Winter 2012

Course CRN Title Instructor
RST 1D 53645 Topic: Conversion  M. O'Keefe
RST 12 - The Emergence of Judaism, Christianity and Islam M. Vidas
  53661 (sec. 1, Discussion Section)  
  53662 (sec. 2, Discussion Section)  
  53663 (sec. 3, Discussion Section)  
  53664 (sec. 4, Discussion Section)  
  53665 (sec. 5, Discussion Section)  
  53666 (sec. 6, Discussion Section)  
RST 21 53646 Hebrew Scriptures W. Terry
RST 68 53647 Hinduism A. Venkatesan
RST 70 53648 Religions and Language F. Miller
RST 100 50413 Study of Religious Studies: Issues and Methods N. Janowitz
RST 102 53649 Christian Origins C. Chin
RST 126 53650 The Formation of Rabbinic Tradition M. Vidas
RST 130 53652 Topic: "Human Rights" K. Watenpaugh
RST 131 53651 Genocide K. Watenpaugh
RST 156 53653 Religion and the Performing Arts in India A. Venkatesan
RST 170 53654 Buddhism M. Elmore
RST 201 53655 Seminar: "Language of Heresy" F. Miller


Religious Studies 1D: Topics in Comparative Religion - Conversion
Prof. Meaghan O'Keefe (

Lecture: TR 12:10-1:30, 107 Cruess
Discussion Sections: TR 1:40-2:00, 107 Cruess
CRN 53645

This course examines the idea of conversion: what is conversion, why does it happen, and how do we know it has taken place? As part of understanding what it means to convert or be converted, we will look at academic theories of conversion as well as descriptions of the conversion process from various religious traditions including American Islam, Afro-Brazilian religions, and Evangelical Christianity.

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.

GE credits (Old): ArtHum, Div, Wrt.
GE credits (New): ArtHum, Wrt, Oral Skills, Visual Literacy, and World Cultures.


  • Malcolm X and Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley(Ballantine Reader, 1987)
  • Timothy Steigenga, Conversion of a Continent: Contemporary Religious Change in Latin America (Rutgers Univ. Press, 2008)
  • Selected Articles (found on SmartSite)

Religious Studies 12: The Emergence of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Prof. Moulie Vidas (

Lecture: MWF 10:00-10:50, 1227 Haring NEW ROOM

Discussion Sections:
Sec. 1 (M 4:10-5:00, 159 Olson) CRN 53661
Sec. 2 (M 5:10-6:00, 159 Olson) CRN 53662
Sec. 3 (T 4:10-5:00, 101 Wellman) CRN 53663
Sec. 4 (T 5:10-6:00, 101 Wellman) CRN 53664
Sec. 5 (M 6:10-7:00, 244 Olson) CRN 53665
Sec. 6 (T 6:10-7:00, 1128 Hart) CRN 53666

The period on which this course centers saw fundamental transformations in the religion of the Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds, transformations that inform culture and religion to this very day. This period saw the spread of an allegiance to a single God, the end of animal sacrifice, the emergence of heaven and hell. It also saw the rise of traditions we now call Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This course is an introduction to a critical examination of these changes. It focuses on understanding religious change in general. Why do new traditions emerge? How do political struggles and economic conditions inform religious changes? How do new traditions justify themselves against older ones?

GE credits (Old): ArtHum, Div, Wrt.
GE credits (New): ArtHum, Wrt, Oral Skills, and World Cultures.


  • Jaffee, Early Judaism
  • Lynch, Early Christianity
  • Donner, Muhammad and the Believers

Religious Studies 21: Hebrew Scriptures
Prof. Wendy Terry (

Lecture: MWF 9:00-9:50, 118 Olson
CRN 53646

This course introduces students to the Hebrew Scriptures through selected primary source readings and secondary modern scholarship. No previous academic knowledge is expected or required. Course work is done in English translation; therefore, no knowledge of Hebrew is required. Students will be exposed to a variety of modern critical tools for analysis, including historical, literary and sociological approaches.

GE credits (Old): ArtHum, Div, Wrt.
GE credits (New): ArtHum, Wrt, and World Cultures.


