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
FALL 2017 Course Supplement

FALL 2017

Cycle

Start Time

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

TR

8:35-9:50

 

FYSP DS

 

FYSP DS

 

MWF

9:00-9:50

235JD  250AS

 

235JD  250AS

 

235JD  250AS

TR

 9:30-10:50

 

207SE 231EB

 

207SE 231EB

 

MWF

10:00-10:50

283NH

 

283NH

 

283NH

MWF

11:00-11:50

275MM

 

275MM

 

275MM

TR

11:00-12:15/20

 

227DS

 

227DS

 

TR

1:00-2:50 Seminar

 

305SE

 

 

 

MWF

1:30-2:20

270MM

 

270MM

 

270MM

TR

1:30-2:50

 

 

 

 

 

MWF

2:30-3:20

FYS NH

 

FYS NH

 

FYS NH

MWF

2:30-4:20 Seminar

405MM

 

401CB

 

 

MWF

2:30--4:20 (3 day)

 

 

 

 

 

TR

3:00-4:15/20

 

110SE   225DS

 

110SE   225 DS

 

 

Fall 2017                                                                                                                                       

RELG/JWST 110 - Surviving Empire: Negotiating Sacred Texts and Imperial Contexts
TR 3-4:15
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
In this course, students will investigate the interplay between sacred texts and imperial contexts. More specifically, we will study the interactions between theories of trauma, empire, and the postcolonial alongside sacred texts (and their contexts) from three religious traditions: Ancient Israelite religion, early Judaism, and early Christianity. Methodological issues raised in contemporary theory – as well as the methodological issues raised in the application of contemporary theory to ancient texts and contexts – will be discussed throughout the course. The course will conclude with a critical and trauma-sensitive analysis of Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: Sarah Emanuel

RELG/JWST 207 - The Jewish Jesus
TR 9:30-10:50
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
If Jesus is the epicenter of modern Christianity, does it make sense to situate him historically in a Jewish context? Could there be a difference between the contemporary (i.e., Christian) “Jesus of faith” and the “Jesus of history”? This course engages these questions and offers extended study into the historical, cultural, and theological contexts from which Jesus—and those who wrote about him—emerged. It also introduces students to the various approaches scholars use to guide these investigations.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: Sarah Emanuel

RELG 225 - Modern Religious Thought in the West: Late 17th to Mid-19th Century
TR 3-4:15
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU
This course analyzes the development of Western philosophy of religion and theology from the end of the Thirty Years War to the mid-19th century. Of special interest will be how the emerging scientific worldview affected traditional religious beliefs including views of God, human nature, the authority of scripture, the legitimacy of religious institutions, and the “essence” of religion. Attention will also be paid to the ways these intellectual developments are historically entangled with colonialism, the rise of capitalism, and the nation-state. Some of the thinkers to be studied include Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Lessing, Mendelssohn, Hegel, and Schleiermacher.
Enrollment Limit: 25
Instructor: Daniel Schultz

RELG 227 - Religion and Gender in Global Context
TR 11:00-12:15
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
This course examines issues of gender and religion as they intersect with global political discourses about women’s rights and competing definitions of agency. Questions explored will include: why have women’s bodies and forms of religious dress become charged sites of these negotiations? What assumptions concerning moral agency, freedom, and public/private space invest these sites with meaning in the first place? In what ways are representations of religious identity tied to specific operations of power? We will engage a cross-section of feminist scholarship that is in conversation with these questions from a range of theoretical perspectives and religious traditions.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: Daniel Schultz

RELG 231 - Introduction to Hindu Traditions
TR 9:30-10:50
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
This course introduces Hindu religious traditions and identifies key issues in the study of Hinduism and religion more broadly. Students will become familiar with terms essential to Hindu theologies and worldviews (e.g., dharma, karma, caste, and bhakti), prominent and lesser-known deities (e.g., Shiva, Krishna, Durga, and Santoshi Ma), and a wide variety of texts and performance traditions (from the Ramayana to the poetry of Mirabai). We will focus on how Hindu worldviews, theologies, texts, and practices have been enacted and received over time and in different social and regional contexts—from South Asia to North America.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: Emilia Bachrach

