REL 102
JWST 102/ REL 102 - Introduction to Jewish Studies

This course exposes students to major approaches to the interdisciplinary field of Jewish Studies. We will focus our attention, in sequence, on different objects of analysis: Jews, Jewish languages, Jewish texts, Jewish politics, and Jewish cultural expression. In each case, we will ask what it means to call that kind of object (a person, word, political idea, work of culture, etc.) Jewish, and we will examine some of the most influential answers that have been presented, from antiquity to modernity. By the end of the semester, students will have a solid grounding in the field as a whole and a roadmap for pursuing the study of Jews, Judaism, and Jewish culture at Wellesley (and beyond).

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 30

Crosslisted Courses: REL 10 2

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Lambert

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

REL 104
JWST 104/ REL 104 - Study of Hebrew Bible/Old Test

Critical introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, studying its role in the history and culture of ancient Israel and its relationship to ancient Near Eastern cultures. Special focus on the fundamental techniques of literary, historical, and source criticism in modern scholarship, with emphasis on the Bible's literary structure and compositional evolution.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Crosslisted Courses: JWST 10 4

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Jarrard

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

REL 105
REL 105 - Study of the New Testament

The writings of the New Testament as diverse expressions of early Christianity. Close reading of the texts, with particular emphasis upon the Gospels and the letters of Paul. Treatment of the literary, theological, and historical dimensions of the Christian scriptures, as well as of methods of interpretation. The beginnings of the break between the Jesus movement and Judaism and the challenges posed by Roman rule will be specially considered.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Jarrard

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 108
REL 108 - Intro to Asian Religions

An introduction to the major religions of India, Tibet, China, and Japan with particular attention to universal questions such as how to overcome the human predicament, how to perceive ultimate reality, and what is the meaning of death and the end of the world. Materials taken from Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto. Comparisons made, when appropriate, with Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 40

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Kodera

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Summer; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

REL 111Y
REL 111Y - FYS: Jesus of Nazareth

This introductory course focuses on Jesus of Nazareth. We will study key texts within the Jewish and Christian Bibles, examining not only their composition in the context of empire and diasporic Judaism in the ancient world, but also how they are still used to debate contemporary ethical and political actions. We will consider 1) biblical texts in their historical context and their earliest interpretations; 2) recent trends in Jesus studies, including feminist, queer, and postcolonial interpretation; Black Jesus; and contemporary popular culture; 3) Jesus in global, pluralistic, and multi-religious contexts.

Visits to the Wellesley Davis Museum and the Harvard Art and Near Eastern Museums are planned.

All persons and perspectives are welcome in this class. Previous knowledge or personal experience with the Bible or religious traditions is neither presumed nor necessary.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 12

Prerequisites: None. Open to First-Years only.

Instructor: Jarrard

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; HS - Historical Studies

Other Categories: FYS - First Year Seminar

Typical Periods Offered: Every three years

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

REL 119Y
PEAC 119Y/ REL 119Y - FYS: Hiroshima Nagasaki Yasukuni

Discussion based seminar deals with Japan both as a victim and as a victimizer during and in the aftermath of the World War II. It probes what drove Japan to aspire toward world domination; how the "ultimate bomb to end all wars" was used twice on Japan in August 1945; and how the Japanese "war criminals" are enshrined today at Yasukuni as "divine beings"; and how Yasukuni Shinto Shrine remains a major barrier in establishing peace between Japan and its Asian neighbors. The seminar is intended for students interested in the comparative and historical study of religion, Peace and Justice Studies, and East Asian Studies. Requirements: active participation in discussion, joint paper writing and presentation; no exams.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Crosslisted Courses: PEAC 119Y

Prerequisites: None. Open to First-Years only.

Instructor: Kodera

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Other Categories: FYS - First Year Seminar

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 200
REL 200 - Theories of Religion

An exploration of theoretical models and methods employed in the study of religions. Particular attention to approaches drawn from anthropology, sociology, and psychology. Readings taken from writers of continuing influence in the field: William James and Sigmund Freud, Max Weber and Émile Durkheim, Clifford Geertz and Victor Turner, Carl Jung and Mircea Eliade, Karl Marx and Paul Ricœur.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 30

Prerequisites: None. Not open to students who have taken REL 300.

Instructor: Marini

Distribution Requirements: SBA - Social and Behavioral Analysis; REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes: This course is also offered at the 300-level as REL 300.

REL 201
JWST 201/ REL 201 - Bible and Popular Culture

Topic for Spring 2023: Satan

Topics in this course explores the Bible and its uses in contemporary popular culture. In Spring 2023, we will focus on Satan and popular culture. We will examine related concepts of demons and spirit possession in the biblical world along with their history of interpretation. Key biblical texts include the book of Job, Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness, and apocalyptic literature. In addition to the (re)creation of Satan in the medieval and early modern period, we will also cover popular case studies including Lil Nas X, Southpark, DMX, Hellboy, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Rick & Morty, and The Simpsons. This class has no prerequisites; no previous knowledge of the Bible is presumed.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Crosslisted Courses: JWST 20 1

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Jarrard

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes: This is a topics course and can be taken more than once for credit as long as the topic is different each time.

REL 206
REL 206/ SAS 206 - The Hindu Worlds

This course will examine the major aspects of the constellation of distinct but interrelated religious traditions of South Asia generally entitled “Hinduism.” The course will have three foci. One will be the sacred texts as well as the intersecting ritual, philosophical, and devotional currents that laid the historical foundations of this tradition and form integral parts of it to this day. These texts and currents are also linked to aesthetic expressions that form a core of Hindu religious life. The second focus will be on Hindu social organization and issues of political identity. This will cover the Hindu social divisions of caste, gendered roles and rituals as well as issues related to Hindu nationalism. The third focus will be on practices followed by and negotiations made by diaspora Hindus, especially those settled in America. This area will focus especially on Hindu responses to diversity and interfaith dialogue.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Crosslisted Courses: REL 20 6

Prerequisites:

Instructor: Shukla-Bhatt

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 209
JWST 209/ REL 209 - The Bible & Film

