Professors Tracy (Philosophy and Religious Studies), Strong, and Bruce (chair); Associate Professor Baker; Assistant Professor Schomburg; Lecturer Larson
The study of religion is a humanistic discipline that focuses on religion as one important element in culture. Historical, literary, anthropological, and theological methods of study offer a critical approach to understanding religion and its expressions in myths, symbols, and ideas, as well as in religious communities, rituals, and moral actions.
Because this study often considers fundamental human questions that are asked by every generation, it is closely linked with other academic disciplines that study the nature and character of human life.
Majoring in the field of religious studies provides a focus for integrated study in the humanities. Majors are expected to consult with members of the department in designing their program. The study of religion often embraces work in other fields, and majors are encouraged to coordinate courses in other fields with their work in religious studies. More information on the religious studies curriculum is available on the website (www.bates.edu/REL.xml).
Major Requirements. The religious studies major consists of eleven courses (twelve for honors candidates), one of which must be taken in another academic department/program. These courses must comprise:
1) Two courses in theoretical and/or comparative studies of religion. The courses that satisfy this requirement include all 100-level religious studies courses (preferably taken before the senior year), and the following:
REL 206. Religious Experiences and the Study of Religion.
RE/WS 207. Adam, Eve, and the Serpent.
REL 211. Religion and Sexuality.
CM/RE 218. Greek and Roman Myths.
AN/RE 225. Gods, Heroes, Magic, and Mysteries: Religion in Ancient Greece.
AN/RE 234. Myth, Folklore, and Popular Culture.
PL/RE 260. Philosophy of Religion.
AN/RE 265. Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion.
REL 400. Religious Studies Capstone Seminar.
2) Two courses from two of the following areas (for a total of four courses—courses taken that are listed in more than one area cannot be counted twice):
Area A (Judaism/Islam):
REL 235. Ancient Israel: History, Religion, and Literature.
CM/RE 238. Inventing Judaism.
REL 246. Biblical Narrative.
REL 264. The Islamic Tradition.
AN/RE 266. Islam, the Muslim World, and the West.
REL 267. Modern Jewish Thought.
REL 269. Muslim Worlds: A Literary and Cinematic Exploration.
REL 274. The Qur'an.
Area B (Christianity):
REL 236. Introduction to the New Testament.
REL 241. History of Christian Thought I: Conflict, Self-Definition, and Dominance.
REL 242. History of Christian Thought II: The Emergence of Modernity.
REL 243 Religion and Its Modern Critics.
REL 247. City upon the Hill.
Area C (Religion and Modern Society):
FYS 152. Religion and Civil Rights.
PHIL 112. Contemporary Moral Disputes.
REL 216. American Religious History, 1550-1840.
REL 217. American Religious History, 1840-Present.
INDS 228. Caring for Creation: Physics, Religion, and the Environment.
REL 247. City upon the Hill.
REL 255. African American Religious Traditions.
REL 270. Religion and American Visual Culture.
REL s20. Feminist Visionary Ethics.
REL s27. Field Studies in Religion: Cult and Community.
Area D (Religion in South and East Asia):
AS/RE 208. Religions in China.
AS/RE 209. Religions in Japan.
AV/RE 244. Visual Narratives in South and Southeast Asia.
AS/RE 249. The Hindu Tradition.
AS/RE 250. The Buddhist Tradition.
AS/RE 251. Religions of Tibet.
AN/RE 263. Buddhism and the Social Order.
FYS 289. The Life of the Buddha.
3) Two 300-level seminars.
4) A course from outside the religious studies curriculum that is associated either with a course listed in requirement 1) above (theoretical and/or comparative studies of religion) or with one of the areas chosen under requirement 2). A list of examples of such courses (in African American studies, anthropology, art and visual culture, Asian studies, classical and medieval studies, English, environmental studies, history, philosophy, politics, and women and gender studies) may be obtained from the department's website. Other courses in the curriculum are acceptable with the approval of a student's major advisor. Alternatively, this requirement may be met through two semesters of study at the college level of a relevant foreign language.
5) REL 450. Senior Research Seminar.
6) REL 457 or 458 (thesis) or both REL 457 and 458 (honors thesis).
Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the major.
