Front Page


Religious Studies

Professors Baker (chair), Bruce, and Tracy (Philosophy and Religious Studies); Assistant Professors Akhtar and Melnick

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. The department strongly encourages study abroad and students may petition to count up to two abroad credits toward the major or minor. More information on the religious studies curriculum is available on the website (bates.edu/Religion).

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:
FYS 445. The Nature of Spirituality.
RE/WS 207. Eve, Adam, and the Serpent.
CM/RE 218. Greek and Roman Myths.
CM/RE 221. Venice to Istanbul and Cairo: Religion and Trade in the Medieval Mediterranean.
AN/RE 225. Gods, Heroes, Magic, and Mysteries: Religion in Ancient Greece.
AA/RE 233. Literary Representations of the Africana Religions.
PL/RE 243. Religion and Modern Critics.
PL/RE 260. Philosophy of Religion.
AN/RE 265. Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion.
ES/RE s25. Food and the Sacred.

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/Christianity):
CM/RE 235. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible.
REL 236. Introduction to the New Testament.
CM/RE 238. Jews and Judaism in Antiquity.
CM/RE 240. History of Christianity: Conflict, Self-Definition, and Dominance.
REL 242. History of Christian Thought II: The Emergence of Modernity.
REL 243. Religion and Modern Critics.
REL 247. City upon the Hill.


Area B (Islam):
GS/RE 203. Women, Gender, and Islam.
CM/RE 264. Islam Civilization: Politics, History, Arts.
AC/RE 272. Islam in America.
REL 274. Quran: Text, Culture, Arts.

Area C (Religion and Modern Society):
FYS 152. Religion and Civil Rights.
FYS 445. The Nature of Spirituality.
PHIL 112. Contemporary Moral Disputes.
REL 133. Religion, Violence, and Nonviolence.
REL 216. American Religious History, 1550-1840.
REL 217. American Religious History, 1840-Present.
AA/RE 233. Literary Representations of the Africana Religions.
PL/RE 243. Religion and Modern Critics.
REL 247. City upon the Hill.
REL 255. African American Religious Traditions.
REL 270. Religion and American Visual Culture.
AC/RE 272. Islam in America.
ES/RE s25. Food and the Sacred.
REL s27. Field Studies in Religion: Cult and Community.

Area D (Religion in South and East Asia):
FYS 289. The Life of the Buddha.
AS/RE 208. Religions in China.
AS/RE 209. Religions in Japan.
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.
RE/WS 311. Buddhism and Gender.
AS/RE 348. Epics of Asia: Myth and Religion.

3) Two 300-level seminars.

4) REL 450. Senior Research Seminar.

5) REL 457 or 458 (senior 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.

Courses

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 39 per section. Normally offered every year. M. Bruce.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

MU/RE 104. Music and Religion.

Music renders words, spaces, and rituals sacred. It opens individuals to spiritual experience and unites individuals into religious communities. In this course students explore, across different religious traditions, the question of how people use music to relate to the divine. Traditions investigated include the historic choral music of the Catholic Church, the vocal and instrumental music of African American churches, and the mystical musical practices of Sufism. Issues include music as a vehicle of prayer, music as a means of entering a spiritual state, and the debates within various traditions about what kinds of music are proper for worship. Staff.
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 39. A. Melnick.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

REL 112. Introduction to Islam: Religion, Practice, and Culture.

This course provides an introduction to Islam as a religion, a set of practices, and a community of diverse cultures. Who is the Prophet Muhammad and what is the Quran? Why do Muslims pray, fast for Ramadan, and perform the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca? How do Muslims practice Islam in places like Europe? The course includes a study of the Prophet Muhammad's life, an introduction to the Quran and Hadith, and aspects of Muslim ritual life, especially the Hajj. Students also explore aspects of Muslim life in places like New York, London, and the Middle East. Enrollment limited to 39. Normally offered every year. A. Akhtar.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

REL 120. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism of the Middle East: Texts, Institutions, and Law.

This course explores the historical interactions among Islam, Eastern Christianity, and Middle Eastern Judaism (Sephardi, Maghribi, and Mizrahi Judaism) from Morocco to Egypt and Turkey. Students consider the development of the three religions' traditions and customs, as well as their interaction during the rise of colonialism and modern nation-states. Enrollment limited to 39. A. Akhtar.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

REL 133. Religion, Violence, and Nonviolence.

This course explores relationships between religion and violence and between religion and nonviolence in a variety of traditions and historical contexts. Among the topics considered are theories and practices of sacrifice and scapegoating, ordeal and retribution, crusade and jihad, religious pacifism, compassion, and nonviolent resistance movements. A community-engaged-learning component helps to ground the study throughout the course. Enrollment limited to 39. C. Baker.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

AN/RE 134. 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. Enrollment limited to 60. L. Danforth.
Concentrations

AS/RE 155. Introduction to Asian Religions.