This course explores the use of biblical stories and themes in cinema. We will begin with films based on selected biblical texts including the creation accounts, the exodus, the books of Ruth and Job, the life of Jesus. We will then examine cinematic treatments of biblical themes: roles of women and children, apocalypse, monsters, and suffering. No previous knowledge of film or the Bible is assumed; the course offers an introduction to key modes of biblical interpretation including historical criticism, feminist, womanist, literary and comparative approaches. Films include East of Eden, Moonlight, Prince of Egypt, The Shape of Water, The Color Purple, Get Out, Apocalypse Now, and JoJo Rabbit.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Crosslisted Courses: JWST 20 9

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Jarrard

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; ARS - Visual Arts, Music, Theater, Film and Video

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 214
AFR 242/ REL 214 - New World Afro-Atlantic Religions

With readings, documentary films, discussions, and lectures, this course will examine the complex spiritual beliefs and expressions of peoples of African descent in Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, and North America. The course surveys African diasporic religions such as Candomble, Santeria, Voodoo, Shango, and African American religions. Attention will be paid to how diasporic Africans practice religion for self-definition, community building, and sociocultural critique, and for reshaping the religious and cultural landscapes of the Americas.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 30

Crosslisted Courses: REL 214

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Fitzpatrick

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

REL 215
REL 215 - Christian Spiritual Classics

A study of Christian spirituality as presented in perennial favorites, including Augustine’s Confessions (4th c.), Thomas a Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ (15th c.), Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle, (16th c.), Therese of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul (19th c.) , C. S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters (20th c.), and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Strength to Love (20th c.). We will consider the continuity, change, and diversity of understandings of God and humans, the body and the soul, the freedom of the will, the need for action, and the role of personal religious experiences. We will conclude with 21st- century works, such as Richard Rohr’s The Universal Christ and Pamela Lightsey’s Our Lives Matter.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Elkins

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 216
REL 216 - Christianity to 1600

From the church of the martyrs to Medieval Christendom and the 16th-century reformations, Christians debated questions still asked today: who is Christ, and why does he matter? What is good, and what is evil? Do we will freely? Is our reason trustworthy? What do the Scriptures mean? Do mystics help us know God? We will read autobiographies, saints’ lives, letters, visionary literature, and theology. We will study Benedictines, Franciscans, Jesuits, crusades, pilgrimages, art, and music. Material will be from the Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Reformed traditions. Authors will include Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, Martin Luther, and John Calvin.  

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Elkins

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 218
AMST 218/ REL 218 - Religion in America

A study of the religions of Americans from the colonial period to the present. Special attention to the impact of religious beliefs and practices in the shaping of American culture and society. Representative readings from the spectrum of American religions including Aztecs and Conquistadors in New Spain, Puritans; the Evangelical and Enlightenment movements; Native American prophets; enslaved persons, slave owners, and abolitionists in the antebellum period; ethnic and assimilationist Catholics and Jews; the Black Church; Fundamentalists and Liberals; American Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus; and new internet sectarians.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: AMST 218

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Marini

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 219
MUS 219/ REL 219 - Christian Ritual & Sacred Arts

Ritual is a fundamental and often controversial aspect of the Christian tradition. It is also a remarkably complex form of religious expression that integrates language, tone, gesture, image, and design. This course examines the major forms of Christian ritual, their expression in art, architecture, music, and literature, and the methods used in interpreting them in contemporary scholarship. We will examine Christianity’s principal rituals from their beginnings in baptism (initiation) and the eucharist (communion), through monastic chant and the Roman mass, to Protestant liturgies, sacred song, and revivalism, and ritual in contemporary social media. As a special feature, we will study specific sites from various historical periods in order to learn about how art, architecture, and music articulated these ritual forms, using theoretical models from the emerging field of Ritual Studies.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 30

Crosslisted Courses: MUS 219

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Marini

Distribution Requirements: ARS - Visual Arts, Music, Theater, Film and Video; REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

REL 220
AMST 228/ REL 220 - Religious Themes Amer Fiction

Human nature and destiny, good and evil, love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, tradition and assimilation, salvation and damnation, God and fate in The Scarlet Letter, Moby-Dick, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and contemporary novels including Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima, Allegra Goodman’s Kaaterskill Falls, and Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine. Reading and discussion of these texts as expressions of diverse religious cultures in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: AMST 228

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Marini

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; LL - Language and Literature

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

REL 223
CAMS 243/ REL 223/ SAS 243 - Love in Indian Cinema

This course explores the treatment of various types of love – for the beloved, the family, the community, the motherland or the divine – in Indian cinema, the largest film industry in the world. We examine Indian cinema's early phase in the colonial milieu, its flourishing in popular and art films since the 1950s, and contributions of diaspora Indians. We will watch films by prominent directors of the postcolonial era who articulated India’s national identity as well as the socio-religious and political aspirations of its common people integrating indigenous sacred symbolism. We will consider how several films reflect a religious sensitivity in portraying the motherland almost as a divine entity worthy of worship. Paying particular attention to the distinctive grammar of song, dance and intense drama, we will analyze the ways in which the film-makers reworked long-prevailing South Asian conventions of narration and performance in a medium imported from Europe. 

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: REL 223,CAMS 243

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Shukla-Bhatt

Distribution Requirements: ARS - Visual Arts, Music, Theater, Film and Video

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

REL 225
REL 225 - Women in Christianity

Martyrs, mystics, witches, wives, virgins, reformers, and ministers: a survey of women in Christianity from its origins until today. Focus on women's writings, both historical and contemporary. Special attention to modern interpreters-feminists, womanists, Latinas, and LGBTQi Christians.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Elkins

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

REL 226
REL 226 - The Virgin Mary

The role of the Virgin Mary in historical and contemporary Christianity. Topics include Mary in the Bible, early Christian writings, devotion to her in the Middle Ages, her role in Islam, artistic productions in her honor, debates about her body and her power, and her "appearances" at Guadalupe, Lourdes, and Fatima, and in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Attention also to the relation between concepts of Mary and attitudes toward virginity, the roles of women, and "the feminization of the deity."

