Courses

Anthropology and Sociology of Religion

AASR 57715 Brauer Seminar: Gender and Sexuality in the Study of Religion
W, 11:30 am - 2:20 pm, MEM LIB

Our seminar is a team-taught, interdisciplinary graduate level course focusing on gender and sexuality in the study of religion.  Our aim is to provide theoretical concepts, tools and methods for students to analyze gender and sexuality across a variety of religious traditions, historical periods and literary genres.  Divided into three parts – philosophy and psychoanalysis, anthropology and ethics, the course proceeds according to the areas of specialty offered by participating faculty members.  Topics covered include the following:  structuralist and poststructuralist approaches to sexual difference, political economy of sex, performativity theory, sociology of labor, race, sex and empire. 

Ident. RLVC/DVPR/RETH 57715

AASR 42214 Transnational Religious Movements
W, 2:30-5:20 pm, S200
This course examines the transnational reach of various religious movements drawing mainly from literature in anthropology, sociology and cultural studies.  Topics that will be considered include migration and refugees, social movements, diasporic nationalism and financial capitalism.

Bible

BIBL 45100 Innerbiblical Exegesis
Th, 2:00-4:50 pm, S200

This course will explore the phenomenon of literary revision in the Hebrew Bible and, to a limited extent, its precursors and successor texts. In addition to analyzing various examples of innerbiblical exegesis, we will consider the theoretical issues related to literary revision, including the question of criteria for determining literary dependence and direction of dependence and the intents of texts that reuse source material. 

PQ: Strong Biblical Hebrew 

BIBL 43600 The Pastoral Epistles
M/W, 9:30-10:50 am, S403
An exegesis course on three short letters addressed to Paul’s trusted envoys (1 and 2 Timothy; Titus), which will focus on the following questions: the nature, significance, dynamics and authority of Pauline pseudepigraphy; the forms of ethical argumentation in these letters and their relation to Hellenistic philosophy; the social history of Greco-Roman households and their role in early Christian formation; historical reconstruction of the roles of women in the Paulinist communities addressed by these letters (including a reading of the later work, The Acts of Paul and Thecla, which may represent the viewpoint the author is attacking), and the history of interpretation and outsize influence of this small body of texts on Christian thought and practice, down to the present.
 
PQ: Introduction to the New Testament (or equivalent). Greek skills are not required for this course, but ample opportunity will be provided for their use. 
 
BIBL 32500 Introduction to the New Testament: Texts and Contexts
M/W, 1:30-2:50 pm, S106
An immersion in the texts of the New Testament with the following goals: 1. through careful reading to come to know well some representative pieces of this literature; 2. to gain useful knowledge of the historical, geographical, social, religious, cultural and political contexts of these texts and the events they relate; 3. to learn the major literary genres represented in the canon ("gospels," "acts," "letters," and "apocalypses") and strategies for reading them; 4. to comprehend the various theological visions and cultural worldviews to which these texts give expression; 5. to situate oneself and one's prevailing questions about this material in the history of research, and to reflect on the goals and methods of interpretation; 6. to raise questions for further study.
 
PQ: Interest in this literature, and willingness to enter into conversation with like- and non-like-minded others on the texts and the issues involved in their interpretation.

Ident. /RLST 12000/FNDL 28202
 
BIBL 46399 The Apocalypse of John: Conflict of Interpretations
T/Th, 5:00-6:20 pm, S400
We will examine various and sometimes conflicting hermeneutical strategies for decoding this enigmatic work and accessing its complex symbolism and imagery. The first task will be to gain some purchase on how the Apocalypse of John (a.k.a. Revelation) works as an example of ancient apocalyptic writing in comparison with near-contemporary Jewish apocalypses. We will also examine how this text portrays the Roman imperial regime, with special attention to its critique of the imperial cult and other ways it intersects with and addresses Greco-Roman history, religion, politics, and society. On the other side of this literary-historical analysis we will discuss the contemporary reception of the Apocalypse, focusing on how its critical and subversive theological grammars have been redeployed in modern contexts of political struggle andoppression, for example, in South Africa during Apartheid, as well as its interpretation in criticaltheories, intercultural interpretations, and environmental ethics. The overall logic of this course forces serious hermeneutical reflection and discussion about the relationship between literary, historical, and constructive readings, as well as between interpretive strategies that forefront history, suspicion, or retrieval, examples of which we will juxtapose and vigorously discuss.
 
