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REL 370

Advanced Topics in Religion

Usually a category of religious phenomena, such as religious experience, mysticism, the nature of deities; or the role and status of persons; healing in religious traditions; sectarian groups; major thinkers or movements; or themes and approaches in the study of religion. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

Fall Semester information

Su Jung Kim

370A: Adv Tps: Buddhism and Gender

This course covers the role of Buddhism in lives of women in Asia and gender as a category of analysis for the study of Buddhism. Although the academic study of Buddhism and gender and women studies in Asia have become established fields of inquiry, there have been relatively few attempts to examine the Buddhist impact on women or other cultural influence on Buddhist attitudes toward women. In this course, we examine the images of the feminine in Indian Buddhism, role expectations of and ideals about Buddhist nuns and laywomen, attitudes toward women in Asian religious traditions, and finally the varieties of Buddhist ideals about women as well as the roles women played in Buddhism in Asia.

Justin Glessner

370B: Adv Tps: History of Satan

Since antiquity, writers have attempted to understand and define the idea of evil by giving it a voice. This course investigates the origins, development and significance of personified evil--Satan--from earliest appearances in the Hebrew Bible, second-temple writings, early Christian and rabbinic literature, and the Qur'an and other early Islamic sources, through Medieval and Renaissance literature to our own day. Through temptation narratives, morality dramas, cultural satires, and Faustian dilemmas, explorations of "the Adversary" have yielded some of the most compelling stories and characters ever imagined. In this course students will become familiar with the history and breadth of Satan's role as a character (or merely background presence) in literature while developing close-reading techniques for literary analysis that can be applied across diverse eras, forms, and genres. Students will be asked to strengthen their critical reading, writing, and speaking skills and to consider how our class topic can help illuminate aspects of our present-day culture and its history.

Spring Semester information

Jeffrey Kenney

370B: Adv Tps:Modern Muslim Politics

Muslim majority societies have wrestled with the relationship of Islam and state, the role of Islam in governance, and politicized religion throughout the modern period. This history of struggle has been paralleled, and obscured, by debates--engaged in by both Muslim thinkers and outside critiques--about Islam's compatibility with political modernity, with "secularization" and the modern nation-state. This course explores the myriad forms Muslim politics has taken and the challenges scholars have faced when trying to assess and explain political realities in the Muslim world. It focuses on the critical works that have shaped scholarship on "Islam and politics," starting in the mid-20th century and continuing into the 21st.

Fall Semester information

Valarie Ziegler

370A: AdvTps:Christianity and Pop Culture

It's no secret that Christianity pervades popular culture. You don't have to drive far from Greencastle to visit a young earth creationist museum, play the New Testament course at a Bible putt putt park, or visit an Adam & Eve adult store.

In this class, we will learn to understand Christianity as a cultural system and to develop our observational powers by providing "thick descriptions" of particular expressions of Christianity in popular culture. Through readings, games, toys, films, television, shopping, politics, wars, scientific developments, and presentations, we will analyze ways, since the mid-nineteenth century, that Christianity and popular culture have intersected, co-opted, and been transformed by one another. And we will have fun.

Jeffrey Kenney

370B: AdvTps:Spiritual Ecstasy

Mystics, prophets, gurus, shamans, and 60's drug experimenters all attest to the reality of ecstatic or peak experiences, of making contact with some great mysterious unknown that lies "beyond" or "within" the self. Students of religion find these experiences difficult to explain because they take many cultural forms--Eastern and Western traditions, small- and large-scale groups, ancient and modern societies--and blur social, psychological, and metaphysical categories of interpretation. This course will explore a variety of traditional and modern accounts of spiritual ecstasy to gain a better sense of their importance for understanding religion and the human search for meaning.

Spring Semester information

Justin Glessner

370A: Adv Tps:History of Satan

Jason Fuller

370B: Adv Tps: Indian Religions Today


370C: Adv Tps: