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
COURSE SUPPLEMENT

SPRING 2016                                                                       

TIMES

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

9:00-9:50

236Dobbins

 

236Dobbins

 

236Dobbins

9:30-10:50

 

244Cottine          258Barer             282 Miller

 

244Cottine     258Barer         282Miller

 

10:00-10:50

261MKamitsuka

 

261MKamitsuka

 

261MKamitsuka

11:00-11:50

208Chapman   226Lockwood

 

208Chapman     226Lockwood

 

208Chapman  226Lockwood

11:00-12:15

 

FYSP 038 Barer 234Richman   272Mahallati

 

FYSP 038 Barer 234Richman 272Mahallati

 

1:00-2:50 Seminar 

 

385Miller

 

348Cottine

 

1:30-2:20

102Barnes

 

102Barnes

 

102Barnes

1:30-2:45

 

216Barnes           233Richman

 

216Barnes       233Richman

 

2:30-4:20 Seminar

343Lockwood

402Barnes/Richman 405Miller/Cottine

3:00-4:15

 

224Lockwood    276Mahallati      255Barer

 

224Lockwood   276Mahallati      255Barer

 

6:30- 8:30

 

373Mahallati

 

 

FYSP 038 – From Creation to Apocalypse
MWF 9:00-9:50 AM
Full Course
Credits: 4 Credits
Attribute: 4HU, WINT, CD
This course examines how the biblical account of creation in the Book of Genesis has shaped Jewish and Christian understandings of both the world’s beginning and the end of time.  What do these stories say about the human condition and divine justice? Why did utopian visions of Eden attract ancient interpreters, and why do they still attract us today?  Why does the attempt to combat evil lead some to apocalyptic violence and others messianic hope?
Enrollment Limit: 14
Instructor: D. Barer

RELG 102 - Introduction to Religion: Roots of Religion in the Mediterranean World
MWF 1:30-2:20 pm
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU
This course introduces students to the academic study of religion and provides a historical framework for understanding the development and central ideas of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, beginning from their origins in the Mediterranean region. The foundation of the course will be close reading of primary texts, both the sacred texts of each tradition and reflections on these texts by classical interpreters from the second century to the medieval period.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: C. Barnes

RELG 208 - New Testament and Christian Origins
MWF 11:00-11:50 AM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WINT
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.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: C. Chapman
Prerequisites & Notes
No previous knowledge of the New Testament is assumed.
Cross List Info: This course is cross-listed with JWST 208.

RELG 216 – Apocalyptic
TR 1:30-2:45 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, WINT
Apocalypticism conjures images of a cataclysmic end of the world, but the genre of apocalyptic includes far more than warnings of imminent destruction. The root derives from apokalypsis or revelation, and apocalyptic texts typically claim priveleged knowledge through a supernatural revelation of historical or otherwordly disclosures. This course will examine Jewish and Christian apocalyptic texts and then trace afterlives of these texts and worldviews from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Enrollment Limit: 25
Instructor: C. Barnes

RELG 224 – Authenticity, Freedom, and the Human Condition
TR 3:00-4:15 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU
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: 35
Instructor: C. Lockwood

RELG 226 - Modern Religious Thought in the West: Mid-19th Century to the Present
MWF 11:00-11:50 AM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU
This course analyzes our assumptions and judgments about religion in light of the clash of religious and secular frameworks. Topics to be examined include religious responses to modern scientific and historical consciousness, secular critical analyses of religion, debates on the human condition, efforts to address cultural and religious issues arising from the devastation of the two world wars, and the challenge of religious pluralism. Thinkers and movements studied include: Schleiermacher, Hegel, Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Buber, Barth, Rahner, post-Holocaust theologies, feminist and liberation theologies.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: C. Lockwood

RELG 233 - Modern India: Colonialism, Critique, and Conversion
TR 1:30-2:45 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WINT
A study of the effect of colonial rule and social change on Indian religious traditions. We examine theological tracts and debates, mythological and ritual texts, oral traditions, and contemporary novels about religion. Topics include: social mobility and orthodoxy, religious roots of the Gandhian movement for independence, changing rituals within the joint family, religion in the present-day political sphere.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: P. Richman

