Courses 2015-2016

Study of Religion Courses 2015-2016

Fall 2015

REL 200A - Historical Roots of the Study of Religion
Prof. Allison Coudert
Tuesdays, 1:10-4:00
3 Wellman
CRN: 69671

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 2014, Coudert)

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 210C - Securitized Islam
*Also counts for REL 230C or 230E requirement

Prof. Flagg Miller
Wednesdays, 2:10-5:00
922 Sproul
CRN: 73448

Religion has long been central to questions of security.  In what ways have contemporary securitization measures across the globe shaped religion and what it means to be “religious”?  This course explores how security priorities in various cultures and state systems affect the lives of ordinary people through articulating, shaping, and in turn being reconstituted by boundaries within and between religious groups.  With attention to North American, European and Middle Eastern security formations and their relation to expanding notions of governmentality, we consider how Muslims and Islamic communities especially call to attention the historical, social and economic contingency of claims to sovereign power.  The first two weeks of the quarter introduce students to the history and development of international security studies as well as to security discourses within Islam.  The succeeding three weeks focus on the history and development of Islamic legal practice within and beyond modern liberal state formations.  Toward the latter part of the quarter, course readings delve into the transnational effects of global security initiatives adopted by the United States after 9/11.  In particular, we will unpack social theorist Brian Massumi’s idea of “ontopower,” an ecology of security orders focused on preemption, through case studies of Muslim communities in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Britain, Russia, and the United States.  In all such cases, we will ask: how do Muslims as well as non-Muslims living within particular nation-state formations experience security prerogatives adopted in part as a response to “Islam”?  How, furthermore, do such experiences highlight commonalities in the predicaments and struggles faced by others outside these specific identity groups?  In addition to substantial weekly readings, students will be asked to submit a variety of written assignments and at times lead group discussion.  Through this work, class participants will be invited to think about the ways in which particular kinds of evidence and documentation can enhance a critical approach to the study of security and its religious dimensions.


Winter 2016

REL 200B - Foundational Theories of Religion
Prof. Mairaj Syed
Tuesdays, 1:10-4:00p
Wellman 111
CRN: 40108

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 2016, 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 230C - Eastern Influences on Western Spirituality

Allison Coudert
Mondays, 2:10-5:00
70 SocSci
CRN: 44722

REL 231E - History, Theory, and Criticism of Human Rights (cross-listed with HMR 200A)

Keith Watenpaugh
Wednesdays, 1:10-4:00p
922 Sproul
CRN: 43512

Spring 2016

REL 200C - Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion
Prof. Flagg Miller
Wednesdays 12:10-3:00p
922 Sproul
CRN: 59793

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 230C: Early Modern Religious Formations (also offered as HIS 201S)

Prof. Daniel Stolzenberg
Mondays, 2:10-5:00p
2202 SocSci
CRN: 63922

Across the disciplines, recent decades have witnessed dramatic re-evaluations of the historical relationship between science and religion and its role in the constitution of modernity. In the realm of the history of science, new studies are dramatically revising our understanding of the place of Catholicism, in particular, and religion, more generally, in the development of science and scholarship in the early modern era. In this graduate seminar we will explore these topics by investigating the Galileo Affair in long-term perspective. While we will focus foremost on primary and secondary sources related to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, we will also make forays into more recent times, examining, for example, Brecht’s Life of Galileo and the Vatican’s rehabilitation of Galileo in 1992. Students’ final projects may treat times and places beyond the center of gravity of the course, so long as they engage its principal themes. No background in early modern Europe or the history of science is required. Students may register for HIS 201S (History of Science), HIS 202C (Modern Europe) or REL 230C (Early Modern Religious Formations). History 201S counts toward the Designated Emphasis in Science and Technology Studies. For further information contact

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 231E - The Refugee (Cross-listed with HMR 200A)

Prof. Keith Watenpaugh
Tuesdays, 12:10-3:00pm
104 Sproul Hall
CRN: 64161