Religion
Contact
Department Chair:
Cynthia Chapman

Administrative Assistant:
Brenda Hall

Department Email:


Phone: (440) 775-8866
Fax: (440) 775-6910

Location:
Rice Hall 316
10 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Course Supplement

Course Supplement

Religion Department
SPRING 2017 Course Supplement

SPRING 2017

Cycle

Start Time

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

MWF

9:00-9:50

208CCh, 236JD

 

208CCh, 236JD

 

208CCh, 236JD

TR

9:00-9:50 (3 day)

 

 

 

 

 

TR

9:00 or 9:30-10:50

 

237ST, 258REL

 

237ST, 258REL

 

MWF

10:00-10:50

202CCh

 

202CCh

 

202CCh

MWF

11:00-11:50

263MK, 226CL

 

263MK, 226CL

 

263MK, 226CL

TR

11:00-12:15/20

 

FY144AM, 231ST, 248CCo

 

FY144AM, 231ST, 248CCo

 

TR

1:00-2:50 Seminar

 

 

 

347CCo

 

MWF

1:30-2:20

 

 

 

 

 

TR

1:30-2:45/50

 

130ST, 272MM

 

130ST, 272MM

 

MWF

2:30-3:20

224CL

 

224CL

 

224CL

MWF

2:30-4:20 Seminar

357REL

 

402MK, 405AM

 

 

TR

3:00-4:15/20

 

239MD, 256RELG, 281AM

 

239MD,256RELG,
281AM

 

MWF

3:30-4:20

 

 

 

 

 

MTWR

eve (6:30 or after)

 

 

 

390MM(6:30-8:20)

 

 

SPRING 2017                                                                                                       


FYSP 144 - Malcolm X and  Martin Luther King, Jr.
This course may also count for the major in (consult the program or department major requirements): Africana Studies
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, WINT
TR 11:00-12:15
An interpretation of the lives and thought of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the context of the civil rights movement. It will focus on the theological, political, cultural, and psycho-social views which informed their religio-moral thought and actions. The course will include films, autobiographies, biographies, collected writings and speeches, as well as interpretations of these two religious and political leaders.
Enrollment Limit: 14
Instructor: A. Miller
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

RELG 130 - Love, Passion and Pain: Devotion in Indian Religions
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
TR 1:30-2:45
This course follows the spread of religious devotionalism across Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism. The idea of devotion in motion also allows us to consider the ways in which similar forms of poetry, language, ritual and practice came to animate a range of religious traditions in South Asia. As we will see, devotionalism does not belong to a single tradition, but appears across religions as a disposition that transcends them all. Beyond the three religious traditions that form our focus, students can expect to become familiar with broader themes in the study of religion including canonization, ritual, and sanctification.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: S. Pierce Taylor

RELG 202 - The Nature of Suffering: The Book of Job and its History of Interpretation
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WINT
MWF 10:00-10:50
This course will focus on the biblical book of Job as a piece of ancient religious literature that has fostered centuries of theological and existential questioning on the nature of divine justice and activity in the world, the meaning of suffering, and the existence of evil. The course will first consider the book of Job in its ancient Israelite context as it spoke to a conquered and exiled ‘people of God.’ Secondarily, the course will introduce Jewish and Christian interpretations of the book as these interpretations evolved through history addressing different contexts of human alienation and suffering.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: C. Chapman
Prerequisites & Notes
Identical to JWST 231.
Cross List Info:  This course is cross-listed with JWST 231

RELG 208 - New Testament and Christian Origins
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WINT
MWF 9:00-9:50
An introduction to the diverse writings that make up the New Testament. We will examine these texts in the historical context of Judea in the first two centuries CE and also in relation to the earlier writings of the Hebrew Bible. Thematic emphases include the development of the biography of Jesus, the social structure of the Jesus movement, the writings of Paul, and the development of house churches. No previous knowledge of the New Testament is assumed.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: C. Chapman
Cross List Information This course is cross-listed with JWST 208.

