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

2015-16
RELIGION DEPARTMENT
COURSE SUPPLEMENT


FALL 2015                                                                           


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
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

FYSP 046 - Japanese Religion and Pop Culture
TR 1:30-2:45
Full Course
Credits: 4 Credits
Attribute: 4HU, WINT
This course examines the representation of religion in manga and anime and explores the role these new media have played in re-creating the religious and cultural landscape of modern Japan. In addition to analyzing the form and content of these new media, we will be looking at the production of manga and anime by religious organizations and analyzing the reception of these popular media by devout fans and religious practitioners.
Enrollment Limit: 14
Instructor: C. Callahan
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

FYSP 050 - Conceptions of the Self East and West
TR 11:00 AM -12:15  PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 Credits
Attribute: 4HU, WINT
This course examines important, indeed classic, statements on the nature of human existence from the ancient and modern West, and from East Asia, and endeavors to sensitively compare these diverse visions of human life without capitulating to nihilism, relativism, or self-satisfied cultural chauvinism. We examine influential representatives of several traditions, including Confucianism, Daoism, Christianity, and contemporary democratic political theory.
Enrollment Limit: 14
Instructor: C. Cottine
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

RELG 101 - Introduction to Religion: Religion as a World Phenomenon
MWF 1:30-2:20 pm
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU CD
This course explores the nature of religion as mirrored in a number of traditions. The course will both survey the basic beliefs and practices of the religious traditions and their responses to changing intellectual, cultural and political circumstances.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: C Lockwood

RELG 108 - Introduction to Religion: Women and the Western Traditions
TR 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM
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
An introduction to Judaism, Christianity and Islam that focuses on women's experiences and gender roles. This course will examine representations of women in sacred texts; primary sources by and about women from various historical periods, and contemporary feminist voices within each religious tradition. Topics to be investigated include: rabbinic teachings on biblical women, the role of women in early Christian heretical movements, discourses of the veil in Islam.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: M. Kamitsuka

RELG 205 / JWST 205 - Hebrew Bible in its Ancient Near Eastern Context
MWF 9:00-9:50 AM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
An introduction to the literature, religion, and history of ancient Israel as contained within the Hebrew Bible and to the methods of interpretation used by modern scholars to understand this ancient text. Biblical writings will be studied within the context of other ancient Near Eastern texts. Thematic emphases include the emergence of monotheism, the conceptualization of the divine/human relationship, the mediation of priest, prophet and king, and issues of canon.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: C. Chapman
Prerequisites & Notes No previous knowledge of the Hebrew Bible is assumed.
Cross List Information This course is cross-listed with JWST 205.

RELG 215 – A History of Sin
MWF 10:00-10:50 AM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, WInt
This course will offer an interpretive history of sin by examining notions such as a primal fall, construals of deadly sin, negative presentations of bodies and sexuality, pride, guilt, shame, anxiety, ignorance, and contemporary reappraisals. The focus will be on Christian traditions, but other perspectives and sources will be considered. Through texts ancient to contemporary, the course will highlight changing conceptions of sin as a means for grappling with the human condition and society.
Enrollment Limit: 25
Instructor: C. Barnes

RELG 225 - Modern Religious Thought in the West: Late 17th to Mid-19th Century
MWF 11:00-11:50 AM
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 true ‘essence’ of religion. Some of the thinkers to be studied include Pascal, Locke, Hume, Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant, Mendelssohn, Schleiermacher, and Kierkegaard.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: C Lockwood

RELG 231 - Rituals, Asceticism, and Devotion in Classical Hinduism
MWF 11:00-11:50 AM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
A study of the Hindu tradition in India, from its origins to the development of the later devotional movements. Textual study focuses on ritual hymns, renunciatory texts, devotional poems, and classical mythology. Attention is also paid to analysis of religious practices, especially as they vary according to social location and gender of adherents. Societal aspects of Hinduism to be explored include religious constructions of “caste,” notions of religious kingship, and gendered perceptions of the divine. The last section looks at the ways in which the early Buddhist movement developed out of Hindu roots.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: P. Richman

RELG 235 - Chinese Thought & Religion
MWF 9-9:50
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 universe 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 changed or inspired by the others and evolved under their influence.
Enrollment Limit: 40
Instructor: C. Callahan
Cross List Information This course is cross-listed with EAST 151

RELG 248 – Religion, Ethics, and the Environment
TR 8:35-9:50 AM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, WInt
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.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: C. Cottine

RELG 250 / JWST 150 – Introduction to Judaism
MWF 2:30-3:20 PM
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: D. Barer

RELG 262 – Religious Identity in Multicultural Perspective
MW 2:30-3:45 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
How do factors such as sexuality, gender, race and nationality affect religious identity? This course investigates answers to that question by contemporary scholars from multiple religious traditions (Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Native American), especially in light of sexism, racism, heterosexism and colonialism. Students will gain familiarity with how current critical theories (standpoint, poststructuralist, feminist, queer, postcolonial) are employed to help articulate religious identity in an increasingly complex, globalized world.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: M. Kamitsuka

RELG 281 / AAST 131 - Traditional African Cosmology and Religions: Shifting Contours and Contested Terrains
TR 3:00-4:15 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
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: 35
Instructor: A. Miller, D. Opoku
Cross List Information This course is cross-listed with AAST 131.

