Spring 2011

Course CRN Title Instructor
RST 1A 53116 Topic: Pilgrimage A. Venkatesan
RST 1C - Topic: Sacrifice  A. Coudert
  49763 (sec. 1, Discussion Section)  
  49764 (sec. 2, Discussion Section)  
  49765 (sec. 3, Discussion Section)  
  49766 (sec. 4, Discussion Section)  
  49767 (sec. 5, Discussion Section)  
  49768 (sec. 6, Discussion Section)  
RST 10 46769 Topic: "Religious Ethics" B. Tezcan
RST 70 49772 Religion and Language M. O'Keefe
RST 90 53117 Human Rights K. Watenpaugh
RST 115 49781 Mysticism W. Terry
RST 130   Topic: "Genocide" (CANCELED)  
RST 131 53918 Genocide K. Watenpaugh
RST 141A 53118 New Testament: Synoptic Gospels W. Terry
RST 198 53697 Topic: "Christianity, 1790-1920" A. Coudert


Religious Studies 1A: Topics in Comparative Religion - Pilgrimage
Prof. Archana Venkatesan (aventakesan@ucdavis.edu)

MW 10:00-11:50
158 Olson
CRN 53116

Come join a journey that will explore the meaning of religion through one of the most moving religious experiences: pilgrimage. In the first part of the course, we will start with thinking about what religion is, then move on to methods in the study of religion, ask ourselves what pilgrimage is all about, ponder such intriguing questions as civil religion, and tackle seemingly secular pilgrimages that involve Star Trek and motorcycles. The second part is devoted to the study of pilgrimage in various religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hindu and Buddhist traditions. In short, you will be introduced to methods in comparative religion, focusing on the theme of pilgrimage in a variety of religious and seemingly secular traditions. There will be three written assignments geared to creatively evaluate your understanding of religion and pilgrimage in different traditions, including “secular” ones.

Prerequisite: NONE. GE credit: ArtHum, Div, Wrt.


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Religious Studies 1C: Topics in Comparative Religion - Sacrifice
Prof. Allison Coudert (apcoudert@ucdavis.edu)

Lecture: TR 1:40-3:00, 206 Olson

Discussion Sections:
Sec. 1 (M 3:10-4:00, 1116 Hart) CRN 49763
Sec. 2 (M 4:10-5:00, 151 Olson) CRN 49764
Sec. 3 (T 9:00-9:50, 205 Wellman) CRN 49765
Sec. 4 (R 4:10-5:00, 107 Wellman) CRN 49766
Sec. 5 (R 5:10-6:00, 159 Olson) CRN 49767
Sec. 6 (F 1:10-2:00, 117 Olson) CRN 49768

This course addresses the topic and practice of sacrifice in three major areas: sacrifice in specific religious traditions; sacrifice in the service of a country or nation; and sacrifice for romantic love. All three areas have religious implications inasmuch as they involve suffering, the pursuit of some higher ideal and/or physical or spiritual transformation, and even death. During the first part of the course we will focus on sacrificial rituals in major world religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). The central question addressed will be why has sacrifice played such a prominent part in world religions right up to the present? And what has encouraged humans to believe that supernatural beings demand the gruesome and bloody sacrificial death of men, women, children, and animals? In the second part of the course, we will examine the role sacrifice plays in formation of national identity and the promotion of patriotism. Finally we will look at Romanticism and the ideal of sacrificing oneself in the service of love. To help us understand these forms of sacrifice, we will analyze and evaluate various theories offered by scholars to explain sacrifice. Is it sufficient to understand sacrificial rituals as a means of communication with higher powers or as gift made in the hope of receiving something valuable in exchange? Or do we have to look more deeply into human nature and psychology and explain sacrifice as a response to human anxiety, aggression, and altruism? Finally, what, if any, role does gender play in sacrifice?

The course is introductory, and no prior academic study of religion is expected. The course fulfills the General Education requirement and emphasizes the development of skills in critical reading and analytic writing.

Prerequisite: NONE. GE credit: ArtHum, Div, Wrt.


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Religious Studies 10: Contemporary Ethical Issues: "Ethics of Politics in Religion" (2 Units)
Prof. Baki Tezcan (btezcan@ucdavis.edu)

TR 3:10-4:30, 123 Sciences Lecture Hall
CRN 49769

Would the Buddha take a government job? Did Moses believe in democracy? Would Jesus vote? What would Muhammad do? Should their opinions on politics matter for us? Who has the authority to tell us what exactly they would say on any of this? Come and join some of the best instructors on campus as they explore the relationship between politics and religion throughout history, all the way from Ancient Rome to contemporary Afghanistan.

Throughout the spring quarter, the students in this class will reflect on the ethical implications of religion in politics as they are listening to lectures on such varied topics as the ancient Anatolian Goddess Cybele; a Buddhist monk at the Tang court; the curse of Ham; Rome vs. the Christians; Constantine, Christianity, and the Roman Empire; the Zoroastrian order of the world; Muhammad; Jihad in Late Antiquity; the Crusades; the Christianization of Spain; Sunni-Shiite political rivalry in the early modern Islamic world; religion in early American history; secularism; Osama bin Laden’s audiotapes; the Zionist movement; and modern Turkish politics.

Grading: Essays - altogether 5 pages (80%); Quizzes (20%).

Prerequisite: NONE. GE credit: Wrt.


