South Asian language or religion is required.
RELI V3205y Vedic Religion 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Introduction to the religion and culture of India during the Vedic period, ca. 1700-700 B.C. Concentrates on sacred texts from the Rig-Veda to Upanishads.
RELI V3307y Muslims in Diaspora 3 pts. Consideration of controversies surrounding mosque-building, headscarves, honor killing, and other publicized issues that expose tensions surrounding citizenship and belonging for Muslims in North America and Europe. Exploration of film and other media representations of Muslims in the West. There will be additional meeting times for film screenings
RELI V3311y Islam in the Post-Colonial World 3 pts. This course focuses on the multiple manifestations of the Islamic vision in the modern world. It begins with a survey of core Muslim beliefs before shifting to an examination of the impact of colonization and secular modernity on contemporary formulations of Islam.
RELI V3314y Qu'ran in Comparative Perspective 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This course develops an understanding of the Qu'ran's form, style, and content through a close reading of comparable religious texts. Major topics include the Qu'ranic theory of prophecy, its treatment of the biblical tradition (both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament), and its perspective on the pre-Islamic pagan religion.
RELI V3410y Daoism 3 pts. Philosophical ideas found in the Daode jing, Zhuangzi, hagiographies and myths of gods, goddesses and immortals, psycho-physical practices, celestial bureaucracy, and ritual of individual and communal salvation. Issues involved in the study of Daoism, such as the problematic distinction between "elite" and "folk" traditions, and the interactions between Daoism and Buddhism.
RELI V3495y Life After death 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Western ideas of the afterlife, concentrating on ancient literature. Readings include Gilgamesh, and other ancient Near Eastern literature, the Bible, the Odyssey, Plato's Phaedo, Apuleius' The Golden Ass.
RELI V3501x Introduction To the Hebrew Bible 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. An introduction, by critical methods, to the religious history of ancient Israel against the background of the ancient Near East.
RELI V3512x The Bible and Its Interpreters 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. The Hebrew Bible (a.k.a. the Old Testament) has been one of the most repercussive texts of the Western canon. However, it comes to us mediated through its early reception history. From the first readers of the texts that came to comprise the Hebrew Bible struggled with problems of interpretation and devised creative, often ingenious, and frequently culturally charged solutions. We will focus on a few key biblical passages in translation, subjecting each to close reading and then examining their treatment by various ancient interpreters. These interpreters will include the writers of later biblical texts; ancient translations; extra-canonical texts; Qumran texts; and Hellenistic Jewish, early Christian, and rabbinic literature. Each interpretive tradition will bring us deeper into the world of the Bible as it was received and came to be read.
RELI V3515x Readings in Kabbalah 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This course will serve to provide a wide but detailed exploration of Jewish Mysticism, raising questions about its connection to other Jewish traditions, the kind of symbolism and hermeneutics at stake, and the conception of God, man and world we are dealing with, amongst other major ideas.
RELI V3516y Introduction to Talmud Text Study 3 pts. Prerequisites: Basic Hebrew grammar and vocabulary. This course is designed for students with knowledge of Hebrew to acquire the skills for reading and interpreting the Babylonian Talmud, the classic work of Jewish law and lore, in its original language. Students will master technical skills along with theories and methods for conceptualizing the Talmud as a text. Prerequisite: basic Hebrew grammar and vocabulary.
RELI V3535x or y Introduction to Rabbinic Literature 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Examines the differences between Halakha (the legal portion of the Talmud) and Aggadah (the more legal portion) with respect to both content and form. Special emphasis on selections from the Talmud and Midrash that reflect the intrinsic nature of these two basic genres of rabbinic literature.
RELI V3571y Judaism, Jewishness, & Modernity 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Exploration of some of the major statements of Jewish thought and identity from the 19th century into the 21st.
RELI V3585y The Sephardic Experience 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This course is a survey of the history and culture of the Sephardic Jews, originally from Spain and Portugal. Focus will be given to different Sephardic populations and the rich culture and variegated religious life therein.
RELI V3602x Religion in America I 3 pts. A survey of American religion from colonization to the Civil War, with an emphasis on the ways religion has shaped American history, culture, and identity.
RELI V3603y Religion and American Culture II 3 pts. Survey of American religion from the Civil War to the present, with an emphasis on the ways religion has shaped American history, culture, and identity. .