PQ: Greek reading skills are not necessary, but opportunity will be provided for their use.
BIBL 42220 What is a “Gospel”? The Gospels in Literary Context
T/Th, 12:30-1:50 pm, S400
A critical examination of different scholarly proposals for understanding the genre and literary context of the four New Testament gospels, which we will read in comparison with several kinds of ancient literature, including Greco-Roman biographies (of Aesop, Cicero, Apollonius, Antony, etc.), “Jewish novels,” the Greek romances, aretologies, comedies, tragedies, and works of ancient historiography. Grounding our inquiry in theories of literary genre and mode, as well as in approaches to thinking about the nature of literary dependency, development, and creativity, we will consider among other issues: How and when does the term “Gospel” come to denote written texts? In what way do “Gospels” constitute the emergence of a “new” kind of literature? How is it best to characterize the authors of the Gospels—as collectors, editors, redactors, or creative writers in their own right? Is a Gospel best described as “high” or “low” literature? How do select “apocryphal” or non-canonical “Gospels” fit into this literary picture? Overall, this course provides a step toward understanding, characterizing, and situating early Christian literary culture in terms of the emergence and development of “Gospel” literature.
 
PQ: Greek reading skills are not necessary, but opportunity will be provided for their use.
BIBL 34000 Introductory Biblical Hebrew-2
M/W/F, 8:30-9:20 am, S106

This course is the second of a two-quarter sequence designed to introduce students to the language of biblical Hebrew, with special emphasis on the fundamentals of its morphology, syntax, and vocabulary. The course follows a standard textbook supplemented by lectures, exercises, and oral drills aimed at refining the student’s grasp of grammatically sound interpretation and translation. At the conclusion of the two-quarter sequence students will be prepared to take a biblical Hebrew reading course in the spring quarter.

Instructor: Matthew Richey

BIBL 35300 Introductory Koine Greek-2
M/W/F, 8:30-9:20 am, S403

In this two-course sequence, students will learn the basic mechanics of Koine Greek and begin reading texts from the Greek New Testament and Septuagint. The autumn course and the first three-fourths or so of the winter course will introduce the vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and style of the Greek New Testament, and to a limited degree those of the Septuagint, after which point we will focus on reading and interpreting a New Testament document in Greek at length. Upon the conclusion of the sequence, students will be able to read and comprehend entire passages of Koine Greek text with the aid of a dictionary. This sequence aims to prepare students to successfully participate in a Greek exegesis course in Spring 2017 or thereafter.

Instructor: Richard Zaleski

BIBL 35901 Joseph and His Brothers: The Biblical Accounts
M/W 11:00a – 12:20p S208

Close reading of the “Joseph Cycle” in Genesis 37–50. Detailed examination of the literary form, content, theology and composition of the Biblical text, with the aim of identifying the questions it poses and evaluating the methods employed and the solutions proposed by commentators and critics in their attempts to answer them. This course is designed for students who have some familiarity the critical study of the Hebrew Bible (i.e., for those who have taken Introduction to the Hebrew Bible or equivalent). Knowledge of Biblical Hebrew is desirable but not required. If you have any question as to whether you qualify, please consult the instructor.

BIBL 40350 The Composition of the Torah
M/W 2:00 – 3:20PM S208

Detailed textual study of selected passages from the narrative portions of Torah (i.e. in Genesis, Exodus and Numbers) with the aim of illustrating the literary basis for the hypothesis that the Torah has been created by merging four pre-existing sources into one continuous text. Consideration will also be given to the diverse approaches employed by exegetes and critics, whether prior to the rise of the documentary hypothesis or subsequent to and in opposition to it. This course is designed for students with a working knowledge of Biblical Hebrew who have already had a critical introduction to the Hebrew Bible, including the critical approaches to the Torah. If you have any question as to whether you qualify, please consult the instructor.

History of Christianity

HCHR 43107 Early Christian Art
M, 3:30-6:20 pm, CWAC 156

This course will focus on the visual arts as ubiquitous, understanding them as an essential part of early Christian culture and identity.  Close attention will be paid throughout to interdisciplinary scholarly methods that have been developed in order to approach early Christian art within the larger framework of late antique culture and to decode the symbolism that characterizes it.  Some sample questions we are going to discuss include:

What do the earliest Christian images in the catacombs and on sarcophagi convey about the hopes and fears of those who commissioned them?  In which ways did the design and furnishing of religious architecture respond directly to needs associated with the celebration of the liturgy or other cultic activities?   What were the functions and messages of the splendid mosaic programs that survive, for instance, in various churches in Rome and Ravenna?   To what extent may they be understood (possibly until today) as an aid to religious imagination and worship?   How were visual means employed to provide complex theological exegesis, and what is the relation of the imagery to religious writings?  What is the place of early Christian manuscript illumination within the larger context of late antique book culture?  What do we know about viewer response to Christian art both in the private and the public spheres?