Minor. The minor in religious studies consists of six courses which must normally be specified prior to the start of a student's senior year. These courses are to be selected according to the following guidelines and in consultation with a member of the department faculty who is chosen or appointed as the student's departmental minor advisor: a) one course from requirement 1) above (theoretical and/or comparative studies of religion); b) at least one 300-level seminar; c) four other courses in religious studies.
Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may be elected for only one course applied toward the minor.
REL 100. Religion and Film.This course introduces students to cinematic representations of religion in feature and documentary films. Films about religion are cultural documents in and through which individual artists, religious and nonreligious groups, and nations symbolically construct their conceptions of themselves and the world. They are also the occasion for political, social, and cultural debates about ethnic and national identities. This course adopts a cultural studies approach to the study of films about religion and invites students to investigate the public debate and interdisciplinary questions and issues raised by the release of films such as Jesus of Montreal (Canada), The Last Temptation of Christ (United States), The Mahabharata (England and India), Shoah (France), and The Color Purple (United States). Enrollment limited to 40 per section. Normally offered every year. Staff. Concentrations
REL 102. Encountering Religious Diversity.Historically, on a global scale, religious experience appears to be ubiquitous as well as uniquely compelling. In today's interdependent "global village," however, religious diversity, competing truth claims, religious misunderstanding, and religious violence are facts of life, inviting creative thought and initiative. This course promotes an informed understanding of the essential beliefs and practices of several of the world's major religious traditions — Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — while focusing on contemporary scholarship and voices from within each of these traditions on "religious encounter." Enrollment limited to 40. [W2] S. Schomburg. Concentrations
REL 110. Death and Afterlife: Bodies and Souls in Comparative Perspective.An introduction to the comparative study of religion centering on the ways in which various traditions have addressed a basic question: What happens to humans when they die? Primary attention is given to the answers of at least three of the following religions: Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese and Japanese religions. Ways of studying these answers in their many dimensions (ritual, doctrinal, mythological, sociological, psychological) are introduced; topics such as notions of heaven and hell, reincarnation, relics, burial patterns, ghosts, visionary journeys to the other world, quests for immortality, near-death experiences, and resurrections are addressed. Enrollment limited to 40. J. Strong. Concentrations
REL 206. Religious Experience and the Study of Religion.What is "religion" and how can we make sense of this varied and critically important aspect of human history and personal experience? The course examines a variety of religious phenomena and diverse scholarly attempts to understand them. Studies are drawn from Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, African, and Native American traditions as well as ostensibly "secular" contemporary American culture. Themes include notions of sacrality; scripture and wisdom traditions; religious ethics; the roles of the mind, body, and emotions in religious experience; ritual; religious imagery; religious violence; evil and suffering; and gender and religious experience. Enrollment limited to 25. Normally offered every year. S. Schomburg. Concentrations
RE/WS 207. Adam, Eve, and the Serpent.This course examines the historical formation of Genesis 1–3 against the background of its literary, cultural, and historical context and its subsequent interpretation and use in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. Special attention is given to the ways in which the biblical texts have been interpreted and used to imagine, promote, and justify social orders — both hierarchical and egalitarian — as well as how the construction of gender relations links to the ways in which other social institutions are articulated and justified. Topics include the creation of the cosmos, characterizations of the Creator, the origins and perfection of humanity, the origins of evil, and the human fall from perfection. C. Baker. Concentrations
AS/RE 208. Religions in China.A study of the various religious traditions of China in their independence and interaction. The course focuses on the history, doctrines, and practices of Daoism, Confucianism, and various schools of Mahayana Buddhism. Readings include basic texts and secondary sources. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. J. Strong. Concentrations
AS/RE 209. Religions in Japan.A study of the various religious traditions of Japan in their independence and interaction. The course focuses on the doctrines and practices of Shinto, folk religion, and various schools of Buddhism. These are considered in the context of Japanese history and culture and set against their Korean and Chinese backgrounds. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. J. Strong. Concentrations
REL 211. Religion and Sexuality.A study of the variety of ways human conceptions of sexuality are constructed, complicated, consecrated, and institutionalized by religious discourses. This course examines major doctrines, institutional rituals and practices, and visual representations concerning sexuality in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Additional topics include figurations of the sacred; myths of origin; gender; singleness, marriage, and celibacy; sexual orientation; sanctified and taboo sexual practices; eroticism and mysticism; and religious iconography. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. Staff. Concentrations
