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Graduate course descriptions

Fall 2021

RELI 6001 Methods and Theory in the Study of Religion  
TH 16:00-18:15    N. Cohn
Location: FB S143

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 Apocalyptic Imagination in Religions & Cultures
M 13:00 15:15        L. DiTommaso
Location: MB 3.265

This course investigates the broadband impact of apocalyptic speculation over the past fifty years. Topics for discussion include: the prevalence of apocalyptic themes and images in popular culture worldwide; the influence of apocalyptic expectations on views regarding the health of the economy and the destruction of the environment; the way that apocalyptic rhetoric shapes the grammar of social dissent and gives voice to oppressed and persecuted groups; the use of apocalyptic categories to isolate enemy groups, justify their demonization, and foment violent behavior against them; and the profound role of apocalyptic ideology in resurgent fundamentalist strains in every major religion today and in the platforms of nativist political movements and parties across the globe.

RELI 6007 Religion, Politics and Heritage          
W 13:00-15:15       S. Balaswaminathan
Location: MB S2.445

This course examines the interlinked ideas and practices of religion and politics through the tangible and intangible matters that form the category of heritage. With a global approach, this discussion-oriented seminar will ask what relations produce heritage as a value and consider when an object, place, moment, practice, or idea acquires such valence. Students will acquire a multidisciplinary understanding of the significant debates about the politics of religious heritage through reading historical documents, anthropological narratives, visual art analyses, and heritage conservation perspectives.

RELI 6017    Autobiography and Jewish Identity              
T. 16:00-18:15    N. Ravvin
Location: H 513

Autobiographical writing is a source of historical, cultural, and personal knowledge.  This course will approach autobiography from a creative and scholarly standpoint.  Areas of focus will include: writing by women and youth; autobiography as an exploration of traditional and modernizing trends; Jewish languages and print culture.  We will read autobiographical writings from different eras as well as critical studies of this writing.  Students will have the opportunity, as part of their written work, to write their own autobiographical diary or memoir.  Course meetings will include conventional lectures as well as in-class discussion of students’ writing.   Students of Jewish history, literature, creative writing, and cultural studies will find their backgrounds intersect with the course’s approach. 

(This is a seminar-format course in which both upper level undergraduate and graduate students will participate.)

Winter 2022

RELI 6002 Islam and the Other                 
T 16:00-18:15              L. Clarke

The course considers past and present attitudes of Muslims toward other religions as well as outgroups such as sectarian and sexual minorities. We will examine scriptures, law, and modern statements of various kinds to analyze the theory and practice of Muslim relations with the Other. Students interested in attitudes toward Muslims (for instance, on the part of governments and movements in the West, other religions in any historical period, or media) may take this approach in their written work for the course.  

RELI 6007 Buddhism & Asian Religions: Interactions, Competition, Debate  M 16:00-18:15  M. des Jardins

This course examines how Buddhism interacted with other surrounding religious systems in different social and cultural milieu. The initial inquiries will focus on early Buddhism and its North Indian religious landscape before moving to China where Buddhism interacted with Daoism and Confucian literati. It will follow historical development and will culminate with its encounter with Islam during and after the 8th century. The goal of this course is to understand how Buddhism was able to maintain it ascendency and assert its dominance in different settings. There will be a particular focus on Buddhist philosophical debate, apologetics and other devotional and ritual strategies that helped it adapt to changing locales and other geopolitical conditions.

RELI 6017 Nations in Conversation? Jewish and Indigenous Voices in Canada  
TH 16:00-18:15        (M. Crowdus)

This course introduces students to ways of listening to Indigenous and Jewish voices, past and present, in Canada, and highlights conversations - and the potential for conversations - between the two. Using "voice" in a broad sense, this course draws on an array of social, cultural, religious, political and musical manifestations with a focus on the creation of spaces that allow these voices as much as possible to "speak" on their own terms. Students will engage with theoretical frameworks and methodological applications dealing with trans- and inter-cultural communication while interrogating concepts such as voice, nation, home, music, belonging and others in order to destablize normative Western colonial filters through whch these voices have often been interpreted and mobilized.




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