Ident. RLVC 43107 / ARTH 2/30609

HCHR 43101 The Catholic Reformation
T/Th, 11:00 am - 12:20 pm S201

This course analyzes early modern Catholicism and covers the years from 1400-1600.  The readings include treatises on the nature of the church, the role of dissent, the polemics against the Protestants, and the spirituality of this era.  The requirement for the course is a take-home examination. S

Ident. THEO 43101

 
HCHR 32302 Byzantium: Art, Religion, Culture
T, 5:00-7:50 pm, CWAC 152

In this introductory seminar we will explore works of art and architecture as primary sources for Byzantine civilization. Through the close investigation of artifacts of different media and techniques, students will gain insight into the artistic production of the Byzantine Empire from its foundation in the 4th century A.D. to the Ottoman conquest in 1453. We will employ different methodological approaches and resources that are relevant for the fruitful investigation of artifacts in their respective cultural setting. In order to fully assess the pivotal importance of the visual arts in Byzantine culture, we will address a wide array of topics, including art and ritual, patronage, the interrelation of art and text, classical heritage, art and theology, Iconoclasm, etc.

HCHR 43900 Luther and the Old Testament
T, 2:00-4:50 pm, MEM LIB
HCHR 30602 Coptic Texts
M/W/F, 10:30-11:20 am, OI 208

This course builds on the basics of grammar learned in EGPT 10201 and provides readings in a variety of Coptic texts (e.g., monastic texts, biblical excerpts, tales, Gnostic literature).

History of Judaism

HIJD 48200 Leo Strauss and Judaism
W, 3:00-5:50 pm, S201

We will explore Strauss's life-long navigation between Athens and Jerusalem from the perspective of his Jewish writings. 

HIJD 48900 Maimonides, Eight Chapters and Commentary on Avot
Th, 11:00 am - 1:50 pm, S403

This reading course will focus on Maimonides' brief eight-chapter introduction to Aristotelian ethics, written as preface to his commentary on the Mishnaic tractate Avot, "Ethics of the Fathers." We will read the text line by line with primary interest in the way he adapts Aristotle's philosophy to Judaism, expressed most clearly in his ethic reading of Avot itself.

HIJD 53360 Topics in the Philosophy of Judaism: Soloveitchik Reads the Classics
T, 2:00-4:50 pm, Beecher Hall 101

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was one of the most important philosophers of Judaism in the twentieth century. Among his many books, essays and lectures, we find a detailed engagement with the Bible, the Talmud and the fundamental works of Maimonides. This course will examine Soloveitchik’s philosophical readings and appropriation of Torah, Talmud, and both the Guide and the Mishneh Torah. A framing question of the course will be: how can one combine traditional Jewish learning and modern philosophical ideas? What can Judaism gain from philosophy? What can philosophy learn from Judaism?

PQ: All students interested in enrolling in this course should send an application to [ jbarbaro (a) uchicago (dot) edu ]  by 12/15/2017. Applications should be no longer than one page and should include name, email address, phone number, and department or committee. Applicants should briefly describe their background and explain their interest in, and their reasons for applying to, this course.

Ident.  DVPR 53360/PHIL 53360/KNOW 47002

HIJD 44290 Messianism, Redemption and Utopia in Modern Jewish Thought
T, 6:30-9:30 pm, S201
Our point of departure will be the early nineteenth-century tendency to shift the focus of messianic hope from the advent of a divinely appointed savior to human agency. We explore the implications of the "depersonalization of messianism" for Jewish conceptions of history and redemption as expressed in the writings, among others, of Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Hermann Cohen, Ernst Bloch, Martin Buber, Jacques Derrida, and Gershom Scholem.
HIJD 35113 Jewish Superheroes
T, 11:00a - 1:50p S208

There has been much recent discussion about Jewish influence on the modern superhero. Many of the comic book artists were Jewish and the superheroes themselves inspired by Jewish themes, for example, Superman has a biography similar to Moses’, while the Incredible Hulk seems the perfect Golem. This course will read this modern literature to help frame our discussion of the premodern inspirations of it. We will focus on superheroes and supervillains found in classical and medieval sources, from Samson, Elijah and Elisha in the Bible to the wonder Rabbis of the Talmud to the many messiahs and mystics of the Middle Ages, identifying their superpowers and exploring the roles they played within traditional Jewish culture

 

Ident. HREL 35113

History of Religions

HREL 36000 Second-year Sanskrit II
T/Th, 2:00-3:20 pm, S207

Readings in the Mahabharata.