REL 216. American Religious History, 1550–1840.This course introduces students to the major themes and movements in American religious history from the colonial period to the end of Jacksonian reform. Among the topics discussed are Reformation "churches" and "sects," Puritanism and secularism in seventeenth-century America, ethnic diversity and religious pluralism in the Middle Colonies, slavery and slave religion, revivalism, religion and the American Revolution, and social reform. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. M. Bruce. Concentrations
REL 217. American Religious History, 1840–Present.The course seeks to understand the importance of religion in the evolution of a sense of national identity and of national destiny for the United States. Consideration is given to the importance of religious traditions both in the development and sanctioning of national mythologies, and in the critique or criticism of these mythologies. The historical background of such considerations begins with Native American religions. The course concludes with a study of "religious freedom" in a multicultural nation again uncertain of its grounds for unity. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. M. Bruce. Concentrations
CM/RE 218. Greek and Roman Myths.Did the Greeks and Romans believe their myths about winged horses, goddesses, and golden apples? How are myths related to the religious, political, and social world of Greece and Rome? This course examines Greek and Roman myths from a variety of theoretical perspectives in order to understand their meaning in the ancient world and their enduring influence in Western literature and art. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 60. L. Maurizio. Concentrations
AN/RE 225. Gods, Heroes, Magic, and Mysteries: Religion in Ancient Greece.An anthropological approach to ancient Greek religion in which archaeological, literary, and art-historical sources are examined and compared with evidence from other cultures to gain an understanding of the role of religion in ancient Greek culture and of changing concepts of the relationship between human beings and the sacred. Topics explored include pre-Homeric and Homeric religion, cosmology, mystery cults, civil religion, and manifestations of the irrational, such as dreams, ecstasy, shamanism, and magic. Open to first-year students. L. Danforth. Concentrations
INDS 228. Caring for Creation: Physics, Religion, and the Environment.This course considers scientific and religious accounts of the origin of the universe, examines the relations between these accounts, and explores the way they shape our deepest attitudes toward the natural world. Topics of discussion include the biblical Creation stories, contemporary scientific cosmology, the interplay between these scientific and religious ideas, and the roles they both can play in forming a response to environmental problems. Cross-listed in environmental studies, physics, and religious studies. Enrollment limited to 40. [S] J. Smedley, T. Tracy. Concentrations Interdisciplinary Programs.
AN/RE 234. Myth, Folklore, and Popular Culture.A variety of "texts," including ancient Greek myths, Grimms' folktales, Apache jokes, African proverbs, Barbie dolls, Walt Disney movies, and modern Greek folk dances, are examined in light of important theoretical approaches employed by anthropologists interested in understanding the role of expressive forms in cultures throughout the world. Major emphasis is placed on psychoanalytic, feminist, Marxist, structuralist, and cultural-studies approaches. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 80. L. Danforth. Concentrations
REL 235. Ancient Israel: History, Religion, and Literature.Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (in English translation) with readings in related ancient literature. This course traces the history of ancient Israel from its prehistory in the Bronze Age (the time of the Patriarchs) through to the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian Empire (the end of the First Temple Period). Major topics of study include the evolution of Israelite religious ideas and practices and the various literary traditions represented in the Hebrew Bible (especially the prophetic, priestly, and wisdom traditions) and such topics as biblical mythology, nationhood, women in ancient Israel, internal politics, and international relations with the ancient Near Eastern centers of civilization. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. C. Baker. Concentrations
CM/RE 236. Introduction to the New Testament.Readings in the New Testament and related Greek and early Christian literature. Studies of the gospels include investigation into the nature of the early Jesus movement and Jesus' place in the Judaism of his day, the interpretation of Jesus' teaching in the context of Roman-occupied Palestine, and the growth of the Jesus tradition in the early Church. Topics such as the diversity of ideas about salvation, influence of Greco-Roman religious thought, the place of women in the early Church, the break between Christianity and Judaism, and the formation of the early Church in its first century are covered in the study of the New Testament epistles (emphasis on the apostle Paul's epistles) and the book of Revelation. Not open to students who have received credit for Religious Studies 236. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. C. Baker. Concentrations
CM/RE 238. Inventing Judaism in Antiquity.The millennium between 500 B.C.E. and 500 C.E. saw the gradual invention of a culture that has come to be known as Judaism. This course introduces the significant historical events and texts that were part of this cultural process, as well as the daily practices, institutions, ideologies, and movements associated with it. The approach is both historical and thematic with close reading of archaeological and written sources including texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls, New Testament (substantially authored by Jews), later Hebrew Bible and Apocrypha, Philo, Josephus, and the early rabbinic corpus. Topics include biblical interpretation; creation, adaptation, and transmission of traditions; identity and self-definition; accommodation and resistance; sectarianism and the invention of Jewish and Christian orthodoxies; theories about messiahs, afterlife, and a world-to-come. Not open to students who have received credit for Religious Studies 238. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. C. Baker. Concentrations