RELG 235 / EAST 151 - Chinese Thought & Religion
MWF 9:00-9:50
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
A historical survey of the three major religious and philosophical traditions of China: Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. Attention is given to how each comprehends the cosmos and translates its ideal into philosophical thought, religious practice, and social and moral imperative. Interaction and mutual borrowing among the three will be examined to show how each was inspired or challenged by the others and evolved in relation to them.              
Enrollment Limit: 40
Instructor: James Dobbins

RELG/JWST 250 - Introduction to Judaism
MWF 9:00-9:50
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
A theoretical introduction to Judaism as a religious system. Special attention will be paid to the historical development of the religion through interpretation of traditional texts and ritual practices.   
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: Abraham Socher

RELG 270 – Islam
MWF 1:30-2:20
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
This course surveys Islam in its religious, intellectual, historical, socio-political and institutional dimensions. It provides an overview of Muslim religious traditions for purposes of further historical study and for understanding contemporary Muslim societies. Topics covered include elements that constitute Muslim traditions, cultures and identities, such as: pre-Islamic Arab society and surrounding Persian and Roman civilizations, the Prophet and the Qur’an, Islamic theology, law, devotional rituals, arts and literature, mysticism, mosque and madrasa.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: Mohammad Mahallati

RELG 275 - Religion and Politics in the Modern Muslim World
MWF 11:00-11:50
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
The vast geography of Islam extending from Indonesia to Morocco has been fertile and contentious meeting place of religion and politics, especially in the modern era. This course analyses the dynamic between religion and politics in the Muslim world focusing especially on the last fifty years. The Arab-Israeli war, the Islamic revolution in Iran, the rise of militant fundamentalism, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the emergence of the Islamist democratic parties in Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey will be among the case-studies examined.              
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: Mohammad Mahallati

RELG 283 – Religions of North America
MWF 10:00-10:50
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
This course explores the role of religion in North American history and culture. Students will gain a background in American religious history and will also explore the role of diverse religious traditions in American culture around themes including: immigration, politics, race, gender, and material culture. 
Enrollment Limit: 30
Instructor: Staff

RELG 305 – Biblical Prophecy and Apocalypse
T 1:00-2:50
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, W-Int
What is the meaning of biblical prophecy? What does biblical prophecy have to do with Jesus and Christ-centered stories about the end of the world? This course is designed to introduce students to the critical study of prophecy, apocalypse, and eschatology. We will focus on the historical, cultural, and theological contexts in which biblical prophecies and apocalypses were written. We will also put into dialogue early Christ-centered writings with Jewish prophetic and apocalyptic texts, leaving room to question to what extent early Christ-followers made sense of Jesus and the end of days in light of traditional Jewish sources.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: Sarah Emanuel

RELG 401 – Capstone Research Methods
W 2:30-4:20

Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, WADV
This course focuses on the skills necessary for doing research in and using the methods of the academic study of religion. Students work one-on-one with a faculty advisor and in a group peer review process to develop a literature review and first draft of their capstone project, which is completed in RELG 402.
Instructor: Corey Barnes
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes
Prerequisites & Notes:  Students must have completed at least one 200-level course in two of the three general approaches to the study of religion. Students are strongly encouraged to have completed an advanced 300-level seminar before taking RELG 401.

RELG 405 – Capstone Seminar in Religious Studies
W 2:30-4:20
Full Course

Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, WADV
As an alternative to RELG 401/402, this capstone seminar 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.
Instructor: Mohammad Mahallati
Consent of the Instructor Required: Ye


Religion

 
Corey Barnes, Associate Professor, Department Chair (Semester 1)
Margaret D. Kamitsuka
, Davis Associate Professor, Department Chair (Semester 2)
Joyce K. Babyak, Associate Professor
Emilia Bachrach, Assistant Professor
Cynthia R. Chapman, Johnston Frank Associate Professor
Cheryl Cottine, Assistant Professor
James C. Dobbins, Fairchild Professor
Sarah Emanuel, Visiting Assistant Professor
David G. Kamitsuka, Associate Professor
Mohammad Mahallati, Presidential Scholar in Islamic Studies
Albert G. Miller, Associate Professor
Daniel Schultz, Visiting Assistant 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., 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, 227, 229)
  • Religious Social Ethics (241, 242, 244, 245, 248, 249, 254, 276)
  • Gender & Religion (261, 262, 264, 227)

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, 286)

  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.