  • A Course Reader

Religious Studies 68: Hinduism
Prof. Archana Venkatesan (

TR 9:00-10:20, 106 Olson NEW ROOM
CRN 53647

This course is a survey of Hinduism. The course will introduce students to Hinduism's major philosophical ideas, and to the diversity of Hinduism in India and in the diaspora. Students will read and analyze a number of primary sources (in translation) including selections from the Upanisads, Bhagavad Gita, the devotional poetry of south Indian and north Indian poets, and the writings of Hindu reformers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

GE credits (Old): ArtHum, Div, Wrt.
GE credits (New): ArtHum, Wrt, Visual Literacy, and World Cultures.


  • A Course Reader

Religious Studies 70: Religion and Language
Prof. Flagg Miller (

MWF 11:00-11:50, 1130 Bainer
CRN 53648

How does language shape religious experience? Can our own culturally specific vocabularies help us understand, or communicate, the nature of the divine? Alternatively, does religion require us to expand our linguistic repertoires, both modern and classic, in order to appreciate rich historical legacies of spiritual thought and practice? This course is designed to provide students with a basic toolkit for studying religious discourse in a variety of traditions. Special attention will be given to notions of the sacred and the profane, the wondrous and the ordinary, the mystical and the reasonable. Material covered will include not only canonical sacred texts, but also prayers and magical spells, songs and rituals, sermons, and more contemporary genres, such as collective discussion forums.

GE credits (Old): None.
GE credits (New): None.


  • Joseph Errington, Linguistics in a Colonial World: A Story of Language, Meaning and Power (Blackwell, 2008)
  • A.C. Grayling, Wittgenstein: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford UP, 2001)
  • G. Graff and C. Birkenstein, They Say / I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing, 2nd Edition (W.W. Norton Co., 2010)

Religious Studies 100. Study of Religious Studies: Methods and Issues
Prof. Naomi Janowitz (

TR 1:40-3:00, 207 Olson NEW ROOM
CRN 50413

In the wake of the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the discovery of the new world, religion became a problem as never before. This class explores the development of this problem from the early modern period through the present, focusing on two wide-ranging narratives. The first concerns the declining authority of God and the reciprocal ascent of the individual as it develops in early-modern and modern philosophy including, for example, the writings of Nietzsche. The second concerns the birth and growth of the academic study of religion alongside the disciplines of anthropology, psychology, and sociology. We will text these theories against a selection of religious texts and rituals from a wide variety of ancient and contemporary traditions. Students are encouraged to investigate examples of particular interest to them (perhaps something from a prior Religious Studies course). This course is ideally taken no later than the junior year.

Prerequisite: None

GE credits (Old): (TBA)
GE credits (New): (TBA)


  • Émile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (Oxford, 2008)
  • Michel Foucault, Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Vintage, 1995)
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and Nobody(Oxford, 2009)
  • Sigmund Freud, Three Cases of Histories (Touchstone, 1996)

Religious Studies 102. Christian Origins
Prof. Catherine Chin (

TR 9:00-10:20, 102 Hutchison
CRN 53649

This course is designed as an introduction to early Christian thought and practice for advanced undergraduates. It will focus on the intellectual and social issues that preoccupied Christian thinkers from approximately the year 100 to approximately the year 500, and will examine the ways in which early Christians thought about the content of the statement “I am a Christian.” These are the dominant questions behind the course:

  • What were different Christian identities, and how did people claim them?
  • How did Christian communities develop rituals and beliefs (and vice versa)?
  • How and why did Christian identities change over the first five centuries?

These questions cannot be answered in a single quarter course. In order to begin to address them, this course takes just two major themes in early Christian thought -- the idea of a social and ritual community, or church, and the idea of a set of fundamental identifying beliefs, or a creed -- and introduces some of the diverse approaches that Christian writers took in thinking about them.

Prerequisite: course 40.