Ident. SANS 20200 / SALC 48400

HREL 48910 Readings in Tibetan Buddhist Texts
T/Th, 3:30-4:50 pm, S400

Readings in selected Buddhist doctrinal writings in Tibetan.

PQ: Open to studnets reading Tibetan at an advanced level.

Ident. DVPR 48910 / SALC 48501

HREL 32401 Jainism: An Indian Religion and its Contributions to Philosophy
T/Th, 11:00 am - 12:20 pm, S106

The course will introduce the history and doctrines of the Jaina religion and, in the second half of the quarter, turn to consider a selection of recent writings on Jaina philosophy in particular. Though there is no formal prerquisite, the course will presuppose a basic background in the study of Indian religions and philosophies, as is given, for instance, in Indian Philosophy I & II  (RLST 24201, RLST 24202).

Ident. DVPR 32401 / *RLST 23903

 

HREL 35113 Jewish Superheroes
T, 11:00 am - 1:50 pm, S208

There has been much recent discussion about Jewish influence on the modern superhero. Many of the comic book artists were Jewish and the superheroes themselves inspired by Jewish themes, for example, Superman has a biography similar to Moses’, while the Incredible Hulk seems the perfect Golem. This course will read this modern literature to help frame our discussion of the premodern inspirations of it. We will focus on superheroes and supervillains found in classical and medieval sources, from Samson, Elijah and Elisha in the Bible to the wonder Rabbis of the Talmud to the many messiahs and mystics of the Middle Ages, identifying their superpowers and exploring the roles they played within traditional Jewish culture.

HREL 39516 History of Skepticism
T, 2:00-4:50 pm, 5727 S. University Ave. 112

Before we ask what is true or false, we must ask how we can know what is true or false. This course examines the vital role doubt and philosophical skepticism have played in the Western intellectual tradition, from pre-Socratic Greece through the Enlightenment, with a focus on how Criteria of Truth—what kinds of arguments are considered legitimate sources of certainty—have changed over time. The course will examine dialog between skeptical and dogmatic thinkers, and how many of the most fertile systems in the history of philosophy have been hybrid systems which divided the world into things which can be known, and things which cannot. The course will touch on the history of atheism, heresy and free thought, on fideism and skeptical religion, and will examine how the Scientific Method is itself a form of philosophical skepticism. Primary source readings will include Plato, Sextus Empiricus, Lucretius, Ockham, Pierre Bayle, Montaigne, Descartes, Francis Bacon, Hobbes, Voltaire, Diderot, and others.

Professor: Ada Palmer

HREL 42214 Transnational Religious Movements
W, 2:30-5:20 pm, S200

This course examines the transnational reach of various religious movements drawing mainly from literature in anthropology, sociology and cultural studies. Topics that will be considered include migration and refugees, social movements, diasporic nationalism and financial capitalism.

HREL 52200 Problems in the History of Religions
T, 7:00-9:30 pm, Swift Hall ARR

A seminar for students in the PhD program in the History of Religions working on their colloquium paper, orals statement for the Qualifying Examination, or dissertation chapter.

Islamic Studies

ISLM 51000 Writings of Ibn al-`Arabi
Th, 2:00-4:50 pm, MEM SEM

This course will focus on sections from Ibn al-`Arabi’s al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya“The Meccan Openings,” including chapters 1 and 10, as well as the commentary he wrote upon his own love poems.  The important new critical edition of the Futuhat, by Abd al-`Aziz Sultan al-Mansub (Yemen, 2013), will serve as the base text.  We will also engage one of the chapters from Ibn `Arabi’s Fusus al-Hikam(Bezels of Wisdom) and will be able to take advantage of the new, fully-vocalized edition of that work.

