Religious Studies Courses

REL
100
HU
Hours
3
Intro To Religious Studies

Various methodological approaches to the academic study of religion, with examples of religious life and thought drawn from a variety of cultures. This course is required of all majors and minors.

Humanities
REL
101
HU
Hours
3
The Violent and the Sacred: Religion and the Problem of Human Suffering

This introductory course examines the socio-cultural constructs called "religion" and "violence" with the help of academic theories and theorists in order to consider relationships between the two. The course introduces theories of evil, violence, and hatred, using historical and contemporary case studies on such topics as terrorism and genocide.

Prerequisite(s): N/A
Prerequisite(s) with concurrency: N/A
Humanities
REL
102
HU
Hours
3
Intro to Religions of the World

This comparative study of religions highlights complexity in world religions. Topics, such as texts, practices, and deities, organize the study of different pairs of religions.

Humanities
REL
103
HU
Hours
3
Religion in the News

This introductory level course examines the place and function of religion in modern culture by examining the way stories are (or are not) identified as religious in news media. Drawing on various historical examples—from print to digital media--the course introduces students to the academic study of religion through case studies of how religion is commonly represented in the media, paying particular attention to the possible motives and practical consequences to classifying claims, actions and organizations as religious or not. As part of the core curriculum, this course addresses the ability of students to deal with questions of values, ethics, or aesthetics as they are represented in the humanistic fields of religious studies and history. The course is broad in scope and takes a global perspective of religion and news media and the relationship between all points of view on these subjects. The emphasis of the course is the history and appreciation of religion, media, and culture.

Humanities
REL
104
HU
Hours
3
Religion in Pop Culture

Instead of assuming that religion is a distinct aspect of the human, one that interacts only with elements of elite or high culture, this course examines the ways that the beliefs and behaviors that we commonly classify as religious are a part of everyday culture—in particular, the ways that they are produced by and in turn influence popular culture. Myths, rituals, and traditions circulate all throughout mass culture via print, radio, television, and now the web. The course therefore introduces students to a set of recent, historical examples where the scholar of religion can shed light on the workings of contemporary day-to-day life. As a part of the core curriculum, this course addresses the ability of students to deal with questions of values, ethics, or aesthetics as they are represented in the humanistic fields of learning regarding the study of religion, film, art, music, and online media. The course is broad in scope and takes a global perspective on religion and popular culture as well as the relationship between all points of view on these subjects. The emphasis of the course is the history and appreciation of religion and popular culture.

Prerequisite(s): None.
Prerequisite(s) with concurrency: None.
Humanities
REL
105
HU, UH
Hours
3
Honors Intro Relig Stdy

Honors version of REL 100.

Humanities, University Honors
REL
106
HU
Hours
3
Introduction to Ancient Greek Religions

This course is an introduction to the myths and practices of what contemporary scholars call ancient Greek religion. It examines the problem of defining "religion," and translating specific ancient greek terms as "religion," and the implication involved in this process.

Humanities
REL
110
HU
Hours
3
Intro To The Old Testament

Introduction to the books of the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible as it is known in Judaism, in their historical setting, with emphasis on textual analysis and on literary forms and their function and use in the past and present.

Humanities
REL
112
HU
Hours
3
Intro To New Testament

Introduction to the Hellenistic world of early Christianity, examining the early traditions about Jesus that were organized into the Gospels and the letters of Paul.

Humanities
REL
120
HU
Hours
3
Religion and Science

This course is a broad, interdisciplinary introduction to the ways in which “science” and “religion” have been defined.

Humanities
REL
124
HU
Hours
3
Religion and Film in America

This course considers popular film as a site for investigating and critiquing religion in America. Historically significant, as well as currently popular, films are examined in relation to academic writings about film and religion in order to gain a greater understanding of the role religious rhetoric, imagery, and concepts play in American popular culture.

Humanities
REL
130
HU
Hours
3
Religion, Politics, and Law

This introductory level course examines the construction of religion through law, politics, and the nation-state. Students are introduced to the role of religion in liberal political theory, secularism, and the modern rise of the nation-state. This course will be particularly helpful to students interested in religious studies, history, political science, law, and philosophy.

Humanities
REL
209
HU
Hours
3
Buddhism

This course offers a survey of religious themes and movements related to Buddhism in various Asian countries and North America. The topics include historical narratives, interpretations of texts, transformations of rituals, diaspora and identity, nationalism and politics, and Buddhism in contemporary culture.