CM/RE 240. History of Christianity I: Conflict, Self-Definition, and Dominance.This course is a study of the convictions, controversies, and conflicts by which an egalitarian Jewish revitalization movement in Palestine became a worldwide religion. Students follow Christianity's development from martyrdom and persecution to a state-sponsored religion of the Roman Empire, from internal heresy and schism to the "One Great Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church." Special attention is given to regional diversity and the changing place of women in the church. Not open to students who have received credit for Religious Studies 241. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. C. Baker. Concentrations
REL 242. History of Christian Thought II: The Emergence of Modernity.A study of the development of Christian thought from the fall of the Roman Empire to the beginnings of the modern era. The history of religious ideas in the West is considered in its social and political context. Readings include selections from Augustine, Gregory the Great, Anselm, Hildegard von Bingen, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. Staff. Concentrations
REL 243. Religion and Modern Critics.A study of the dialogue between Western Religious traditions and modern culture since the Enlightenment. Attention is given both to critical challenges (e.g., from philosophy, science, social theory, and psychology) and to religious responses that together have set the context for contemporary debates about the meaning and value of religion. Readings are drawn from thinkers such Hume, Kant, Schleiermacher, Kierkegaard, Feuerbach, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, and Freud. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. T. Tracy. Concentrations
AV/RE 244. Visual Narratives in South and Southeast Asia.This course examines the narrative art of South and Southeast Asian traditions and the important artistic tradition of narrative paintings, bas-reliefs, and stone carvings. The course focuses on Buddhist and Hindu legends, stories, and folklore. Philosophically, it deals from the visual perspective with religious and popular concepts of reincarnation, rebirth, cause and effect, meritorious accumulation, wisdom perfection, and the ultimate enlightenment. The course explores different contexts in which the works of art were produced. Topics include narrative theory, text-image relationships, Jataka stories (the Buddha's previous lives), a youthful Sudhana's long search for wisdom and enlightenment, and the Ramayana epic. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 45. T. Nguyen. Concentrations
REL 247. City upon the Hill.From John Winthrop to Ronald Reagan, Americans imagined themselves as a chosen people, a righteous empire, and a city upon a hill. The course examines this religious view of America and its role in shaping American ideas regarding politics, education, work, women, ethnic groups, and other countries. Assigned readings include works by Edmund Morgan, Sacvan Bercovitch, R. W. B. Lewis, and William Clebsch. Prerequisite(s): one course in religion. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. M. Bruce. Concentrations Interdisciplinary Programs.
AS/RE 249. The Hindu Tradition.An examination, through the use of primary and secondary texts, of the various traditions of Hinduism, with some consideration of their relation to Jainism and Indian Buddhism. Special attention is paid to the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad-Gita, as well as to the classical myths of Hinduism embodied in the Puranas, and to ritual and devotional practices. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. S. Schomburg. Concentrations
AS/RE 250. The Buddhist Tradition.The course focuses on the Buddha's life and teachings; on early Buddhism in India and the rise of various Buddhist schools of thought; on the development of Mahayana philosophies; on rituals, meditation, and other forms of expression in India and Southeast Asia. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. J. Strong. Concentrations
AS/RE 251. Religions of Tibet.Tibetan religions are a complex mixture of Indian, Chinese, and indigenous elements. This course focuses on the history, doctrines, practices, literatures, major personalities, and communities of the different religious traditions that are expressions of this mixture, including the rNying ma, bKa' brgyud, Sa skya, and dGe lugs sects of Buddhism as well as the Bön and "folk" traditions. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. J. Strong. Concentrations
REL 255. African American Religious Traditions.This course examines the origins, historical development, and diversity of African American religious traditions from the Colonial era to the present. Throughout American history, African Americans have used religion not only as a means of expressing complex views of themselves and their world, but also as a form of cultural critique, social reform, economic independence, and political activism. Among the movements and topics discussed are African and Caribbean religious influences, slave religion, the rise of African American denominations, the Nation of Islam, the importance of spirituals and gospel music, Afrocentricity, and the civil rights movement. Given the complex nature of African American religious experience, this course adopts an interdisciplinary approach and draws upon scholarship on religion in sociology, politics, history, art, literature, and music. Prerequisite: Religious Studies 100. Enrollment limited to 40. M. Bruce. Concentrations Interdisciplinary Programs.