An introduction to the major religious traditions of Asia, in both their classical and modern forms, with a focus on the lifestories of individual figures in the Hindu, Buddhist, Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese traditions. The course explores their basic teachings, examines their historical and social contexts, and seeks answers to questions such as: What is the nature of religious experience? What are the functions of myth and ritual? How do Asian world views differ from each other and from those in the West? Enrollment limited to 39. A. Melnick.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

GS/RE 203. 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: GSS 100. Not open to students who have received credit for RE/WS 203. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. Staff.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

GS/RE 207. Eve, Adam, 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 nature of the garden. Not open to students who have received credit for RE/WS 207. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. C. Baker.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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 39. A. Melnick.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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 39. B. Ruppert.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

REL 211. Religion and Sexuality.

Sexuality and religion often seem at odds: the relationship between the two is complex, seemingly contradictory, often tense, and full of possibility. Students consider the richness of sexual difference in the context of contemporary global religions. Among other topics, discussions focus on purity balls, free love, eugenics, religious ecstasy, same sex marriage, and religiously motivated fear—even hatred—of queerness and queer people. Students examine popular culture sources (including films, poetry, and fiction), as well as key texts in the academic study of sexuality and religion. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. M. Bruce.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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 39. M. Bruce.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

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 39. M. Bruce.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

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

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

CM/RE 221. Venice to Tokyo: Religion and Trade Along the Spice and Silk Routes.

This course examines the intersection of religion and trade along the silk and spice routes that linked Venice and Istanbul with Isfahan, Malacca, Nanjing, and Tokyo in the medieval and early modern periods (800-1800 C.E.). Adherents of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and other spiritual traditions traversed these trade routes as merchants, diplomats, and pilgrims. As cultural brokers connecting Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, these merchants transmitted objects as diverse as silk textiles, relics, and texts on philosophy and ethics. This course follows the transfer of culture and commerce along these trade routes, focusing on a key thematic question: How are urban economies impacted by religion and culture? Course renumbered as INDS 221 beginning Winter 2018. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. A. Akhtar.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

INDC 221. Venice to Tokyo: Religion and Trade Along the Spice and Silk Routes.

This course examines the intersection of religion and trade along the silk and spice routes that linked Venice and Istanbul with Isfahan, Malacca, Nanjing, and Tokyo in the medieval and early modern periods (800-1800 C.E.). Adherents of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and other spiritual traditions traversed these trade routes as merchants, diplomats, and pilgrims. As cultural brokers connecting Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, these merchants transmitted objects as diverse as silk textiles, relics, and texts on philosophy and ethics. This course follows the transfer of culture and commerce along these trade routes, focusing on a key thematic question: How are urban economies impacted by religion and culture? Cross-listed in Asian studies, classical and medieval studies, and religious studies. Course cross-listed beginning Winter 2018. Not open to students who have received credit for CM/RE 221. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. A. Akhtar.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

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. Enrollment limited to 65. L. Danforth.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

CM/RE 226. Blood, Birds, and Belief: Religions of Rome and the Empire.

This course examines the state and personal religions of Ancient Rome from its mythic beginnings as a monarchic city state in the eighth century B.C.E. to the rise of Christianity as an imperially sanctioned religion in the fourth century C.E. The course focuses on the course is the polytheistic state religion, but it also covers many of the personal systems of belief that formed the religious environment of the Roman Empire, both inclusive and exclusive, polytheistic and monotheistic. Students examine the ancient evidence for these religious practices, the challenges presented by the surviving evidence, and recent scholarly interpretations of that evidence. Recommended background: background in Roman history or culture. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. H. Cameron.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

AA/RE 233. Literary Representations of the Africana Religions.

Using the literatures of African and African-descended peoples, this course examines the religions—traditional/indigenous, Christian, Islamic, and so-called "syncretic"—from the continent and the diaspora. The selected works may represent the religious traditions, rituals, and practices of the Yoruba, Shona, Asante, Tswana, Kondo of African Independent Churches, as well as Rastafari, and followers of Vodun, Santería, Candomblé, and related religions. Students approach texts—novels, short stories, dramas, films and poems—as literary productions and not just media to convey information about the religions they represent. This course is also attentive to contexts; students examine the religious symbol systems represented as well as the historical era depicted and the literary traditions and cultures that produce them. Recommended background: course work in African American studies or religious studies. S. Houchins.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

CM/RE 235. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible.

