Investigation of the oft-made claim that, "religion causes much of the world's violence,", exploring the best arguments for and against this, proposition framed by maximalist claims that, religion is inherently prone to inspiring, violence, and minimalist claims that religion is, either peaceful or subordinated to other (e.g.,, economic or political) concerns. Consideration of, various definitions of "religion" to see how it, might motivate a range of behaviors both peaceful, and violent. Attention given to pervasive, religious phenomena (such as sacrifice,, conversion, holy/just war, and apocalypticism), that might inspire violence, as well as, theological and ethical frameworks that may, counteract violence. In a multi-stage, guided, research project, students will pursue case, studies of specific instances of violence, apparently related to religion, thereby testing, and employing the analytical lenses developed in, the course.
This course will survey the beliefs, practices, and cultural manifestations of the religious traditions of East Asia: Confucianism, Daoism, Chinese folk religion, Mahayana Buddhism, and Shamanism. As we study each tradition in historical context, students will be asked to keep in mind several questions of overarching concern. These themes will inform students’ written reading responses, preparation for class discussion, and essays:

The self and its transformation: How have various East Asian religions understood the self and its potential for spiritual development? What paths for self-cultivation and liberation are offered by these traditions?

Religion and the state: What kinds of relationships have existed between religion and the state in East Asia?

Religious mixing and competition: What has been the relationship between different religious traditions within a particular cultural milieu? In what ways are they competing, and in what ways are they reconciled?

Religion and modernity: How has modernity affected the function and jurisdiction of religion in East Asian countries?

The course is not meant to comprehensively represent East Asian religious traditions, but rather to examine closely a few examples that richly illustrate the complexity of the above questions. Nonetheless, students will develop a strong foundation of knowledge about the religious landscape of East Asia, and a basic understanding of the doctrines and practices of various traditions.

Exploration of key themes in American religious, history as these are revealed in contemporary, American television shows. These themes will, include millennialism, exceptionalism,, revivalism, restorationism, apocalypticism,, freedom of religion, religious pluralism,, fascination with the exotic "East," and, exploration of paranormal topics.
In this course we study the genesis of modern, Jewish and Christian attitudes toward gender and, sexuality, exploring the ways in which Greek and, Roman attitudes toward gender and sexuality shaped, Judaism and Christianity at their origins. We also, assess the extent to which the two religious, traditions shaped broader cultural attitudes and, practices relating to gender and sex, and use our, study of sex and gender in early Judaism and, Christianity to take a critical look at how we, define "religion" in the premodern world.
This course will use the origin and development of, Mormonism in the U.S. as a case study to, understand larger trends in American religious, history, including the history and importance of, folk and magical traditions in the U.S.,, prophetic/charismatic religious movements, the, shifting relationship between church and state,, public Protestantism in the U.S., secularization,, and globalization.
Advanced readings and major works in religion. In, consultation with faculty, selection of a thesis, topic and further reading in the discipline and, research in the topic area. Substantial written, document demonstrating mastery of theory and, methodology in the study of religion and the, ability to integrate these into the thesis topic.