Sewanee: The University of the South

Religion Courses

RELG 105 Faith After the Holocaust: Ethics, God, Humanity

Investigation of religious faith in the light of the Holocaust. The course focus is on the deification of racism and nationalism in Christian Germany and the role of religion before and after the Shoah. Attention is given to historical, psychological and theological analysis. Students who complete this course may not receive credit for Religion 319. (Credit, full course.) Staff

RELG 111 Introduction to Religion

An examination of the nature of religion as an aspect of universal human experience. (Credit, full course.) Staff

RELG 115 Understanding Religion through Peace and War

The course engages students with theories of religious violence and the religious ethics of violence and peace, particularly those associated with Christian, Buddhist, and Islamic thinkers. Through this lens, and through attention to a particular and central moral issue, students are introduced to religious thought and practice more broadly. This course is offered Advent semester of 2014 only. (Credit, full course.) (Credit, full course.) Wiinikka-Lydon

RELG 121 The Responsible Self

Examination of the role of religion, reason, and desire in the shaping of the form and content of ethical decision-making and action. Focus is upon major currents of Western ethical theory and Jewish, Christian, and atheistic analyses of the self. Issues include moral authority and judgment and responsibility to self, other, and community. Works include Hebrew Bible, Kant, Aristotle, H.R. Niehbuhr, Walter Wurzburger, James Cone, and Laurie Zoloth-Dorfman. (Credit, full course.) Parker

RELG 125 Religion and Animals

In this course students examine human relationships with non-human animals through the lenses of Buddhism, Christianity, theories and methods in religious studies, and through reflection on their own lives. What roles have non-human animals played and do they play now in these religious traditions, in other aspects of culture, and in the lives of students themselves? How does having a body, an attribute that human and non-human animals share, relate to religion, its study, and human-animal relations? Students volunteer in animal-related groups (veterinarian offices, animal shelters, and farms, for example) as they find their own voices in this emerging interdisciplinary field. (Credit, full course.) Brown

RELG 141 Introduction to the Bible

An examination of the origins, nature, and content of representative literature from the Old and New Testaments. (Credit, full course.) Thurman

RELG 143 Introduction to the Bible I: Old Testament (also Women’s and Gender Studies)

An examination of the origins, nature, and content of representative literature from the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Old Testament, and cognate literature. Attention is paid to issues of critical reading and theological interpretation of Jewish scripture. Not open for credit to students who have completed Religion 141. (Credit, full course.) Thurman

RELG 144 Introduction to the Bible II: New Testament (also Women’s and Gender Studies)

An examination of the origins, nature, and content of representative literature from the New Testament and Hellenistic literature. Attention is paid to issues of critical reading and theological interpretation of Christian scripture. (Credit, full course.) Staff

RELG 151 Philosophy of Religion

A philosophical examination of responses to questions about the ultimate nature and meaning of existence, such as the reality of God, the rational legitimacy of faith, the problem of evil. (Not open to students who have taken Religion 251.) (Credit, full course.) Carden

RELG 162 Introduction to Asian Religions

An introduction to the major religious traditions of Asia: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Shintoism and their views of reality and humanity. (Credit, full course.) Brown

RELG 201 The Spirit and Forms of Anglicanism

A survey of the history, spirituality, cultures, and practices of church bodies within the international Anglican Communion, including the U.S. Episcopal Church. This course underscores the intellectual heritage of Anglicanism and its distinctive ecumenical role as via media between Protestant and Catholic traditions. Historical topics include the nineteenth-century Oxford Movement, Anglicanism’s problematic relation to colonialism, its influence in developing nations, and its involvement in contemporary controversies. Special attention is also given to this tradition’s cultural expressions in music, architecture, literature, and education. Not open for credit to students who have completed NonD 201. (Credit, full course.) Gatta