RELG 234 – The Religious Thought of Mohandas Gandhi and His Critics
TR 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WINT
Mohandas Gandhi was among the most radical religious and social thinkers in the twentieth century.  His non-violent resistance to colonial rule, as well as his commitment to asceticism, truth, and self-reliant egalitarian communities, won him many admirers and critics.  The course begins with Gandhi’s writings, especially his autobiography.  Then it examines critiques of his ideas and methods as well as how they have been expanded and rethought in recent times.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: P. Richman
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

RELG 236 / EAST 152 - Japanese Thought and Religion
MWF 9:00-9:50 AM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
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 244 – Ethics in Early China
TR 9:30-10:50 AM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WInt
This course provides an introduction to the early development of Chinese moral thought, from the oracle bone divination of the Shang Dynasty to the religious, ethical, and political theories of classical Confucianism, Mohism, and Daoism, through the unification of China in 221 BCE.  We will concentrate on early debates over human nature, the best practices of self-cultivation, the general nature of the cosmos and the human role in it, and the proper ordering of society.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: C. Cottine

RELG 255 – Gender(s) and Jewish Law
TR 3:00-4:15 PM
This course may also count for the major in (consult the program or department major requirements): Jewish Studies Program
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU
According to Jewish law, women and men have different religious obligations and prohibitions. This course examines the way in which rabbinic constructions of gender both adopt a binary representation of maleness and femaleness, but also challenge that binary through the construction and articulation of other possible gender presentations. We will also explore contemporary feminist and queer challenges to rabbinic ideas about gender and the questions they raise for Jewish thought and practice.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: D. Barer

RELG/JWST 258 - Introduction to the Talmud  
TR 9:30-10:50 AM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
The Talmud is a sprawling multi-volume compendium of rigorous legal argument, ingenious and fanciful biblical interpretations, rabbinic anecdotes, jokes and deep moral and theological investigations. Compiled between 200 and 600 CE, it has been the most important generative force in Jewish religion and culture for the following two millennia. Exemplary texts will be studied (in English translation) with an emphasis on developing students’ skills in close reading and critical discussion.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: D. Barer
Cross List Info: This course is cross-listed with JWST 258.

RELG 261 – Gender Theory and the Study of Religion
MWF 10:00-10:50 AM
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
This course will examine the various ways in which feminist scholars bring gender issues to the academic study of religion. Topics to be addressed will include: feminist critiques of androcentrism in ‘classic’ theories of religion; methods for the historical retrieval of suppressed women’s voices in historical texts; sociological and ethnographical approaches to investigating women’s marginalized ritual practices; feminist approaches to philosophy of religion and theology.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: M. Kamitsuka

RELG 272 - Introduction to the Qur’an
TR 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
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 276 - The Ethics of Conflict Resolution and Peace-Making in Christianity and Islam
TR 3:00-4:15 PM
This course may also count for the major in (consult the program or department major requirements):
Peace and Conflict Studies Concentration
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
The course offers a comparative introduction to the ethics of conflict resolution, peace-making and friendship in the Christian and Islamic traditions. By examining normative and philosophical analysis and theological conceptions of conflict, reconciliation, civic forgiveness and friendship, this course examines the place of religious practice and belief amidst unprecedented international efforts to end violence, political oppression and economic injustice. This course provides a new approach to conflict resolution beyond cold-peace.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: M. Mahallati
Prerequisites :At least one course on Islam and one on Christianity or alternatively one course in Conflict Resolution.

RELG 282 – Survey of American Christianity
TR 9:30-10:50 AM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU
Introduction to major issues, figures and movements in American religious history and American Christianity. Attention will be given to persistent themes such as individualism, the search for community, religion and reform, religious conservatism and innovation, and the religious nature of American culture. Class, race, ethnicity and gender will also be addressed as we explore American religious experience in all its diversity. The goal is to better understand the place of religion in American society, and to evaluate its past impact and future role. Some field trips to local churches.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: A.G. Miller

RELG 343 – Religion in Public Life
M 2:30-4:20 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU
In recent decades, the dramatic public presence of religion around the globe has challenged the assumption that modernization requires the retreat of religion into the private sphere. Drawing on historical and contemporary perspectives, this course examines the renewed attention to religion’s political relevance within the modern West. Attention will also be given to how recent theologians and philosophers of religion have brought religious themes to bear on current social and political challenges.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: C. Lockwood
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

