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Course Descriptions

REL 230 Cross Registration (3) (V)

RELST 113 Introduction to Religious Studies (4) (V)

An introduction to the academic study of religion. Students gain familiarity with a wide range of religious traditions; ways in which religions shape society; culture and world affairs; and scholarly tools for coming to terms with the wide variety of sometimes strange, always interesting phenomena. Offered each fall.

RELST 116 World Religions (4) (V)

A survey of major religions of the world, their beliefs, practices, and ethical concerns. Focusing primarily on Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, students examine the history, literature, structures, and manifestations of each of these religions. They examine how such disciplines as psychology, sociology, theology, art, and ethics shape, and are shaped by, religious world views. Concludes with an examination of some of the key conflicts/disagreements between two of these religious traditions. Offered each semester.

RELST 140 Religion in American Culture (4) (V)

Focuses on religion as practiced by both mainstream and minority groups in America. Examines how religion shapes, and is shaped by, American views on ethnicity, ethics, literature, business, and politics. Offered each spring.

RELST 157 Bible in American Culture/Life (4) (V)

Focuses not on the content of the Bible, but on the function of the Bible in American culture, politics, and society. Students examine such persons as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Thomas Jefferson and distinctively American types of biblical interpretation. Issues such as slavery, prohibition, and the Scopes trial are studied and highlight how the Bible has been used and abused in arguments on social policies. By examining issues related to publishing and translating the Bible, some of the most intense theological debates in American life are highlighted. Students also learn on how American laws shape the influence of the Bible in American life by highlighting contemporary public educational contexts. Offered on demand.

RELST 180 Judaism and Film (4) (V)

Introduces students to Judaism through the use of film. Examines images of Jewish history, text, ritual, and belief, as presented in film, and evaluates the contemporary positive and negative portrayal of Judaism from both non-Jewish and Jewish sources. Offered each spring.

RELST 181 Judaism through Food (4) (V)

A hands-on introduction to Judaism. From feasts to fasts, students explore the history, texts, and traditions of Judaism through the study and first-hand encounter with its foods; their place, preparation, restrictions, and geographical variations that are central to the religious and cultural experience of Judaism. Offered each spring.

RELST 200 Study Abroad (3)

RELST 201 Religion in the News (4)

An introduction to the way in which religious communities and religious issues are portrayed in today's news. Through an investigation of multiple sources, students examine the ways in which news shapes--and is shaped by--our understanding of religions (or lack thereof). Offered in Winter Sessions on demand.

RELST 217 The Old Testament World (4) (V)

The ancient Israelites wrote stories of their past. They preserved laws. They wrote prophecies, biographies, common-sense advice, love poetry, and apocalypses. An introduction to some of these writings; specifically, the writings preserved in the Old Testament and in the Apocrypha. Examines both the history of the Hebrews and Israelites and the literature they used to express and communicate their faith. Offered fall of odd-numbered years.

RELST 218 The New Testament World (4) (V)

The first Christians wrote letters to each other, they wrote tales about Jesus, they wrote sermons, and apocalypses. An introduction to some of those writings preserved in the New Testament, and to those apocryphal and non-canonical works that shaped how the New Testament was remembered and how Christianity developed. Examines both the earliest Christians and at the literature they used to create communities and to express and communicate their faith. Prerequisite: at least 3 semester hours in English, history, philosophy, or religious studies. Offered each spring.

RELST 232 Religion and American Politics (4) (V)

Investigates the relationship between religion and politics in the United States, especially the role of traditional religious identities and issues, while also acknowledging non-traditional religious movements, ideas, and issues. Emphasizes upcoming elections. Students are expected to be informed on the current debates in the various national elections which form basis of class discussions and student presentations. Identical to CSRF 232. Offered fall of even-numbered years.

RELST 233 Religious Battles in Court (4) (V)

Introduces students to the relationship between religion and American law. Students explore the origins, history, and current legal foundations guiding disputes over religious freedom, providing the backdrop for discussions of current issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and euthanasia. Identical to CSRF 233. Offered spring of odd-numbered years.