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Elkins

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

REL 227
MUS 227/ REL 227 - Sacred Sounds South Asia

South Asia is among the world’s most religiously diverse regions. It is also home to several musical genres that serve specific roles in various religious traditions. This course invites leading performers of specialized musical practices to guide our exploration of stylistic commonalities and differences. The workshops will help us reflect on how emotions evoked by sacred sounds are associated with healing and psychological wellness as held by practitioners and devotees. We will examine Sufi Qawwali, Buddhist chant, Sikh kirtan, and other musical genres of minority religious communities. A musical background is not necessary. Coursework involves focused listening, reading across fields adjacent to and including Religious Studies and Music, short writing assignments, and discussion. Students may also create their own compositions and performances. A hands-on mode of learning offers a special opportunity to examine notions of “sacred” and “sound” across prominent (yet little known) genres of South Asian music.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 18

Crosslisted Courses: MUS 227

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Shukla Bhatt and Bhogal

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; ARS - Visual Arts, Music, Theater, Film and Video

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

REL 230
REL 230 - Ethics

An inquiry into the nature of values and the methods of moral decision-making. Examination of selected ethical issues, including self-interest and freedom, the common good, capitalism and economic inequality, just war theory, racism, the environmental crisis, the hazards of digital technology, and religious morality.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Marini

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 231
AMST 234/ REL 231 - Rad Individual and Common Good

There is a deep crisis of values at the heart of contemporary culture in the United States. On one hand, the nation is unquestionably committed to the principle of radical individualism, marked especially by free-market capitalism, consumerism, and increasingly violent libertarian politics. On the other hand, increasing competition and diversity require principles of the common good to sustain the cultural coherence, social media, and environmental stability necessary for civil society to function effectively. This course will investigate the conflict between these two sets of values through theoretical readings and the inspection of public life in the United States in the twenty-first century. It asks whether there ought to be any constraints on individualism that can be justified by an appeal to the common good and, if so, what those constraints should be.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: AMST 234

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Marini

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; SBA - Social and Behavioral Analysis

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

REL 233
ANTH 233/ REL 233 - The Anthropology of Religion

This course offers an introduction to the anthropological study of human religious experience, with particular emphasis on religious and ritual practice in a comparative perspective. What is the relationship between religion and society? Can categories such as “religion” and “the sacred” be legitimately applied to all cultures? Does religion necessarily imply belief in a God or sacred beings? We will concentrate on a range of small-scale, non-Western, cultures for much of the semester, returning to religious experience in the modern industrial world and the concept of "world religions" at the course’s end.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: REL 233

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Walters

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; SBA - Social and Behavioral Analysis

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 236
ANTH 236/ REL 236 - Divine Madness

This course explores anthropological, religious, and psychiatric perspectives on mental health and mental illness, with careful attention to varied constructions of "madness", treatment, and healing across human cultures. We begin with comparative questions: are there universal standards of positive mental and emotional functioning? Are there overall commonalities in approaches to psychic and emotional disturbances? What is the role of spirituality? After considering the history of ‘madness’ in the West, we consider early anthropological and religious models of "madness" elsewhere. We next turn to ritualized therapeutic interventions in small-scale indigenous societies and consider a range of case studies from around the world. We conclude with a unit on culture and mental health in the United States and the ‘globalization” of American models of the psyche.  

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: ANTH 236

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Walters

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; SBA - Social and Behavioral Analysis

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

REL 240
CLCV 240/ REL 240 - Romans, Jews, and Christians

At the birth of the Roman Empire virtually all of its inhabitants were practicing polytheists. Three centuries later, the Roman Emperor Constantine was baptized as a Christian and his successors eventually banned public sacrifices to the gods and goddesses who had been traditionally worshipped around the Mediterranean. This course will examine Roman-era Judaism, Graeco-Roman polytheism, and the growth of the Jesus movement into the dominant religion of the late antique world.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: CLCV 240

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Geller

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 241
REL 241/ SAS 241 - Courtesans in South Asia

Mystifying and complex, the figure of courtesan has appeared as the foil to the virtuous and docile wife in Sanskrit and Tamil classics of ancient India, early Urdu novels, and literary works of several South Asian languages. Since the mid-twentieth century, the courtesan has appeared in films produced in South Asia as a self-sacrificing character with a strong will. In this course, we will examine literary works in South Asian languages since the antiquity with courtesans as central characters and films based on them. For each work, we will first consider the figure of the courtesan in view of the cultural context of the time of its composition and various theories of literary criticism. We will then analyze the film based on the work in terms of how the interpretation of the character here compares with the literary work.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Crosslisted Courses: REL 241

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Shukla-Bhatt

Distribution Requirements: ARS - Visual Arts, Music, Theater, Film and Video; LL - Language and Literature

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 242
REL 242 - Archaeology of the Biblical World

An examination of the ways in which archaeological data contribute to the understanding of the history of ancient Israel and the Jewish and Christian communities of the Roman Empire. We shall explore such archaeologically dependent topics as the origins of ancient Israel, goddess worship in Iron Age Israel, Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Galilee in the time of Jesus, Roman-era leadership positions of Jewish and Christian women, and monumental architecture in Jerusalem. We shall also consider the complex relationships between archaeology and Biblical Studies and archaeology and nationalism. In addition to the Davis Museum, visits to the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East and the Museum of Fine Arts are tentatively planned.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None. Not open to students who have taken REL 342.

Instructor: Geller

Distribution Requirements: HS - Historical Studies; REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes: This course is also offered at the 300-level as REL 342.

REL 243
REL 243 - Women in the Biblical World

The roles and images of women in the Bible, and in early Jewish and Christian literature, examined in the context of the ancient societies in which these documents emerged. Special attention to the relationships among archaeological, legal, and literary sources in reconstructing the status of women in these societies.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Geller

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 244
REL 244 - Jerusalem: The Holy City

An exploration of the history, archaeology, and architecture of Jerusalem from the Bronze Age to the present. Special attention both to the ways in which Jerusalem's Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities transformed Jerusalem in response to their religious and political values and also to the role of the city in the ongoing Middle East and Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Geller

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

REL 245
JWST 245/ REL 245 - The Holocaust & the Nazi State

An examination of the origins, character, course, and consequences of Nazi antisemitism during the Third Reich.  Special attention to Nazi racialist ideology, and how it shaped policies that affected such groups as the Jews, the disabled, the Roma, Poles and Russians, Afro-Germans, and gay men.  Consideration of the impact of Nazism on women and on the German medical and teaching professions.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: JWST 245

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Geller

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

REL 250
REL 250 - Research or Individual Study

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 30

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

Typical Periods Offered: Spring; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring; Fall

REL 250H
REL 250H - Research or Individual Study

Units: 0.5

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

Typical Periods Offered: Spring; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall; Spring

