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Religion

www.coloradocollege.edu/academics/dept/religion/

Professor WEDDLE; Associate Professors COLEMAN (chair), GARDINER;
Assistant Professors SCHWARZ, WRIGHT; Lecturer CORIELL; Visiting Associate Professor SHAW; Visiting Lecturer BALOGH; Riley Scholar-in-Residence PREMAWARDHANA.

The purpose of the academic study of religion is to analyze and interpret religious beliefs and practices through critical reflection on their cultural contexts and historical development. The discipline of religious studies requires critical reflection on ideas about the nature of reality, ideal forms of human society, rituals of individual and societal identity, and sources of authority in personal and social morality. Our faculty is formally trained in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Our areas of expertise range from the ancient period to the present day, spanning the Near East and the Mediterranean, Europe, South, Southeast and East Asia, and the Americas. Every year we cross-list a variety of courses with Asian Studies and with Feminist and Gender Studies, and we regularly offer courses on indigenous traditions. Our department warmly invites you to explore our curriculum and discover the many ways that the study of religion inspires self-reflection and enhances critical thinking, offers knowledge of diverse cultures, and enriches the liberal arts education.

THE MAJOR — REQUIREMENTS:

The major in Religion consists of 10.5 courses in Religion, including:

  1. Three 100-level courses, at least one of which must be chosen from religions originating in Asia (160, 170, 180) and at least one of which must be chosen from religions originating in the Middle East (111, 112, 120, 130, 140). These courses introduce students to basic skills and concepts in the academic study of religion, such as critical methods for the close reading of texts, the relation between religious beliefs and practices and their historical and cultural contexts, and basic elements of religion including myth, ritual, devotion, theology, and ethics.
  2. Two 200-level courses on topics in religious studies. These courses include material from two or more religious traditions, examine different interpretive approaches within a tradition, or compare patterns of the formation of religious identity or institutions in various traditions.
  3. Three 300-level courses in advanced study of a topic or tradition. These courses carry prerequisites and demand greater depth of reading and higher quality of writing. Students will typically conduct independent research in the completion of a major project.
  4. Seminar in Theory and Method (302). This seminar examines theories about the origin and function of religion, as well as leading methods of religious studies, through close reading of classic and contemporary texts. Enrollment is limited to junior and senior majors.
  5. Senior Thesis Preparation (405) in the fall of the senior year.
  6. Senior Thesis (406) in the spring of the senior year.

We strongly recommend that majors gain proficiency in a foreign language, classical or modern. We further recommend that majors take a course in the study of religion in the social science division. The department awards the graduation honor of Distinction in Religion for superior achievement in a senior thesis or cumulative excellence in departmental courses.

THE MINOR — REQUIREMENTS:

The minor in Religion consists of a minimum of five courses, distributed as follows and chosen in consultation with an adviser in the department:

  • Two 100-level courses.
  • Three upper-division courses, including at least one 200-level course and at least one 300-level course for which the student has completed the prerequisite.

Religion Courses

101 Introduction to Religion

An introduction to the contemporary study of religion as a social and symbolic system. An examination of religious experience and convictions and their expression in symbol, ritual, myth, theology, ethics and community.

1 unit —

111 Hebrew Bible

A survey of the Hebrew Bible (Christian 'Old Testament') from an academic point of view, including questions of authorship, geographic and historical context, and preservation and transmission. All texts are read in English translation.

1 unit —

112 New Testament

An exploration of the varied forms of Christianity that emerged among the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, with special focus on the New Testament and related writings, including those now outside the canon. We will explore what can be known about this formative period through careful critical historical analysis. (Not offered 2013-14).

1 unit

120 Judaism

An introduction to the traditions, practices, and beliefs of Judaism as it has changed from biblical foundations to the transformations of the post-biblical period, to the creative flowering of rabbinic Judaism through the medieval and modern periods. This course will explore Judaism's origins and the questions it faces in the future.

1 unit —

130 Christianity

An introduction to the Christian tradition as it has developed in various historical and cultural contexts. Attention to the generative narratives; rituals; moral commitments and ethical theories; spiritual, artistic and emotional expressions; social and institutional forms; and theological articulations characteristic of Christianity.

1 unit —

140 Islam

An historical and thematic introduction to Islamic traditions from the seventh century CE to the present day, focusing on fundamental texts and practices. Topics include the Abrahamic context of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, the Qur'an, the rise of sectarian movements (Shi'a and Sunni), ritual and pilgrimage, Islamic law, Sufism, women in Islam, the challenges of modernity, and Islam in America. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement.

