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Course Descriptions

REL 471 (GNDR_ST 490-23) – Graduate Seminar: Catholicism and Modern Sexualities

Roman Catholicism was one of—if not the—major force in shaping modern sexualities, as irritant, fantasy, boundary, and more. From whatever perspective—aesthetics, theology and ritual, penitential practice and disciplines, of the control of bodies and desires, the construction of sexual identities over time, missionaries and the extension of Catholic sexuality beyond Europe and North America—the Catholic imaginary is central to the history of modern sexuality. In the era after the Council of Trent in 1545, when the history of modern Catholicism begins, there was a determined effort within the Church to discipline Catholics around the world into obedience and submission to Roman rules and rubrics. Sexuality was mobilized in different ways as a site of disciplinary action and of resistance in this project, within Catholicism and at the border between Catholicism and other cultures.

REL 471 – Graduate Seminar: Feminist Theory and the Study of Religion

This course aims to put feminist theory and religious studies into conversation with each other in order to examine the resulting intersections, points of mutual illumination, and aporias. The course will investigate the history of feminist approaches to religious studies as well as new directions in current scholarship including feminist and womanist theologies, goddess feminism, secular and post-secular feminisms, as well as postcolonial and transnational feminisms. We will consider the following questions: What does it mean to apply a gender studies lens to the study of religion? How do feminist conceptions of “liberation” reinforce or reject religious conceptions of “liberation”? What are the implications of the “return of religion” currently invoked in some feminist discourses? In thinking through these topics, we will read works by Judith Butler, Luce Irigaray, Hélène Cixous, Saba Mahmood, and Rosi Braidotti, among others. This course seeks to move beyond prevalent assumptions of Judeo-Christian normativity in its analysis of feminist contributions to the study of religion. It pays particular attention to feminist approaches to the study of Asian religions, but with flexibility to highlight other geographic/thematic areas of interest to graduate students enrolled in the course.

Selected Readings:
1) Chandra Mohanty. Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003, ISBN 9780822330219.
2) Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas (ed). Deeper Shades of Purple: Womanism in Religion and Society. New York: New York University Press, 2006, ISBN 9780814727539.
3) Linda Alcoff and John Caputo (eds). Feminism, Sexuality, and the Return of Religion. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011, ISBN 9780253223043.
4) Talal Asad. Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity. Stanford UP, 2003, ISBN 9780804747684.
5) Donaldson/Kwok (eds). Postcolonialism, Feminism, and Religious Discourse. New York: Routledge, 2002. ISBN: 0415928885.

REL 472 (ANTHRO 474) – Graduate Seminar: Religion and Values

No description available

REL 473 – Graduate Seminar: Studies in Buddhism

This course will survey the state of the field of Tibetan Buddhist Studies by examining a selection of recent monographs in the field covering a broad array of topics including tantra, medicine, ritual, literature, history, and art history. The focus will be on analyzing how authors of recent monographs in Tibetan studies constructed these works including their main methodological influences and primary sources with an eye towards preparing graduate students for their own writing projects.

REL 481-1 – Graduate Seminar: Classical Theories and Methods

This course covers the emergence of the field of religious studies by exploring its early theorists and their impact. Authors covered include but are not limited to Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, William James, Rudolf Otto, Mircea Eliade, E.B. Tylor, and Ludwig Feuerbach. Students will give brief presentations on resources they have prepared for common use and will write a final paper on the reception history of one author.

REL 481-2 – Graduate Seminar: Theories of Religion

This course builds on the foundation of Rel 481-1. Focusing on recent monographs in the field, the course aims to provide a genealogy of the category of religion itself as it was constituted within Euro-American intellectual and social history. It gives particular attention to ways that the category migrated within, and was mediated by, colonial and imperial networks in Asia and Africa, and to recent debates about secularity as a discourse that attempts to draw boundaries between 'religion' and not-religion ('culture', 'politics', 'superstition', and so on).

REL 482 – Graduate Seminar: Themes in Comparative Religion

No description available.

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