Courses 2014-2015

Study of Religion Courses 2014-2015

Fall 2014

REL 200A - Historical Roots of the Study of Religion
Prof. Allison Coudert
Mondays, 1:10-4:00pm
Wellman 201
CRN 60025

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 200D - Field Profile Seminar
Variable unit course with your dissertation adviser.  Please see Mandy for CRN and Variable Unit Course Request Form [.doc].

REL 230B - Thematic Topics in Language, Rhetoric, & Performance: Theories of Language
Prof. Meaghan O'Keefe
Wednesdays, 1:10-4:00pm
Sproul 922
CRN 63948

Course Description:  Focuses on historical theories of language that precede and accompany post-structuralist theory. Intended to introduce graduate students to the context of modern theory formation. May cover structuralism, integrationalism, and grammaticalization.

In contemporary graduate work the explicit study of historical theories of language has generally played only a minor role in the training of humanities graduate students. While post-structuralist theory is in part a reaction to prior understanding of what and how language works and achieves meaning, courses on theory rarely focus on these historical precedents. An appreciation of the different ways language has been imagined in Western intellectual history is a prerequisite to fully understanding the corresponding ideologies of power and knowledge. This course introduces graduate students to the relevant background in order to understand the ways in which post-modern and post-structuralist theory have formed in reaction to these ideologies of language.

Texts include: Plato, Cratylus; Jean de Lery, A History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil;  Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning;  Ferdinand De Saussure, A Course in General Linguistics; Roman Jakobson, Quest for the Essence of Language; Paul Hopper, Emergent Grammar.

AHI 200A- Visual Theory

Prof. Heghnar Watenpaugh
Tuesdays, 8:00-10:50 am
Everson 148
CRN 30719

Course DescriptionArt History 200A: Visual Theory is designed for for graduate students in art history, allied visual studies, and in other disciplines who have an interest in the visual.

This seminar is neither a history of art history, nor does it provide a menu of methods for the study of art history, even though history and method will be among our key concerns. Instead, this seminar emphasize the relationship between the aesthetic theories that drive our field and the social history of the institutions that sustain it, including museums. The debates we will examine include: the nature of art history as a discipline, its key assumptions (for example: that some objects are art while others are not), the roles of the art historian (humanist, scholar, historian, connoisseur, expert, philosopher, archivist, linguist, archaeologist, authenticator…), the relationships between art history and allied disciplines (anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy), the critical importance of aesthetic philosophy, and the methods and language developed to interpret works of art. We will scrutinize art history’s evolving self-perception and its most cherished myths, its links to enlightenment and modernity, its relationship with technologies such as photography, its allied institutions such as museums and exhibitions, the workings of the art market. We will look at art history as a form of writing with clearly defined genres (the catalogue raisonné, the survey), and as a form of performance (the illustrated slide lecture, the technique of “compare and contrast”). In addition to reflecting on the hidden assumptions and histories of our discipline, we will also reflect on its resilience, transformation and even resurgence in the contemporary world. How and why does art history maintain its prestige and funding in education and government? What are the roles of art historians in the contemporary world? what do new trends in art history tell us about our discipline’s continuing engagement with the issues of our time?

Donald Preziosi, The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology, 2nded. (2009).

Nelson and Richard Shiff , Critical Terms for Art History, 2nd ed. (2003).

Winter 2015

REL 200B - Foundational Theories of Religion
Prof. Mairaj Syed
Wednesdays, 1:10-4:00pm
Sproul 922
CRN: 90062

This course deals with explanations of religion that grant causal primacy to factors other than ideas, beliefs, and emotions – factors such as economic, technological, geographical, and demographic realities.  We consider rational choice theory, functionalism, Marxism, cultural materialism, and critiques of these views.  Materialist explanations for the spread of ideas still need to account for how individuals develop beliefs and attitudes. This leads us to consider psychology and the unconscious in the last week of the course. Recurring themes in this course include ultimate causation versus proximate causation, methodological individualism versus holism, insider versus outsider explanations, idealism versus materialism, and the malleability of ideas and practices versus inertia.

REL 200B Syllabus (Winter 2015, Syed)

REL 200D - Field Profile Seminar
Variable unit course with your dissertation adviser.  Please see Mandy for CRN and Variable Unit Course Request Form [.doc].

REL 298 - Sociology of Religion
(meets at the same time & place as SOC 146)
Prof. John R. Hall
TR 12:10-1:30pm
Location: Young 184
CRN: 93706

This is a variable unit course.  You'll need to enroll in 4 units online and write a final seminar paper in order to count this course in lieu of a graduate seminar.

HIS 202H-Creole Identities in the Atlantic World

Prof. John Smolenski
Time: TBD
Location TBA
CRN: 77359

Course Description: This class will examine the ways in which the European colonization of the Americas reshaped conceptions of identity and community on four continents, paying particular attention to the creation of “creole” societies throughout the Atlantic rim. The term creole has had a long and contested history, referring at times to peoples of European or African descent and at other times to the mixed-race peoples and hybrid cultures born under colonial role. To many Europeans, creole-ness signified degeneracy, while many Americans embraced the term. During this course we will examine the development of these new identities in the British, Spanish, French, and Portuguese empires in the Americas. We will also examine the ways in which colonization reshaped “Old World” identities in Europe, particularly as Europeans learned about America, consumed American goods, and reshaped established legal and political institutions to accommodate new imperial subjects.

This offering of HIS 202 is a pre-approved elective for REL students.  Please consult graduate adviser for RAOS/TAOS requirement consideration.

HMR 200B - Memory, Culture, and Human Rights

Prof. Michael Lazzara
Mondays, 4:10-7:00p
Location: Wellman 111
CRN: 93399

This course contributes is a requirement for the DE in Human Rights.

Spring 2015

REL 200C - Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion
Prof. Flagg Miller
Wednesdays, 1:10-4:00p
Location: Hart 1106
CRN: 49508

Course Description: 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.

REL 200D - Field Profile Seminar
Variable unit course with your dissertation adviser.  Please see Mandy for CRN and Variable Unit Course Request Form [.doc].

REL 230B - Thematic Topics - Language, Rhetoric, and Performance: RELIGION, NATIONALISM, AND PERFORMANCE IN SOUTH ASIA

Prof. Archana Venkatesan
Thursdays, 2:10-5:00p
Location: Sproul 822
CRN: 52500

Course Description: This course explores the historiographies of a variety of performance traditions and practices as a way of articulating the Indian nation. We will examine the ways in which dance, language, music and other bodily practices, such as Yoga, become sites to fashion the Indian nation, as forged both in the encounters between colonialism and anti-colonial nationalism(s), and in a postcolonial nation. The course will engage memory, gender, class, religion and religious identity as ways of interrogating what it means to speak of the nation.

Course Requirements

  • In-class presentations
  • Short response papers
  • Final research paper

REL 298 - Native American Religion and Philosophy
(meets at the same time & place as NAS 157)
Prof. Ines Hernandez-Avila
TR 4:10-6:00pm
Location: Olson 101
CRN: 49510

Course Description: Religious and philosophical traditions of Native American/indigenous peoples of the Americas.

CLA 200A-Approaches to the Classical Past

Prof. Emily Albu
Thursdays, 2:10-5:00p
Location: TBA
CRN: 52727