REL 251
REL 251/ SAS 251 - Religions in South Asia

An examination of the religious life in South Asia as expressed in sacred texts and arts, religious practices, arts and institutions in a historical manner. The course concentrates on the origins and development of Hindu traditions, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, as well as integration of Islam and Christianity in the religious landscape of South Asia. Interactions among the diverse communities of the region will also form a major theme.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: REL 251

Prerequisites:

Instructor: Shukla-Bhatt

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 253
REL 253 - Buddhist Thought and Practice

A study of Buddhist views of the human predicament and its solution, using different teachings and forms of practice from India, Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, and Japan. Topics including the historic Buddha's sermons, Buddhist psychology and cosmology, meditation, bodhisattva career, Tibetan Tantricism, Pure Land, Zen, and dialogues with and influence on the West.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 30

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Kodera

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

REL 254
REL 254 - Chinese Thought and Religion

Continuity and diversity in the history of Chinese thought and religion from the ancient sage-kings of the third millennium B.C.E. to the present. Topics include: Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese Buddhism, folk religion, and their further developments and interaction. Materials drawn from philosophical and religious and literary works.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Kodera

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 255
REL 255 - Japanese Religion and Culture

Constancy and change in the history of Japanese religious thought and its cultural and literary expression from the prehistoric "age of the gods" to contemporary Japan. An examination of Japanese indebtedness to, and independence from, Korea and China, assimilation and rejection of the West, and preservation of indigenous tradition. Topics include: Shinto, distinctively Japanese interpretations of Buddhism, neo-Confucianism, their role in modernization and nationalism, Western colonialism, and modern Japanese thought as a crossroad of East and West.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Kodera

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 257
REL 257 - Contemplation and Action

An exploration of the relationship between the two polar aspects of being religious. Materials drawn from across the globe, both culturally and historically. Topics include: self-cultivation and social responsibility, solitude and compassion, human frailty as a basis for courage, anger as an expression of love, nonviolence, Western adaptations of Eastern spirituality, meditation and the environmental crisis. Readings selected from Confucius, Gautama Buddha, Ryokan, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Heschel, Dag Hammarskjöld, Simone Weil, Thomas Merton, Thich Nhat Hanh, Henri Nouwen, Beverly Harrison, Benjamin Hoff, Ruben Habito, and others.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Kodera

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 259
REL 259 - Christianity in Asia

History of the Christian tradition in South and East Asia from the first century to the present. Emphasis on the Christian impact, both positive and negative, on Asian societies; why Asia rejected Western Christianity; and the development of uniquely Asian forms of Christian belief, practice, and sociopolitical engagement. Topics include: Thomas's supposed "apostolic mission" to Kerala, India in the first century; the Nestorian "heretics" in T'ang China; symbiosis of Jews, Muslims, and Christians in ninth-century China; the two sixteenth-century Jesuits (Francis Xavier and Matteo Ricci); Spanish colonialism and the Roman Catholics of the Philippines; the 26 martyrs of Japan (1597); the Taiping Rebellion; Uchimura's "No Church Christianity"; Horace Allen in Korea; Kitamori's "Pain of God Theology"; Endo's "Silence of God"; India's "untouchables" and Christianity; Mother Teresa of Calcutta; the Three Self Movement in the People's Republic of China; Korea's Minjung Theology; and the rise of Asian American Christianity.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites:

Instructor: Kodera

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 260
MES 260/ REL 260 - Religion & Culture in Muslim Soc

Historical survey of Muslim-majority societies and the diverse cultural forms produced within them from the seventh century to the beginnings of the modern period. Topics include literary and artistic expression, architecture, institutions, philosophical and political thought, religious thought and practice.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: MES 260

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes: Normally alternates with REL 262.

REL 261
MES 261/ REL 261 - Cities in the Islamic World

An exploration of urban forms and culture in Muslim societies from Islamic late antiquity to the present. The course examines and critiques concepts of 'the Arab city' and ‘the Islamic city' while focusing on elements of continuity and change in particular cities, such as Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, Istanbul, Isfahan, Samarqand, Lucknow and Lahore. Topics include migration, settlement, and the construction of new cities; conversion; the emergence of ‘holy cities' as centres for pilgrimage, religious education and Islamic legal scholarship; sacred space and architecture; religious diversity in urban environments; the impact of colonialism; post-colonial developments; modern and contemporary environmental issues; renewal and preservation.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Crosslisted Courses: MES 261

Prerequisites: None. Not open to students who have taken MES 365/REL 365.

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes: This course is also offered at the 300-level as MES 365/REL 365.

REL 262
REL 262 - Formation of Islamic Tradition

Historical study of the Islamic tradition, from its beginnings in Arabia through its shaping in the seventh to tenth centuries in the diverse and newly integrated regions of Western and Central Asia and North Africa. Topics include the sacred sources of the Islamic religious tradition, the Prophet and the Qur'an; the formulation of religious law, ethics, theology, and philosophy; varied patterns of piety and mysticism; and the development of Sunni and Shi'i understandings of Islam and Islamic history. Particular attention to the diversity within the Islamic tradition, its intercultural contacts, and its continuing processes of reinterpretation. The course also addresses approaches, methods, issues, and new directions in the study of Islam and Muslim societies.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes: Normally alternates with REL 260.

REL 263
MES 263/ REL 263 - Islam in the Modern World

A study of the modern history of the Islamic religion and its interaction with historical forces in shaping developments in Muslim societies from the late eighteenth century to the present. The course explores the emergence and evolution of religious movements and discourses in the context of the colonial and postcolonial periods, with particular attention to the histories of modern nation-states, such as Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia. Readings encompass a variety of perspectives and address a range of topics, including religious practice, modes of interpretation, matters of governance and the state, economic issues, gender and gender relations, and the participation of women in various arenas of public life. Islam is explored as a diverse and dynamic religious tradition that is responsive to change, and enquires into the divergent understandings of religion represented in a variety of modern and contemporary contexts.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Crosslisted Courses: MES 263

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

REL 264
MES 264/ REL 264 - Minorities in the Ottoman Empire

This course explores the religious, social, and cultural interactions between the internal aspects of Muslim and non-Muslim religious communities and the formal structures of the state in the Ottoman Empire (1299–1923), which, until the nineteenth century, constituted one of the most religiously diverse societies in Europe and Asia. We will study the religious cultures of the Pax Ottomana of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as the gradual dissolution of the multi-religious Ottoman Empire during the last two centuries. The course will cover a wide range of topics, including Ottoman palace and state institutions; colonialism; pietism, confessionalization, and conversion practices; Greek and Armenian Christians, Alevite Muslims, Jews, and Kurds; reform and repression; the status of Hagia Sophia; and questions of genocide and political representation.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: MES 264

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Balikcioglu

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 265
MES 265/ REL 265 - Rel, Pol, Cult in Mod Turkey

This course examines religion, politics, and culture in Turkey from the late Ottoman Empire to the present. Beginning with the 19th-century Ottoman political and military reforms toward Westernization, we will explore the formation of modern Turkish national identity and the role of Islam in it, as well as recent and contemporary social and civil rights movements in the context of global trends and world politics. Contemporary topics include Anatolian pop/rock, Arabesque music, internal migration, Green Pine film industry, food culture, German guest workers, recent novels and poetry, and their place in the regional economic challenges that Turkey is confronting today. All readings will be in English.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: MES 265

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Balikcioglu

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 266
HIST 285/ REL 266 - Ottoman State/Society 1300-1923

This course explores the emergence of the Ottoman state from a frontier principality into a world empire. Topics include pre-Ottoman Anatolia; frontier society; methods of conquest; centralization and organization of power; religion, architecture, and literature; land regime and peasantry; urbanization; and relations with European Empires as well as other Islamic states. Particular attention will be given to the institutionalization of religion in Ottoman state and society, including the employment of Sharia in political decision-making and legal judgments, and to the treatment of religious minorities in the empire. Readings from primary source texts (in English) and their recent interpretations.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: HIST 285

Prerequisites:

Instructor: Balikcioglu

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 267
MES 267/ REL 267 - Muslim Ethics

How have Muslims, over the course of a millennium and a half and in strikingly different environments and circumstances, conceived of human nature, moral conduct and responsibility, and the good life; and how have they formulated, debated and applied ethical principles? This course explores these questions with reference to the rich materials that have informed the religious cultures of Muslim communities, including the sacred sources of the Qur'an and the Prophet's example, the reception, interpretation and development of late antique moral philosophies and wisdom literatures, the evolving corpora of legal and theological scholarship, and the elaboration of rationally based ethical systems. Issues include charity, the environment, gender, dispute resolution, violence and non-violence.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Crosslisted Courses: MES 267

Prerequisites: None. Not open to students who have taken MES 347/REL 347.

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes: This course is also offered at the 300-level as MES 347/REL 347.

REL 268
REL 268 - Religion and Culture in Egypt

An exploration of Egyptian history, with an emphasis on religious and cultural dimensions, from late antiquity and the rise of Islam to the present. Topics include the adoption of the Arabic language; religious diversity and conversion; the emergence of distinctive social-cultural forms in Egypt's urban, coastal, desert and rural areas; evolving understandings of and responses to the Pharaonic past; and the gradual transformation of Cairo, from a garrison town in the early Islamic period to a pre-eminent commercial, intellectual, cultural and artistic capital and a megalopolis in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Attention to Egypt's interactions with its neighbours in the eastern Mediterranean, especially Syria; Egypt's experience of the Crusades and colonialism, and especially its relations with Britain and France; and the challenges of the twenty-first century, including conservation of the natural and built environments.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites: None. Not open to students who have taken REL 348.

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes: This course is also offered at the 300-level as REL 348 with additional assignments.

REL 269
REL 269 - Religion and Culture in Iran

An exploration of the history of Iran and its peoples from antiquity to the present. Topics include cultural and religious life; social and economic developments; government and court politics; the interactions among rural, urban, and nomadic communities; the lives and roles of women; commerce, cultural exchange, and the impact on Iran of European imperial rivalries; the forging of the nation-state, discontent and dissent; the Islamic Revolution, post-revolutionary Iran; and the Iranian diaspora.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 270
REL 270 - Religions of the Silk Road

An exploration of the contacts and interactions among the major religious communities of Eurasia especially as facilitated by trade, travel and pilgrimage along the 'Silk Road'. After initial consideration of the idea of the 'Silk Road' and the history of its 'discovery', the course focuses on commerce and contacts in specific historical periods from antiquity to the present. Readings include sacred texts (including Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian, Daoist, Islamic and Zoroastrian texts), as well as merchants', travellers' and pilgrims' accounts. The course includes substantial attention to the material cultures and artistic works produced by the religious communities of the Silk Road.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 281
REL 281/ SAS 211 - Sacred Arts of South Asia

South Asia is one of the most religiously diverse regions of the world where Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Christian, Jewish and native traditions have co-existed for centuries. The vibrancy of its cultural life derives greatly from artistic expressions of devotion in its multiple traditions. Yet, the sacred artistic expressions are not limited to the sphere of religion. This course explores visual as well as performative sacred art forms of South Asia including architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and dance from a historical perspective. The exploration focuses on symbolic vocabulary of various art forms, their significance as media of religious/spiritual knowledge, and their role as sites of social encounters.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Crosslisted Courses: REL 281

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Shukla-Bhatt

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; ARS - Visual Arts, Music, Theater, Film and Video

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 300
REL 300 - Theories of Religion

What is religion? How does it work? Why does it influence individuals and societies? This course addresses these questions through an exploration of theoretical models and methods employed in the academic study of religions, with particular attention to approaches drawn from anthropology, sociology, psychology, and history. Readings taken from classical writers of continuing influence in the field, as well as contemporary scholars grappling with the changing forms and functions of religion today. A 300-level option is available with advanced readings and assignments. 

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 12

Prerequisites: One 200-level course in Religion. Not open to students who have taken REL 200.

Instructor: Marini

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes: This course is also offered at the 200-level as REL 200.