RELG 224 - Authenticity, Freedom, and the Human Condition
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, WINT
MWF 2:30-3:20
What is an authentic human life? Are human beings ultimately free, or are we constrained by forces beyond our control? How do we navigate our place in a world filled with good and evil? This course considers such questions in relation to central works of Western religious thought and philosophy, ranging from the Bible to modern existentialism. Readings are drawn from (among others) Plato, Augustine, Luther, Dostoyevsky, Buber, Sartre, Beauvoir, and Camus.
Enrollment Limit: 30
Instructor: C. Lockwood

RELG 226 - Modern Religious Thought in the West: Mid-19th Century to the Present
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU
MWF 11:00-11:50
This course examines the relationship between religious and secular frameworks in the modern West from the mid-19th century to the present. Central topics include theological responses to modern scientific and historical consciousness, secular critiques of religion, and efforts to address cultural and religious issues arising from the devastation of the two world wars. Readings are drawn from (among others) Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Barth, Tillich, Niebuhr, and liberation and feminist theologians.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: C. Lockwood

RELG 231 - Introduction to Hindu Traditions
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
TR 11:00-12:15
What is Hinduism? Variously described as a world religion, a way of life, and the basis of a culture, this course will consider how a multiplicity of traditions became a singular ‘Hinduism.’ Beginning with the Vedic period in the first millennium B.C.E and moving to present day, we will track how historical interactions between Buddhists, Jains, Muslims produced the modern category of Hinduism. Students will become familiar with its central religious tenets, sectarian traditions, and religious literature ranging from epic to devotional poetry. As we will see, Hinduism is a flexible term that names a shifting religious identity and community.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: S. Pierce Taylor

RELG 236 - Japanese Thought and Religion
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
MWF 9:00-9:50
A historical survey of the development of Shinto and Buddhism in Japan and the roles they have played in Japanese culture and society. Among the topics to be discussed are the ancient myths of Shinto, the transmission of Buddhism to Japan, the emergence of new forms of Buddhism (i.e., Zen, Pure Land, and Nichiren), and the use of Shinto as a nationalistic ideology.
Enrollment Limit: 40
Instructor: J. Dobbins
Cross List Info:This course is cross-listed with EAST 152

RELG 237 - Gender and Sexuality in Indian Religions
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
TR 9:30-10:50
From the erotic asceticism of the god Siva to the auspicious power of a married woman, the nexus of gender and sexuality has broadly shaped the practices and philosophies of South Asia’s many religious traditions. The central questions guiding this course are: How do Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam incorporate sexual practice and/or restraint into a vision of ethical life? When does one’s gender become dangerous or unethical, In pursuing these questions, students will gain a deep familiarity with South Asian asceticism, the place of erotics within religious discourse, new perspectives on queer and transgender theories, emic feminisms, and sexual ethics.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: S. Pierce Taylor

RELG 239 - Tibetan Buddhism
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
TR 3:00-4:15
A survey of the history of Buddhism in Tibet from its origins to the modern day. Attention is given to its interactions with Bon, another major religious tradition of Tibet. Readings include works of classical and contemporary Tibetan thinkers who see doctrine as interwoven with practice. Emphasis is on the central ideas of reincarnation, compassion, wisdom, and liberation, as well as on the Indian origins of Buddhist cosmology, ritual, philosophy, and ethics.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: M. Dibeltulo
Cross List Info:This course is cross-listed with EAST 239

RELG 248 - Religion, Ethics, Environment
This course may also count for the major in (consult the program or department major requirements): Environmental Stds
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, WINT
TR 11:00-12:15
Humans understand their relationship to the larger environment and its other inhabitants in a variety of complex ways. This course examines several of the religious, philosophical, and scientific schools of thought in environmental ethics. In addition to considering the diverse array of positions one can take toward the environment, e.g. animal rights, land ethics, nature religions, and ecofeminism, this course also considers in depth topics such as environmental justice, climate change, anthropocentrism, and sustainability. Prerequisites and notes:
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: C. Cottine

RELG 256 – Jews and the Body
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
TR 3:00-4:15
This course explores Judaism’s relationship with the body—as a subject of textual and ritual discourse, as a siteof moral conflict and formation, as a marker of otherness, and as a site of conflict over questions of power andidentity. We will examine the place of the body in ritual practice, Jewish thought on biomedical ethics, and theways in which rhetorics of supposed Jewish physical difference have affected Jews’ relationships with non-Jews.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: Rebecca Epstein-Levi
Cross List Info: This course is cross-listed with JWST 256

RELG 258 – “Two Jews, Three Opinions”: Argument in Judaism
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WInt
TR 9:30-10:50
Jews’ supposed love of arguing is a much-invoked cultural trope. But what work does argumentation actually do in Jewish traditions and discourses? In this course, we will examine patterns of argument in the Jewish textual canon, as well as contemporary debates over matters of Jewish identity and practice, and cultural depictions of Jewish argumentation.
Enrollment Limit: 20
Instructor: Rebecca Epstein-Levi
Cross List Info: This course is cross-listed with JWST 258