PL/RE 260. Philosophy of Religion.A consideration of major issues that arise in philosophical reflection upon religion. Particular issues are selected from among such topics as the nature of faith, the possibility of justifying religious beliefs, the nature and validity of religious experience, the relation of religion and science, and the problem of evil. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 30. T. Tracy. Concentrations
AN/RE 263. Buddhism and the Social Order.The West looks upon Buddhism as an otherworldly religion with little interest in activity in this world. Such has not been the case historically. The Dhamma (Buddhist doctrine) has two wheels, one of righteousness and one of power, one for the other world and one for this world. Lectures and discussions use this paradigm to consider the several accommodations Buddhism has struck with the realities of power in various Theravada Buddhist societies in ancient India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia. Open to first-year students. S. Kemper. Concentrations
REL 264. The Islamic Tradition.This survey course introduces the religious traditions of Islam, along with aspects of Islamic civilization and culture. Topics include Islamic theology, the Prophet Muhammad, the Qur'an, Sunni and Shi'i traditions, Sufism, Islamic art, women and Islam, and postcolonial Islamic experience, including the rise of Islamic extremism. What does Islam mean to a Muslim? What makes Islam one of the most popular and influential religious traditions in the history of humankind? This course is recommended as a first course in Islamic studies. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. [W2] Normally offered every year. S. Schomburg. Concentrations
AN/RE 265. Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion.As human societies change, so do the religious beliefs and practices these societies follow. The course examines the symbolic forms and acts that relate human beings to the ultimate conditions of their existence, against the background of the rise of science. Students consider both Western and non-Western religions. Open to first-year students. S. Kemper. Concentrations
AN/RE 266. Islam and Muslims in Diaspora.This course provides an introduction to the anthropological study of Islam by considering the challenges Muslims confront as they adapt Islam to everyday life in the West. What does it mean to identify as Muslim and practice Islam in a non-Muslim context? In particular this course focuses on Muslim immigrants and refugees, tracing their movement from country of origin to settlement in the West. It explores the relationship between religion and culture as Muslims redefine Islam in these new contexts. Topics include social practices, identity formation, gender relations, body and space, and representations of Islam. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 30. [W2] H. Lindkvist. Concentrations
REL 267. Modern Jewish Thought: From Spinoza to Levinas.This course surveys modern Jewish thought with a specific focus on the ways modern Jewish thinkers reconsidered traditional Jewish concepts in modern life. The working assumption is that modern Jewish thought is a complex, creative phenomenon arising from an encounter with three things: 1) non-Jewish philosophical thought, 2) non-Jewish religious thought (especially Christian), 3) social and political realities both inside and outside the Jewish world. Particular attention is given to how Jewish thinkers reconceptualized Jewish ideas in light of the Enlightenment, nationalism, the industrial and technological evolutions, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, the founding of the State of Israel, and the emergence of feminism. Prerequisite(s): one course in religion. Enrollment limited to 40. Staff. Concentrations
CM/RE 268. Religion and Politics in Three Medieval Traditions.This course compares three conceptions of the relationship between religion and politics in three medieval traditions —Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—through a careful examination of representatives from each: Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon /Maimonides, Thomas Aquinas, and Ibn Rushd/Averroës. Drawing on recent work in the field of comparative religious ethics, this course utilizes tools and techniques from comparative study of religion to illuminate the intersection or religion and politics in its varied complexity. Enrollment limited to 40. Staff. Concentrations
REL 269. Muslim Worlds: A Literary and Cinematic Exploration.This course explores diverse "worlds" of Muslim experience and self-understanding through contemporary fiction and feature film by writers and directors from across the Muslim world. In addition to geographical and cultural diversity, the course explores a broad spectrum of Muslim perspectives: those of women and men, adults and children, homosexuals and heterosexuals, socioeconomic elites and subalterns, urbanites and rural village dwellers. What constitutes a "Muslim" life? What does contemporary literature and film tell us about the specific experiences and concerns of Muslims in the modern world? Enrollment limited to 30. [W2] S. Schomburg. Concentrations
REL 270. Religion and American Visual Culture.A study of the constitutive role of visual culture in the formation of American religious traditions and the influence of religious experience on American art and mass culture. Moving from the Colonial period to the present, this course examines the symbiotic relationship between American visual culture and religion in painting, photography, illustrated media, mass-produced objects, memorials, architecture, and decorative items. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 40. M. Bruce. Concentrations Interdisciplinary Programs.