RELG 220 The Holocaust, Religion, and Morality

An examination of the Holocaust from theological, historical, and social psychological perspectives. Exploration of diverse religious and moral worldviews with particular attention to the ethical and unethical responses of victims, perpetrators and witnesses. What are the implications of the Holocaust for transformation of moral thought and behavior? Topics include cruelty, social conformity, altruism, forgiveness, survival, and the function of conscience during and in the aftermath of atrocity. Authors include Emil Fackenheim, Elie Wiesel, Raul Hilberg, Christopher Browing, Primo Levi, Marion Kapland, Philip Hallie, and Lawrence Langer. (Credit, full course.) Parker

RELG 222 Gender and Sex in the New Testament

An examination of how gender and sex are constructed in selected texts from the New Testament. Exploring the intersection of biblical studies and gender studies, this course incorporates the perspectives of feminist theory, masculinity studies, queer theory, and the history of sexuality. Focus is on situating biblical texts in the context of ancient Mediterranean cultures. Attention is also given to the influence of modern understandings of gender and sexuality on the interpretation of biblical texts and to the use of biblical texts in contemporary debates over gender roles and sexual practices. This course has the attribute of Women’s Studies. (Credit, full course.) Thurman

RELG 223 Feminist and Womanist Religious Ethics

Examination of contemporary Jewish and Christian feminist and Black womanist ethics. Focus is upon religious and non-religious ethical thought as it relates to the construction of gender identity, and the implications for an understanding of economic justice, racism, familial relations, and gendered participation with religious traditions and theological communities. Authors include Katie Canon, Sharon Welch, Delores Williams, Judith Plaskow, Rachel Adler, and Audre Lourde. (Credit, full course.) Parker

RELG 232 God and Empire: Biblical Texts and Colonial Contexts (writing-intensive)

Examines the complex relation between The Bible and colonialism in the ancient and modern world. Exploring select texts from Old and New Testaments, this course incorporates the insights of postcolonial theory, transnational feminism, liberationist hermeneutics, and empire-critical biblical studies. Focus is on the changing contexts in which biblical texts were written and read, and on how texts both promoted and contested colonialism — with particular attention given to tensions between these two strands of biblical tradition throughout history. The course also considers early Jews and Christians as subaltern communities; the theological justification for European colonialism; and the appropriation of the Bible by indigenous peoples. Prerequisite: one course in religion, philosophy, or humanities. (Credit, full course.) Thurman

RELG 243 Gospels

An examination of the canonical and extracanonical gospel narratives with attention to their historical, literary, and religious significance. Special attention is given to the cultural production and reception of Gospels in art, film, and drama. (Credit, full course.) Staff

RELG 255 Introduction to Judaism

Survey of Judaism and its emergence from Israelite Religion as evidenced in the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) into the Rabbinic culture of interpretation and Halakah (Jewish law). Approach is both historical and thematic. Focus is upon key periods of Judaism’s development and the major ideas, movements, and practices central to ancient and modern Jewish life and thought. Attention is paid to the role of sacred Jewish texts and interpretation, community, covenant, and halakhic observance. (Credit, full course.) Parker

RELG 262 Buddhism

A philosophical and historical examination of Buddhism from its origins in India to more recent manifestations in the United States. Attention is paid to Buddhism as it has been and is currently being lived. (Credit, full course.) Brown

RELG 264 Hinduism

An introduction to the main themes, philosophies, and myths of Hinduism as it has grown and changed over 3,500 years. (Credit, full course.) Brown

RELG 301 Methodologies in Religious Studies

This seminar for junior religion majors examines the history and methodological development of the discipline of Religious Studies. After surveying the discipline’s inception in textual studies in the late Enlightenment period, the course examines its connections to earlier theological traditions, and the branching out into sociological, hermeneutical, and phenomenological approaches in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The seminar aims to acquaint junior majors with the complexities involved in studying religious phenomena, as well as with the categories and frameworks that constitute the contemporary multi-disciplinary field of Religious Studies. (Credit, full course.) Staff