RELG 263 - Roots of Religious Feminism in North America
This course may also count for the major in (consult the program or department major requirements): Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WINT
MWF 11:00-11:50
This course analyzes the religious views underpinning women’s literature, political advocacy, public speaking, and social reform work from colonial days to the 1970s, with a focus on primary sources. Students will apply the knowledge and methods acquired during the course to pursue their own research interests in women’s religious history in North America. No previous study of religion, U.S. history, or gender theory is necessary.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: M. Kamitsuka
Cross List Info: This course is cross-listed with GSFS 263

RELG 272 - Introduction to the Qur’an
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
TR 1:30-2:45
Introduction to the Qur’an, the sacred scripture of the Islamic religious tradition. Topics include: approaches to the idea of revelation and the history of the written text, its overall content and themes, the style of the Qur’an, the Life of Muhammad as a source for interpreting the Qur’an, and Muhammad and the Qur’an as the foundation of law, theology, aesthetics, politics, and practices of piety such as recitation. Emphasis on reading the Qur’an in English-language interpretation.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: M. Mahallati

RELG 281 - Traditional African Cosmology and Religions: Shifting Contours and Contested Terrains
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
TR 3:00-4:15
This class will explore how African Cosmology (the conception of the origin and nature of the universe) helps to frame the understanding of Traditional African religions (TAR) and their practices as they have emerged in the history of the African continent. It examines the underlying nature of African Religious thought and the role and function of myth and ritual in these religions. The class will investigate indigenized Islam and Christianity as well as western modernity.
Enrollment Limit: 24
Instructor: A. Miller, D. Opoku
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes
Cross List Info: This course is cross-listed with AAST 131

RELG 347 - Seminar: Virtue, Religion, and the Good Life
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WINT
Th 1:00-2:50
What does it mean to live the virtuous or good life? Are there advantages to focusing on character and virtue rather than on rights, duties, or consequences? What is the relevance of virtue language for contemporary moral and political philosophy? We explore these and other questions as we compare classical and contemporary statements from ancient China, Christianity, and the Greeks, among others, that address issues of human nature, ethics, and tradition. Notes: Consent from instructor is required.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: C. Cottine
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

RELG 357 – Jewish Sexual Ethics
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WADV
M 2:30-4:20
How have different streams of Jewish tradition grappled with questions of sexual ethics? This course will examine ways the Jewish tradition has grappled with sexuality, and the roles sex and sexuality have played in situating Jews in the broader world and in situating groups of people within Judaism itself. We will also engage a set of particular questions that animate contemporary discussions of sexual morality, including menstrual regulations, homosexuality, premarital sexuality, and sexual health.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: Rebecca Epstein-Levi
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes
Cross List Info:
This course is cross-listed with JWST 357

RELG 390 - Forgiveness in the Islamic and Christian Traditions
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WINT
Th 6:30-8:30
This course examines forgiveness within the Christian and Islamic traditions. Our aim is to attend to each tradition in detail before engaging in comparison. Topics discussed from the Christian tradition include biblical literature, theological interpretations, and spiritual practices linked to forgiveness (Rosary of the Holy Wounds, penance). Topics discussed from the Islamic tradition include the Quranic and Hadith literatures, Islamic theology and ethics, and texts of supplication used in the Muslim piety rituals.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: M. Mahallati
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

RELG 402 - Capstone Colloquium
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, COLQ, WADV
W 2:30-4:20
In this team-taught advanced course, students work in a colloquium setting to discuss the research process and produce an independent capstone project. Only students who have completed the RELG 401/ RELG 402 sequence may be considered for Honors.
Instructor: M. Kamitsuka
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes
Prerequisites & Notes: RELG 401

RELG 405 - Capstone Seminar in Religious Studies
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, WADV
W 2:30-4:20
As an alternative to RELG 401/402, this capstone-experience course enables seniors to reflect upon, and apply in a wide variety of settings, what they have learned about the academic study of religion in light of their own coursework in the major. The seminar includes short papers, workshops and oral presentations, but students do not write a capstone thesis.
Instructor: A. Miller
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

 

Religion

Cynthia R. Chapman, Johnston Frank Associate Professor, Department Chair
Joyce K. Babyak, Associate Professor
Corey Barnes, Associate Professor
Cheryl Cottine, Assistant Professor
Martino Dibeltulo, Visiting Assistant Professor
Rebecca Epstein-Levi, Visiting Assistant Professor
James C. Dobbins, Fairchild Professor
David G. Kamitsuka, Associate Professor
Margaret D. Kamitsuka, Davis Associate Professor
Charles Lockwood, Visiting Assistant Professor
Mohammad Mahallati, Presidential Scholar in Islamic Studies
Albert G. Miller, Associate Professor
Sarah Pierce Taylor, Visiting Instructor
Abraham P. Socher, Associate Professor

