Winter 2021

Religious Studies Winter 2021 Courses - Remote Instruction

All Winter 2021 courses in Religious Studies will be held REMOTELY (online).

RST 1F: Ethnic and Religious Conflict over Natural Resources 

Natural resources and values, especially when scarce or mismanaged, can become the reason for inter-group competition and disputes. In other cases, pressure resulting from climate change (e.g. droughts) and resource degradation (e.g. pollution) can reduce economic, social, and political resilience, and exacerbate an already existing religious or ethnic conflict.  

The course examines the processes and perceptions that contribute to the development of such conflicts. Using project-based learning (PBL) and active learning exercises, the course provides students the freedom to choose their case studies, the tools and theories with which to analyze cases of ethnic and religious environmental conflict around the world. It also offers and potential ways in which to resolve, manage, or prevent resource-based clashes. Lastly, the course points to ways in which we can promote joint management and cooperation regarding natural resources between ethnic and religious groups who share them.

RST 1G: Myth, Ritual and Symbol - Beyond the Binary: Sacred, Defiled and Transgressive Bodies

Prof. Naomi Janowitz



This course is an introduction to the academic study of religion with no prerequisites. We will consider a wide range of religious traditions through the lens of sexuality and gender expressed through myths, rituals, and symbols.

Topics include the Zuni man-woman, the Hindu Hijra, Polynesian gender liminality, Christian Pentecostal exorcism of male demons from female bodies, the possession of men by female spirits in African-derived religions, and third-gender prophecy from the Ancient Near East.

Questions include: How do religions construct their views of appropriate vs perverse modes of sexuality? How are norms enforced in religious traditions? What makes a body sacred? How is transgression defined? What are their models for repair of transgression? What does this variety of ideas about sexuality and gender teach us about contemporary notions of sexuality?

GE: Arts and Humanities, Writing, Oral Literary, Verbal Literacy and World Cultures

All course readings will be available on Smartsite.

RST 031. Introduction to Jainism (CRN 44464/44465) 

Tues./Thurs. 3:10–4:30pm 

L. Dhanani 

Jainism, despite its minority status, has been a powerful force on the Indian subcontinent for over two millennia, shaping language, literature, and religious culture, in constant, dynamic conversation with other Indian religions. This course offers a window into the complex and varied histories, literatures, philosophies, practices, and art of the Jains. Additionally, it examines a range of contemporary issues related to death and dying, religious conflicts over sacred sites of pilgrimage, and ethical applications of non-violence to the problems of the modern world.            

GE credits: AH, D, W (former) / AH, WC, WE (new) 

RST 132: Worshipping Gods, Worshipping Mortals in Greek, Roman, & Near Eastern Religious Traditions
Cai Thorman
Click here to view the RST 132 Flyer

Course Description: Using both archaeological and textual resources, this course will explore the religious practices of ancient Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern (including Egyptian) cultures. Topics will include gods, sacrifice, festivals, oracles, priesthoods, tomb culture, and sanctuaries. One of the most intriguing subjects will be the worship of mortals regarded as divine. Where was the line between deity and human? Why would someone worship a mortal? How did cults for gods and mortals differ? Such questions will provide fascinating insights into the politics and psychology of the ancient Mediterranean world.

Prerequisite: NONE

GE credit (Old): Arts & Humanities.
GE credit (New): Arts & Humanities, World Cultures and Writing Experience.
Format: Project-based, short writing assignments, quizzes, open-book final exam.

• Gods in the Desert, by Glenn Holland (available through UCD library online)
• Other electronic readings will be provided by instructor

RST 160. Intro Islamic Thought

Exploration of key themes in Islamic philosophy, theology, and mysticism from the classical to the early modern period. Overview of foundations in Quran, Hadith, and Late Antique thought and early theological developments. Primary focus on major figures of the tradition—Avicenna, al-Ghazali, Suhrawardi, Ibn ‘Arabi, Rumi, Ibn Taymiyya, Mulla Sadra—on topics such as reason and revelation, God’s existence and nature, knowledge and its foundations, ethics, and paths to human perfection.

RST 230: Inter-Group Conflict in Israel and the Middle East (graduate seminar) 

The Arab-Israeli conflict does not exist in a void. It was, and still is, influenced by external geo-political interests and events, religious beliefs and perceptions, and other external factors such as economy, climate, and scientific-technological advances. The conflict also influences other tensions within and between Jewish, Christian, and Muslim groups, as well as other religious and ethnic minorities in the area.    

The course first explains the history of the conflict, using several points of view, and allowing students to voice and discuss their own opinions and analyses of these historic events. It then invites students to understand the complexities of the current situation in the Middle East, and introduces positive examples of cooperation, peace treaties, and synergies. The course encourages students to pursue active learning through researching specific topics, cross-sections (e.g. gender, race), and case studies that are of personal or academic interest to them; as well as through participatory simulations of real-life cases, including role-playing, and using a peace-building app.    

The course is taught synchronously (on Zoom).