Humanities
REL
220
HU
Hours
3
Survey Of Asian Religion

Introductory survey of the major religious traditions of Asia, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto.

Humanities
REL
223
Hours
3
Holocaust Historical Perspecti

Examination of this event, and scholarship on it, from various historical and critical perspectives.

REL
224
HU
Hours
3
Judaism

A study of some of the leading schools and interpreters of Judaism and a review of modern developments including the Holocaust and the State of Israel.

Prerequisite(s): No prerequisites required.
Humanities
REL
226
HU
Hours
3
African Diaspora Religions

Examination of African influence throughout the Americas (e.g., Candomblé in Brazil, Vodou in the Caribbean, African-American religions in North America), focusing on the interplay between religion, culture and politics.

Humanities
REL
231
HU
Hours
3
Religious Existentialism

This course surveys the history of a very influential school of modern, Western religious thought called religious existentialism. We will review the major texts, authors, and themes of this eclectic movement. The course will include study and discussion of texts by Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Buber, Heidegger, de Beauvoir, Sartre, Fanon, Derrida, Cixous and Zizek.

Humanities
REL
234
Hours
3
Women And Religion

The role and place of women in several religious traditions, ancient and modern.

REL
236
HU
Hours
3
Islam

An introduction to the traditions of Islam, including their history, texts, intellectual debates, and contemporary practices.

Humanities
REL
237
Hours
3
Self Society & Religions

A survey of psychological and social theories used to study religion, drawing on different cultural and historical data of relevance to the approaches surveyed.

REL
238
Hours
3
Philosophies Of Judaism

Survey of major philosophical formulations of the nature and role of Jews and Judaism, written by select Jewish thinkers.

REL
240
HU
Hours
3
Apocalypse In Popular Media

Examines contemporary depictions of apocalypse and dystopia in popular media.

Humanities
REL
241
HU
Hours
3
American Religious History

This course offers a survey of religious themes and movements in American culture from the period before European colonization to the present. It is of particular use for students interested in American history, law, American studies, religious studies, and cultural studies.

Humanities
REL
245
UH
Hours
3
Honors Hist. Religions of Amer

This Honors course offers a survey of religious themes and movements in American culture from the period before European colonization to the present.

University Honors
REL
310
Hours
1
REL Goes to the Movies

This one credit course involves monthly films, discussions, and attending either the annual Day or Aronov Lecture.

REL
311
W
Hours
3
English Bible As Literature

Analytical and critical study of a number of books of the Bible; each book is examined and evaluated as an example of a particular literary genre. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

Writing
REL
315
Hours
3
Digital Humanities in Religious Studies

This cross-disciplinary course introduces students to the methods of the digital humanities by applying those methods to the study of religion. Students will learn a variety of digital methods and tools and apply those to data drawn from religious studies. Students do not need a background in computing or religious studies.

REL
321
Hours
3
Rel & Ident in South Asia

Investigates the intersections of various social divisions and identities with religious labels and practices by analyzing case studies from South Asia.

REL
322
W
Hours
3
Tales from Asia: Told and Retold in Film and Popular Culture

This core writing course analyzes retellings of ancient tales within contemporary popular culture, investigating versions of two specific stories, the Ramayana and Journey to the West, to address issues surrounding myths and cultural identity and the ways people adapt stories for various ideological purposes, including the politics of translation, adaptation, and classification. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

Prerequisite(s): None
Prerequisite(s) with concurrency: None
Writing
REL
336
W
Hours
3
Islam and the West

Media overage of Muslims in the United States and Europe often focus on some kind of comparison or contrast between Islam and "the West." This course examines how ideas of Islam and the West have been co-constructed. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

Writing
REL
341
W
Hours
3
Theories of Myth

From Hercules to Achilles, to Odysseus, and from Oedipus Rex to Medea, myths of the ancient Greek world are as popular today as they were thousands of years ago. Why do we re-tell those ancient myths today? What makes something a myth? What’s the difference between a myth and a story? How did scholars try to explain the origin and function of myths? Do we produce myths today? The course will address those questions by looking at several myths of the ancient Greco-Roman world but also will look at the theories scholars developed in order to understand those stories. The course examines the history of differing theories of myth, conceived as a sub-type of narrative. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

