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REL 130

Introduction to Religions

A basic cross-cultural survey course of major religious traditions, usually Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Chinese and Japanese religions with comparative references to major Western religions. Particular attention is paid to the thought, scriptures, practices and institutions of these traditions. Not open to students with credit in REL 130E.

REL 130E is a version of REL 130 that focuses on Asian religions. In this course we will survey some of the core teachings, practices and institutions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Taoism, Confucianism, Islam and Christianity. Our twin goals will be to secure a basic understanding of the worlds of meaning that are created, expressed, and sustained by these religions and to learn how to reflect critically upon the function of religion in the lives of individuals and communities. We will begin the semester by reading selections from a classic theoretical text to orient ourselves toward a critical and analytical approach to religious phenomena cross-culturally. We will proceed by introducing ourselves to a number of religious traditions through primary and secondary literature as well as audiovisual material--the latter to get a sense of the ritual and material dimensions of religious expression globally. Most important will be the close reading and discussion of representative primary texts in English translation for each of the traditions under consideration. Over the course of the semester we will be introduced to a variety of methodological issues in the academic study of religion and we will address them as they arise naturally from our discussions of the material under consideration. By the end of the course students will have developed a vocabulary for understanding religious phenomena cross-culturally and with an interdisciplinary focus. Not open to students with credit in REL 130

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

Spring Semester information

Leslie James

130A: Intro to Religions


Su Jung Kim

130EA: Intro to Religions