REL 301
REL 301/ SAS 301 - Sem: Religion in Modern S.Asia

As a world Region, South Asia provides an important locus to understand the dynamics of religion and modernity because of its long religious history and immense diversity. In many parts of South Asia, encounter with modernity (as broadly defined) occurred in the context of colonial rule. The nature of the early processes of modernization continues to impact the social and religious fabric of the region even today, often with deeply divisive implications. This seminar will examine processes related to religion in South Asia since the late 19th century to the present day. Along with the historical survey of events within South Asia, the implications of current world affairs and the processes of globalization for South Asia's religious landscape will also be examined.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 12

Crosslisted Courses: REL 30 1

Prerequisites: Two units at the 200 level in South Asia studies, or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Shukla-Bhatt

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

REL 302
REL 302/ SAS 302 - Narratives from South Asia

Narratives have long provided channels for shaping and reshaping of cultures around the world. South Asia has one of the largest collections of folktales, mythology, epics, and romances in the world. This course will explore traditional narratives from South Asia that have had significant cultural impact in the region. We will examine them in translations not only as channels for transmission of cultural values, but also as sites of debate through contested interpretations. Along with texts, performative traditions based on them and their use in identity politics will be discussed.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Crosslisted Courses: REL 30 2

Prerequisites: Two units at the 200 level in South Asia studies, or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Shukla-Bhatt

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; LL - Language and Literature

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

REL 303
REL 303/ SAS 303 - Sem: Models of Relig Pluralism

Turning religious diversity into vibrant pluralism is a challenge faced by many parts of the world today. This seminar will explore the development of pluralistic discourses, ideologies, and interactions in the history of South Asia and will consider lessons this history may have for other religiously diverse societies. Readings will include ancient texts; writings of Buddhist, Sufi, Sikh and Hindu saints of the medieval period; historical documents about policies of the Mogul emperor Akbar; and modern writings on pluralism by Gandhi and others. We will also discuss current scholarship on religious pluralism and visit interfaith organizations in the Boston area. Final projects will give students opportunities to interact with local South Asian religious communities and examine how engage with diversity in the diaspora.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Crosslisted Courses: REL 30 3

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Shukla-Bhatt

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 318
AMST 318/ REL 318 - Sem:The "Enemy Race" in WWII

A close examination of the rationale by the U.S. government for the incarceration of American citizens of Japanese ancestry, and Japanese nationals living in the United States and Latin America, after Japan's attack in December 1941 of Pearl Harbor. The course also examines the dynamics of overwhelming popular support for the incarceration, as well as the aftermath of the internment. The topics include Japan's rise as a colonial power, starting in the late nineteenth century; the place of Asian migrant workers and the "yellow peril"; life in the camps; the formation of the Japanese American Citizens League; the valor of the Japanese American soldiers in Europe during World War II; how the United States has since responded to its "enemies," especially after 9/11; changing immigration laws; race and politics in America.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Crosslisted Courses: REL 318

Prerequisites: One course in Asian American Studies, or in Asian Religions, or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Kodera

Distribution Requirements: HS - Historical Studies

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 319
AMST 319/ REL 319 - Sem: Religion, Law & Politics

A study of the relationships among religion, fundamental law, and political culture in the American experience. Topics include established religion in the British colonies, religious ideologies in the American Revolution, religion and rebellion in the Civil War crisis, American civil religion, and the New Religious Right. Special attention to the separation of church and state and selected Supreme Court cases on the religion clauses of the First Amendment. In addition, the class will monitor and discuss religious and moral issues in the 2022 elections.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Crosslisted Courses: AMST 319

Prerequisites: REL 200 or REL 217 or REL 218, or at least one 200-level unit in American Studies or in American history, sociology, or politics; or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Marini

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

REL 323
REL 323 - Seminar: Feminist Theologies

A study of contemporary women theologians' critiques and reinterpretations of Christianity - its Scriptures, its God, its teachings about human bodies and the earth - from second wave feminists to contemporary LGBTQI Christians. Special attention to African American, Latina, and Asian American authors. Consideration also of alternative concepts of divinity proposed by ecofeminists and devotees of goddesses.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 12

Prerequisites: One 200-level course in religion, women and gender studies, or a related subject.

Instructor: Elkins

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; SBA - Social and Behavioral Analysis

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes: Normally alternates with REL 326.

REL 326
REL 326 - Seminar: Liberation Theology

Fifty years ago, in that time of social and political turmoil, Christian theologians James Cone (United States), Leonardo Boff (Brazil), and Gustavo Gutierrez (Peru) described God as working actively for and with the racially, socially, and economically marginalized. Our course begins with this Liberation Theology of the 1970s and continues with developments of the 1980s (including Oscar Romero and the El Salvadoran martyrs). But the majority of the course focuses on more recent womanist, mujerista, Native American, ecofeminist, and LGBTQI theologians whose god opposes racism, sexism, heterosexism, cultural imperialism, and exploitation of the earth. Some attention also given to Engaged Buddhism, Radical Dharma, and Muslim and Jewish liberation theologies in the United States.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites: One 200-level course in religion, Latin American studies, or peace and justice studies.

Instructor: Elkins

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes: Normally alternates with REL 323.

REL 330
REL 330 - Sem: Religion and Violence

Is religion inherently violent, or do external forces like political factionalism and ethnic hostility exploit it to gain power? This course explores these and other questions to theorize the sources and manifestations of religious violence. Topics include the role of violence in sacred texts and traditions, intra- and interreligious conflicts, religion and nationalism, and religious violence in today's global society. Historical and contemporary examples selected from world religious traditions and global geography, with particular attention to the role of religion in the rise of violent American survivalist, paramilitary, and internet movements.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites: One of the following - HIST 205, REL 200, REL 230, PEAC 104, or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Marini

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; SBA - Social and Behavioral Analysis

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes: Normally alternates with REL 319.

REL 342
REL 342 - Archaeology Biblical World

An examination of the ways in which archaeological data contribute to the understanding of the history of ancient Israel and the Jewish and Christian communities of the Roman Empire. We shall explore such archaeologically dependent topics as the origins of ancient Israel, goddess worship in Iron Age Israel, Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Galilee in the time of Jesus, Roman-era leadership positions of Jewish and Christian women, and monumental architecture in Jerusalem. We shall also consider the complex relationships between archaeology and Biblical Studies and archaeology and nationalism. In addition to the Davis Museum, visits to the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East and the Museum of Fine Arts are tentatively planned.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: At least one unit in archaeology, Biblical studies, classical civilization, early Christianity, early Judaism, or permission of the instructor. Not open to students who have taken REL 242.

Instructor: Geller

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; HS - Historical Studies

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes: This course is also offered at the 200-level as REL 242.

REL 344
JWST 344/ REL 344 - Monuments & the Sacred

Why do people build monuments? How do they help and whom do they hurt? This seminar introduces approaches and case studies related to sacred monuments, monumentality, and memory from the ancient Mediterranean to the Confederate South. We will review current research in biblical studies, classics, archaeology, and sociology with a focus on physical monuments in the Bible, and in the ancient Near East, Greco-Roman antiquity, and up through the present. Case studies include historical monuments and artifacts such as the Law of Hammurabi, Confederate monuments, and obelisks of Mussolini; literary descriptions of artifacts including the Ten Commandments, cultic statues, and the Dead Sea Scrolls; and monument desecration and destruction including Roman condemnations of memory and #BlackLivesMatter protests. Possible trips to the MFA, and Harvard Art and Semitic Museums.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Crosslisted Courses: JWST 344

Prerequisites: A course in a relevant subject area such as religion, art history, Africana studies, Jewish studies, classics, American studies, sociology, or by permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Jarrard

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 345
REL 345 - Sem: Enslavement and the Bible

This seminar considers enslavement practices in the biblical world. Although we will focus on the ancient Middle East and Mediterranean from the Iron Age through the early Roman Empire (roughly 1200 BCE through 300 CE), we will frame problems of enslavement broadly to show how systems of group-based slavery and punishment practiced in the ancient world were enshrined in the biblical literature and then perpetuated throughout history. Our goal is not just to investigate the relationship and differences between these systems and second-wave chattel slavery during the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but also to interrogate how these ancient practices have informed, substantiated, and can elucidate contemporary institutions like systemic racism and the prison-industrial complex.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 12

Prerequisites: A course in a relevant subject area such as Religion, History, Africana Studies, Jewish Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Classics, or American Studies, or by permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Jarrard

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; HS - Historical Studies

Typical Periods Offered: Every three years

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

REL 347
MES 347/ REL 347 - Muslim Ethics

How have Muslims, over the course of a millennium and a half and in strikingly different environments and circumstances, conceived of human nature, moral conduct and responsibility, and the good life; and how have they formulated, debated and applied ethical principles? This course explores these questions with reference to the rich materials that have informed the religious cultures of Muslim communities, including the sacred sources of the Qur'an and the Prophet’s example, the reception, interpretation and development of late antique moral philosophies and wisdom literatures, the evolving corpora of legal and theological scholarship, and the elaboration of rationally based ethical systems. Issues are likely to include charity, the environment, gender, dispute resolution, violence and non-violence.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Crosslisted Courses: MES 347

Prerequisites: Open to Juniors and Seniors who have taken at least one unit in Middle Eastern Studies or Religion, and permission of the instructor. Not open to students who have taken MES 267/REL 267.

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes: This course is also offered at the 200-level as MES 267/REL 267.

REL 348
REL 348 - Religion and Culture in Egypt

An exploration of Egyptian history, with an emphasis on religious and cultural dimensions, from late antiquity and the rise of Islam to the present. Topics include the adoption of the Arabic language; religious diversity and conversion; the emergence of distinctive social-cultural forms in Egypt's urban, coastal, desert and rural areas; evolving understandings of and responses to the Pharaonic past; and the gradual transformation of Cairo, from a garrison town in the early Islamic period to a pre-eminent commercial, intellectual, cultural and artistic capital and a megalopolis in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Attention to Egypt's interactions with its neighbours in the eastern Mediterranean, especially Syria; Egypt's experience of the Crusades and colonialism, and especially its relations with Britain and France; and the challenges of the twenty-first century, including conservation of the natural and built environments.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites: Open to Juniors and Seniors who have taken at least one unit in Middle Eastern Studies or Religion, with permission of the instructor. Not open to students who have taken REL 268.

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes: This course is also offered at the 200-level as REL 268.

REL 350
REL 350 - Research or Individual Study

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. Open to juniors and seniors.

Typical Periods Offered: Spring; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall; Spring

REL 350H
REL 350H - Research or Individual Study

Units: 0.5

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

Typical Periods Offered: Spring; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall; Spring

REL 353
REL 353 - Sem: Zen Buddhism

Zen, the long known yet little understood tradition, studied with particular attention to its historical and ideological development, meditative practice, and expressions in poetry, painting, and martial arts.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites: At least one unit in Asian religions.

Instructor: Kodera

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes: Normally alternates with REL 354.

REL 357
REL 357 - Sem: Issues Comparative Religion

Promises and challenges in the evolving debate over how different truth claims and faith communities might seek tolerance, respect, and coexistence. How to reconcile tradition with innovation, doctrine with practice, contemplation with action, globalism with tribalism. Impediments of monotheism and "revealed scripture." The role of religion in prejudice and discrimination; and yet also inpeace and justice. The rise of Buddhism in the West and of Christianity in the East. Readings include works by Wilfred Cantwell Smith, John Hick, Uchimura Kanzo, Endo Shusako, Raimundo Panikkar, Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, and Diana Eck.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites:

Instructor: Kodera

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 359
MES 359/ REL 359 - Sem: Power, Legitimacy, Islam

How have Muslims understood the relationship between religion and politics at different moments in Islamic history? This seminar explores the interplay of religious principles and ritual practices with discourses of political legitimation and socio-political dissent in Muslim contexts. With examples drawn from the earliest period of Islamic history to the present day, the course examines religious authority and political leadership in Sunni and Shi'i contexts; the evolving religious-political meanings of the caliphate and the imamate; concepts of justice and injustice; power, authority and gender; dynastic rule and monarchy; and the position of Muslims living in non-Muslim-majority states. Particular attention to twentieth- and twenty-first-century responses to and appropriations of the pre-modern Islamic religious and political heritage.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Crosslisted Courses: MES 359

Prerequisites: At least one course in Religion, Middle Eastern Studies, History or Political Science, or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; HS - Historical Studies

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

REL 360
REL 360 - Senior Thesis Research

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: Permission of the department.

Instructor:

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes: Students enroll in Senior Thesis Research (360) in the first semester and carry out independent work under the supervision of a faculty member. If sufficient progress is made, students may continue with Senior Thesis (370) in the second semester.