RELI V3604x Religion in the City 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This course will use the city to address and investigate a number of central concepts in the study of religion, including ritual, community, worldview, conflict, tradition, and discourse. We will explore together what we can learn about religions by focusing on place, location, and context.
RELI W3605x Religion on the Move: People, Passages and Possibilities in America 3 pts. The history of religion is a history of movement. Perhaps nowhere is this truer than in the United States. From the civilizing missions of European empires, to the Great Migration of black Southerners to the North, to the forced displacement of millions into prisons and detention centers, Americans have been a people in motion, and their religions have moved with, through and (sometimes) in spite of them. In this interdisciplinary seminar, we will explore how religion and mobility in the United States have affected migrants and their being together. Through careful attention to their narratives, memories and traditions of living in diaspora, we will work to understand the making of subjects in motion, the possibilities of finding place, and the religious aesthetics of imagining new futures. *No prior knowledge of American religion or migration is required.
RELI V3630y Religion and Black Popular Cultures 3 pts. As an exploration of the relationship between religion, race and popular culture, the course will begin with theoretical readings that expose students to a variety of definitions of and approaches to each of these categories. After tackling these theoretical concerns, the remainder of the course will entail a cross genre and thematic engagement with the terrain of black popular culture(s) in which students will be challenged to apply new theoretical resources in order to interpret a wide range of "religious" phenomena.
RELI V3650x Religion and the Civil Rights Movement 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. An examination of the role of religion in the drive for civil rights during the 1950s and 1960s. The course will look at the role of activists, churches, clergy, sermons, and music in forging the consensus in favor of civil rights.
RELI V3651x Evangelicalism 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. A survey of evangelicalism, "America's folk religion," in all of its various forms, including the holiness movement, fundamentalism, pentecostalism, the charismatic movement, neoevengelicalism, the sanctified tradition, and various ethnic expressions. The course will examine the origins of evengelicalism, its theology, and the cultural and political involvement of American evangelicals.
RELI V3652x or y Religion, Politics and the Presidency. 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. A survey of the intersections between religion and American political life, from the colonial era to the present. This course examines relevant political figures and movements, dissect the religious controversies in pivotal presidential campaigns, and study the influence of religion on various political issues.
RELI V3705y Literature, Technology, Religion 3 pts. Digital media and electronic technologies are expanding the imagination, transforming humanity, and redefining subjectivity. The proliferation of distributed and embedded technologies is changing the way we live, think, write and create. This course will explore the complex interrelation of literature, technology and religion through an investigation of four American novels and four French critics/theorists.
RELI V3720y Religion and Its Critics 3 pts. Critics and defenders of religious belief and practice. Readings include Hume, Mendelssohn, Kant, Schleirermacher, Feuerback, Marx, Kierdegaard and Nietzsche.
RELI V3727y Psychology of Religion 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. An exploration of the psychological dimensions of religious awareness and practice that will focus on dream analysis, therapy and personal structure and development.
RELI V3730x Philosophy of Religion 3 pts. Introduction to classical and contemporary issues, including those raised by the comparative study of religion.
RELI V3799x Juniors Colloquium 4 pts. An introduction to the comparative study of religion focusing on dominant approaches to the conceptualization, interpretation, and explanation of religious phenomena and on key issues relating to the methodologies appropriate to such investigations.
RELI V3805x Religion 101 3 pts. What is religion? This reading intensive course will address a range of answers to the question "what is religion?" beginning with some of the reasons we might want to ask it. Acknowledging the urgency of the matter, the class is not a survey of all religious traditions. Rather, engaging with disciplines and scholarship within and without religious studies, it will contend with religion as a comparative problem between fields and traditions as well as between scholarly and methodological approaches.
RELI V3810y Millennium: Apocalypse and Utopia 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. A study of apocalyptic thinking and practice in the western religious tradition, with focus on American apocalyptic religious movements and their relation to contemporary cultural productions, as well as notions of history and politics.
RELI V3860y Sociology of Religion 3 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This course introduces classical and contemporary theoretical and empirical approaches to the sociological study of religion, including secularization and secularity, religious identity formation, and sociological approaches to religious practice and meaning. Special focus will be on contemporary American topics, including religion and transnationalism, the role of religious actors and discourses in American politics, law and economics, and everyday religious practice. Prior coursework in Religion or Sociology is highly encouraged.
RELI V3865y Comparative Mysticism Not offered in 2014-2015. An introduction to the comparative study of mysticism. Students read primary texts against the backdrop of various theories on the nature of mysticism, addressing issues such as the relationship of mysticism to orthodox religion, madness, art, love, and morality.
RELI V3901x-V3902y Guided Reading and Research 1-3 pts. Prerequisite: the instructor's permission.
RELI BC3997x Senior Research Seminar 4 pts. Working research seminar devoted to helping students produce a substantive piece of writing that will represent the culmination of their work at the College and in the major.
RELI W4011y The Lotus Sutra in East Asian Buddhism 4 pts. Prerequisites: Open to students who have taken one previous ocurse in either Buddhism, Chinese religions, or a history course on China or East Asian. The course examines some central Mahayana Buddhist beliefs and practices through an in-depth study of the Lotus sutra. Schools (Tiantai/Tendai, Nichiren) and cultic practices such as sutra-chanting, meditation, confessional rites, and Guanyin worship based on the scripture. East Asian art and literature inspired by it.
RELI W4013x Buddhism and Neuroscience 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. With the Dalai Lama's marked interest in recent advances in neuroscience, the question of the compatibility between Buddhist psychology and neuroscience has been raised in a number of conferences and studies. This course will examine the state of the question, look at claims made on both sides, and discuss whether or not there is a convergence between Buddhist discourse about the mind and scientific discourse about the brain.
RELI W4018y Interpreting Buddhism: Hermeneutics East and West 4 pts. A seminar exploring the 21st Century meanings of Buddhism and Buddhist Tantric Yoga through the lenses of ancient, Romantic and modern Western and traditional Buddhist hermeneutics. There will be at least one additional meeting for a trip to the Rubin Museum of Tibetan Art.
RELI W4020y Liberation and Embodiment in Indo-Tibetan Yoga Traditions 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Prerequisites: At least one course in Asian Religions, such as RELI V2005, RELI V2008, RELI V2205, RELI V2415, RELI V2405, or equivalent. Instructor's permission required. With extensive readings on the concepts and practice of the Indic category of "yoga practice", this seminar is an inquiry into the conceptualization of the "body" and its "liberation" in South and Himalayan Asia. Special attention will be given to development of contemplative yogic traditions within what come to be known as Tantric lineages of Buddhist and Hindu traditions.
RELI W4030y Topics in Tibetan Philosphy 4 pts. Examination of topics in the religious philosophy of Tibet.
RELI W4035y Buddhist Contemplative Sciences 4 pts. This course will explore key Buddhist contemplative sciences, including: stabilizing meditation; analytic insight meditation; the four immeasurables; form and formless trances; mind training; and the subtle body-mind states activated and transformed through advanced Tantric yoga techniques. These will be explored both within their traditional interdisciplinary frameworks, as well as in dialog with related contemporary arts and sciences.
RELI W4040y Women and Buddhism in China 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Nuns and laywomen in Chinese Buddhism, Buddhist attitudes toward women, ideals of female sanctity; gender and sexuality, women leaders in contemporary Chinese Buddhism.
RELI W4120x Gender In Ancient Christianity 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Prerequisites: Instructor's permission. The function of gender in the construction of religious identity across Christianity's formative centuries. Close attention is paid to the alternative views of male and female writers and to the alternative models of the holy life proposed to male and female Christians.
RELI W4160y Gnosis 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Prerequisites: Previous work in biblical studies or early Christianity preferred; permission of instructor. Limited to 20 students. Examines the religious and social worlds of ancient Mediterranean gnosis alongside its modern remnants and appropriations. Special attention is paid to scholarly reconstructions of ancient "gnosticism" and to theoretical problems associated with the categories of orthodoxy and heresy in Christian history. Strong emphasis on reading primary sources in translation.
RELI W4170x History of Christianity: The World of the First Crusade 4 pts. Prerequisites: Instructor's permission. Latin Christendom, 1050-1130, as general background for the First Crusade, 1095-1099. Readings in both primary and secondary sources in English translation.
RELI W4170y History of Christianity: Topics in Pre-Modern Papal History 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Prerequisites: Instructor's permission required. An examination of a series of episodes that are of special consequence for papal history in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Readings in both primary and secondary sources in English translation.
RELI W4171y Law and Medieval Christianity 4 pts. Prerequisites: Instructor's permission. An introduction to the importance of Church law for the study of medieval Christianity through readings in both primary and secondary sources (all in English or English translations). Topics will be selected, as the sources permit, to illustrate the evolution of Western canon law and its impact both as a structural and as an ideological force, in medieval Christianity and in medieval society in general.
RELI W4203x Krishna 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Study of a single deity in the Hindu pantheon as illuminated in art, music, dance, drama, theological treatises, patterns of ritual, and texts both classic and modern. Special attention to Krishna's consort Radha, to Krishna's reception in the West, and to his portrayal on Indian television.
RELI W4205y Love, Translated: Hindu Bhakti 4 pts. Hindu poetry of radical religious participation-bhakti-in translation, both Sanskrit (the Bhagavad Gita) and vernacular. How does such poetry/song translate across linguistic divisions within India and into English? Knowledge of Indian languages is welcome but not required. Multiple translations of a single text or poet bring to light the choices translators have made.
RELI W4215x or y Hinduism Here 4 pts. Historical, theological, social and ritual dimensions of "lived Hinduism" in the greater New York area. Sites selected for in-depth study include worshipping communities, retreat centers, and national organizations with significant local influence. Significant fieldwork component
RELI W4322x Exploring the Sharia 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. The platform of every modern Islamist political party calls for the implementation of the sharia. This term is invariably (and incorrectly) interpreted as an unchanging legal code dating back to 7th century Arabia. In reality, Islamic law is an organic and constantly evolving human project aimed at ascertaining God's will in a given historical and cultural context. This course offers a detailed and nuanced look at the Islamic legal methodology and its evolution over the last 1400 years. The first part of the semester is dedicated to classical Islamic jurisprudence, concentrating on the manner in which jurists used the Qur'an, the Sunna (the model of the Prophet), and rationality to articulate a coherent legal system. The second part of the course focuses on those areas of the law that engender passionate debate and controversy in the contemporary world. Specifically, we examine the discourse surrounding Islamic family (medical ethics, marriage, divorce, women's rights) and criminal (capital punishment, apostasy, suicide/martyrdom) law. The course concludes by discussing the legal implications of Muslims living as minorities in non-Islamic countries and the effects of modernity on the foundations of Islamic jurisprudence.
RELI W4325y Sufism 4 pts. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. This is a seminar for advanced undergraduate and graduate students who wish to gain an understanding of the richness of Sufism (Islamic mysticism). We will examine the historical origins, development and institutionalization of Sufism, including long-standing debates over its place within the wider Islamic tradition. By way of a close reading of a wide range of primary and secondary sources, we will examine Sufi attitudes toward the body, Sufi understandings of lineage, power and religious authority, as well as the continued importance of Sufism in the modern world
RELI W4330x Seminar on Classical Sufi Texts 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Prerequisites: Instructor's permission. Close study of pivotal texts from the classical periods of Islamic mysticism, including works by Hallaj, Attar, Rumi, In Arabi, and others (all texts in English translation).
RELI W4335x Shi'ism 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This course offer a survy of Shī'ism with a particular focus on the "Twelvers" or "Imāmīs." It begins by examining the interplay between theology and the core historical narratives of Shī'i identity and culminates with an assessment of the jarring impact of modernity on religious institutions/beliefs.
RELI W4402x Shinto in Japanese History 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This course examines the development of Shinto in Japanese history and the historiography of Shinto.We will cover themes such as myth, syncretism, sacred sites, iconography, nativism, and religion and the state.
RELI W4403x Bodies & Spirits in East Asia 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Prerequisites: Instrucotor's permission. This seminar will focus on the role of early conceptions of both the body and demonology in the development of Chinese and Japanese religious traditions. By focusing on the development of ritual responses within these traditions to disease and spirits, the course will highlight the degree to which contemporaneous understandings of the body informed religious discourse across East Asia.
RELI W4405x Ghosts and Kami 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Ghosts have long functioned in East Asian cultures as crucial nodal points in political and religious discourses concerning ancestors, kinship, ritual and land. By reading a small cluster of Western theoretical works on ghosts together with recent discussions of the role of ghosts in China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea, this seminar will explore the ways that ghosts continue to haunt and inhabit a variety of conceptual and religious landscapes across East Asia.