The Religion major is designed to serve as a focus of a liberal arts education for the general student and as a pre-professional foundation for those pursuing the study of religion beyond the baccalaureate degree. While offering a broad curriculum in the study of religion, the major also affords an opportunity for concentrated study in particular religious traditions and specific areas of religious thought and practice. Students who contemplate graduate study in religion or professional study in seminary or rabbinical school after graduation are advised to consult with the chair or other members of the department as early in their undergraduate careers as possible. 

Approaches to the academic study of religion have developed in engagement with a host of historical factors. Understanding religious studies as an academic discipline requires an appreciation of the intersections and divergences among a variety of approaches. In our major, we focus on the following three influential general approaches:  

  • The tradition-based approach to the study of religion predates the “invention” of the Western academic study of religion in the 19th century, but continues to be vitally important for the academic study of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in our curriculum. Religious tradition-based approaches provide the means for in-depth study of the synchronic and diachronic aspects of religions in global contexts. This approach includes historical, textual, and ethnographic methods of investigation. 
  • The modern-culture-based approach to the study of religion emerged with the development of modern religious thought in the West and modern religious social ethics. This approach initially focused on modern Western philosophical questions of metaphysical and moral truth and meaning but has expanded to include issues arising from other forms of critical theory such as gender theory and postcolonial theory.  
  • The geographical religion-based approach analyzes religious forms of life in terms of the history and cultures of a region. Oftentimes historical, anthropological, and archeological frameworks and methods are employed by this approach. This approach has been influential in the modern academic study of ancient Near Eastern religions (including biblical studies) and in the study of East Asian, South Asian, and African religions, and religions of the Americas-previously underrepresented in religious studies. 

Some courses in the Religion Department are cross-referenced or cross-listed with, or generally fulfill requirements of, other programs of study in the College-e.g., Africana Studies; Comparative American Studies; East Asian Studies; Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies; Jewish Studies; and Law and Society. Courses offered in the department are grouped in the following categories: 

First-Year Seminars and 100-level Courses. 

First-year seminars and lecture courses at the 100 level are intended primarily for non-majors. First-year seminars are writing intensive and focus on the essential skills of reading, analysis, writing, and discussion. The 100-level Introduction to Religion courses are intended to introduce students to at least three religious traditions. In addition a few colloquia for first- and second-year students are offered in varying years. 

200-Level Courses.

Most 200-level courses serve as “gateways” to our major in that they are designed to introduce students to one or more general approach (described above) and disciplinary subfield in the academic study of religion. In addition, 200-level courses are where the breadth and concentration for the major are acquired. The particular focus of each 200-level course is indicated more fully in the course descriptions below. 

300-Level Seminars.

Advanced 300-level seminars are primarily intended for Religion majors and minors who have completed at least one 200-level course in the applicable subfield.

RELG 400 - Senior Capstone Seminars  

The senior capstone courses are designed to provide a culminating experience to the Religion major.  There are two paths to completing the capstone experience. 

One option is the RELG 401-402 sequence that is taken over the fall and spring semesters, respectively.  This two-course sequence is designed for those who choose to research and write an extended research paper as a capstone experience. The second option is RELG 405, Senior Readings Colloquium, which is only offered in the spring semester.

  • RELG 401 - Capstone Research Methods
    The overarching learning objective of this course is to train students in the skills necessary for doing primary research in the academic study of religion, particularly in light of the three general approaches to the study of religion in the major. This course will culminate in the development of a draft of a student’s Senior Capstone Project along with the relevant subfield literature review.
  • RELG 402 - Capstone Colloquium
    The colloquium is a team-taught course for senior religion majors only, designed to facilitate independent research that deepens and synthesizes student learning in the major.

OR

          ·      RELG 405 - Capstone Seminar in Religious Studies
          This course is designed for students, as a capstone experience, to have shared reflection about their        
          academic work in the major through reading and writing reflections on common themes within the
          field of Religion.

Major

Before declaring the major in Religion, students must complete the following forms, in consultation with an advisor (a continuing faculty member in the department): (1) a Plan for the Major and  (2) a Majors Checklist and  (3) the Declaration of Major form (available from the Office of the Registrar).  The Plan for the Major should describe the student’s intentions and goals for the major as well as a strategy for achieving those goals. The student and advisor should re-visit the Plan for the Major several times during the student’s work in the department and revise it as appropriate. 