What is the Hebrew Bible (Christianity's "Old Testament" and Judaism's "Tanakh")? How and by whom did it come to be written and compiled? This course employs a range of scholarly tools and methods for exploring the content and genres of twelve books of the Hebrew Bible — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Kings—with brief forays into selected Prophets and Wisdom literature. Topics include theories about the composition and sociopolitical contexts of the writings, the events and ideas they narrate, and the use of scripture in contemporary public discourse. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. C. Baker.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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 Jesus' place in the Judaism of his day, the interpretation of Jesus' teaching in the context of the Roman Mediterranean, and the shaping 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, 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. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. C. Baker.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

CM/RE 240. History of Christianity: Conflict, Self-Definition, and Dominance.

This course is a study of the convictions, controversies, and conflicts by which a Jewish movement in Palestine became a worldwide religion. Students follow Christianity's development from narratives of 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. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. C. Baker.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

PL/RE 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, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, and Freud. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. Staff.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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 39. M. Bruce.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

AS/RE 249. The Hindu Tradition.

This course examines Hindu rituals, practices, and doctrine 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. Students make use of primary and secondary texts as well as film and music. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. A. Melnick.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

AS/RE 250. Buddhist Traditions.

The course focuses on the Buddha's life and teachings from early Buddhism in India and the rise of various Buddhist schools of thought up to modern American Buddhist traditions; the development of Mahayana philosophies; and rituals, meditation, and other forms of religious expression across the Buddhist world. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. A. Melnick.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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 monastic and tantric forms of Buddhism as well as Bön and "folk" traditions. The relationship between the political and the religion also is explored. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. A. Melnick.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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: any 100-level religious studies course. Enrollment limited to 39. M. Bruce.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

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 29. R. Sud.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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

CM/RE 264. Islamic Civilization: Politics, History, Arts.

This course explores the medieval and modern history of Islam from Spain and Morocco to Russia and China. Topics include the music of Morocco, art of the Quran, Sunni and Shi'i cultural practices in Iran, women's mosques in China, and postcolonial debates in Egyptian politics. What does Islam mean to different Muslim communities around the world? What has made Islam one of the most influential religious traditions in the history of Europe, Africa, and Asia? Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 39. Normally offered every year. A. Akhtar.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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 history and rise of science. Students consider both Western and non-Western religions. Open to first-year students. S. Kemper.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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 39. M. Bruce.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

AC/RE 272. Islam in America.

Islam, with its mosaic of different beliefs and practices, has been part of America’s social and religious fabric for centuries. This course traces a history of Islam in America from West African slaves, to voluntary immigration, to experiences of Muslims in the post-September 11 era. Students explore the historical and contemporary realities of Muslims living in America, including the role of religious authority, racial identity, and activism of American Muslim women. These explorations take students into the Lewiston-Auburn community to discover its religious diversity and hear how local residents speak about and practice their Islamic faith. Enrollment limited to 39. (Community-Engaged Learning.) Staff.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

REL 274. Quran: Text, Culture, Arts.

This course introduces the Quran, the sacred scripture of Islam, exploring its primary textual themes, its history in world cultures, and its role in the visual arts of the Islamic world. Topics include the comparative study of the Quran with Jewish and Christian scriptures, the historical role of the Quran in social and communal life, and the central place of the Quran in Islamic visual and material culture. Special attention is given to the Quran in Islamic architecture from Spain to China, the illuminated manuscript tradition of Morocco, and Persian and Turkish Sufi music drawing on scriptural themes. A. Akhtar.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

INDC 301Y. 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. Cross-listed in history, Latin American studies, and religious studies. Enrollment limited to 15. (European.) (Latin American.) (Early Modern.) [W2] K. Melvin.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

REL 303. Seminar in Biblical Criticism.

Each time it is taught, this seminar focuses on a particular biblical book (e.g., Song of Songs), story cycle (e.g., the Joseph stories), or theme (e.g., apocalypse). It employs a variety of ancient and modern techniques of reading and analysis to explore its subject from a broad range of scholarly perspectives. Enrollment limited to 15.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

CM/RE 303D. Song of Songs.

In this seminar, students spend the semester deeply immersed in the Song of Songs, a book of erotic love poetry in the Bible. They explore this ancient Hebrew text in English translations, using traditional and modern scholarly methods to understand its sources, meanings, and history of interpretation. They also read it in dialogue with sacred love poetry from Hindu, Sufi, and other religious traditions. Enrollment limited to 15. C. Baker.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

REL 306B. Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays.

Benjamin Elijah Mays, Class of 1920, is remembered for his eulogy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his presidency of Morehouse College, and his famous declaration, "Bates College did not emancipate me; it did the far greater service of making it possible for me to emancipate myself." Seldom mentioned are his multiple roles as a minister, educator, social activist, journalist, advisor to three American presidents, leader in international organizations, and scholar of American religion. This course examines the life, career, and writings of Dr. Mays as lenses through which to view American religious thought and history. Prerequisite(s): FYS 152 or one course in religious studies. Enrollment limited to 15. M. Bruce.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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: AS/RE 208, 209, or 250. Enrollment limited to 15. [W2] A. Melnick.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

GS/RE 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. Not open to students who have received credit for RE/WS 310. Enrollment limited to 15. C. Baker.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

GS/RE 311. Buddhism and Gender.

