Courses & Distributions

Department of Religion Graduate Courses and Distributions

Courses That Have Been Approved by the Curriculum Committee (distributions noted at bottom)

840:501. Theory and Method in the Study of Religion (3)  
Engage the more prominent theories that have emerged since the Enlightenment that have attempted to explain religious phenomenon. These include models rooted in social, psychological, economic, political, orientalist, structuralist, and post-modern explanatory paradigms. The course will also engage in methodological central to the field of Religious Studies stemming from these approaches.
-  Does not fulfill distribution

840:505. Apocalypticism: Religious Movement and the End of Time (3)  
Ancient, medieval, and contemporary apocalyptic literature and movements with particular attention to theories of apocalypticism and millenarian movements.  
-  Judaic and Christian studies; religion and conflict

840:506. Western Encounter with Hinduism
This course will consider the encounter with and reaction to various forms of Hinduism that have filtered to the West, from the earliest references in Greek sources to the late colonial period. .  
-  Hinduism; Contemplative Studies

840:515. Christians, "the other", and Violence in Historical Context (3) 
The ways that Christians have described and rejected the "other" (Jews, heretics, Muslims, "secular humanists"), emphasizing historical continuities and differences from the earliest Christian texts through the Protestant Reformation.
-  Judaic and Christian Studies; Religion and Conflict

840:516. U.S. Evangelicalism in a Global Age (3)
Examines history of U.S. evangelicalism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, focusing on the impact of transnationalism and other globalizing trends, and on adherents' influence around the world.
- Religions in America

 840:521. Yoga: From Vedic Origins to Western Transplantation (3)
This course will undertake a close reading of Yoga as presented in the traditional Hindu sourcebook on the subject, the 3rd century Yoga Sutras, where it is defined as the stilling of all states of mind (meditative practices), along with the primary commentaries that have elaborated on the source text over the centuries prior to the colonial period. It will additionally trace the development of representations of Yoga from these pre-modern expressions, through its appropriation and reconfiguring by Hindu nationalists, and into its modern Western transplanted form as primarily postural exercise.
-  Hinduism; Contemplative Studies

840:527. Religious Pluralism in America (3)
Religious pluralism in North America and especially the United States, focusing on interpretive paradigms and methodologies employed by scholars assessing the role of pluralism throughout American religious history.
-  Religions in America

840:549. Sanctifying Violence and Biblical Tradition (3) 
The relationship between biblical traditions and sanctifying violence, through critical analysis of how violent acts may be justified by appeal to notions of the divine. Instances of ritual violence and sanctified combat from ancient Mesopotamian literature, iconography, and the Bible, as well as the use of biblical “scripture” to frame violence within early Jewish and Christian traditions. Current comparative and theoretical discussions of religious violence. 
-  Judaic and Christian Studies; Religion and Conflict

840:556. Islamic Spirituality (3) 
The historical development of the mystical traditions, with a particular interest in their relationship to the dominant forms of scholastic Islam over the centuries. The most influential theories of mysticism in relation to Islamic theological dogmas, on the basis of English translations of Arabic and Persian primary sources. The diversity of Sufisms as well as the spiritual traditions outside of Sufism among Shi’i Muslims.   
-  islam; contemplative studies

840:557. Krishna (3)
This course will examine how the figure of Krishna is embedded in the Hindu tradition through a wide range of sources spanning varied regional and cultural contexts over two millennia.
-  Hinduism; contemplative studies

840:558. Bhagavad Gita (3)
This course will study the Bhagavad Gita in its entirety along with its primary traditional interpreters.   Readings will discuss the Gita’s reception in the Western world, and its adoption by prominent modern Hindu spokespersons.
-  Hinduism; Contemplative Studies

840:569. Buddhist Philosophy (3)
Major Philosophical  schools of Buddhism, especially Mahayana Buddhism, including Madhyamaka, Yogacara,a nd Chan/Zen. Focus on core concepts and their developments: Dependent Origination, Impermanence, Emptiness, No-Self, Karma, and Buddha Nature.
  Buddhism; Contemplative Studies

840:570. Buddhism, Society, and Politics in Southeast Asia   (3)
This course examines the rich histories of Buddhist social and political culture in Southeast Asia. It begins with an exploration of premodern Buddhist social and political theory, literature, and practice, and then assesses their transformations and implications in colonial and postcolonial contexts. Particular thematic foci include law, gender, class, the state, the family, monastic institutions, colonialism, and economic life. The course aims to consider the degree to which Buddhism played, and continues to play, a central role in the construction of norms and habits of the sociopolitical domain. We read closely interdisciplinary secondary scholarship to position our inquiries within current academic debates in Buddhist and Southeast Asian Studies. Selected primary sources are drawn from Buddhist literary, historical, and legal texts; inscriptions and archaeology; ethnography; and art history.
-  Buddhist Studies 

840:574. Islamic Thought.(3)
Examins critically the development of Islamic intellectuual traditions, from the first writings of the scholastic theological disciplines of theology and jurisprudence to contemporary reformist discourses.
-  Islam; Contemplative Studies

840:580. Religious Healing in the U.S.(3)
Examins the history of religious healing in the United States, including the evolving relationship between religious healing and biomedicine. Also introduces various theoretical approaches to the study of religious healing.
-  Religions in America

840:593. Topics in the Study of Religion(3)
840:594. Topics in the Study of Religion(3)
For distribution of specific Topics courses, consult the Director of the Graduate Program.

840:595. Independent Study(3)
840:596. Independent Study(3)
For distribution of specific Independent Studies courses, consult the Director of the Graduate Program.

840:701. Research in Religion(3)
840:702. Thesis in Religion(3)
These two units must be taken in combination for the 6-credit M.A. thesis option.  The thesis does not qualify for any distributions, which must be fulfilled by taught courses (other than the mandatory Theory and Method, 840:501).

840:703. Capstone Project in Religion(3)
The Capstone Project, which should not be shorter than 30 pages, must engage some aspect of the material from the Theory and Methods course and apply it to the area or field that interests the student the most, such as a given religious tradition or phenomenon.
For distribution of specific Capstone Project, consult the Director of the Graduate Program.