Also listed as Asian Studies 199.

1 unit —

160 Hinduism

An historical and thematic introduction to Hindu traditions from prehistoric India to the present day, focusing on classic texts and popular rituals. Topics include the Rig Veda, the Upanishads and the rise of Buddhism, the great epics (Mahabharata and Ramayana), Yoga, the Bhagavadgita, Indian art and music, devotional movements and poetry, Goddess worship, dharma, the caste system, Hindu nationalism, Gandhi and Indian independence. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement.

Also listed as Asian Studies 160.

1 unit —

170 Buddhism

An introduction to the life and times of the Buddha, his basic teachings and central monastic and lay practices. Emphases include key elements in the development of Buddhist philosophy, the purposes and styles of meditation, and theory and practice in Zen and Tibetan Buddhism. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement.

Also listed as Asian Studies 170.

1 unit —

180 East Asian Religions

A survey of the three major religions that originated and continue to thrive in China and Japan: Confucianism, Taoism and Shinto. Will treat classical texts and practices as well as modern manifestations. Reference will be made to connections with the related traditions of Popular Religion and Buddhism. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement. (Not offered 2013-14).

1 unit

190 Indigenous Religious Traditions

A thematic introduction to the study of religious beliefs and practices in indigenous communities that explores issues of land, ceremony and identity in contemporary native cultures. The course requires a week-long visit to a native community which combines critical academic analysis with experiential engagement and reflection. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. May meet either the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures or Social Inequality requirement.

Also listed as Race and Ethnic Studies 200.

1 unit —

200 Topics in Religion

Study of a topic in religious studies, drawing material from two or more religious traditions, examining different interpretive approaches within a tradition, or comparing patterns of the formation of religious identity or institutions in various traditions.

1 unit —

202 Religious Ethics

Study of the resources different religious traditions employ in ethical reflection and how those resources contribute to resolving debates about the morality of specific actions. Class discussion will focus on cross-cultural case studies in the areas of sexuality, politics, economy, ecology, and medical ethics. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement.

1 unit —

203 Religious Experience

The out-of-body journey of the shaman, a quiet act of prayer, the ecstasy of the Christian mystic, the enlightenment of the Buddhist monk, the reverie of the nature lover, 'speaking in tongues' among Christian charismatics - these are examples of what many call 'religious experience' and regard as the very essence of religion. This course will examine primary texts that testify to the reality and power of religious experience in various traditions and will acquaint students with scholarly analyses of the claims of devotees and adepts. At least one previous course in Religion strongly recommended. (Not offered 2013-14).

Prerequisite: One previous Religion course strongly recommended.

1 unit

204 Readings in Religion:

Directed readings and research in comparative study of religious traditions or in different interpretive approaches within a tradition. Courses under this rubric will not be counted toward fulfillment of distribution requirements of the major or minor in Religion. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

.5 to 1 unit —

205 Gnosticism

An examination of the contested category known as 'gnosticism,' the texts found at Nag Hammadi, and the challenges posed by this material to our expectations as we attempt to understand developments in what became orthodox Christianity. (Not offered 2013-14).

1 unit

207 Life After Death

According to our earliest historical records, various communities in the West have asked the question 'What happens when you die?' This course explores some of the answers to that question: it also explores a second question those answers frequently prompt 'How then shall we live?' Attention to the cultural contexts of different afterlife beliefs and to how these diverse ideas evolved in dialogue with various social and historical circumstances. Topics include heaven and hell, eschatology and apocalypticism, persecution and martyrdom, the immorality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body. Meets the Critical Perspectives: The West in Time requirement. (Not offered 2013-14).

2 units

213 Apocalypse

A study of the genre of apocalypse, looking for common themes that characterize this popular and esoteric form of literature. Our primary source readings will be drawn from the Bible and non-canonical documents from early Jewish and Christian traditions. We will use an analytical perspective to explore the social functions of apocalyptic, and ask why this form has been so persistent and influential. (Not offered 2013-14).

1 unit

224 Jewish Music

This interdisciplinary course traces the many musical traditions of the Jewish world communities in a journey from the ancient Temple singing in biblical times to the music of individuals such as George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein. Included will be a comparative study of the three major religions of the Western world exploring their respective voices and musical interaction. Sociology, literature, religion, and history, as well as issues of ethnicity, cultural unity and self-expression will be engaged in this multicultural search for musical identity. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. May meet either the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures or Social Inequality requirement. (Not offered 2013-14).

