Courses 2013-2014

Study of Religion Expanded Course Descriptions 2013-2014


REL 200A - Historical Roots of the Study of Religion
Prof. Coudert
Thursdays, 3:10-6:00pm
922 Sproul Hall
CRN 54508

Course Description:
Religious Studies is a modern discipline that emerged in the 19th century West, but the historical roots that made the discipline possible extend back into the early modern period Between 1450 and 1750 there was a revolution in the way Europeans viewed the world. As a result of the recovery of classical texts, the voyages of discovery, and the spread of print culture, people began to realize that the past was different from the present and that cultures differed dramatically in terms of customs and beliefs. The Copernican Revolution and the Reformation further undermined traditional ways of thinking by undermining the Aristotelian-Ptolemic worldview, which had been in place for a thousand years, and discrediting the ideal of a united Christendom. It was within this context that the idea of religion as a distinct and culturally-conditioned aspect of human experience developed. The goal of this course is to understand how these developments laid the foundation for the secular study of religion and why these developments occurred in the West and not in other parts of the world. An emphasis will be placed on reading primary texts.

REL 200A Syllabus (Fall 2013, Coudert)


REL 210C - Special Topics in Mediterranean Religious Cultures: Education in Late Antiquity
(meets at the same time & place as CLA 101A)
Prof. Emily Albu
Thursdays, 2:10-5:00pm
261 Olson Hall
CRN: 84389

REL 210C Syllabus (Winter 2014, Albu)

REL 231E - History, Theory, and Criticism of Human Rights
(cross-listed with HMR 200A)
Prof. Keith Watenpaugh
922 Sproul Hall
CRN: 84355

Course Description: The demand for Human Rights has been at the center of modern revolutions and movements for social justice. They are part of contemporary debates about humanity, humanitarian intervention, the coercive power of the state, neoliberalism and the dignity of the individual. This seminar explores the question of Human Rights across multiple disciplines and how the contestation of Human Rights has occurred in the West, the Middle East and South America. Members of the seminar will be asked to develop research appropriate to their individual field of study; they will also have the opportunity to use this course to create syllabi or other materials to strengthen their teaching portfolios. Seminar participants will be invited to participate in the Winter and Spring meetings of the UC-wide Human Rights Collaboration and build links with graduate students and leading Human Rights scholars at other campuses of the UC.


REL 200C - Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion
Prof. Venkatesan
Tuesdays, 2:10-5:00pm
104 Sproul Hall
CRN: 43150

Using case studies that focus on specific religious traditions, this course will explore a variety of approaches--literary, ethnographic, historical to name but a few--to the study of religion. The first half of the class will feature several invited speakers, whose work we will discuss in class. The second half of the class will feature student presentations and critiques of a piece of scholarship pertaining to religion/religious culture, in preparation for a student colloquium at the end of the quarter.

Readings include:
*Mark Halperin. "Domesticity and the Dharma: Portraits of Buddhist Laywomen in Sung China."
*Heghnar Watenpaugh. "Deviant Dervishes: Space, Gender, and the Construction of Antinomian Piety in Ottoman Aleppo."
*Heghnar Watenpaugh. "Architecture without Images."
*Flagg Miller. "Listen, Plan and Carry out 'Al Qa'ida': Theological Dimension in Osama Bin Laden's Former Audio Collection."
*Alex Yurchak."Hegemony of Form: Stalin's Uncanny Paradigm Shift."
*Norman Itzkowitz, "Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Realities," Studia Islamica 16 (1962): 73–94.
*Norman Itzkowitz and Joel Shinder, "The Office of Seyh ul-Islam and Tanzimat: A Prosopographic Enquiry," Middle Eastern Studies 8 (1972): 93–101.
*Baki Tezcan, “Dispelling the Darkness: The politics of ‘race’ in the early seventeenth century Ottoman Empire in the light of the life and work of Mullah Ali,”
*Baki Tezcan, "The Ottoman mevâlî as 'lords of the law,'” Journal of Islamic Studies 20 (2009): 383-407*
*John Smolenski. from. Friends and Strangers: The Making of a Creole Culture in Colonial Pennsylvania.
*Venkatesan, Archana. "A Different Kind of Antal Story: The Divyasuricaritam of Garudavahana Pandita."
*Henry Spiller. “Ritual Residues in Modern Dances of West Java, Indonesia,”

REL 200C Syllabus (Spring 2014, Venkatesan)

REL 230E - Thematic Topics - Values, Ethics, and Human Rights: GENOCIDE
(Meeting time overlaps with RST 131/HMR 131)
Prof. K. Watenpaugh
Mondays & Wednesdays 2:10-3:30
Physics 130
CRN: 43945

REL 298 - Hindu Women & Goddesses
(Meeting time overlaps with RST 157)
Prof. A. Venkatesan
Mondays 2:10-5:00
Kerr 293
CRN: 42754

Course Description This seminar explores Hindu goddesses and the religious lives of the women who worship them. In doing so, we interrogate specific roles that women in India assume such as the goddess, mystic, the exemplary devotee, the poetic trope of the female heroine (nāyikā) and the ways in which women resist or subvert these categories. The seminar will also engage with the unique phenomenon—the rise in popularity of female gurus (teachers) in the past two decades. Throughout the course, we will address the relationship between human women and Hindu Goddesses, the binary between “fierce” and “benevolent” goddesses as well as issues of transnational cultural appropriation, fetishizing and commodification, of female Hindu religious images.

Required Texts:
Tracy Pinchtman. The Rise of the Goddess Tradition in India
Rachel Fell McDermott. Revelry, Rivalry and Longing for the Goddesses of Bengal: The Fortunes of Hindu Festivals.
Tracy Pintchman. ed. Women’s Lives, Women’s Rituals in the Hindu Tradition
David Haberman. The River of Love in an Age of Pollution
Corinne Dempsey. The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York
Karen Pechilis. Ed. The Graceful Guru: Hindu Female Gurus in India and the United States
A reader (Davis Copy Shop)

REL 298 Syllabus (Spring 2014, Venkatesan)