The Religion major consists of a minimum of 9 courses in the department. Under ordinary circumstances, no more than one first-year seminar (FYSP 038, 046, 050, 058, 085, 091, 101, 131, 144, 147, 158, 164, 172) or colloquium for first- and second-year students (RELG 118) or one of the eight “Introduction to Religion” courses (RELG 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 107, 108 and 109) may be counted in the 9 courses required for the major. 

Students majoring in Religion must complete the following:

  1. At least one course in each of the three general approaches to the academic study of religion. 

The tradition-based approach:

  • Judaism  (250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255 258)
  • Islam (270, 272)
  • Christianity (215, 216, 217, 218, 228)
  • Hinduism (231, 234, 238)

The modern-culture-based approach:

  • Modern Religious Thought in the West (224, 225, 226, 229)
  • Religious Social Ethics  (241, 242, 244, 245, 248, 249, 254, 276)
  • Gender & Religion (261, 262)

The geographical region-based approach:

  • Ancient Near East  (202, 203, 205, 208, 210)
  • East Asia (235, 236, 239)
  • South Asia (230, 233)
  • Modern North America (263, 282, 284)
  1. Take one 200-level course in at least four of the subfields represented in our major.  (Courses identified under the general approaches requirement may also count toward this subfield requirement.)
  • American Religious History (282, 284, 285)
  • East Asian Religions (235, 236, 239)
  • Religious Social Ethics (241, 242, 243, 245, 248, 249, 254, 276)
  • Gender and Religion (261, 262, 263)
  • History of Christianity (215, 216, 217, 218)
  • Islam (270, 272, 275)
  • Jewish and Christian Scriptures (202, 205, 207, 208)
  • Judaism (250, 251,252, 253, 254, 255, 258)      
  • Modern Religious Thought in the West (224, 225, 226)
  • South Asian Religions (203, 231, 232, 233, 234, 238)
  • Africa (281)
  1. Take at least one additional 200-level course in one of the four subfields (along with a 300-level seminar), thus forming a subfield concentration.
  2. Take at least one 300-level seminar.  Majors will normally take the seminar within their subfield concentration.
  3. Take one of two paths for completion of the 400-level capstone experience: either the RELG 401-RELG 402 sequence, or RELG 405:

 RELG 401-RELG 402 sequence: 

  • Take Capstone Research Methods (RELG 401) in the first semester of the senior year.  Students must have completed at least one 200-level course in two of the three general approaches to the study of religion as a prerequisite for RELG 401.  RELG 401 is normally taken in fall semester of senior year.  Students are strongly encouraged to have completed an advanced 300-level seminar before taking RELG 401. 
     
  • Take Capstone Colloquium (RELG 402) in the second semester of the senior year.  RELG 401 is a prerequisite for RELG 402.  The Senior Capstone Colloquium is an advanced course where students work on a substantive independent research project while also participating in a colloquium setting to discuss the research process and engage in peer-review and interdisciplinary exchange with department faculty. The course culminates with the completion of the Capstone Project.  Only students who have completed RELG 401-RELG 402 may be considered for honors.

RELG 405

  • This is a spring semester course designed to facilitate critical reflection about the value of the academic study of religion for graduating seniors’ future endeavors. Participants will accomplish this through an independent research project on a contemporary topic in religious studies, discussions about professional goals and objectives beyond Oberlin, honing professional employment search skills, and developing public presentation skills.
  1. Students planning graduate or professional study in Religion are encouraged to take at least one year of foreign or classical language study at the college level.

Minor

The minor in Religion consists of 5 full courses.  One of these courses must be a 300-level seminar.

Minimum Grade

Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C- or P cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the major.

Transfer of Credit

Students wishing to transfer credit toward the Religion major are advised to provide the department with as much information about the transferred course as possible (including the syllabus, papers, and exams). The department will not normally count more than two full courses of transfer credit toward the major and does not normally accept transferred courses to satisfy distribution requirements in the major. Students should seek preapproval from the Chair for coursework they intend to take elsewhere and transfer to Oberlin.

Honors

Students will be considered for honors based on their performance in the major, the quality of their senior capstone project, and an oral examination.  Please consult with the Chair of the department for further information about honors.

Winter Term

Faculty in the Religion Department sponsor a wide variety of Winter Term projects, particularly projects related to their areas of scholarly expertise. Students planning projects are invited to approach individual faculty members to discuss their ideas and plans.