RELI W4412y Material Culture and the Supernatural in East Asia 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Corequisites: Permission of instructor required. Although Protestant notions of textuality and the disjunction of matter and spirit have exerted an enduring influence over much of the study of religion, this seminar will explore the role of material objects in both representing and creating the categories and paradigms through which religion has been understood and performed in pre-modern East Asia. By focusing upon the material context for religious performance-by asking, in other words, how religious traditions are constituted through and by material objects-the course will seek to shed light on a cluster of issues concerning the relationship between art, ritual performance, and transmission.
RELI W4503x Readings from the Sephardic Diaspora 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Prerequisites: instructor's permission Close readings of some canonical 15th- and 16th-century works (in translation) from the Sephardic diaspora that touch on theology, philosophy, ethics and mysticism.
RELI W4507x Readings in Hasidism 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Prerequisites: At least one previous course on Judaism or familiarity from elsewhere with the normative, traditional Judaism. An exploration of Hasidism, the pietist and mystical movement that arose in eastern Europe at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Hasidism stands as perhaps the most influential and significant movement within modern Judaism.
RELI W4508y Jewish Philosophy and Kabbalah 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. The purpose of this seminar is to study the interactions between two major intellectual trends in Jewish History, the philosophical and the mystical ones. Focusing on the medieval period but not only, we will discuss their interactions, polemics and influences. We will compare Philosophy and Kabbalah in light of their understanding of divine representation and in light of their respective Theology and conception of God.
RELI W4509x Crime and Punishment in Jewish Culture 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Explores ethical, cultural, and political dimensions of Jewish criminal punishment from the Bible through modernity, with focus on death penalty and running reference to Foucault's Discipline and Punish. Topics include: interaction between law and narrative; Jewish power to punish; Sanhedrin trial of Jesus; ritualization of execution; prison; torture; martyrdom.
RELI W4513y Homelands, Diasporas, Promised Lands 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This seminar will explore religious, political and philosophical aspects of homelands, collective exile from homelands and the question of whether or not return is possible or desirable.
RELI W4515x Jews in the Later Roman Empire 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Prerequisites: Instructor's approval This course will explore the background and examine some of the manifestations of the first Jewish cultural explosion after 70 CE. Among the topics discussed: the Late Roman state and the Jews, the rise of the synagogue, the redaction of the Palestinian Talmud and midrashim, the piyyut and the Hekhalot.
RELI W4518x The Formation of the Talmud 4 pts. Prerequisites: Basic knowledge or previous study of Talmud is required. This seminar will explore the various theories about the formation of the Talmud, from the traditional view of Y. I. Halevy in Dorot Harishonim to the contemporary models of D. W. Halivni and Shamma Friedman. We will analyze their theories and their literary evidence while applying their models to the critical reading of the text. We will then explore a model which combines these theories in light of the oral matrix of the Talmud during its early phase. All texts will be read in the original but translations will be provided.
RELI W4520y Patriarchal and Rabbinic Authority in Antiquity 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This course will try to solve the problem of the origins and roles of the rabbis in antiquity through careful study of rabbinic, Christian, and Roman sources.
RELI W4522x The Production of Jewish Difference from Antiquity to the Present 4 pts. Prerequisites: Hebrew language, background in Jewish Studies. Explores how Jews from antiquity to modernity have struggled to create a distinct Jewish identity in the context of dominant non-Jewish cultures. Examines the interpretive history of Leviticus 18:3, "...and in their laws you shall not go," a verse that instructs Israel to be different from surrounding peoples. Considers Bible-reading as a means for creating identity and highlights the dynamics of negative identity definition (the self/Other binary). Emphasis is on primary texts from the Bible to modern Jewish legal responsa, but contemporary scholarship will accompany the sources.
RELI W4535y Ancient Jewish Texts 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor required. Close reading in the original languages of ancient Jewish texts including Aristeas, 1 and 2 Maccabees, selections from Philo and Josephus, selected tractates from Mishnah, Tosefta, Palestinian Talmud and early midrash collections. Permission of instructor required; course may be taken more than once.
RELI W4537x Talmudic Narrative 4 pts.Not
offered in 2014-2015. Prerequisites: Instructor permission is
Background in Talmud and Hebrew is encouraged. This course examines the rich world of Talmudic narrative and the way it mediates between conflicting perspectives on a range of topics: life and death; love and sexuality; beauty and superficiality; politics and legal theory; religion and society; community and non-conformity; decision-making and the nature of certainty. While we examine each text closely, we will consider different scholars' answers - and our own answers - to the questions, how are we to view Talmudic narrative generally, both as literature and as cultural artifact?
