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 2018 Course Supplement

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

MWF

9:00-9:50

208   236

 

208   236

 

208 236

TR

9:00-10:50

 

 

 

 

 

TR

 9:30-10:50

 

181  251

 

181  251

 

MWF

10:00-10:50

 

 

 

 

 

MWF

11:00-11:50

135

 

135

 

135

TR

11:00-12:15

 

 

 

 

 

TR

1:00-2:50 Seminar

 

382

 

342

 

MWF

1:30-2:20

226

 

226

 

226

TR

1:30-2:45

 

254  264  272

 

254  264  272

 

MWF

2:30-3:20

210

 

210

 

210

MWF

2:30-4:20 Seminar

330

 

402

 

 

TR

3:00-4:15

 

 274  286

 

 274  286

 

MWF

3:30-4:20

215

 

215

 

215

MTWR

Eve (6:30 or after)

 

 

 

 

 

 

RELG 135 - Introduction to Religion: Devotion and Performance in South Asia
MWF 11-11:50
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
How does devotional literature and performance interact with and become shaped by social and historical circumstances in different South Asian traditions? In this course students think comparatively about how South Asian Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu communities express devotion through literature and performance. We will learn to read, view, listen to, and critically engage with various genres of medieval and modern literature and performing and visual arts that express passionate devotion to diverse conceptions of the divine, as well as a range of emotions--fear, longing, liberation. We will be attentive to what is shared and distinct in articulations of devotion across traditions, periods, and regions.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: E. Bachrach

RELG 181 - Introduction to Religion: Saints and Holy People in Christianity, Islam, and Black Atlantic Religion
TR 9:30-10:50
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
What makes certain people holy? And what are the different ways religious people interact with sacred beings? In this course, we will examine the place of saints and holy people in Christianity, Islam, and Black Atlantic Religion (which includes traditions like Cuban Santería and Brazilian Candomblé). In addition to gaining a working knowledge of these traditions, students will learn to use influential anthropological and sociological theories of religion to interpret a variety of religious phenomena, ranging from funerary ritual and the veneration of saints to spirit mediumship and healing practices.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor:
M Amoruso

RELG 208 - New Testament and Christian Origins
MWF 9-9:50
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WINT

This introduction to the academic study of the New Testament introduces students to the construction of New Testament texts, early Jesus followers, and the origins of Christianity through a survey of New Testament writings and other Jewish/Christian/Jesus-centered documents. Implementing a variety of theories and methods, we will situate texts within their own historical, political, and theological contexts. We will ask: What kind of literature are we reading? For what communities were these texts written? How might the use of a particular methodology impact what we see in the text? What does any of this have to do with religion today?
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: S. Emanuel
This course is cross-listed with JWST 208

RELG 210 - The Postmodern Bible
MWF 2:30-3:20
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
The field of biblical studies emerged out of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. As a result, ‘postmodern’ biblical scholarship has come to refer to scholarship that, generally speaking, pushes against the grain of traditional historical-critical (i.e., ‘scientific’) biblical inquiry. This course provides students with an opportunity to explore postmodern biblical hermeneutics and the various critical responses to traditional biblical scholarship. Some of the postmodern approaches we will cover include postructuralist, feminist, womanist, postcolonial, queer, affect-oriented, and posthumanist perspectives.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: S. Emanuel

RELG 215 - A History of Sin
MWF 3:30-4:20
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU
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: 35
Instructor: C. Barnes

RELG 226 - Modern Religious Thought in the West: Mid-19th Century to the Present
MWF 1:30-2:20
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU
 This course examines the relationship between religious and secular frameworks in the modern West from the mid-19th century to present. Central topics include theological responses to modern scientific and historical consciousness, secular critiques of religion, and efforts to address the cultural and religious issues arising from the devastation of the two world wars and the disaggregation of colonial empires. The course will engage Feminist, Black, Marxist, and Postcolonial perspectives. Readings are drawn from (among others) Feuerbach, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Barth, Levi, Gutièrrez, Levinas, Cone, Althaus-Reid, and Kwok.
Enrollment Limit: 25
Instructor: D. Schultz

RELG 236 - Japanese Thought and Religion
MWF 9-9:50
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
This course is cross-listed with EAST 152

RELG 251 - Modern Jewish Thought
TR 9:30-10:50
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
A historical and philosophical investigation of modern Jewish thought. This course will consider the approaches of major Jewish thinkers from a range of movements and ideological perspectives. We will explore perspectives on topics including the meaning of Judaism, the authority of rabbinic tradition, the role of ethics, the relationship between Jews and non-Jews, and the nature of God.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: A. Socher
This course is cross-listed with JWST 151

RELG 254 - Anti-Judaism (and Judaism) from Late Antiquity to Postmodernity
TR 1:30-2:45
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
Questions of what it means to be Jewish and, more critically, what it means not to be Jewish churned through the Western imagination for most of its history. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans; Christians and Muslims of every period; even the secularists of modernity and postmodernity have all crucially identified themselves over and against what they imagine Judaism to be. The intersections of these ideas with political power and violence-the Roman destruction of the Second Temple, the Spanish Inquisition, the German Holocaust-are well known, but we will focus on political and intellectual discourse from late antiquity to the 21st century.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: A. Socher
Cross-listed with JWST 254