REL 274. The Qur'an.This course introduces the Qur'an, the sacred scripture of Islam, and focuses primarily upon the major themes of the Qur'an. Topics include the Qur'an as "scripture" in the context of the comparative study of religion; Qur'anic understandings of God, prophecy, humanity, and the natural world; Qur'anic eschatology; ethics and human responsibility; the Qur'anic understanding of itself, including its relationship to Jewish and Christian scriptures; the role of the Qur'an in Islamic history and community life; and Islamic traditions of Qur'an interpretation. Special attention is given to recent Muslim progressive and feminist scholarship on the Qur'an. S. Schomburg. Concentrations
RE/WS 300. Women, Gender, and Islam.The course introduces normative Islamic traditions and Islamic discourses about women and gender from inception of the religion in the seventh century C.E. to the present day. It surveys Muslim women's experiences across a broad span of historical periods and cultural arenas, from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa to Europe and North America. Encouraging a critical postcolonial reflexive perspective and emphasizing Muslim women's voices and historical agency, the course draws on a range of scholarly disciplines and methods including historical, anthropological, literary, and art historical studies to explore understandings beyond common stereotypes of "the oppressed Muslim woman." Recommended background: Women and Gender Studies 100. Enrollment limited to 15. S. Schomburg. Concentrations
REL 303. Seminar in Biblical Criticism.Each year the seminar focuses upon a particular subject in biblical studies, employing the techniques of textual, historical, and form criticism and exegesis for the purpose of developing sound hermeneutical conclusions. Concentrations
REL 303C. Apocalypse.From the perspective of a new millennium, this seminar looks back at 2,000 years of Christian apocalypses and books of revelation to gain an understanding of how this kind of thinking originated and developed. The seminar focuses on apocalypse as a genre and on the major themes, images, and symbol systems of Judeo-Christian apocalyptic imagination. Readings include a wide range of Jewish and Christian books of revelation and personal accounts of journeys out of the body to heavens and hells. These texts are from the Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Jewish and Christian apocrypha ("hidden books"). Prerequisite(s): one of the following: Religious Studies 100, 235, 236, or 238. Enrollment limited to 15. Staff. Concentrations
PL/RE 304. The Problem of Evil.The presence of profound suffering and appalling injustice in the world raises some of the deepest questions that religions seek to address. Can the evils we see around us be reconciled with the classical affirmation that the world is created by a just and all-powerful God? This seminar considers the problem of evil as it arises in the theological and philosophical traditions of the West. Readings include Genesis and Job, Holocaust literature and Jewish theological responses, and contemporary writings in philosophy of religion and theology. Prerequisite(s): one course in philosophy or religious studies. Enrollment limited to 15. T. Tracy. Concentrations
REL 306. Seminar on American Religious Thought and History.The seminar focuses on a different figure, movement, or issue of significance for the development of American religious thought and history. Recommended background: a course in American cultural studies or philosophy. Enrollment limited to 15. Staff. Concentrations
