Winter 2024 Courses
- For day, time, room, and TA information, see our PDF SCHEDULE or the class search tool https://registrar-apps.ucdavis.edu/courses/search/index.cfm.
- For all courses not described here, please refer to the General Catalog course descriptions: https://catalog.ucdavis.edu/courses-subject-code/rst/
RST 001: Survey of Religion
RST 001G: Myth Ritual and Symbol
This course offers an introduction to religious studies generally and the study of myth, ritual, and symbolism in particular through a kaleidoscopic survey of diverse topics and traditions. Special focuses include the transformative power of myth and imaginative literature; continuities between ancient Egypt and Greek mystery religions; connections between Vedic fire sacrifice and early Buddhism; nature symbolism in Native American traditions; dreaming and the afterlife in Islamic thought; and the religious functions of theater, dance drama, and film in ancient Greek, Indian, and modern contexts.
RST 5: Doom: Ancient Beliefs About the End of the World
RST10: Ethical Issues - Ethical Issues and the Bible
Although the first amendment prohibits the establishment of a state religion, many Americans still invoke the Bible to advocate for particular political and social positions, and many claim that the Bible shapes their own morals and values. But what does the Bible really say about the ethical issues that have been central in the political and private lives of Americans? How has this ancient text, compiled over several centuries in a culture very different from our own, been read as a guide for modern life? And why has the same text often been interpreted in diametrically opposite ways by diverse religious, ethnic, and political communities? This course prepares students to critically evaluate the use of the Bible in ethical discourse, both historically and today, considering issues like gender equality, homosexuality, slavery, colonization, abortion, economic inequality, and environmental stewardship.
RST 021: The Bible
RST 060: Intro to Islam
RST 115: Mysticism
RST 132: Topics in Mediterranean Ancient Religion-Music, Myth, and Ritual
RST 137: Topics in Buddhism: Buddhism of Nepal and Tibet
This course will explore the Buddhist traditions found in the Himalayas, specifically focusing on Nepal and Tibet. This will be accomplished through a rich survey of philosophical, artistic, ritual and meditative traditions as well as popular literatures and devotional practices. Course materials will include philosophical and ritual texts, sacred narratives, history, and the arts of these regions. The central focus will be on the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna Buddhist traditions of these regions beginning among the Newar community in the Kathmandu Valley (Nepal), exploring its formative links to India during the Pāla Dynasty and then will turn to the essential religious developments of Vajrayāna Buddhist tradition in Tibet.
RST 152: Justice, Equity, & Privacy in Medical Humanities
Meaghan O Keefe
RST 161: Modern Islam
This course is designed to provide you with a range of analytic perspectives on modern Islamic thought, society, and politics. Special attention will be given to discussions on the nature of moral authority and its relation to traditions of belief and practice. Through case studies of societies across the Islamic world, and especially in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Southeast as well as East Asia, we will develop a tool-set for analyzing how various forms of political organization draw from traditions of Muslim moral inquiry and redeploy them in contemporary life. With sustained attention to colonialism and empire throughout the course, we will move considerations of educational reform and textual interpretation to the ways in which Islam and Muslim identities have long been informed by hierarchies of race, class, gender, and economic power.
RST 171: Buddhist Art
RST 190: Seminar-Divine Plants, Holy Fungi and their Perils
The medicinal use of plants and fungi has long been instrumental to religious worship. New studies of the co-evolution of herbs and humans are shedding light on the historical significance of this relationship for understanding religion itself and how we might study it cross-culturally. This course explores the religious dimensions of our extraordinary intimacy with plants and fungi. While focusing on mushrooms, cannabis and coffee, we also consider the pleasures and perils of mescaline, ayahuasca, LSD and qat. With special attention given to the humanities, we consider the stories and poems of people who have used these stimulants – for better or for worse – as well as the songs of shamans, the music of mystics, and the rituals of non-humans as well as humans. In what ways can our sensory, intellectual, and experimental engagement with plants and fungi help identify new or perhaps long-forgotten paths to confronting the violence and destructive legacies of empire-building, colonialism, racial capitalism and modernity? What can holy herbs tell us about life after death and the future of human civilization? Readings will focus on indigenous American religious cultures, Christianity, Islam, Rastafarianism, and New Age religious currents in California.