RELG 264 - Abortion and Religion
TR 1:30-2:45
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
This course provides an overview of how abortion is addressed religiously in a global context. We will study current debates between prolife and prochoice representatives from Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish traditions on issues such as women’s rights, fetal personhood, and biblical teachings about human life. We will examine abortion controversies worldwide, including: anti-abortion clinic violence, one-child forced abortion laws, and incarceration for women in countries where abortion is illegal. We will also study religious practices developed for and/or by women who have had abortions, such as Buddhist mizuko kujo or Jewish mikvah rituals.
Enrollment Limit: 35
Instructor: M. Kamitsuka
Cross-listed with GSFS 264

RELG 272 - Introduction to the Qur’an
TR 1:30-2:45
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 274 - Friendship: Perspectives from Religion, Politics, Economics, and Art

TR 3-4:15
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU
This course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to the role of friendship in promoting peacemaking. By providing normative, philosophical, theological, political, economic and artistic analysis (in visual arts, literature and film), the course examines the potentials of friendship as a catalyst for a paradigm shift in international and interfaith relations and in peacemaking. Moving beyond cold war and cold peace, this course discusses how promoting civic friendship through interdisciplinary and inter-cultural approaches can help curb violence, political oppression, religious extremism, economic injustice and environmental destruction.
Enrollment Limit: 20
Instructor: M. Mahallati

RELG 286 – Religion in the Contemporary Americas
TR 3:00-4:15

Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD
This course offers a broad survey of religion in the contemporary Americas from the late nineteenth century to today. We will consider a range of transnational religious movements, including theosophy and the “global occult,” to Black Jews and early Rastafari, to evangelical Protestantism in the United States and Latin America. Hemispheric in scope, it asks to what extent we can tell a story about religion in the Americas and the challenges in so doing. And most of all, it considers how such a perspective might enhance or complicate our understanding of religion in world today.
Enrollment Limit: 25
Instructor
: M. Amoruso

RELG 330 - Religion, Gender, and Sexuality in India
Mon. 2:30-4:20
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WINT
How do religious ideologies influence social behaviors and norms related to gender and sexuality? And how are these norms lived out, reinforced, and subverted? This course considers how Hindu and Jain traditions negotiate the complex relationship between religion, gender, and sexuality. Topics may include: kinship and family; pregnancy and childbirth; goddess traditions; asceticism; transgender identities; masculinities; somatic nationalism; and eroticism in literary and performance traditions. Students will explore each topic through engagement with diverse primary and secondary sources, including autobiographies, oral histories, ethnographies, films, religious narratives, and theatrical performances.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: E. Bachrach
Consent of the Instructor Required

RELG 342 - Religion and Disenchantment in 20th-century Literature
Thur 1-2:50
Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, CD, WINT
How is religion imagined in modern literature? In what ways has literature itself become a species of religious thought? This course explores how 20th-century literature reflects a crisis of meaning in modern religious thought, on the one hand, and how it sustains the religious through attachment to form, to loss, and to belief without meaning, on the other. We will read writers (Baldwin, Morrison, O’Connor, Endo, Camus, amongst others) with both direct and oblique relationships to religious discourses and institutions. We will examine notions of forgiveness, martyrdom, apostasy, idolatry, and love together with social themes of race, class, and gender.
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: D. Schultz
Consent of the Instructor Required

RELG 386 – Spirit Possession
T 1:00-2:50
Full Course

Credits: 4 credits
Attribute: 4HU, WINT
Why channel the spirits of the dead? What does it mean to be possessed? Beginning with a study of seventeenth-century demonic possession in France, this study will explore mediumship and exorcism practices in the Atlantic world from the early modern period to today. In addition to understanding these traditions on their own terms, we will consider how spirit possession informed public debates about science, agency and subjectivity, race, and gender. 
Enrollment Limit: 15
Instructor: M. Amoruso
Consent of the Instructor Required: Yes

RELG 402 - Capstone Colloquium
Wed 2:30-4:20
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.
Instructor: M. Kamitsuka
Consent of the Instructor Required
Prerequisite: RELG 401


Religion

Corey Barnes, Associate Professor, Department Chair
Margaret D. Kamitsuka
, Davis Associate Professor
Michael Amoruso, Visiting Assistant Professor
Joyce K. Babyak, Associate Professor
Emilia Bachrach, Assistant Professor
Cynthia R. Chapman, Johnston Frank 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 029, 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, 109, 110, 123, 130, 153, 181) 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, 256, 258)
  • Islam (270, 272, 275)
  • Christianity (209, 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)

2. Take one 200-level course in at least four of the sub-fields represented in our major.  (Courses identified under the general approaches requirement may also count toward this sub-field requirement.)

  • American Religious History (209, 282, 284, 285)
  • East Asian Religions (235, 236, 239)
  • Religious Social Ethics (241, 242, 243, 245, 248, 249, 254, 276)
  • Gender and Religion (237, 261, 262, 263)
  • History of Christianity (215, 216, 217, 218)
  • Islam (270, 272, 275)
  • Jewish and Christian Scriptures (202, 205, 207, 208, 209)
  • Judaism (250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 258)      
  • Modern Religious Thought in the West (224, 225, 226)
  • South Asian Religions (203, 231, 232, 233, 237, 238)
  • Africa (281)

3. Take at least one additional 200-level course in one of the four sub-fields (along with a 300-level seminar), thus forming a sub-field concentration.

4. Take at least one 300-level seminar.  Majors will normally take the seminar within their sub-field 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: 

  • 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.

6. 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.