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Graduate course descriptions

Fall 2024

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

This course provides students with an understanding of the major approaches to the academic study of religion.  It introduces students to key theories of religion as a social and cultural phenomenon, as well as the ways contemporary methodologies represent religious experiences and expressions. Students develop a critical theoretical orientation for their research and a familiarity with the skills that they apply in their coursework and final paper.

RELI 6002 Religion and Popular Culture
M. 14:45-17:30        L. DiTommaso

This seminar explores the relationship between religion and popular culture. Topics for discussion include: the nature of modern popular culture; the topographies of popular culture in today's digitally integrated, syncretistic, and superflat world; the nature of religion in a society that is inundated, saturated, and oriented by popular culture; the deployment and functions of traditional religious themes and tropes in new synthetic pop-cultural forms; and the global "apocalyptic shift" of the past generation and its pop-cultural expressions.

RELI 6006 Gender and the Holocaust     
J. 14:45-17:30      N. Ravvin

This course will engage with recent and important shifts in Holocaust reception. Gender and sexuality have not been among the foremost contexts in the field, though recently, important work is changing this. We will consider established forms of response, by way of a review of canonical Holocaust materials in order to explore how new approaches have changed their status. Established memoirs by women writers such as Ruth Kluger and Charlotte Delbo will be viewed in relation to newer critical work, including Zoe Waxman's study Women in the Holocaust: A Feminist History. Similarly, we will look at how an early work like the play Bent, in its presentation of gay wartime experience, accounted for recent approaches. While offering a review of the field this class will aim to examine where these issues are leading Holocaust studies, in a variety of fields and media.

RELI 6007 Religion, Politics, Heritage
W. 14:45-17:30    S. Balaswaminathan

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. What is the value of religious heritage? Where is it situated and who has the power to locate it? How does it relate to history, time, and memory? What are the implications of materiality for belief? How does religion interact with other affective engines such as nationalism, colonialism, and capitalism? Students will acquire a multidisciplinary understanding of the significant debates about the politics of religious heritage conservation perspectives. In this course, we will examine the various ways in which religious heritage is constructed, maintained, revived, resisted, challenged, repatriated, and destroyed, and identify the agents of authority and resistance. We will also question what work is performed by religious heritage, and explore its potential for constructions and contestations. Lastly, by approaching religious heritage through interdisciplinary readings from critical heritage studies; conservation, anthropology, law and policy, we will challenge the assumptions inherent in the categories of "religion" and "heritage" as used by institutional agents.



Winter 2025

RELI 6004 Secularism
T. 11:45-14:30              M. Lalonde

The purpose of this course is to explore the meaning and significance of secularism as it unfolds within the contemporary age. This will involve a detailed study of its modern, Western liberal model (e.g., the work of Charles Taylor) as well as its Asian critique (e.g., the work of Talal Asad). This contract will be further examined in relation to ongoing theoretical efforts to "re-think" secularism today.


RELI 6006 Sex, Gender, and Jews
TBA  N. Cohn

This course provides an introduction to 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 and in their final project.


RELI 6017 Jewish and Indigenous Voices in Canada
M. 11:45-14:30        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 destabilize normative Western colonial filters through which these voices have often been interpreted and mobilized.







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