Theories & Methods in the Study of Religion RELST-UA.1 (Same as ANTH-UA.11), Oliphant
Tuesday, Thursday 11:00am-12:15pm. Class #19807. 4 Pts. Online
Exposes students to fundamental theoretical and methodological issues in the academic study of religion. We will read a number of classic works and authors (Durkheim, Weber, Freud, Marx, James, etc.) while also examining their legacy and continuing influence upon the field of religious studies. In addition to familiarizing students with a variety of approaches to understanding religion (as a social phenomenon, an "experience", and a body of lived practices), the course gives attention to the construction of the category of "religion", ethical issues involved in the study of religion, and issues and topics (gender, secularism, pluralism, postcolonialism, etc.) profoundly affecting our changing understanding of religion today. Students are given an opportunity to encounter and test an assortment of the main scholarly approaches to understanding and interpreting religious phenomena, including psychological, sociological, anthropological, and hermeneutical perspectives.
Of Miracles, Events, and Special Effects RELST-UA.97, De Vries
Monday, Wednesday 12:30pm-1:45pm. Class #19810. 4 Pts. Online
What characterizes genuine events, in history and politics, but also individual lives and loves? In what sense might so-called miracles, more precisely, the theology and tradition of miracle belief and the modern critiques it has received, offer intellectual resources—indeed, an imaginative archive as well as virtual repository—for answering this somewhat philosophical question regarding human agency and freedom? Do miracles happen? Are miracle workers still among us? What would it so much as mean, conceptually and empirically speaking, to postulate that their presumably uncaused and, in that sense, quite special effects can manifest themselves in the contemporary global day and age? This course seeks to determine the meaning and role of events in so-called public or global religions under the exponential growth of economic markets and commerce and the expansion of ever newer systems and networks of technological communication. It does so from what, at first glance, seems a narrow and somewhat counter-intuitive proposal: to establish a dialogue among traditional theologies of the miracle, modern philosophies of the event, and contemporary media theories of the special effect. The challenge will be to analyze and compare these old and new archives in terms of their respective idioms and concepts, methods and arguments, metaphysics and politics. For it is only when we first historicize, contextualize, and analyze these ancient and modern motifs and their underlying motivations that we can hope to develop a critical, heuristic and diagnostic interpretive tool for the larger contemporary questions at hand for which we seem at present so little prepared. The course starts out from the hypothesis that in our present—described as secular by some, as post-secular by others—more than ever before, we need to learn once again how to read the “signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3). Moreover, we will discover that this can be done with a sober, deeply pragmatic and down-to-earth perspective and ambition firmly in mind. Attention will be paid to a variety of concrete historical, ancient, modern, and contemporary examples in the tradition of so-called Abrahamic, monotheistic religions as well as to other conceptualizations of miracles and events that further substantiate and, at times, challenge the above premises. For while the latter are drawn in part from the better known biblical or dogmatic theological claims, the problem of miracles, their events and effects, it will be shown, is of a much deeper nature and wider significance.
Zionism and the State of Israel RELST-UA.180 (Same as HBRJD-UA.180), Engel
Monday, Wednesday 12:30pm-1:45pm. Class #20251. 4 Pts. Online
Examines the history of Zionism and as an ideology and political movement from its origins in the 19th century to the present as reflected in the modern State of Israel. Topics include ideological foundations, the role of Herzl and the rise of political Zionism, the Balfour Declaration, early Jewish settlements in Palestine, Zionism as a cultural focus for diaspora Jewry, the Arab-Zionist encounter, modern Israeli society, and contemporary critiques of Zionism.
Intro to Ancient Indian Literature RELST-UA.335 (Same as MEIS-UA.718), Illieva
Tuesday 4:55pm-7:35pm. Class #11271. 4 Pts. Online
An introductory course designed to acquaint students with the great works of the ancient Indian literary tradition, a major part of which was written in Sanskrit. The earliest form of that language, called Vedic Sanskrit, is the language of the Vedic hymns, especially those of the Rig Veda. Sanskrit has had an unbroken literary tradition for over 3,000 years. This rich and vast literary, religious, and philosophical heritage is introduced in this course. In addition, students work with excerpts from the Jain and Buddhist canons written in Prakrits and examples of Tamil poetry. Selections from the Vedic literature, classical drama, epics, story literature, and lyric poetry are studied in English translation.
Living a Good Life: Greek and Jewish Perspectives RELST-UA.422 (Same as HBRJD-UA.422), Gottlieb
Monday, Wednesday 11:00am-12:15pm. Class #11385. 4 Pts. Online
What makes a life well-lived? Central questions to be explored will include: Does living well require acquiring knowledge and wisdom? What is the place of moral responsibility in the good life? Is the good life, a happy life or does it require sacrificing happiness? Does religion lead to living well or does it hinder it? What is friendship and how does it contribute to the good life? Study of primary texts by the following thinkers: Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Avot, Maimonides, Spinoza, and Hermann Cohen.