RELG 348 – Comparative Religious Ethics
R 1:00-2:50 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, WAdv
This seminar focuses on the recent development of comparative religious ethics as a field, first surveying influential books and essays of the past 30 years, and then examining a number of recent works, including several that examine political theory comparatively. Comparative religious ethics makes ethical diversity central to its analysis, which typically begins with description and interpretation of particular accounts of morality. Comparing different instances of such ethics requires searching reflection on the methods and tools of inquiry.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: C. Cottine

RELG 373 - Islamic Mystic Traditions and Literature
W 6:30-8:30 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WINT
This seminar examines Sufism as both an esoteric and a devotional tradition, along with its relevance to modern Muslim life. Topics covered include the theory and history of ascetic movements, Sufi schools and institutions from classical to the modern times. Emphasis will be on reading and discussing selective and representative prose and poetry produced by great Sufi masters such as Ibn Arabi, Attar and Rumi as well as literary figures like Sa’di and Hafez. The course will also explore experiential, artistic and musical dimensions of Sufi-oriented religiosity.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: M. Mahallati
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

RELG 385 – Seminar: Selected Topics in American Religious History
T 1:00-2:50 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, WAdv
The seminar is an advanced study of selected themes, movements, and personalities in American religious life. Topic for 2015-16; Pentecostalism. One hundred years ago, in 1906, a revival emerged in a small African American house church in Los Angeles that would spark the Pentecostal explosion in America and around the world and become known as the “Third Wave” of Christianity. This course will explore Pentecostalism as a religious and social movement. The class will analyze Pentecostalism from different methodological approaches: historical, theological, and the social sciences. The seminar will examine various topics, including class, race, ethnicity, gender, spirituality, Charismatics, and the internationalization of the movement.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: A.G. Miller
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

RELG 402 - Capstone Colloquium
W 2:30-4:20 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, COLQ, WADV
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.
Enrollment Limit: 999
Instructor: C. Barnes, P. Richman
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes
Prerequisite:  RELG 401

RELG 405 - Capstone Seminar in Religious Studies
W 2:30-4:20 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, WADV
As an alterative 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.G. Miller, C. Cottine
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

 

RELIGION

Cynthia R. Chapman, Johnston Frank Associate Professor, Department Chair
Joyce K. Babyak, Associate Professor
Deborah Barer, Visiting Assistant Professor
Corey Barnes, Associate Professor
Christopher Callahan, Visiting Assistant Professor
Cheryl Cottine, 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
Paula S. Richman, Danforth Professor
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., African American 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 at least one 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.  Each major must complete a senior capstone seminar through one of two pathways. 

Path One: The RELG 401 (Capstone Research Methods) & RELG 402 (Capstone Colloquium) sequence. See below in Major description. 

Path Two: RELG 405 (Capstone Seminar in Religious Studies). See below in Major description. 

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,  (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” (RELG 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 107, 108 and 109) courses may be counted in the 9 courses required for the major.

Students majoring in Religion must do the following:

1.  Complete 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, 251, 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)

2. Complete 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, 258)      
  • Modern Religious Thought in the West (224, 225, 226, 227)
  • South Asian Religions (230, 231, 232, 233, 234, 238)
  • Africa (281)

3. Complete at least one additional 200-level course in one of the four subfields (along with a 300-level seminar), thus forming a subfield concentration.

4. Complete at least one 300-level seminar.  Majors will normally take the seminar within their subfield
concentration.

5. 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:
    Complete 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.  Students are strongly encouraged to have completed an advanced 300-level seminar before taking RELG 401.  In this course, students learn productive strategies for research and work toward a first draft of their capstone project.

    Complete Capstone Colloquium (RELG 402) in the second semester of the senior year.  RELG 401 is a prerequisite for RELG 402.  In this 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.

  • RELG 405
    As an alternative to RELG 401/402, complete Capstone Seminar in Religious Studies (RELG 405) in the second semester.  This alternative 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 complete a capstone project.

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 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 should provide the department with as much information about the transferred course as possible (including the syllabus, papers, and exams). The department will not normally allow more than 2 courses from other institutions to count 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 successful completion of the RELG 401/RELG 402 sequence, academic 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.