REL 307. Liberation Theologies.This course critically examines emergent and historical theologies of liberation from Latin America and beyond. It begins by considering liberation theology as a spiritual, intellectual, and political movement within the Latin American Roman Catholic Church. It focuses specifically on the works of Gustavo Gutiérrez, Ignacio Ellacuría, and Jon Sobrino, which translated the problems of oppression, political violence, and poverty into a theological idiom and a political theology. The second half of the course is devoted to other theologies of liberation including works in black theology, feminist theology, and third-world theology. Prerequisite(s): one course in religious studies. Enrollment limited to 15. Staff. Concentrations
AS/RE 308. Buddhist Texts in Translation.This seminar involves the close reading and discussion of a number of texts representing a variety of Buddhist traditions. Emphasis is placed on several different genres including canonical sutras, commentarial exegeses, philosophical treatises, and popular legends. Prerequisite(s): Asian Studies/Religious Studies 250, Anthropology/Religious Studies 263, or Art and Visual Culture/Asian Studies 243. Enrollment limited to 15. [W2] J. Strong. Concentrations
AS/RE 309. Buddhism in East Asia.This seminar focuses on the teachings, traditions, and contemplative practices of a number of East Asian schools of Buddhism, including the Tiantai (Tendai), Huayan (Kegon), Chan (Zen), Zhenyan (Shingon), and Pure Land traditions. Special consideration is given to the question of the continuities and discontinuities in the ways these schools became established in China, Korea, and Japan. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: Asian Studies/Religious Studies 208, 209, or 250. Enrollment limited to 15. [W2] J. Strong. Concentrations
RE/WS 310. Gender and Judaism.In this course, students explore aspects of Jewish culture and images of Jews and Judaism through the lenses of gender and sexuality. They examine ideologies, images, and practices from Jewish traditions with an eye to the ways in which gender and sexuality are constructed, maintained, contested, and/or transformed through them. Feminist Jews and Judaism serve as sources for insight and critique as well as constructive resources for religious reflection, ritual, and visions of Judaism's future. C. Baker. Concentrations
REL 313. Human Suffering: Job, Genesis, and Revelation.This course explores questions about suffering through the lens of the biblical books of Job and Revelation, with subsidiary attention to the first three chapters of Genesis. Students consider issues of justice, belief, morality, meaning, and response in relation to human suffering and bring together personal knowledge and reflections; community-based learning; and close, critical readings of texts in wrestling with these issues. In addition to the biblical books and scholarship on them, readings include works by Archibald MacLeish, Bill McKibben, Stephen Mitchell, and Catherine Keller. Prerequisite(s): one course in religious studies. Enrollment limited to 15. C. Baker. Concentrations
INDS 333. Goddesses and Goddess Worship in India."Jai Ma!"—"Victory to the Mother!"—is a cry that resounds throughout India. From the feminine deities familiar across India to local goddess cults, devotion to the divine feminine plays a central role in Hindu religious traditions. Both benevolent and terror-inspiring, protective and destructive, goddesses display multiple characteristics and fulfill multiple roles in the Hindu religious universe. This course examines textual sources, anthropological case studies, and visual resources in an in-depth exploration of Hindu goddess traditions that also considers how gender functions in religious imagination and how this relates to social structures. Recommended background: Asian Studies/Religious Studies 249 or Anthropology 264. Cross-listed in Asian studies, religious studies, and women and gender studies. Enrollment limited to 15. S. Schomburg. Concentrations Interdisciplinary Programs.