1 unit

225 The Dalai Lama of Tibet: Philosopher, Statesman, Monk

Examination of the Dalai Lama's achievements in statesmanship, Buddhist philosophy, inter-religious dialogue, and conversation with Western scientists and intellectuals. Attention to why this man was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, his religious status among faithful Tibetan Buddhists, political issues involved in the international movement for Tibetan autonomy, and what the American fascination with this 'simple Buddhist monk' tells us about ourselves. (Not offered 2013-14).

.5 unit

231 Philosophy of Religion

An examination of critical questions philosophers raise about religious claims and a consideration of how religious thinkers respond to those criticisms. Topics of discussion include religious experience, arguments for God, problem of evil, ideas of immortality.

1 unit —

235 Fire and Light: A Christian Spiritual Tradition

A study of the contemplative life, its theology and practice and its place in Christianity and society. Emphasis on the Carmelite tradition, as exemplified by Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, and as lived today at the Nada Hermitage in Crestone, Colorado (where the class will visit during a week at the Baca Campus.) (Not offered 2013-14).

1 unit

243 Islam in the Americas

Examines the historical role that varieties of Islam have played in North America as well as in the Caribbean and South America. Topics include: the trans-Atlantic slave trade that brought West African Muslims to North and South America; slave religion in the antebellum South; the complicated role that Islam has played in African-American identity and that race and religion have played in White (Euro-American) conceptions of Islam in the U.S. and abroad; Black Nationalist critiques of Christianity; and issues of race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, and religion affecting immigrant Muslim communities in the U.S. since 1965, Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. May meet either the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures or Social Inequality requirement.

Also listed as Race and Ethnic Studies 200.

1 unit —

251 Feminisms in Religion

An introduction t feminist theology and ethics in various traditions, including Christian, Judaic, and Islamic, with attention to Asian religions as well. Topics include scripture, history, divinity, community, sexuality, and LGBTQ issues-all within the context of the feminist call for social transformation and justice for all people. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Social Inequality requirement.

Also listed as Feminist & Gender Studies 249.

1 unit —

281 Religious Poetry in Asia

Poetic traditions in China and Japan and in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. Topics will include poetry as an expression of the heights and depths of religious experience, as a vehicle for spiritual growth, and as a literary form of prestige and power. We will look at poetry of liberation by early Buddhist nuns, praises of transcendent wisdom by Tibetan spiritual virtuosos, links between verse and painting in China, and the relationship between Japanese haiku and Zen aesthetics. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement. (Not offered 2013-14).

1 unit

291 Black Religion in America

Studies in the religious life of African-Americans from the 17th century to the present. Particular attention to religious organizations, theological formulations and experiential patterns of Black Americans and the relationship of those phenomena to American religious life in general. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Social Inequality requirement. (Not offered 2013-14).

1 unit

292 Wilderness & Spirit

An examination of the notion of wilderness in religious traditions as a location for encountering and fostering spirit. The course includes off-campus experiential learning opportunities. (Not offered 2013-14).

1 unit

300 Topics in Religion:

1 unit —

301 Religion and Magic

Magic or miracle? Prayer or spell? Science or superstition? By studying ancient primary sources and modern scholarship, this course will explore the ways in which the boundaries defining and separating the categories of magic and religion have been constructed in Western culture. (Not offered 2013-14).

.5 to 1 unit

302 Seminar in Theory & Method

Investigation of theories of the origin and function of religion and of academic methods of religious studies through close reading of classic and contemporary texts.

Prerequisite: Declared junior & senior majors.

1 unit —

303 Field Study in Religious Community

Year-long extended format course; engages students as participant-observers in local religious communities. Periodic meetings to discuss readings on the protocols and techniques of field work and to work on skills of observation, interviewing, and interpretive analysis. Culminates in public presentations by students on field study results. (Not offered 2013-14).

Prerequisite: Declared junior and senior majors.

.5 to 1 unit

320 Ritual and Judaism

A study of Judaism through various models of ritual theory, surveying a variety of assumptions, contexts, and functions. Throughout the block we will explore new frameworks for thinking about ritual, asking what ritual 'communicates' and how. (Not offered 2013-14).

1 unit

331 The Idea of God

Ways of thinking about, and imagining, the reality of God. Critique of traditional symbols of God and comparative analysis of alternatives proposed by religious writers in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions and represented in selected films.

Prerequisite: Religion 130 or 231 or consent of instructor.