RELG 304 The Ethics of Dialogue

Examination of the religious and philosophical tradition of dialogical ethics. Focus is on the classical, modern, and contemporary understanding of the "living speech" within Jewish and Christian thought. In particular, attention given to existentialist, feminist, and Levinasian ethical theory and their efforts to explain reciprocity, Divine-human and interhuman relationship, justice, and duty. Authors include Plato, Martin Buber, H.R. Niehbuhr, Gabriel Marcel, Emmanuel Levinas, and Seyla Benhabib. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. (Credit, full course.) Parker

RELG 307 Religious Environmentalism

An exploration of the religious aspects of contemporary environmentalism and religious critiques of the emphasis by Americans on the values of consumerism and convenience. A service-learning component requires students to participate in a local environmental project and to reflect on both their own ethical commitments and those of the University. (Credit, full course.) Brown

RELG 321 Christian Theological Paths

Readings and reflections on texts from the formative period of Christian theology through the late Middle Ages. Emphasis on the thought of Augustine, Aquinas, and Medieval mystical writings. (Credit, full course.) Carden

RELG 322 The Reality of God

The question of the reality of God as confronted in Christian and Jewish theology since 1940. Specific topics: the "Holocaust," "death of God," liberation theology and the feminist critique of religion, ecology and natural theology, and religious pluralism. (Credit, full course.) Carden

RELG 324 Faith Seeking Foundations

Involving readings in Western European Christian theology from the sixteenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries, this course focuses on Christian theological concerns and challenges related to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and Romanticism. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy, religion, or humanities. (Credit, full course.) Carden

RELG 325 Kierkegaard and Nietzsche: The Poetics of Existence

Readings and reflections on the writings of Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. Emphasis is on literary and poetic aspects of their works, with further attention given to the interrelation between literary elements and the understandings of human existence reflected in the thought of both figures. Prerequisite: one course in religion, philosophy, or humanities. Not open for credit to students who have completed Relg 330. (Credit, full course.) Carden

RELG 332 Religion and Existence

Reflection on the imagery and meaning of human selfhood within religious contexts and the traditions. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or religion, or humanities. (Credit, full course.) Carden

RELG 341 Religion and Ecology

Considers the relationship between the natural and the sacred in selected traditions such as Amerindian religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Judaeo-Christian tradition, and contemporary "eco-religion." Emphasizes analysis of latent ecological/environmental resources or conflicts in each tradition studied. Offered alternate years. Community engagement. (Credit, full course.) Smith

RELG 342 Buddhism and Psychology

This course begins with an examination of Buddhist philosophies and psychologies through an exploration of Abhidhamma literature, the systematic treatment of Gotama Buddha's teachings that occurred after his death. Since the oldest Buddhist texts claim that Buddhism concerns itself with suffering and its end, this course emphasizes Buddhist conceptions of what suffering is, what the end of suffering looks like, and how suffering is brought to an end. After studying how the cognitive and ethical come together in the cessation of suffering in Buddhist psychology and philosophy, students turn to its interaction with Western psychology, concentrating on cognitive and neurophysiological research and on the use of meditation in therapeutic settings. (Credit, full course.) Brown & Psychology Staff

RELG 343 Popular Culture and Religion in America

An examination of the religious forms implicit in selected aspects of American popular culture. Emphasis on interpreting theoretical studies and on critical analysis of typical examples. (Credit, full course.) Smith

RELG 344 Religion and Violence

This course offers historical overviews and religious and theological analyses of religiously-mandated or justified violence within the context of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. Also, this study evaluates how religious identity and sense of “vocation,” both personal and communal, facilitate or impede religious violence. (Credit, full course.) Parker

RELG 346 Religion and Modernity

A consideration of the impact of modernity on religion in the West; the crisis of belief and secular options. (Credit, full course.) Smith

RELG 350 Field Methods in Religious Studies

A field-based seminar to examine the effects of religious belief and doctrine upon landscape and material culture in the upland South, including Appalachia. Core topics for different years vary and include Shaping the Land, Cemeteries, Log and Stone, Churches, and Village and Town. Field seminar. Prerequisite: one course in religion, philosophy, or anthropology. Community engagement. (Credit, full course.) Smith