Writing
REL
342
W
Hours
3
Theories of Ritual

This Core Writing course explores a wide range of rituals in diverse religious, social, and cultural contexts. We examine various theories about the definitions, meanings, and roles of ritual. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

Writing
REL
347
W
Hours
3
Jewish-Christian Relations

Critical examination of the 2,000-year-old relationship focusing on areas of commonality and difference. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

Writing
REL
351
W
Hours
3
Asian Religions in America

This course introduces the history and development of Asian religions in American culture. Topics will include immigrant groups, American-born converts, and the ways Asian religions have been represented and imagined in American culture. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

Writing
REL
355
W
Hours
3
The Rhetoric of Religious Conviction

Examines the resort to religion in the rhetoric and actions of selected public figures. Appeals to religious values will be critically analyzed in relation to the writings and works of persons such as Dorothy Day, Desmond Tutu, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Malcolm X, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King, or Sojourner Truth. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

Writing
REL
360
Hours
1-3
Individual Research

Supervised research of the student's choice. May be repeated for a maximum of 9 hours for differing topics. Speak with the professor before registering.

REL
361
Hours
1-3
Individual Research

Supervised research of the student's choice. May be repeated for a maximum of 12 hours for differing topics. Speak with the professor before registering.

REL
370
Hours
3
Adv Study Religion In Religion and Communication

Specific context will be determined by faculty responsible for the course that semester. May be repeated for a maximum of 9 hours for differing topics.

REL
371
Hours
3
Adv St Religion and Conflict

Specific context will be determined by faculty responsible for the course that semester. May be repeated for a maximum of 9 hours for differing topics.

REL
372
Hours
3
Adv Std Religion and Context

Specific context will be determined by faculty responsible for the course that semester. May be repeated for a maximum of May be repeated for a maximum of 9 hours for differing topics.

REL
373
Hours
3
Seminar Rel and Communication

Specific context will be determined by faculty responsible for the course that semester. May be repeated for a maximum of 9 hours for differing topics.

REL
400
Hours
3
Religious Studies Honors Thesis

REL 400 is an independent research course in which the student conducts Honors Thesis research under the guidance of a thesis advisor. Research projects will include the development of an original research question; in-depth research into relevant secondary and primary sources; a prospectus outlining the proposed thesis; a 15-25 page long essay with reference notes and annotated bibliography; and an oral presentation of the research. Students will meet regularly with the thesis advisor throughout the semester during which which the course is undertaken. Talk to the REL advisor for more information.

Prerequisite(s): Permission of the Instructor
REL
410
Hours
3
Religion and Genocide

Explores the phenomenon known as genocide by examining its relationship to the religion in both its institutional and theological frameworks.

REL
415
W
Hours
3
Religion in the American South

This Writing course will look at the roles and implications of myths and rituals in the American South, using the UA campus as its own case study and talking about how notions of “the past” come to be invented in different ways for different social purposes through memorials and monuments. Because the course carries the Core “W” designation, an important component of the seminar is the culminating term paper, which we will take through the writing process throughout the semester. This includes brainstorming, drafting, peer editing, and revising. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

Writing
REL
419
W
Hours
3
Adv Studies in Myth and Ritual

Examination of the theories and methods used to study the relations between religious narrative and behavioral systems, with a focus on myth and ritual. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

Writing
REL
420
W
Hours
3
Gospel Of Mark

Investigates the Gospel of Mark through the disciplines of contemporary biblical, literary, and cultural criticism. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

Writing
REL
430
W
Hours
3
Religion and Literature

This course will examine religion and literature in light of what both discourses rely heavily on: namely, canon formation. From a critical starting point that views these two categories as socio-cultural products, we will discuss problems of authorship, readership, and canonicity with a particular eye toward the questions and implications of decisions that are made regarding what “counts” in literary or religious traditions. An important component of the seminar is the mastering the steps in the writing process, which we will be utilizing throughout the semester. These steps include brainstorming, drafting, peer editing, and revising. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.

Writing
REL
436
Hours
3
Making Islam: Debating Authenticity and Authority

This course is a study of how various agents (both Muslim and non-Muslims) construct, debate, and refute ideas about Islam in popular culture and academic sources. We will pay particular attention to how scholars attempt to make sense of such diverse accounts, the assumptions that they make, and the roles that they play in debates over the nature of Islam.

Prerequisite(s): None
REL
440
Hours
3
Theories of Religion

Examines classic and contemporary theories of religion such as functionalism, structuralism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis. Emphasis may vary with each offering.

REL
450
Hours
3
Religion & Power in Colonial India

This course explores the ways Britons and South Asians imagined, debated, conspired, and coerced one another in the construction of “religion” during the colonial period of South Asian history.

REL
455
Hours
3
Popular Culture and Religion Seminar

A seminar on method in the study of religion and popular culture based in the ongoing projects of seminar participants.

Prerequisite(s): permission of instructor
REL
460
Hours
1-3
Individual Research

Supervised research of the student's choice. May be repeated for a maximum of 12 hours for differing topics. Speak with the professor before registering.

REL
461
Hours
1-3
Individual Research

Supervised research of the student's choice. May be repeated for a maximum of 12 hours for differing topics. Speak with the professor before registering.

REL
480
Hours
3
Seminar Rel and Conflict

Specific context will be determined by faculty responsible for the course that semester. May be repeated for a maximum of 9 hours for differing topics.

REL
483
Hours
3
Seminar Rel and Context

Specific context will be determined by faculty responsible for the course that semester. May be repeated for a maximum of 9 hours for differing topics.

REL
490
Hours
3
Senior Capstone Seminar

A seminar offered spring semester of each year for seniors pursuing a major or minor in religious studies or minor in Judaic studies. The professor and subject of the seminar rotate through the four areas of the curriculum. Required of all majors and minors in the Department. May be repeated for a maximum of 9 hours for differing topics.

REL
501
Hours
3
Social Theory and Religious Studies

This three credit hour graduate seminar introduces students to terms and ideas from social theory and their relevance to the academic study of religion. Throughout the course, students will apply theories to analyze examples relevant in Religious Studies, both ancient and modern. Each student will also select an important work in their chosen field of study in consultation with their advisor and analyze that work in depth in relation to the various issues discussed in the course.

Prerequisite(s): None, except admission to degree program
REL
502
Hours
3
Public Humanities and Religious Studies

This graduate seminar introduces students to public humanities and digital humanities approaches to the study of religion. Students learn methods and tools for conducting digital research and explore ways to communicate theoretical and religious studies research to public audiences through digital media. Students are introduced to a number of digital tools for research, scholarly communication, and public engagement and will work to apply those tools to their individual research interests and goals.

Prerequisite(s): None, except admission to degree program
REL
503
Hours
1
Methods for the Digital Study of Religion

This graduate seminar introduces students to methods for the digital study of religion with a focus on the interfaces that enable computationally mediated scholarship. Students will tackle two core issues in digital scholarship: the development of computational research questions and the design and creation of digital text. Each student will develop a proof of concept for a computation-driven research question in their chosen field of study and a web page that introduces their project idea. The course is structured around a series of intensive, hands-on and collaborative workshops, the first focused on questions of computation and the second on web development.

REL
504
Hours
3
Special Topics in Religion in Culture

To illustrate the gains of applying social theory to the study of religion, this course will draw upon current examples to study in light of the skills gained in the social theory foundations course. Specific content will be determined by faculty responsible for the course each semester. This course may be repeated for a maximum of 9 hours for differing topics.

Prerequisite(s): None, except admission to degree program
REL
511
Hours
3
History of Religious Studies

This graduate seminar surveys the origins, objects of study, and pivotal thinkers that scholars often highlight when outlining the historical development/current shape of Religious Studies. By course end, each student will narrate the study of religion in light of their own research interests.

REL
512
Hours
3
Debates in Method and Theory

This graduate seminar will acquaint students with contemporary debates and authors, emphasizing the work of a newer generation of scholars, in order to consider more closely the tools that scholars use to study religion, the various contexts in which they carry out their work, and some of their wider implications.

REL
521
Hours
3
Self & Society

This graduate seminar introduces students to terms and ideas related to constructions of the self and society and their relevance to the academic study of religion. Towards the end of the semester, a specific case study will serve as a site where students will apply theories discussed to analyze examples relevant in Religious Studies. Each student will also select an important work or issue in their chosen field of study in consultation with their advisor and analyze that work in depth in relation to the various issues discussed in the course.

REL
522
Hours
3
Power & Persuasion

This graduate seminar introduces students to terms and ideas related to expressions of power and persuasion and their relevance to the academic study of religion. Throughout the course, a specific case study will serve as a site where students will apply theories discussed to analyze examples relevant in Religious Studies. Each student will also select an important work or issue in their chosen field of study in consultation with their advisor and analyze that work in depth in relation to the various issues discussed in the course.