1 unit —

332 The Question of Faith

An examination of faith as a general human disposition exercised in belief, loyalty, and confidence. Religious faith in the monotheistic traditions is the specific disposition to believe in the reality of God and to be assured and directed in a life of fidelity to God and to other creatures. The question of faith is how belief is related to reason, whether loyalty to God is constrained by moral obligation, and how the passion of faith can be restored when confidence in God has been broken or betrayed, as in the Holocaust. Readings with be drawn primarily from Christian and Jewish sources. (Not offered 2013-14).

Prerequisite: Religion 130 or 231 or consent of instructor.

1 unit

345 The Dervish Diaries

Selected readings in Islamic literature in translation. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement.

Prerequisite: Religion 140.

Also listed as Asian Studies 345.

1 unit —

351 Topics in Religious Thought:

(Not offered 2013-14).

1 unit

352 Holy Men, Manly Men: Gods, Buddhas, and Gurus in South Asia

Cults of masculinity have been intrinsic to South Asian culture for millennia. Whether in ancient vedic literature, or in the heterodox traditions of Buddhism and Jainism and the Hindu epics that followed; whether in the ascetic traditions of yoga, the popular puranas, or the lives of modern-day saints -- the leading Man has been carefully fashioned to represent power, purity and prestige. This course examines such texts and traditions from diverse periods in Indian history in order to identify and deconstruct the ideologies that divinize masculinity and masculinize divinity. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. May meet either the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures or Social Inequality requirement. (Not offered 2013-14).

Prerequisite: Religion 160 or Religion 170 or consent of instructor.

1 unit

357 Women in Hinduism and Buddhism

An exploration of constructions of gender and the status of women in Hinduism and Buddhism, with primary focus on normative developments in ancient and medieval India and the impact of this formative history on the lives of contemporary women. Readings from primary and secondary materials, with attention to both ideology and practice. (Also listed as Asian Studies 257 and Feminist & Gender Studies 257.) (Offered in alternate years.) Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. May meet either the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures or Social Inequality requirement. (Not offered 2013-14).

Prerequisite: Religion 160 or 170 or consent of instructor.

1 unit

362 Bhakti: Devotion in South Asia

A study of diverse Hindu devotional movements from classical and medieval periods. Primary readings include poetry by both men and women, devotees of Vishnu, Krishna, Shiva, Rama, and the Great Goddess. Critical articles help situate the devotees and their songs in cultural context. (Offered in alternate years.) Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement.

Prerequisite: Religion 160 or consent of instructor.

Also listed as Asian Studies 362.

1 unit —

363 Devi: Goddesses of India

A study of various Hindu goddesses, including their iconography and particular powers, as well as the ritualistic ways in which they are worshipped in diverse regions of India, with a glimpse of feminist appropriations of Kali in the West as well. Primary and secondary readings include poetry, theology, and historical-critical studies. Films depict a variety of rituals. (Offered in alternate years.) Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement. (Not offered 2013-14).

Prerequisite: Religion 160 or consent of instructor.

1 unit

371 Seminar in Buddhist Practice

An in-depth look at either a particular practice tradition within Buddhism, such as Zen or Tantric meditation, or on a theme central to various traditions, such as devotional elements, artistic representations, ritual, visualization, and so on. (Offered in alternate years.) Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement. (Not offered 2013-14).

Prerequisite: Religion 170 or consent of instructor.

1 unit

372 Seminar in Buddhist Philosophy

An in-depth treatment of important themes, or textual traditions, in the history of Buddhist thought. Examples might include topics such as karma, death and rebirth, compassion, or possibly a body of writings from a particular author or Buddhist school. (Also listed as Asian Studies 372.) (Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement.) (Offered in alternate years.) Prerequisite: RE 170 or COI. 1 unit - Gardiner. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement.

Prerequisite: Religion 170 or consent of instructor.

Also listed as Asian Studies 372.

1 unit —

391 Shamanism(s)

Critical examination of shamanic experience in the North American plains, Australian bush, Artic expanse, and Amazonian jungles; includes off-campus experiential learning opportunities. Investigates shamanic practices and their relation to the nature of religious experience/experiences through current interpretations of historical traditions and recent neo-shamanic movements. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement. (Not offered 2013-14).

Prerequisite: Two Religion courses.

1 unit

404 Readings in Religion:

Directed readings and research for advanced students. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. 1 unit - department.

Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

1 unit —

405 Senior Thesis Preparation

A half-credit extended-format course aimed at developing a proposal and bibliography on a topic chosen by the student and approved by the faculty. Offered in the fall, required of all majors.

.5 unit —

406 Senior Thesis

Second block of thesis preparation. An independent block in spring semester. Required of all majors.

1 unit —