PQ: facility in classical Arabic

Ident. NEHC 41000

 

ISLM 40100 Islamic Love Poetry
T, 2:00-4:50 pm, MEM SEM

The focus of this course is classical Islamic love poetry, Arabic and Persian love lyric will be covered, as well as some Ottoman love lyric (at least in translation). In the past we have incorporated Urdu, Punjabi, Bangla, Bosnian, and Turkish traditions, and—for comparative and historical purposes—Hebrew poetry from medieval Andalus.   Because none of us are proficient in the all these languages, students who are proficient a given language are asked to provide a guide (including text, translation, explanation of key vocabulary, etc.) for selected poems from in that language.  Each member of the class will be asked to present one poem guide, in addition to a final assignment.   Among the poets commonly included in the course are Ibn Zaydun, Ibn al-Farid, Ibn al-`Arabi, Rumi, Hafiz, Baba Fighani, Na’ili, Mir Dard, Bulleh Shah, and Ghalib.

PQ:  facility in at least one of the following:  Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Punjabi, or another language with a classical Islamic tradition of love poetry.

Ident. RLVC 40300 / CMLT 40100 / NEHC 40600

 

ISLM 30200 Into. Qur'anic Arabic II
M/T/W/Th, 8:30-9:20 am, S201

This course is the second in a 3-quarter sequence Introduction to Qur’anic Arabic (IQA). Building on IQA I (offered in autumn), it continues with developing students’ philological and reading skills by covering the essentials of Qur’anic/Classical Arabic grammar. Like IQA I, this course features readings from select Qur’anic passages and works of Classical Arabic, but of greater difficulty. The core textbooks are Tasheel al-nahw, Fundamentals of Classical Arabic vol. 2, and Qasas al-nabiyyin. These will be supplemented by handouts provided by the instructor. Successful completion of IQA II will qualify students to take the Spring Capstone Course offered by Prof. Casewit. The Capstone is titled Contemporary Arabic Scholarship on the Qur’an and will be coordinated alongside IQA III to provide students the opportunity to practice reading Qur’anic Arabic at a slower pace than the one in the Capstone, while also continuing with their study of Arabic grammar. Graduate and undergraduate students from any department are welcome to register. The basic prerequisite is successful completion of IQA I. Exceptions can be made on a case by case basis.

Instructor: Aamir Bashir

ISLM 30600 Islamic History & Society-2: The Middle Period
T/Th, 12:30-1:50 pm, Stuart Hall 105

This course covers the period from ca. 1100 to 1750, including the arrival of the Steppe Peoples (Turks and Mongols), the Mongol successor states, and the Mamluks of Egypt and Syria. We also study the foundation of the great Islamic regional empires of the Ottomans, Safavids, and Moghuls.

Professor: John E. Woods

ISLM 30602 Islamic Thought & Literature-2
M/W/F, 10:30-11:20 am, Stuart Hall 105

This course covers the period from ca. 950 to 1700, surveying works of literature, theology, philosophy, sufism, politics, history, etc., written in Arabic, Persian and Turkish, as well as the art, architecture and music of the Islamicate traditions. Through primary texts, secondary sources and lectures, we will trace the cultural, social, religious, political and institutional evolution through the period of the Fatimids, the Crusades, the Mongol invasions, and the "gunpowder empires" (Ottomans, Safavids, Mughals).

ISLM 48900 Maimonides, Eight Chapters and Commentary on Avot
Th, 11:00 am - 1:50 pm, S403

Ministry and Religious Leadership

CHRM 32500 Theology in the Public Square
T/Th, 11:00 am - 12:20 pm, S400

This course examines the theologies and social-historical diagnoses of six figures whose religious leadership in the mid-twentieth century remain essential reference points in contemporary public life: Dorothy Day, Thich Nhat Hanh, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Reinhold Niebuhr. The seminar puts them in conversation with each other and considers them as resources for public religious leadership today.

CHRM 35202 Arts of Ministry: Spiritual Care and Counseling
F, 8:30-11:20 am, S400

This course is the second of a three-quarter sequence introducing students to essential aspects of religious leadership; the sequence is required for second-year M.Div. students and complements their work in field education. In this course, students explore and practice the requisite skills for spiritual care and counseling in congregations, hospitals, university chaplaincies and other settings. Participants will interrogate human experience through several lenses, including theological and philosophical anthropologies, family systems theory, and relational and self-psychologies, with special attention to theories of race, ethnicity and gender. Practice labs will help students hone listening skills and narrative therapies, diagnosis and referrals, and healing rituals.

CHRM 42800 Senior Ministry Thesis Seminar

Required seminar for M.Div. students in the year in which they are writing and presenting their theses.