RELG 353 Buddhism and the Environment

An investigation of Buddhist images, symbols, stories, doctrines, ethics, and practices as they relate to understanding the environment and humanity’s relationship with it. Classical texts as well as modern commentaries by Buddhist teachers, writers, and activists are examined. (Credit, full course.) Brown

RELG 361 New Religions

A comparative study of new religious movements of the twentieth century including Japanese New Religions, selected cult phenomena, "New Age" and spiritual movements, and new religions from South Asia and the Middle East. Some attention to North American quasi-religious movements such as occult spiritualism, religiously inspired political movements, and paramilitary religious movements. (Credit, full course.) Smith

RELG 362 Justice in Buddhism and Christianity

In this comparative religious ethics course focusing on social justice, students compare and examine two traditions, Buddhism and Christianity, to see in what ways they support or might not support social justice as an appropriate goal for religious thought and practice. The course involves comparative engagement with classical texts but also with contemporary writers and activists, as well as with modern issues surrounding religion and justice. This course is offered Advent semester of 2014 only. (Credit, full course.) (Credit, full course.) Wiinikka-Lydon

RELG 364 Buddhist Ethics

An introduction to the philosophy and practice of ethics in Buddhism beginning with an examination of ahimsa, the inviolability or sanctity of life. Attention is paid to ethical beginnings with the birth of Buddhism (563 B.C.E.) and ending with modern Buddhist contributions to issues such as environmentalism. Prerequisite: Introduction to Asian Religions or Buddhism. (Credit, full course.) Brown

RELG 368 Sacred Manhood

A seminar devoted to examining sacral forms of masculine identity in selected religious traditions. Attention is given to the role of the shaman, medicine man, priest, hunter, sacred warrior, heroic wanderer, and priest-king. Includes examination of ritual forms such as sacral mutilation, animal totemism, sacrifice, vision quests, and passage rites. Close reading of primary texts and critical secondary literature. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy, religion, or humanities. Instructor permission only. (Credit, full course.) Smith

RELG 374 Anglicanism, 1350-1662 (also History 374)

A study of significant thinkers and events in the formation of the Anglican tradition from the English Reformation to the English Civil War and Restoration. Attention is also given to the pre-Reformation development of religious thought and practice in England. Writers from Thomas Cranmer to the Caroline Divines are considered in the contexts both of English and European history and of the intellectual currents of the period. (Credit, full course.) Turrell

RELG 391 Southern Religion

An historical and comparative analysis of the religious traditions of the Southeastern United States with particular reference to the interactions between these traditions with the social, political, and economic culture of the region. (Credit, full course.) Smith

RELG 393 Rural Religion

A study of the religious forms of rural society with special emphasis upon the rural church in the southeastern U.S. Attention to historical, social, cultural, and demographic transformations of rural institutions from 1800 to the present. Fieldwork required. Lectures Monday and Wednesday, fieldwork Thursday afternoons. Community engagement. (Credit, full course.) Smith

RELG 395 Appalachian Religion (also Environmental Studies)

An examination of typical forms of religion in Appalachia with respect to the origin, development, diffusion, and transformation of these religious forms from the era of the Great Awakening to the twentieth century. Comparative consideration of the distinctive denominational forms of religion along with the trans-denominational cultural forms–including hymnody, sermon, folk music, and ritual practice–distributed across the core Appalachian area. Some consideration given to the “Appalachian Diaspora” and the transport of Appalachian religious practices beyond the core area. A fieldwork component considers the expression of Appalachian Religion in material culture. (Credit, full course.) Smith

RELG 401, 402 Senior Seminar

No description available. (Credit, full course.) Staff

RELG 444 Independent Study

For selected students. May be repeated indefinitely. (Credit, variable from half to full course.) Staff

Sewanee: The University of the South