GE credits (Old): ArtHum, Div, and Wrt.
GE credits (New): ArtHum, Wrt, and World Cultures


  • A Course Reader

Religious Studies 126. The Formation of the Rabbinic Tradition
Prof. Moulie Vidas (

MWF 1:10-2:00, 217 Olson
CRN 53650

How can we know God’s law? How can we include contradictory opinions in a single sacred text? How can an entire people be called holy? How can we keep our culture up to date without compromising tradition? In this course we will examine how the ancient rabbis – who invented Judaism as we know it today – answered these and other questions through their creation of literature, law and religion. We will also examine how, in these answers, the rabbis tried to secure their own leadership of the Jewish people at the expense of competing groups and advanced their own vision of Judaism while silencing others.

Prerequisite: courses 21, 23, 40, 125, or Consent of Instructor.

GE credits (Old): None
GE credits (New): World Cultures


  • A Course Reader

Religious Studies 130. Topics in Religious Studies: "Human Rights
Prof. Keith Watenpaugh (

TR 10:30-11:50, 101 Olson
CRN 53652

For this winter, this topical course will focus on the issue of Human Rights.

This upper division 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: one course from courses 1, 1A through 1F, or consent of instructor.

GE credits (Old): None
GE credits (New): Wrt and World Cultures


  • A Course Reader

Religious Studies 131. Genocide
Prof. Keith Watenpaugh (

TR 1:40-3:00, 227 Olson
CRN 53651

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: one course from courses 1, 1A through 1F, or consent of instructor.

GE credits (Old): ArtHum, Div.
GE credits (New): ArtHum or SocSci, Wrt, Visual Literacy, and World Cultures


  • Readings through SmartSite

Religious Studies 156. Religion and the Performing Arts in India
Prof. Archana Venkatesan (

TR 3:10-4:30, 141 Olson
CRN 53653

This course is a survey of the relationship between religion and the performing arts in India, with an emphasis on the re-making, reforming and rewriting of dance in the nineteenth century in the nexus of colonialism and nationalism. Topics covered in this course include but are not limited to: reading of primary texs on Indian aesthetic theory (rasa, dhvani and meypattu iyal, anubhava); the rise of Indian mythological theater (Parsi theater) in 19th century India; social reform and remaking of the classical arts in the late 19th century; deity possession and ritual performance in Hinduism; the place of performing arts in constituting religious identity in the diaspora.

Prerequisite: course 30, 68, or consent of the instructor.

GE credits (Old): ArtHum, Div, and Wrt.
GE credits (New): ArtHum, Wrt, and World Cultures


  • A Course Reader

Religious Studies 170. Buddhism
Prof. Mark Elmore (

TR 10:30-11:50, 217 Olson
CRN 53654

This course examines Buddhism in its pan-Asian manifestations, from its beginning in India to its development in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, Central Asia, China and Japan. Topics will cover: cultural context of Buddhist prehistory; life of the Buddha and his teaching; basic teachings of the councils and questions of canonization; the period of King Asoka and the spread of Buddhism; the cult of the Buddha, relics and stupas, and background to the Lotus Sutra; the rise of Mayhana Buddhism; growth of Buddhism in China, Korea, Japan, and Tibet (prior culture and variant styles); and Buddhism in the Modern World.

Prerequisite: None

GE credits (Old): None
GE credits (New): ArtHum, Visual Literacy, and World Cultures


  • A Course Reader

Religious Studies 201: Seminar Topic - "Language of Heresy"
Prof. Flagg Miller (

W 6:10-9:00, 922 Sproul NEW TIME/ROOM
CRN 53655

Amidst global struggles for cultural identity, the power to name constitutes an elemental means of discipline and exclusion. This is especially apparent in religious discourse. Our course focuses on heresy in order to explore how named identities are historicized, spatialized, and embodied. Readings will emphasize cross-cultural and cross-historical approaches to heretical discourse, focusing especially on Christianity and Islam. Part of the course will examine case studies of foundational heresy outbreaks, including those in medieval England, early modern France, and the 9th-12th century Islamic Middle East. We will also investigate the legacies of such contexts for modern charges of heresy and “fundamentalism” in contemporary settings, especially the United States.

Prerequisite: Graduate student standing


  • A Course Reader