PQ: Third or Fourth Year MDiv students only.

CHRM 40700 Practice of Ministry II
W, 9:30-10:50 am, S400

Part II in the practicum series for MDiv students

Philosophy of Religions

DVPR 48910 Readings in Tibetan Buddhist Texts
T/Th, 3:30-4:50 pm, S400

Readings in selected Buddhist doctrinal writings in Tibetan.

PQ: Open to studnets reading Tibetan at an advanced level.

Ident. HREL 48910 / SALC 48501

DVPR 53360 Topics in the Philosophy of Judaism: Soloveitchik Reads the Classics
T, 2:00-4:50 pm, Beecher Hall 101

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was one of the most important philosophers of Judaism in the twentieth century. Among his many books, essays and lectures, we find a detailed engagement with the Bible, the Talmud and the fundamental works of Maimonides. This course will examine Soloveitchik’s philosophical readings and appropriation of Torah, Talmud, and both the Guide and the Mishneh Torah. A framing question of the course will be: how can one combine traditional Jewish learning and modern philosophical ideas? What can Judaism gain from philosophy? What can philosophy learn from Judaism?

PQ: All students interested in enrolling in this course should send an application to [ jbarbaro (a) uchicago (dot) edu ]  by 12/15/2017. Applications should be no longer than one page and should include name, email address, phone number, and department or committee. Applicants should briefly describe their background and explain their interest in, and their reasons for applying to, this course.

Ident.  HIJD 53360/PHIL 53360/KNOW 47002

DVPR 32401 Jainism: An Indian Religion and its Contributions to Philosophy
T/Th, 11:00 am - 12:20 pm, S106

The course will introduce the history and doctrines of the Jaina religion and, in the second half of the quarter, turn to consider a selection of recent writings on Jaina philosophy in particular. Though there is no formal prerquisite, the course will presuppose a basic background in the study of Indian religions and philosophies, as is given, for instance, in Indian Philosophy I & II  (RLST 24201, RLST 24202).

Ident. HREL 32401 / *RLST 23903

 

DVPR 40200 Can One Say Yes to Finitude?
Th 2:00 - 4:50pm S208

"What is finitude? Does it refer primarily to the situation of a being that can and must die, and that knows something about death? Or is finitude somehow irreducible to this capacity for and knowledge of dying? Is it ever possible to say yes to finitude? If so, is it ever permissible? Or even necessary? This course will consider the role of finitude in modern European philosophy from Nietzsche to the present. Taking our cue from Nietzsche’s “philosophy of the morning,” we will then examine the conceptualization of finitude in the writings of Heidegger, Sartre, Levinas, Bataille, Blanchot, Deleuze, and Derrida among others." 

DVPR 46616 Religion and Reason
W, 3:00-5:50 pm, 5737 S. University Ave 104

The quarrel between reason and faith has a long history. The birth of Christianity was in the crucible of rationality. The ancient Greeks privileged this human capacity above all others, finding in reason the quality wherein man was closest to the gods, while the early Christians found this viewpoint antithetical to religious humility. As religion and its place in society have evolved throughout history, so have the standing of, and philosophical justification for, non-belief on rational grounds. This course will examine the intellectual and cultural history of arguments against religion in Western thought from antiquity to the present. Along the way, of course, we will also examine the assumptions bound up in the binary terms "religion" and "reason."

Professors: Shadi Bartsch, Robert Richards

DVPR 50201 Seminar: Contemporary Critical Theory
W, 2:30-5:20 pm, Classics 113

This course will examine some of the salient texts of postmodernism. Part of the question of the course will be the status and meaning of “post”-modern, post-structuralist. The course requires active and informed participation.

DVPR 57715 Brauer Seminar: Gender and Sexuality in the Study of Religion
W, 11:30 am - 2:20 pm, MEM LIB

Our seminar is a team-taught, interdisciplinary graduate level course focusing on gender and sexuality in the study of religion. Our aim is to provide theoretical concepts, tools and methods for students to analyze gender and sexuality across a variety of religious traditions, historical periods and literary genres. Divided into three parts – philosophy and psychoanalysis, anthropology and ethics, the course proceeds according to the areas of specialty offered by participating faculty members. Topics covered include the following: structuralist and poststructuralist approaches to sexual difference, political economy of sex, performativity theory, sociology of labor, race, sex and empire.

Enrollment by application only.

Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture

RLVC 32302 Byzantium: Art, Religion, Culture
Tue 5:00 - 7:50pm CWAC 152

Through the close investigation of artifacts of different media and techniques, students will gain insight into the artistic production of the Byzantine Empire from its foundation in the 4th century A.D. to the Ottoman conquest in 1453. We will employ different methodological approaches and resources that are relevant for the fruitful investigation of artifacts in their respective cultural setting. In order to fully assess the pivotal importance of the visual arts in Byzantine culture, we will address a wide array of topics, including art and ritual, patronage, the interrelation of art and text, classical heritage, art and theology, Iconoclasm, etc. 


Ident. HCHR 32302 / ARTH 2/32302

RLVC 43107 Early Christian Art
M, 3:30-6:20 pm, CWAC 156
This course will focus on the visual arts as ubiquitous, understanding them as an essential part of early Christian culture and identity.  Close attention will be paid throughout to interdisciplinary scholarly methods that have been developed in order to approach early Christian art within the larger framework of late antique culture and to decode the symbolism that characterizes it.  Some sample questions we are going to discuss include:

What do the earliest Christian images in the catacombs and on sarcophagi convey about the hopes and fears of those who commissioned them?  In which ways did the design and furnishing of religious architecture respond directly to needs associated with the celebration of the liturgy or other cultic activities?   What were the functions and messages of the splendid mosaic programs that survive, for instance, in various churches in Rome and Ravenna?   To what extent may they be understood (possibly until today) as an aid to religious imagination and worship?   How were visual means employed to provide complex theological exegesis, and what is the relation of the imagery to religious writings?  What is the place of early Christian manuscript illumination within the larger context of late antique book culture?  What do we know about viewer response to Christian art both in the private and the public spheres?

Ident. HCHR 43107 / ARTH 2/30609

RLVC 40300 Islamic Love Poetry
T, 2:00-4:50 pm, MEM LIB

The focus of this course is classical Islamic love poetry, Arabic and Persian love lyric will be covered, as well as some Ottoman love lyric (at least in translation). In the past we have incorporated Urdu, Punjabi, Bangla, Bosnian, and Turkish traditions, and—for comparative and historical purposes—Hebrew poetry from medieval Andalus.   Because none of us are proficient in the all these languages, students who are proficient a given language are asked to provide a guide (including text, translation, explanation of key vocabulary, etc.) for selected poems from in that language.  Each member of the class will be asked to present one poem guide, in addition to a final assignment.   Among the poets commonly included in the course are Ibn Zaydun, Ibn al-Farid, Ibn al-`Arabi, Rumi, Hafiz, Baba Fighani, Na’ili, Mir Dard, Bulleh Shah, and Ghalib.

PQ:  facility in at least one of the following:  Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Punjabi, or another language with a classical Islamic tradition of love poetry.

Ident. ISLM 40100 / CMLT 40100 / NEHC 40600

 

RLVC 57715 Brauer Seminar: Gender and Sexuality in the Study of Religion
W, 11:30 am - 2:20 pm, MEM LIB

Our seminar is a team-taught, interdisciplinary graduate level course focusing on gender and sexuality in the study of religion. Our aim is to provide theoretical concepts, tools and methods for students to analyze gender and sexuality across a variety of religious traditions, historical periods and literary genres. Divided into three parts – philosophy and psychoanalysis, anthropology and ethics, the course proceeds according to the areas of specialty offered by participating faculty members. Topics covered include the following: structuralist and poststructuralist approaches to sexual difference, political economy of sex, performativity theory, sociology of labor, race, sex and empire.

Enrollment by application only.

Religious Ethics

RETH 43900 Religion and Democracy
M, 1:30-4:20 pm, S200

This course will examine philosophical, sociological, and theological views on the role of religious commitments and religious communities in a democracy.  The focus will be on religion in American politics and activism, often in response to dramatic upheaval and social change.  Authors include Abraham Lincoln, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Dewey, John Courtney Murray, Reinhold Niebuhr, Martin Luther King Jr., Franklin Gamwell, Jeffrey Stout, and Nancy Rosenblum.  

*Limit: 18.  Students wishing to enroll are to petition Professor Miller, describing their background and stating their reasons for wishing to enroll in the seminar by December 15.  

 

 

RETH 45102 Religion, Medicine, and Ethics
T, 2:00-4:50 pm, S200

This course surveys the contributions of leading figures in mainstream bioethics along with new voices in the field.  We will examine authors who have shaped academic writing and public policy in the United States along with the recent efflorescence of bioethics in different cultural contexts.  Key topics include human experimentation, death and dying, organ transplantation, medicine and social justice, alternative healing practices, and reproductive technologies.  These issues link up with ideas about the body, identity, freedom, gender, and visions of human welfare. Sources draw from Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim and western philosophical materials.

RETH 3-100 Minor Classics in Ethics

This is an informal, non-credit reading group of RETH Faculty and all students interested in religious ethics to discuss minor classics in contemporary ethics, philosophy, and theology.  Discussions address a pre-circulated article for each meeting.  Selected articles have revitalized forgotten themes or have launched new problems for moral philosophy and religious ethics.   The 2017-18 academic year will return to the first of the two-year reading cycle.  No background is required. 

Sessions meet during the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th weeks of the quarter.  The day and time are TBD.   

No Credit - DO NOT REGISTER FOR THIS COURSE

Please send email contact information to Professor Richard Miller (  ) to gain access to the Google Drive, which posts the reading list and the readings in PDF.   

 

RETH 31200 History of Theological Ethics II
T/Th, 9:30-10:50 am, S106

This is the second part of a two-part history. It is conducted through the study of basic, classic texts. The course begins with the tumultuous period of the Reformation and the Renaissance arising from the so-called Middle Ages and so attention to rebirth of classical thought, the plight of women in the medieval world, various religious voices, and the rise of cities and even nations. The course then moves into the emergence of distinctly “modern” forms of ethics in the “Enlightenment,” through the romantic period and to the political, economic, and religious crises of the 20th century. The history ends with the emergence in the global field of the power interaction of the religions. While the golden thread of the history is the development and differentiation of Christian moral thinking, this is set within the complexity of traditions that intersect and often collide through centuries in Western thought. The course proceeds by lectures and discussion. Most readings are in translation. There will be a final examination. No previous work in theology, philosophy, or ethics is required but is suggested.

RETH 51301 Workshop: Law and Philosophy
M, 4:00-6:00 pm, Laird Bell Quadrangle F

The theme for 2017-18 is “Animal Rights and Environmental Ethics.” About half of the sessions will discuss philosophical and legal issues related to animal rights, and the other half will discuss issues of environmental ethics, focusing on the ethics of climate change. This is a seminar/workshop many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors. Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The course satisfies the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit. Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students. For winter and spring, continuing students only.

RETH 57715 Brauer Seminar: Gender and Sexuality in the Study of Religion
W, 11:30 am - 2:20 pm, MEM LIB

Our seminar is a team-taught, interdisciplinary graduate level course focusing on gender and sexuality in the study of religion. Our aim is to provide theoretical concepts, tools and methods for students to analyze gender and sexuality across a variety of religious traditions, historical periods and literary genres. Divided into three parts – philosophy and psychoanalysis, anthropology and ethics, the course proceeds according to the areas of specialty offered by participating faculty members. Topics covered include the following: structuralist and poststructuralist approaches to sexual difference, political economy of sex, performativity theory, sociology of labor, race, sex and empire.

Enrollment by application only.

Theology

THEO 43101 The Catholic Reformation
T/Th, 11:00 am - 12:20 pm, S201

This course analyzes early modern Catholicism and covers the years from 1400-1600.  The readings include treatises on the nature of the church, the role of dissent, the polemics against the Protestants, and the spirituality of this era.  The requirement for the course is a take-home examination. S

Ident. HCHR 43101

 
THEO 31200 History of Theological Ethics II
T/Th, 9:30-10:50 am S106

This is the second part of a two-part history. It is conducted through the study of basic, classic texts. The course begins with the tumultuous period of the Reformation and the Renaissance arising from the so-called Middle Ages and so attention to rebirth of classical thought, the plight of women in the medieval world, various religious voices, and the rise of cities and even nations. The course then moves into the emergence of distinctly “modern” forms of ethics in the “Enlightenment,” through the romantic period and to the political, economic, and religious crises of the 20th century. The history ends with the emergence in the global field of the power interaction of the religions. While the golden thread of the history is the development and differentiation of Christian moral thinking, this is set within the complexity of traditions that intersect and often collide through centuries in Western thought. The course proceeds by lectures and discussion. Most readings are in translation. There will be a final examination. No previous work in theology, philosophy, or ethics is required but is suggested.

THEO 43900 Luther and the Old Testament
T, 1:00-4:50 pm, MEM LIB