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Religious Studies 70: Religion and Language (2 Units)
Prof. Meaghan O'Keefe (@ucdavis.edu)

TR 9:00-10:20, 158 Olson
CRN 49772

This course considers the relationship between religion and language: how does language shape religious experience and how do religious traditions shape our understanding of language? Topics covered include the translation of sacred texts, ritual language, and the involvement of religious traditions in the ways in which scholars study language. Material covered will include performances of “speaking in tongues,” early European descriptions of Asian and Meso-American languages, and contemporary problems in translations of sacred terms.

Prerequisite: NONE. GE credit: ArtHum, Div, Wrt.


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Religious Studies 90: Human Rights (4 Units)
Prof. Keith Watenpaugh (kdwatenpaugh@ucdavis.edu)

TR 1:40-3:00, 226 Wellman
CRN 53117

This course introduces students to the comparative and critical study of Human Rights. Students will study the theoretical, historical and practical foundations of human rights in various civilizations, cultures and religions, evaluate the role of Human Rights within western and non-western societies, and examine the role of human rights thinking, policy and institutions in the contemporary world. Of particular interest will be the intersection of the question of human rights and religious difference and the role religious institutions and movements have in the protection/violation of human rights.

Prerequisite: NONE. GE credit: ArtHum, Div.


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Religious Studies 115: Mysticism (4 Units)
Prof. Wendy Terry (wrterry@ucdavis.edu)

MWF 10:00-10:50, 101 Olson
CRN 49781

This course introduces students to the historical and descriptive analysis of selected key figures in mystical traditions and readings of representative mystical texts.

Prerequisite: NONE. GE credit: ArtHum, Div, Wrt.


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Religious Studies 130: Topics in Religious Studies: "Genocide" (4 Units)

The course is canceled as of 2/7/11.

Religious Studies 131: Genocide (4 Units) - NEW COURSE
Prof. Keith Watenpaugh (kdwatenpaugh@ucdavis.edu)

TR 10:30-11:50, 101 Olson
CRN 53918

This course focuses on comparative and critical approach to the modern phenomenon of genocide from ethical, historical and religious perspectives. This course takes neither a bestiary approach to the study of genocide; nor does it seek to determine which genocide was worse. It is based on the proposition that the modern phenomenon of genocide can be studied from a comparative, critical theoretical perspective while simultaneously preserving the specificity and distinctive nature of each genocidal moment. Several genocides of the 20th and 21st centuries are examined through the lens of five thematic fields: Beginnings, Styles and Technologies, Remembering and Commemoration, Denial and Responsibility. Five genocides will be examined through these thematic fields: The Armenian Genocide, The Holocaust, The Genocide of the Kurds, The Rwandan Genocide and the Ethnic Cleansings of the Balkans. Course will consider the links between modernity and genocide, and the steps that could be taken to prevent/punish genocide in the future and explore the concept of restorative justice. Term paper (2500 words) will engage students in the comparison of two or more genocides using primary and secondary material.

Prerequisite: NONE. GE credit: ArtHum, Div, Wrt.


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Religious Studies 141A: New Testament - Synoptic Gospels (4 Units)
Prof. Wendy Terry (wrterry@ucdavis.edu)

MW 2:10-4:00, 101 Olson
CRN 53118

This is a course on the life and thought of the early Church as reflected by the Synoptic Tradition: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts.

Prerequisite: NONE. GE credit: ArtHum, Wrt.


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Religious Studies 198: Topic: "Christianity, 1700-1920" (4 Units)
Prof. Allison Coudert (apcoudert@ucdavis.edu)

TR 9:00-10:20, 101 Olson
CRN 53697

This course investigates the reaction of Christian critics and apologists to the profound scientific, philosophical, and cultural transformations marking the period from the late seventeenth to the early twentieth century. This period witnessed the most serious intellectual assaults on Christianity (and religion in general) in western history. Not only was the existence of God questioned, but so too were the historical authorship and veracity of Christian Scriptures, the reality and identity of Jesus, and the existence of the soul and its immortality. In many cases the authority of institutional Churches was rejected in favor of individual conscience, and the uniqueness and superiority of the Christian revelation was denied in favor of a “natural religion” available to all men at all times. The period witnessed the creation of a world in which change, progress, an appreciation of science, commitment to tolerance, and respect for the individual came to the fore. At the same time, however, the excesses of the French Revolution and subsequent “Terror” created a conservative backlash and intensified the fear that unrestrained criticism was bound to lead to atheism, fatalism, and nihilism, in short, to secularization and the “disenchantment of the world.” In addition, social critics deplored the increasing materialism, consumerism, and utilitarian spirit characteristic of modern urban and industrial society and the effect these had in undermining religious beliefs. For many people, however, the most severe blow to religion and traditional ways of thinking came in the form of Darwin’s theory of evolution and the Social Darwinism that emerged from it. It is no coincidence that out of this cauldron of new and contentious ideas a new form of biblical fundamentalism and the apocalyptic thought that often accompanies it developed. These divisive issues, which were at the heart of the conflict between religious liberals and conservatives in the two hundred years under review, anticipated our own era’s conflicts, and they were no less contentious then than they are today. Such conflict is, perhaps, an aspect of modernity itself.

I think we will have a lot of interesting issues to discuss!

Prerequisite: NONE.

Important Note: This special topic course is equivalent to RST 100, which is a required course for the major and minor degree.

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