REL
523
Hours
3
Discourse & Practice

This graduate seminar introduces students to terms and ideas related to discourse and practice and their relevance to the academic study of religion. Throughout the course, students will apply theories to analyze examples relevant in Religious Studies, both ancient and modern. Each student will also select an important work in their chosen field of study in consultation with their advisor and analyze that work in depth in relation to the various issues discussed in the course.

REL
524
Hours
3
Past & Present

This graduate seminar introduces students to terms and ideas related to the construction of the past and its relation to the present and their relevance to the academic study of religion. Throughout the course, students will apply theories to analyze examples relevant in Religious Studies, both ancient and modern. Each student will also select an important work in their chosen field of study in consultation with their advisor and analyze that work in depth in relation to the various issues discussed in the course.

REL
525
Hours
3
Identity & Place

This graduate seminar introduces students to terms and ideas related to issues of identification and place and their relevance to the academic study of religion. Throughout the course, a specific case study will serve as a site where students will apply theories discussed to analyze examples relevant in Religious Studies. Each student will also select an important work or issue in their chosen field of study in consultation with their advisor and analyze that work in depth in relation to the various issues discussed in the course.

REL
560
Hours
1-9
Independent Study in Social Theory in Religious Studies

This variable credit hour graduate course provides students with the opportunity to pursue a topic of their choosing in relation to social theory and its relevance to the academic study of religion. Throughout the course, students will meet with the professor to select and discuss readings and writing assignments.

Prerequisite(s): None, except admission to degree program
REL
561
Hours
1-9
Independent Study in Social Theory in Religious Studies

This variable credit hour graduate course provides students with the opportunity to pursue a topic of their choosing in relation to social theory and its relevance to the academic study of religion. Throughout the course, students will meet with the professor to select and discuss readings and writing assignments.

Prerequisite(s): None, except for admission to degree program
REL
565
Hours
1-9
Religion in Culture Applied

This course reflects the Department's aim to help prepare students with a wide variety of research and professional interests for futures beyond their M.A. To that end, the Department has established relationships with a variety of offices on- and off-campus whose workplaces rely on the kinds of skills students learn in the M.A. degree program. When students sign up for this course, they will be assigned to a supervisor working in one of these professional settings. This assignment will consist of participating in at least five hours per week of hands-on training, while also applying the analytical and digital skills gained in their M.A. coursework. Various projects will be determined by the supervisor overseeing the graduate student's work, in conversation with the Graduate Director. By the end of the semester, the student will have not only completed a number of site-specific tasks but also written at least one blog post for the Department's website synthesizing their take-aways from the experience.

REL
580
Hours
3
Academic Writing in the Study of Religion

The purpose of this seminar is to shape a piece of each student's critical writing into publishable form. To this end the class will be run as a workshop, with the students' own writing as the primary material. On days when there is focus on a single student's essay, another class member will be assigned to present that essay to the class, by identifying its thesis, describing its situation in a larger critical field of religious studies, and outlining its argument. At other times students will be asked to bring in pieces of their essays for more intense focus. At the end of the class each student will submit their essay to a refereed journal in the academic study of religion.

REL
590
Hours
3
Capstone Seminar in Social Theory in Religious Studies

In this culmination class experience, normally enrolled in final Spring semester, students will present their ongoing original thesis research for the purposes of soliciting feedback from the instructor and classmates. In light of the feedback, students will respond and revise their work. Having begun the degree with two common foundations courses (one on social theory and one on public humanities digital skills), students in this course will integrate and apply the skills learned throughout the degree.

Prerequisite(s): None, except admission to degree program
REL
599
Hours
1-9
Religious Studies Masters Thesis

This independent research course which partially fulfills required master’s-level thesis hours for students completing a formal thesis project as part of their degree program. The course is conducted under the guidance of the student’s thesis advisor. Material covered will be of an advanced nature aimed at providing master’s students with an understanding of the latest research and current developments within the field. Discussion and advisor guidance will be directed towards readings of research articles and development of research methodology, with the aim of producing an original research contribution that represents a novel development in the field, or a novel perspective on a pre-existing topic in the field. Research projects will result in the production of an article length essay or equivalent digital project (as approved by the thesis advisor), as well as an oral presentation of the research. Students will meet regularly with the thesis advisor throughout the semester during which the course is undertaken.