RELG 284 - The History of the African-American Religious Experience
TR 9:35-10:50 AM

This course may also count for the major in (consult the program or department major requirements):
African American Studies
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
An introduction to the religious movements and institutions of African Americans from the period of slavery to the present. Various topics include African religions; slave religion; independent black Protestant churches; gender and race relations in American church life; politics in black churches; missionary efforts to Africa and the Caribbean; Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, Pentecostalism; the civil rights movement; modern role of religion in African-American life.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: A. Miller

RELG 304 – Biblical Women in Text and Tradition
M 2:30-4:20 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, CD, WAdv
This course uses a tradition history approach to trace the midrashic and inter-textual development of biblical women as their stories are expanded through translation, retelling and homily. The textual traditions examined include the Massoretic Hebrew text, the Greek Septuagint, the Aramaic targums, the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, and early Jewish and Christian commentary. The evolving biographies include those of Eve, Rebekah, Dinah, Jezebel, and Ruth. Readings will be in English.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: C. Chapman
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

RELG 325 - The Karma of Words
This course may also count for the major in (consult the program or department major requirements): East Asian Studies, and Comparative Literature
T 6:30-8:30 pm
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WINT
This course explores the relation between Buddhism and the Literary Arts of Japan. After introducing the ideas, motifs, paradigms and images of the Buddhist tradition and reading Buddhist scriptural texts from a literary perspective, we will then analyze how Buddhism was re-expressed and reshaped in Japanese literature through a close reading of court poetry, karma stores, tales of romance and war, literary essays, noh drama, haiku and a modern novel.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: C. Callahan
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

RELG 328 – Seminar: Selected Topics in the Study of Hinduism: The Ramayana Tradition in South Asia
M 2:30-4:20 PM
Full Course
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WInt
Throughout Indian history many authors and performers have produced many tellings of Rama’s story (Ramkatha). The seminar explores this narrative diversity, with attention to tellings that question the texts by Valmiki and Tulsidas. Versions include women’s song cycles, puppetry performances, tellings that subvert brahmanical norms, and dramatic performances in diaspora communities. Themes explored include the effect of print culture and television on cultural perceptions of Ramayana characters.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: P. Richman
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

RELG 401 - Capstone Research Methods
W 2:30-4:20 PM
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: C. 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

SPRING 2016                                                                       

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 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 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 351 – Virtue and Vice in Rabbinic Ethics
T 6:30-8:30 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, WINT
Rabbinic narratives are replete with descriptions of behavioral extremes: wisdom, discretion, and a passionate love for learning are presented as counterpoints to rabbinic violence, shame and a struggle to control desire. These stand in sharp contrast to narratives in the Greco-Roman traditions, which tend to emphasize moderation. In this seminar, students will explore how different narratives and articulations of virtue and vice lead to intriguingly different conceptions of the sagely ideal.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: D. Barer

RELG 365 - Seminar: Religion and the Body
T 1:00-2:50 PM
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
This seminar uses current theories about gender, sexuality, and religious experience as lenses for investigating how religion represents and regulates women’s and men’s bodies. Issues to be addressed include: suffering and medieval Christian asceticism, religious perspectives on women’s bleeding and birthing, gender and sexuality in Buddhism.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: M. Kamitsuka
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

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
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
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 046, 050, 058, 085, 091, 101, 118, 124, 131, 144, 147, 156, 158, 164, 172, 186, 194) 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, 253, 254, 258)
  • Islam (270, 272, 273)
  • Christianity (217, 218, 228)
  • Hinduism (231, 238)
  • The modern-culture-based approach:
  • Modern Religious Thought in the West (225, 226, 227, 229)
  • Religious Social Ethics (241, 242, 244, 245)
  • Gender & Religion (247, 261, 262)
  • The geographical region-based approach:
  • Ancient Near East  (202, 203, 205, 208, 210)
  • East Asia (235, 236, 239)
  • South Asia (233, 234)
  • 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, 249)
  • Gender and Religion (247, 261, 262, 263)
  • History of Christianity (217, 218)
  • Islam (270, 272, 273)
  • Jewish and Christian Scriptures (202, 205, 208)
  • Judaism (250, 251,253, 254, 258)      
  • Modern Religious Thought in the West (225, 226, 227)
  • South Asian Religions (231, 233, 234, 238)

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 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.
  • 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.