This course examines the role of gender in Buddhist communities from the inception of the religious tradition to the modern day. How has gender identity influenced the development of this tradition? Where do we see gender in Buddhist literature, doctrine, and art? How do modern ideas of what "Buddhism" is affect change in the North American context, and how is this different from the Buddhist past? The course draws on a variety of sources, including literary, cinematic, and visual materials, to answer these questions. Special attention is given to how gender is presented in doctrinal texts, and the (dis)connection between these documents and the lived experiences of Buddhist people, as presented in interviews and autobiographies by Buddhist practitioners from a variety of moments and communities. Not open to students who have received credit for RE/WS 311. Enrollment limited to 15. [W2] A. Melnick.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

RE/WS 311. Buddhism and Gender.

This course examines the role of gender in Buddhist communities from the inception of the religious tradition to the modern day. How has gender identity influenced the development of this tradition? Where do we see gender in Buddhist literature, doctrine, and art? How do modern ideas of what "Buddhism" is affect change in the North American context, and how is this different from the Buddhist past? The course draws on a variety of sources, including literary, cinematic, and visual materials, to answer these questions. Special attention is given to how gender is presented in doctrinal texts, and the (dis)connection between these documents and the lived experiences of Buddhist people, as presented in interviews and autobiographies by Buddhist practitioners from a variety of moments and communities. Enrollment limited to 15. A. Melnick.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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. (Community-Engaged Learning.) C. Baker.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

HI/RE 320. Religion and Government in the Middle East: Colonialism to the Arab Spring.

This seminar examines the place of religion in Middle Eastern politics between the rise of European colonialism and the start of the Arab Spring. Religion in the early modern Middle East encompasses not only the communal values of the region's local Muslims, Christians, and Jews, but also the complex relationship between religious ethics and notions of government. Students read a range of texts highlighting the history of governments throughout the Middle East, from Algeria and Egypt to Iraq and Iran, focusing on ways religious ethics and identities intersect with political theory between the nineteenth and the twenty-first centuries. Prerequisite(s): one course on European colonialism, nationalism, Islam, or Middle Eastern history. Not open to students who have received credit for REL 320. (Modern. ) A. Akhtar.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

AS/RE 348. Epics of Asia: Myth and Religion.

This course considers the intersection of religion and society in Asia through the lens of popular Asian myths. Students examine how religious doctrine, ideals, and art have influenced the creation and interpretation of this unique narrative form, while also learning about specific Asian traditions. Close study of several tales, including narratives from India, Thailand, China, Tibet, and Japan, include reading texts in translation as well as viewing cinematic and theatrical representations of myths intended for popular audiences. Students explore the dialogic process of myth by creating their own modern versions of one text. Enrollment limited to 15. A. Melnick.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

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

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

REL 365. Special Topics.

Offered from time to time on topics of special interest.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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. Instructor permission is required. [W2] Normally offered every year. Staff.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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 REL 457 in the fall semester or REL 458 in the winter semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both REL 457 in the fall semester and 458 in the winter semester. [W3] Normally offered every year. Staff.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education 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 REL 457 in the fall semester or REL 458 in the winter semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both REL 457 in the fall semester and 458 in the winter semester. [W3] Normally offered every year. Staff.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

Short Term Courses

REL s21. Representations of Jesus.

This course 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. Staff.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

ES/RE s25. Food and the Sacred.

This course provides an opportunity to explore food through ideas and practices considered sacred by Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, indigenous peoples, and neo-pagans. Topics include feasting, fasting, farming, foraging, feeding the hungry, the five senses, and the fascinating fundamentals of dirt and water. There is a community-based learning component to this course undertaken outside class of time as well as hands-on individual and group projects. Prerequisite(s): one course in environmental studies or religious studies. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 15. (Community-Engaged Learning.) C. Baker.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

AS/RE s26. The Buddhist Himalaya: Religion in Ladakh.

In this course, students learn about religious practice through firsthand interaction with traditionally Buddhist communities in rural and urban Ladakh. Students conduct ethnographic fieldwork relating to modern Buddhist practice, and examine these practices from historical, archeological, and literary perspectives. They observe rituals, interview practitioners, and participate in the daily life of the Buddhist community. This course includes a significant community-engaged learning component. Prerequisite(s): one course focused on Buddhism. New course beginning Short Term 2018. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor permission is required. Normally offered every other year. A. Melnick.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

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

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations