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Graduate course descriptions

Fall 2023

RELI 6001 Methods and Theory in the Study of Religion  
T. 14:45-17:30    L. Orr

This course introduces an array of important theoretical and methodological approaches in the study of religions and cultures, as well as specific examples that bring out the nuances of the variety of approaches we encounter. Together, we will explore the strengths and weakness of the questions asked and the manner of answering the questions. Further, we will ponder the ways in which both religious/cultural traditions and our scholarly framework shape our understanding of human activity. The aim of the course is to create a toolkit from which each student can draw in further coursework in their final project.

RELI 6002 The Devil in Literature, Art, & Culture
M. 14:45-17:30        L. DiTommaso

Adversary - Tempter - Fallen Angel - Deceiver - Evil Incarnate - King of Hell - Anti-Hero: shifting portrayals of Satan reflect changing ideas about the nature of the universe and our place in it.  This seminar explores the figure of the Devil in literature, art, and culture from its origin in biblical antiquity to the present day. Our primary focus is on the Devil in the modern era and in popular culture, and on representations of evil, hell, infernal punishment, demons, and the Antichrist in secular forms.

RELI 6003 Food Memoirs: Gender, Identity & the Power & Diversity of Food         
W. 14:45-17:30       N. Joseph

In this course, food will serve as a gateway into the world of gender, genre, and identity in memoirs, the self-stories people tell. Food studies can open one doorway into the construction of how people become who they are and how they think about themselves. We will approach and investigate memoirs as guidebooks into the realms of intersectionality in the study of religion and culture. Food rituals and food memories help decipher the intersections, influences, and challenges of the performances of identities, categories and modes of existence. Our gaze will rest on the persons, but the culinary and cuisine world can traverse the set table and present us with a potentially palatable meal.

RELI 6006 Muslim Communities in Canada and the West: Gender Issues      
J. 17:45-20:30    L. Clarke

This course treats gender issues in relation to Muslim communities in Canada and the West both in terms of commitments and debates among Muslims and the perceptions of non-Muslims. Topics include veiling practices, media representations, gender ideals, Muslim family law, Muslim queer movements in Canada and intermarriage. Special attention will be paid to popular opinion and legislation in Quebec aimed at gender norms and veiling.



Winter 2024

RELI 6003 Ethnographic Fieldwork: Theory, Ethics, Application(s)  
J. 11:45-14:30              M. Crowdus

This course examines the theory, ethical questions, and the many practical methods and applications of ethnographic fieldwork in a wide array of contexts and formations. Topics of study include qualitative and quantitative research methods, approaches to data analysis, and ethical research considerations when conducting ethnographic fieldwork. There is a specific focus on topics involving music or sounding practices in minority communities as well as exercising sensitivity when working with minority communities in Quebec or Canada. There will also be an emphasis on religious ritual and ritual, and performance practices. As part of their classwork, students will observe and document rituals and processes in the world around them, such as, religious practices, musical events, eating and food-related practices and habits, with the goal of connecting these field experiences to the broader theories and discussions in the classroom.


RELI 6004 Visual Economies of Religion
W. 14:45-17:30  S. Balaswaminathan

Visual culture plays an important role in most religious traditions in developing religious ideas and practices, fomenting feelings of faith and wonder, demonstrating strength and power to outsiders, and disseminating traditions to future and potential community members. What does the image provide that the text does not? Or in other words, how does the aesthetic sensibility advance the cause of religious ideologies, and is there a common theory of visuality at play? In this course, we will examine how the visual is emplaced in ideas and practices of religion, and how sight is a powerful sense that can conquer time and space, producing relations even without proximity. The sensory experience is an integral component of lived religion, and visualization manifests a sacrality beyond the material. In this class, we will consider how sight intersects with religiosity, and the ways in which religious traditions might construct sensory experiences as a component of practice, especially non-Western environs. We will also address the politics of sigh, which raises questions of access, and privilege, and consider how sight could be both an instrument of differentiation, as well as one of consensus building, within communities of faith.


RELI 6006 Querying & Queering the Christian Bible
T. 14:45-17:30        C. Daniel-Hughes

This course examines how Christians have interpreted their Bibles in relation to sex, gender, and bodies. Offering historical examples from Roman antiquity to our own time, this course asks: In what ways have Christians understood the Bible's authority in relation to sexuality and gender? How have Christians’ changing understandings of bodies, conceptions of race, sexual and gender subjectivities, and sexual mores informed and been informed by their reading of scripture? Why and how does the Bible play a role in modern debates in the United States about reproductive health, access to marriage, or gender-affirming health care? The course additionally highlights contemporary feminist, decolonial, and queer interpretations (both Jewish and Christian) that unsettle heteronormative, transphobic, and racist deployments of biblical writings.







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