RELI W4611x Alterities of Religion in American Culture 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. An interdisciplinary exploration of some of the many ways that religion in America has been mutually constituted in opposition to various entities identified as being the opposite of religion. Counterparts explored include the marketplace, fraudulence, atheistic rationalism, the secular, the state, totalitarianism and the study of religion.
RELI W4612x Religion and Humanitarianism 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This seminar examines the role of religion in the antislavery movement, foreign missions, and women's rights in the nineteenth century, and its relevance to contemporary humanitarian activism.
RELI W4614y Defining Marriage 4 pts. This seminar examines the changing purpose and meaning of marriage in the history of the United States from European colonization through contemporary debates over gay marriage. Topics include religious views of marriage, interracial marriage, and the political uses of the institution.
RELI W4620x Religious Worlds of New York 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This seminar teaches ethnographic approaches to studying religious life with a special focus on urban religion and religions of New York. Students develop in-depth analyses of religious communities using these methods. Course readings address both ethnographic methods and related ethical and epistemological issues, as well as substantive topical issues of central importance to the study of urban religion, including transnationalism and immigration, religious group life and its relation to local community life, and issues of ethnicity, race and cosmopolitanism in pluralistic communities.
RELI W4625y Contemporary Mormonism: Mediating Religious Identity in the 21st Century City 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. The seminar will give students first-hand experience with Mormonism as it is lived in New York City today. The aim of the course is to understand how Mormons adapt or cast off their religion in the modern city. Experiential learning as opposed to text learning will be emphasized. There will be additional meeting times to visit Mormon sites.
RELI W4645y American Protestant Thought 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. In this seminar we will look at the relation between inquiry and imagination in selected religious writers and writers on religion in the American Protestant tradition. How does imagination serve inquiry? What are the objects of inquiry in these writings? Most of these authors reflect explicitly on imagination and inquiry, in addition to providing examples of both at work on religious topics.
RELI W4655y The African American Prophetic Political Tradition from David Walker to Barack Obama 4 pts. Through a wide range of readings and classroom discussions, this course will introduce students to the crucial role that the unique African American appropriation of the Judeo-Christian prophetic biblical tradition has played -- and continues to play -- in the lives of black people in American.
RELI W4710y Kant and Kierkegaard on Religion 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Examines the relationship between morality and religious faith in selected works of Immanuel Kant and Soren Kierkegaard. Examines Kant's claim that religious thought and practice arise out of the moral life, and Kierkegaard's distinction between morality and religious faith.
RELI W4712y Recovering Place 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This seminar will reexamine the question of place and locality in an era characterized by virtualization and delocalization brought by digital media, electronic technology, and globalization. Readings will include theoretical as well as literary and artistic texts. Special attention will be given to the question of sacred places through a consideration of forests, deserts, gardens, mountains, caves, seas, and cemeteries.
RELI W4720y Religion and Pragmatism 4 pts. An examination of the accounts of and methods for philosophical inquiry set out by Charles Peirce, William James, and John Dewey and by some contemporary representatives of the pragmatist tradition, with a focus on implications for the philosophy of religion.
RELI W4723x Religious Experience and Mysticism 4 pts. An examination of the concepts of religious experience and mysticism and the social practices associated with them, with particular attention to how those concepts and practices have developed.
RELI W4735y Ideology and Masses 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Prerequisites: instructors permission This seminar will consider Marxian conceptions of religion--the sigh of the oppressed, heart of a heartless world, halo of the vale of tears, and beyond--and critically examine theories of knowledge, interpretation, agency, and culture that are associated with them. The inquiry will be directed at defining and prescribing the role of religion in social analysis, as well as examining the use of Marxian concepts such as illusion, alienation, and fetishism. Texts include writings by Marx, Engels, Lukacs, Gramsci, Adorno & Horkheimer, Marcuse, Bataille, Althusser, Foucault, and Zizek.
RELI W4740x Genealogy, Pragmatism and the Study of Religion 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Topics include: knowledge, truth, concepts of self and God, religious experience and practice. Works by Nietzsche, C. S. Peirce, William James, Dewey, Rorty, Bernard Williams and others.