REL 361
MES 361/ REL 361 - Sem: Studying Islam & Mid East

An exploration of the study and representation of Islam and West Asia/the Middle East in European and American scholarship, literature, arts, and journalism, from the Middle Ages to the present. Topics, studied in historical context, include medieval European images of Islam, translations of sacred texts and literary works, religious polemic, colonial histories and correspondence, Orientalism and post-Orientalism, new and emerging scholarship, the modern press and popular culture. Students will participate in focused discussion of primary sources and works of criticism, including Edward Said's Orientalism, and will undertake individual and group-based research projects.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: MES 361

Prerequisites: Open to Seniors, Juniors and Sophomores who have taken at least one unit of Middle Eastern studies, or by permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 362
MES 362/ REL 362 - Sem: Poetry in Islamic World

This course examines the themes of love, desire, and illumination in Islamicate poetry from early Arabic verse to the classical works of Persian, Turkish, and Urdu literatures. The concept of love, covering different shades of meaning from homoerotic to mystical, will be explored throughout the course. In addition to the classical poets of this canon—Rumi, Hafez, Kabir, Shaykh Galib, and Mirza Ghalib—we will also study lesser known women poets such as Jahan Malek Khatun and Mihri Hatun. Particular attention will be given to Sufi teachings about divine union and illumination. Primary source texts will be taken from various languages (Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu), but all readings will be in English.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Crosslisted Courses: MES 362

Prerequisites: One 200-level course in Comparative Literature, Religion, History, Middle Eastern Studies, or African Studies, or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Balikcioglu

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 363
MES 363/ REL 363 - Sem: Law in Muslim Societies

An exploration of law in theory and practice in Muslim communities from the early Islamic period to the present day. How have Muslim societies developed legal principles, discourses and practices? How have different kinds of law – the religious law or shari?a, legal rulings issued by the state, customary law – interacted at different times and in different localities? What have been the roles of scholars, jurists and judges? How have legal discourses and local practices interacted with issues of social and economic status, gender and sexuality? Areas of concentration include law in the diverse societies of the early modern empires (Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal), the legal interventions of colonial powers and their legacies, and contemporary legal discourses among Muslims in Muslim-majority and non-Muslim majority settings.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Crosslisted Courses: MES 363

Prerequisites: One unit at the 200 level in Religion, Middle Eastern Studies, History, Political Science or a related field.

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 364
REL 364 - Sem: Sufism: Islamic Mysticism

An interdisciplinary exploration of the diverse manifestations of mysticism in Islamic contexts. Topics include the experiences and writings of individual Sufis, including Rabi'a, al-Junayd, Hujwiri, Ibn al-‘Arabi, Jalal al-Din Rumi, ‘Abd al-Qadir Jilani, Ruzbihan Baqli; the formation of Sufi organizations and development of mystical paths; the place of Sufism in Islamic legal, theological, and philosophical traditions as well as in Muslim religious practice; Sufism in local contexts, both urban and rural; holy men and women; Sufism's permeation of artistic and aesthetic traditions, especially poetry and music; the reception, interpretations, and practices of Sufism in Western countries.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites: Open to juniors and seniors, students who have taken at least one unit in Middle Eastern studies or religion, and by permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 365
MES 365/ REL 365 - Cities in the Islamic World

An exploration of urban forms and culture in Muslim societies from Islamic late antiquity to the present. The course examines and critiques concepts of 'the Arab city' and ‘the Islamic city' while focusing on elements of continuity and change in particular cities, such as Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, Istanbul, Isfahan, Samarqand, Lucknow and Lahore. Topics include migration, settlement, and the construction of new cities; conversion; the emergence of ‘holy cities' as centres for pilgrimage, religious education and Islamic legal scholarship; sacred space and architecture; religious diversity in urban environments; the impact of colonialism; post-colonial developments; modern and contemporary environmental issues; renewal and preservation.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Crosslisted Courses: MES 365

Prerequisites: One unit in Middle Eastern Studies or Religion, or permission of the instructor. Not open to students who have taken MES 261/REL 261.

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: HS or REP - Historical Studies or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes: This course is also offered at the 200-level as MES 261/REL 261.

REL 366
PHIL 366/ REL 366 - Sem: Islamic Philosophy/Theology

This course addresses key problems in classical and post-classical Islamic thought through a wide range of readings in philosophy, theology, and mysticism. Major themes include free will, divine justice, the pre-eternity of the world, causality, miracles, bodily resurrection, and the problem of evil. Primary source readings (in English) will cover critical philosophical and theological controversies in early Islam and will also include the writings of major Muslim thinkers up to the beginning of the modern period.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Crosslisted Courses: PHIL 366

Prerequisites: One 200-level course in Religion, Philosophy, MES, SAS, or Med/Ren or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Bal?kç?o?lu

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 367
MES 367/ REL 367 - Seminar: Muslim Travelers

An exploration of the experiences and writings of Muslim travelers from the Middle Ages to the present in West, South, East, and Central Asia, North Africa, Europe, and America. Focus on the wide range of cultural encounters facilitated by journeys for purposes of pilgrimage, study, diplomacy, exploration, migration, and tourism, and on the varied descriptions of such encounters in forms of literary expression associated with travel, including poetry, pilgrimage manuals, narrative accounts, letters, memoirs, and graffiti. Authors include al-Biruni, Ibn Jubayr, Ibn Battuta, Evliya Çelebi, al-Tahtawi, Farahani, Abu Talib Khan, Asayesh.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Crosslisted Courses: MES 367

Prerequisites: Open to juniors and seniors, students who have taken at least one unit in Middle Eastern studies, and by permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; LL - Language and Literature

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 368
ARAB 368/ REL 368 - Writing Islamic History

How did the major Muslim historians of the pre-modern period think about the past and its relationship to the present? What genres of historical writing did they develop, what topics and themes did they address, who were their audiences, and how did they shape and reflect the mentalities of their times? This seminar explores the writing of history in Arabic, Persian and Turkish, with readings and analysis of historical accounts in English translation. Students who wish to take this course for credit in Arabic should have taken ARAB 202 or the equivalent and should enroll in ARAB 368.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Crosslisted Courses: ARAB 368

Prerequisites: If taking the course for credit in Arabic, ARAB 202 or equivalent.

Instructor: Marlow

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; LL - Language and Literature

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

REL 370
REL 370 - Senior Thesis

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: REL 360 and permission of the department.

Instructor:

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes: Students enroll in Senior Thesis Research (360) in the first semester and carry out independent work under the supervision of a faculty member. If sufficient progress is made, students may continue with Senior Thesis (370) in the second semester.

REL 380
REL 380 - Sem:Adv Topics in the Study of Religion

Reading and discussion of recent works in the study of religion noted for their innovative methods, theoretical significance, and current impact in the field. Students will incorporate these new perspectives into their individual research interests to produce a major interpretive essay in consultation with their classmates and the instructor.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor required.

Instructor: Marini

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes: This is a topics course and can be taken more than once for credit as long as the topic is different each time.