American Religion RELST-UA.480 (Same as HIST-UA.480), Krutzsch
Monday, Wednesday 9:30am-10:45am. Class #10818 4 Pts. Online
This course surveys the role of religious figures and movements in the historical development of the United States, from the national founding to the late twentieth century. This course explores the various ways in which religion and national identity have been continually constructed and contested in relation to one another. Not a comprehensive enumeration of all religious expressions, the course selectively treats particular religious formations that came to influence U.S. American culture, society, and politics. Topics will include: disestablishment and church-state relations; revivalism and social activism; race and religion; women’s religious leadership; atheism, freethought, and skepticism; pluralism and religious liberalism; religion and science; immigration and nativism; and religious conservatism and politics.
Monsters and their Humans RELST-UA.649 (Same as ANTH-UA.649), Zito
Wednesday 11:00am-1:45pm. Class #22356. 4 Pts. Online
Vampires, zombies, werewolves, trolls and bad faeries... Humanity has a long list of monstrously imagined transformations of ourselves. What do these creatures mean to us, historically and today? Why are they among us in the USA in ever more powerful stories on film and TV? What do we think we are becoming? This course will take up vampires and zombies and place our investigations of these alter-egos in the context of our imagination of the divine though history and ethnography, and alongside our intimate problems of managing sex, gender, race and class. Rich sources are found in the archives of religions, psychology, philosophy, film, TV. We'll watch several films, some TV, read a novel and an ethnography. You will write a short and long essay and post most weeks. There is much to be learned about our own fears and desires through contemplating the differences from ourselves that are just a bite away, and I look forward to sharing our mutual fascination with these things, seen and unseen.
Islam and Politics RELST-UA.674 (Same as MEIS-UA.674), Alatas
Monday 4:55pm-7:35pm. Class #19855. 4 Pts. In-Person, 12WV, G08
Popular Western perceptions of Islam has often identified the religion with threatening images of theocracy and terrorism. The Iranian revolution of 1979, the rise of Islamic radicalism from West Africa to Southeast Asia, as well as the emergence of the short-lived ISIS "caliphate" have contributed to this impression. While the study of Islam has devoted considerable attention to radical interpretations of the religion, in historical terms, Islam has consisted of varied interpretations, from those that can be described as theocratic to those that voice concerns parallel to Western liberalism. Among the concerns of these voices were issues related to political modernity and the nation-state from theocracy, democracy, guarantees of the rights of women and non-Muslims in Islamic countries, freedom of thought, and belief in the potential for human progress. This course introduces students to the thoughts of late Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries Muslim intellectuals, leaders, and activists representing diverse intellectual and ideological spectrums, and their engagement with Islam and political modernity in the Muslim World.
The Quran and its Interpretation RELST-UA.781 (Same as MEIS-UA.781), Katz
Monday, Wednesday 3:30pm-4:45pm. Class #19854. 4 Pts. Online
The content, themes, and style of the Qur’an. Surveys the diversity of interpretive approaches to the text (legal, mystical, sectarian, literary, and politically engaged) in the medieval and modern periods.
Dead Sea Scrolls: Judaism and Christianity RELST-UA.807 (Same as HBRJD-UA.131), Schifmann
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30am-10:45pm. Class #25916. 4 Pts. Online
Intro to Buddhism RELST-UA.832 (Same as EAST-UA.832), Fleming
Tuesday, Thursday 3:30pm-4:45pm. Class #10107. 4 Pts. Online
An introduction to this complex religion, emphasizing its history, teachings, and practices. Discusses its doctrinal development in India, then emphasizes certain local practices: Buddhism and the family in China; Buddhism, language, and hierarchy in Japan; the politics of Buddhist Tibet; and Buddhist art. Finally, the course touches on Buddhism in the United States.
Virgins, Martyrs, Monks & Saints: Early Christianity RELST-UA.846 (Same as CLASS-UA.846), Becker
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30am-10:45am. Class #19808. 4 Pts. Online
What was it about Christianity that made it so popular in the ancient world? Was it the martyrs volunteering for public execution? Monks' sexual renunication? The isolation of hermits living on the tops of columns in the wilderness? Or perhaps orthodoxy and its politically divisive anxieties about heretics and Jews? In fact, all these things (and more) explain how a small Jewish messianic sect from Palestine became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. This course will provide an introduction to the big questions in the history of early Christianity. The focus will be on early Christian literature, such as martyr texts, saints' lives, and works of monastic spirituality and mysticism. Issues addressed will include the Christian reception of Greco-Roman antiquity, the origins of anti-Semitism, gender and sexuality in the early Church, and the emergence of Christian theology.
Permission required. Class #9478. 1-4 pts. Staff.
Independent Study RELST-UA.997
Permission required. Class #9479. 1-4 pts. Staff.
COURSES ABROAD APPLICABLE TO THE MAJOR OR MINOR
NYU Prague - Religion, Culture, & Politics in Century Europe RELST-UA.9360, Mucha
Wednesday 1:30pm-4:20pm. Class #2472. 4 Pts.
NYU London - What is Islam? RELST-UA.9085, Wirtz
Monday 1:00pm-4:00pm. Class #20764. 4 Pts.