RELI W4803x Religion Vs. The Academy 4 pts. Prerequisites: Sophomore Standing. At least one course in Religion. The proper aims of education in relation to those of religion have long been a matter of public debate, but in recent years the intensity and terms of that debate have changed significantly. The impact of the David Project's "Columbia Unbecoming" on Columbia's Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures and then on the university as a whole is a case in point. Meanwhile, Stanley Fish argues that it is inappropriate for religion to be studied in departments of Religious Studies, given what Fish perceives to be their necessary relation to faith communities and the particular way in which they pursue truth claims. This course examines such tensions, focusing on case studies from two major democracies: India and the United States.
RELI W4805y Secular and Spiritual America 4 pts. Prerequisites: Majors and concentrators receive first priority Are Americans becoming more secular or more spiritual (not religious), or both? What are the connections between secularism and what is typically called non-organized religion or the spiritual in the United States? We will address these questions by looking at some of the historical trajectories that shape contemporary debates and designations (differences) between spiritual, secular and religious.
RELI W4807y Divine Human Animal 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This course focuses on "thinking with" animals (Levi-Strauss) through the lens of the religious imagination. The concentration will be primarily on "Western" religious cultures, especially Judaism and the question of Jewishness.
RELI W4812y Angels and Demons 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Angels and demons -- and similar intermediary beings -- comprise a prominent and ubiquitous feature of the cultures influenced by the three major monotheisms, as well as of the cultures influenced by other spiritual traditions. With a focus on Jewish, Christian and post-religious environments of "The West," this seminar explores the history of angels and demons, and their changing theological meanings, psychological and cultural roles.
RELI W4814y Migration and Religious Change in Comparative and Historical Perspective 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Looking at various forms of migration (voluntary and forced displacement) and religious communities (African, Muslim, Jewish), this seminar will explore two critical issues in relation to mobility and religion. The first is how does geographic mobility affect immigrant faith, and the second is how does migration influence the development of religion in the sending and receiving countries of migrants or diasporas?
RELI W4815x Technology, Religion, Future 4 pts. This seminar will examine the history of the impact of technology and media on religion and vice versa before bringing into focus the main event: religion today and in the future. We'll read the classics as well as review current writing, video and other media, bringing thinkers such as Eliade, McLuhan, Mumford and Weber into dialogue with the current writing of Kurzweil, Lanier and Taylor, and look at, among other things: ethics in a Virtual World; the relationship between Burning Man, a potential new religion, and technology; the relevance of God and The Rapture in Kurzweil's Singularity; and what will become of karma when carbon-based persons merge with silicon-based entities and other advanced technologies.
RELI W4825x Religion, Gender, and Violence 4 pts. Investigates relations among religion, gender, and violence in the world today. Focuses on specific traditions with emphasis on historical change, variation, and differences in geopolitical location within each tradition, as well as among them at given historical moments.
RELI W4826y Religion, Race and Slavery 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. This course explores the religious aspects of race and slavery from the Bible through the abolition of slavery in and around the Enlightenment, ending in the post-colonial era. The focus is mostly on the Atlantic World.
RELI W4828x Religion and the Sexual Body 4 pts.Not offered in 2014-2015. Theoretical approaches to gender and sexualities, focusing on the articulation, cultivation, and regulation how bodily practices are within various religious traditions, including modern secularism.
RELI W4905x Methods in the Study of Religion 4 pts. In their research, scholars of religion employ a variety of methods to analyze "texts" ranging from historical documents to objects of visual culture. This course acquaints students with both the methods and the materials utilized in the field of religious studies. Through guided exercises, they acquire research skills for utilizing sources and become familiarized with dominant modes of scholarly discourse. The class is organized around a series of research "scavenger hunts" that are due at the start of each week's class and assigned during the discussion section (to be scheduled on the first day of class). Additional class meeting on Thursdays. Discussion Section Required.
RELI W4910x Religion and International Development: Theory and Practice 4 pts. Both the theory and the practice of international relief and development raise a host of normative as well as descriptive issues. This course will examine recent analyses of the impact of assistance programs on the social and cultural conditions in the developing world. While the focus will be on the economic and political developments, the role of religious communities will also be considered (on both the giving and the receiving ends of the aid transactions).
Of Related Interest
V3508 Origins of Judaism