RELST 238 Topics in American Religion (4) (V)

A focused examination of religion in specific areas of American culuture. Courses offered under this designation may include the study of specific religious traditions (eg., Catholicism), movements (e.g., evangelicalism, new religions), or areas of cultural interaction (e.g., education, science) in American religion. May be repeated for credit as topics changes. Offered spring when circumstances permit.

RELST 250 Religion and Popular Culture (4) (V)

Introduces students to the role religion plays in creating and maintaining culture through such popular venues as motion pictures, television, sports, and fashion, as well as the impact of religious values on popular cultural expressions. Offered in selected Winter Sessions.

RELST 251 Religion and Literature (4) (V)

Works selected from the fiction, non-fiction, biography and mythology of the world's literature, both classic and modern, academic and popular, and discussed from the point of view of belief, unbelief, values and spiritual orientation. Offered intermittently.

RELST 253 Topics in Religious Ethics (4) (V)

A focused examination of ethical theory and methods, and issues in moral theology within religious traditions. Courses offered under this designation may focus on a particular religion, on a specific practice, or on a comparative approach to religious ethics. May be repeated for credit as topics change. Offered when circumstances permit.

RELST 265 Extreme Religion: the Body, Pain, Sex, and Martyrdom in Religious Experience (4)

For the sake of their soul and their faith, religious individuals engage in a variety of actions which--in other contexts--would be considered extreme: self-mutilation, snake-handling, fasting, celibacy, tantric sex, polygamy, suicide, martyrdom, etc. Focuses on the role of religious experience, particularly on ecstatic or extreme religious expressions in world religions today. After examining the roles and functions of "experience" within religion, students focus on specific cases of "extreme" religious practices, seeking to understand their meaning and significance for their practitioners. Prerequisite: at least 3 semester hours in history, English, philosophy, or religious studies. Offered in selected Winter Sessions.

RELST 300 Study Abroad (3)

RELST 303 Saints and Heretics: Christian History I (4) (H)

Traces the "plot" of the development of Christian thought about questions of fundamental human importance from the formation of the medieval world to the Reformation. Students examine the mutual dependence of theology and wider culture with special attention to developing strategies for reading the Bible. May be taken in conjunction with RELST 304 or independently. Prerequisite: at least 3 semester hours English, history, philosophy, or religious studies. Offered fall of even-numbered years.

RELST 304 Damned and Saved: Christian History II (4) (H)

Continues the "plot" of the development of Christian thought. Students trace the creation of our own modern world view from the wake of the Reformation through the Enlightenment and into the 19th and 20th centuries. Emphasizes the development of strategies for reading the Bible. as students examine the interrelation of theology and its cultural context at each step of the way. May be taken in conjunction with RELST 303 or independently. Prerequisite: at least 3 semester hours in English, history, philosophy, or religious studies. Offered spring of odd-numbered years.

RELST 320 Science and Religion (4) (V)

Explores the impact of science on theology and whether science and religion are compatible. The first question is primarily historical. Students examine key advances in the history of science (the heliocentric theory of the universe or evolution, for example) and theological responses to them. The second question is primarily philosophical. In each case, discussions begin with the issues raised in important primary texts. Prerequisite: junior/senior status, at least one course in the natural sciences, or consent. Offered intermittently.

RELST 326 Methodism (4) (H)

An interdisciplinary exploration of the history of Methodism, with special attention given to the Wesleys, Asbury, other early itinerant preachers, and the religious and cultural development of the Methodist denomination and its Wesleyan offshoots (such as AME church). Prerequisite: 4 semester hours of religious studies or history. Offered spring of even-numbered years.

RELST 335 Christian Theology and Film (4) (V,W)

Explores how the fields of theology and film studies cross-fertilize each other, with special attention given to the ways in which film functions as religious discourse. Students investigate the historical evolution of film as a means of communicating theological doctrines or themes through its narrative patterns and analyze how religious and secular films can be constructed as cultural texts that advise not only how one should live, but what one should believe. Emphasizes the sermonic nature of film, various hermeneutics of film, and how audiences receive and appropriate both manifest and latent religious meanings. Prerequisite: 3 semester hours in communication, English, history, philosophy, or religious studies. Identical to COMM 335. Offered fall of even-numbered years.

