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New Course Offerings

Religious Studies

Spring 2016

RLST 1001.  Constructing Character: Becoming Ethical Leaders.  BAKER and GAY  (W 3:10-4:40) 

Ethical leaders take responsibility for leading their lives in ways that contribute to a more just world. They do the inner work necessary to construct a moral character, and the outer work necessary to contribute to the well being of others. This seminar focuses on developing this type of leadership, with emphasis on discovery of your particular values, goals, and gifts to contribute. Together we will consider questions such as: How can we create and then act in alignment with an inner moral compass? How can we negotiate the different perspectives of others to generate collaboration? How can we manage the stress caused by uncertainty, ambiguity and pressures to succeed? How can we be authentic to ourselves while serving the common good? We will use a narrative method to help us answer these questions. Engaging in character development, we will describe our ideal identities as ethical leaders in inspiring and guiding “self stories.” Our stories will be enriched through practices of self-reflection that increase self-awareness, self-regulation and motivation. And we will increase our abilities to put our particular plots into action by working on empathy and social intelligence, which help us empower others to become leaders themselves. The seminar begins with one 50-minute introductory session (January 13 3:10-4:00 pm) followed by eight 90-minute classes (3:10-4:40 pm on January 20 and 27; February 3, 10, 17 and 24; March 2 and 30). In each class, we will discuss theory (ideas and concepts from assigned reading and in class presentations), and practice using new knowledge (individual exercises and group activities).

RLST 1111.  Religion and Film in India.  TANEJA  (T 3:10-5:40)  

Cinema has often been compared to religion, creating its own worlds and mythologies, its own divinities, its own spaces of congregation. The parallel of religion and cinema could be taken even further in India, where actors and actresses have been deified, and where religious themes (such as reincarnation, miraculous intervention, and martyrdom) often underlie public secular entertainment. This course will use the prevalence of religion in Indian cinema to introduce students to key themes in Indian religion, as well as to the diversity of religions (such as Hindu, Islamic, and Sikh traditions) and religious practice in India. Each week students will watch a feature film in conversation with a primary or secondary text about religious life in India. In the seminar we will explore the connections between the text and the film, and students will have regular writing assignments to develop their understanding of Indian religions, and their thoughts about the relations between religion, culture, and mass media.

RLST 3941.  Religion, Science, and Evolution.  GAY  (TR 11:10-12:15)  –  SBS

RLST 3941 is a new course. Section one is on Darwin's core concepts of evolution. Two is on the response to Darwin by religionists, among many. Three is on contemporary uses of Darwinian theory to model religion and other value systems. Four is on attempts to mimic human thinking using computers, e.g., IBM's "Watson" system, which won a famous "Jeopardy" game against human opponents. Five is on implications for religion and ethics.

RLST 4970.  Majors Colloquium.  STEWART  (W 3:10-4:00) 

“Majors Colloquium” is designed to initiate the student into the full range of professional activities in the study of religion. Students will learn to deliver both written and oral reviews of published works, hone research skills and field methods, explore practical issues of preparing a paper for publication as an article, and extend the skills of the formal study of religion to various forms of cultural production, such as film, visual art, music, and web-based activities. The content of this course will vary from term to term. May be repeated for credit twice for a total of 3 credit hours. Open only to majors. [Course Guide in PDF

JS 1111.  Gender and Sexuality in Jewish Literature.  TAMBER-ROSENAU  (MWF 2:10-3:00)  –  INT

In this writing course, we will examine representations of gender, sexuality, and desire in biblical and early Jewish literature. We will focus particularly on texts from the Second Temple Period (ca. late 6th century B.C.E. through 2nd century C.E.) We will structure discussions and assignments around close readings of texts from this period, interrogating how the texts construct ideas of womanhood and manhood, sexual desire, and appropriate and inappropriate expressions of sexuality. In addition to the ancient texts, we will read modern writings about gender and sexuality. Students will develop their writing skills, focusing in particular on finding, using, and citing primary and secondary sources, making effective arguments, and structuring an academic essay. No prior knowledge of the Bible, Jewish studies, or gender studies is required.