REL 360. Independent Study.Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program/department, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair are required. Students may register for no more than one independent study per semester. Normally offered every semester. Staff. Concentrations
REL 365. Special Topics.Offered from time to time on topics of special interest. Concentrations
REL 365C. Recent Theories of Religious Experience.This course surveys recent theories of religious experience from both emic and etic perspectives. Among the topics considered are the categories of religion, experience, and mysticism in religious studies; religious knowledge and justification; and the role of bodily practices in religious formation. Prerequisite(s): Religious Studies 108 or any 200- or 300-level course in the humanities. Enrollment limited to 15. Staff. Concentrations
HI/RE 390Y. The Spanish Inquisition.Were witches and heretics really tortured in the Spanish Inquisition's infamous jails? This course examines both the institution of the Spanish Inquisition and the lives of those who came before it. The sins that concerned the Inquisition depended on the time and place, and the crimes prosecuted in sixteenth-century Spain or eighteenth-century New Spain reveal a great deal about early modern (ca. 1500–1800) culture and society. Students read and analyze original Inquisition cases from Spain and New Spain as well as consider the ways historians have used cases to investigate topics such as sexuality and marriage, witchcraft, and the persecution of Jews and Muslims. Enrollment limited to 15. (European.) (Latin American.) (Premodern.) [W2] K. Melvin. Concentrations
REL 400. Religious Studies Capstone Seminar.This seminar is designed to give students completing the General Education concentration in Religious Studies a common core/capstone experience. Students examine a variety of theories of religion and use them to consider retrospectively some of the topics already considered in their various courses undertaken as part of their concentration. Required of all religious studies concentrators, the course is open to minors and majors also. Prerequisite(s): three courses or units in religious studies and a declared General Education concentration in Religious Studies, a major in religion or religious studies, or a minor in religion or religious studies. Normally offered every year. J. Strong. Concentrations
REL 450. Senior Research Seminar.A course designed to give senior majors a common core experience in research in religion. Through writing, presenting, and discussing several papers, students explore topics of their own choosing from different theoretical and comparative perspectives. Required of all majors. Enrollment is limited to junior and senior majors and, by written permission of instructor, to interdisciplinary majors. Normally offered every year. T. Tracy. Concentrations
REL 457. Senior Thesis.Research for and writing of the senior thesis, under the direction of a member of the department. Majors writing a regular thesis register for Religious Studies 457 in the fall semester or Religious Studies 458 in the winter semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both Religious Studies 457 in the fall semester and 458 in the winter semester. [W3] Normally offered every year. Staff. Concentrations
REL 457, 458. Senior Thesis.Research for and writing of the senior thesis, under the direction of a member of the department. Majors writing a regular thesis register for Religious Studies 457 in the fall semester or Religious Studies 458 in the winter semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both Religious Studies 457 in the fall semester and 458 in the winter semester. [W3] Normally offered every year. Staff. Concentrations
REL 458. Senior Thesis.Research for and writing of the senior thesis, under the direction of a member of the department. Majors writing a regular thesis register for Religious Studies 457 in the fall semester or Religious Studies 458 in the winter semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both Religious Studies 457 in the fall semester and 458 in the winter semester. [W3] Normally offered every year. Staff. ConcentrationsShort Term Courses
CM/RE s15. Lost and Rejected Gospels.Discoveries of "apocryphal gospels" — some only in the last few years — have uncovered lost traditions and beliefs of the early church, illuminating the complex process by which early medieval orthodox Christianity emerged from earlier diversity. Early Christians held widely divergent views of Jesus, the apostles, and other early leaders—traditions that were lost in the emerging orthodoxy. Who were these early leaders? How did they come to be perceived so differently? Why were so many of these ideas suppressed? Readings consist of several apocryphal gospels, including those of Thomas, Peter, Judas, and Mary, and several canonical Gospels for comparison. Staff. Concentrations
RE/WS s20. Feminist Visionary Ethics.In this course students analyze contemporary practices and imagine future possibilities through the lens of a critical and visionary feminist ethics. They first explore several broad areas of local, national, and global public policy and practice, informed by feminist visionaries from a variety of spiritual and cultural locations. Students read works by futurist fiction writers whose works embody ethical critiques and feminist visions of society that draw on tools and insights from nondominant, often unfamiliar, sacred traditions. These works of fiction provide a different range of perspectives from which to consider the ethical implications of our present — and future — choices and actions. Recommended background: one course in women and gender studies. Enrollment limited to 20. C. Baker. Concentrations
REL s21. Representations of Jesus.This unit explores representations of Jesus from the earliest written stories to contemporary fiction and film. Through these explorations, students consider the identity of Jesus in light of his significance for a particular community. Enrollment limited to 25. [W1] Staff. Concentrations
REL s27. Field Studies in Religion: Cult and Community.The course provides an opportunity for in-depth study of one of the many religious groups in southern Maine. In addition to mainstream Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish communities, there are many nearby religious groups of particular interest: e. g., Buddhist mediation and Dharma study groups, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pagan/Wiccan groups, the Shaker community, Shiloh Chapel, and others. Students carry out their own field research, focusing on the social structure, beliefs, and practices of a community of their choice. Enrollment limited to 15. T. Tracy. Concentrations Interdisciplinary Programs.
REL s50. Independent Study.Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program/department, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair are required. Students may register for no more than one independent study during a Short Term. Normally offered every year. Staff. Concentrations