RELST 336 Sociology of Religion (4) (V)

Examines the origin and development of religion as a social institution: theories concerning its nature and function; sociocultural dimensions of religious beliefs, values, and conduct; contemporary denominations, sects, and cults in the United States; the relationship between religion and other social institutions. Identical to SOC 336. Offered intermittently.

RELST 338 Topics in American Religion (4) (V)

A focused examination of religion in specific areas of American culuture. Courses offered under this designation may include the study of specific religious traditions (eg., Catholicism), movements (e.g., evangelicalism, new religions), or areas of cultural interaction (e.g., education, science) in American religion. May be repeated for credit as topics changes. Prerequisites: Sophomore status or consent. Offered spring when circumstances permit.

RELST 341 War, Peace, and Christian Ethics (4) (V)

Examines Christian ethical perspectives on war and peace. Topics include the justifications for and limitations on the use of force, just war and pacifism, alternative approaches such as just peacemaking, and application of these perspectives to current issues. Prerequisite: junior/senior status or consent. Offered fall of odd-numbered years.

RELST 351 Religion and Literature (4) (V)

Works selected from the fiction, non-fiction, biography and mythology of the world's literature, both classic and modern, academic and popular, and discussed from the point of view of belief, unbelief, values and spiritual orientation. Prerequisite: junior/senior status or consent.

RELST 352 Seminar in C. S. Lewis (4) (V)

Investigates the literary, historical, and theological contributions of British author C. S. Lewis, exploring key literary and philosophical influences upon his life and literature and examining how his thought and imagination have affected contemporary religious discourse and practice. May be offered either as an on-campus course or as a travel course. Prerequisite: 4 semester hours of religious studies or English. Offered spring of even-numbered years.

RELST 353 Topics in Religious Ethics (4) (V)

A focused examination of ethical theory and methods, and issues in moral theology within religious traditions. Courses offered under this designation may focus on a particular religion, on a specific practice, or on a comparative approach to religious ethics. May be repeated for credit as topics change. Prerequisite: sophomore status or consent. Offered when circumstances permit.

RELST 361 Thinkers/Topics in Religion (4) (V)

Focused, in-depth study of one important religious thinker (or thinker about religion), or a narrowly defined topic of current importance in religious studies. May be repeated for credit with the instructor's permission. Prerequisite: junior/senior status or consent. Offered each year.

RELST 363 Sports and Religion (4)

Examines the relationship between sports and religion. From the use of sports as a means of acculturation, the use of legitimate competition as a surrogate for interreligious conflict, and the competition between organized sports and organized religion for money, attention, and devotion, to the sacrality of the time and space of the field of play and elevation of athletes to modern gods, the world of athletic competition overflowing with religious elements. Using a variety of disciplinary methods, students examine this relationship, the ways in which religion and sport reinforce similar ideals, and the ways in which they compete with one another for the minds, hearts, and bodies of the "fans." Offered spring of even-numbered years.

RELST 452 Seminar in C. S. Lewis (4) (V)

Investigates the literary, historical, and theological contributions of British author C. S. Lewis, exploring key literary and philosophical influences upon his life and literature and examining how his thought and imagination have affected contemporary religious discourse and practice. May be offered either as an on-campus course or as a travel course. Prerequisite: 4 semester hours of religious studies or English. Offered spring of even-numbered years.

RELST 461 Thinkers/Topics in Religion (4) (I)

Focused, in-depth study of one important religious thinker (or thinker about religion), or a narrowly defined topic of current importance in religious studies. May be repeated for credit with the instructor's permission. Prerequisite: junior/senior status or consent. Offered each year.

RELST 463 Sports and Religion (4) (I)

Examines the relationship between sports and religion. From the use of sports as a means of acculturation, the use of legitimate competition as a surrogate for interreligious conflict, and the competition between organized sports and organized religion for money, attention, and devotion, to the sacrality of the time and space of the field of play and elevation of athletes to modern gods, the world of athletic competition overflowing with religious elements. Using a variety of disciplinary methods, students examine this relationship, the ways in which religion and sport reinforce similar ideals, and the ways in which they compete with one another for the minds, hearts, and bodies of the "fans." Offered spring of even-numbered years.

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