Religious Studies



Professors:  Brooks, Gallagher, Harlan; Associate Professors:  Portnoff, Uddin; Adjunct Instructor:  Weissman; Associate Professor Kim, chair

The Major in Religious Studies

The major consists of at least nine courses in religious studies, including the following:

               1.  Course 101

               2.  Course 114, 202, 203, or 204.

               3.  Course 205, 206, 207, 208, or 209.

               4.  Course 401, normally taken in the junior year.

               5.  Course 402, taken after 401

               6.  One Advanced Study Seminar (493 or 494).

               7.  Two additional courses at the 300 or 400 level.

The details of the major program must be prepared in consultation with the major adviser.  One of the elective courses for the major may be chosen from another department with the approval of the major adviser.             

Advisers:  R. Brooks, E. Gallagher, L. Harlan, D.K. Kim, S. Portnoff, S. Uddin

The Minor in Religious Studies

The minor consists of at least five courses in religious studies, including at least two at the 300 or 400 level.

Learning Goals in the Religious Studies Major

The Department of Religious Studies is committed to teaching students to think analytically about religion.  Introducing students to a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives, the Department helps students understand how religious categories and boundaries are constructed, challenged, and changed by religious practitioners and others, including scholars.  The Department fosters the development of key critical skills, including writing, oral presentation, and information literacy.  

Progressing through the major or minor, students gain sophistication in their capacity to evaluate and express what they have learned in readings and classes.  They also develop expertise in doing research on issues related to religion.  Members of the Department encourage students to utilize and construct theories so that they can venture informed and creative comparisons among and within religions traditions.  The Department is dedicated to cultivating religious literacy and facilitating independent thought based on exposure to religious histories located within diverse cultural matrices, including politics.

To achieve these ends, the Departments requires majors to take an introductory course in which they will learn about the construction of religious boundaries and contemplate various means of interpreting, analyzing, and comparing religious beliefs and practices.  Majors must also enroll in eight additional courses, including ones that expose them to multiple religious traditions.  Among those routinely taught are Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Daoism, and Confucianism.  In addition, majors must cultivate depth of expertise by taking multiple courses treating a single tradition.  Majors are required to do upper level coursework, including the seminar Theories of Religion and a capstone course in which they design and conduct advanced research projects resulting in extensive, theoretically nuanced essays.  The capstone provides all students with the opportunity to present their ideas and gain feedback about the constructs that they have learned, utilized, and challenged.  Majors are offered opportunities for doing guided research in independent studies and are encouraged to pursue honors study.

Minors are required to take five courses in the study of religion.  They must enroll in at least one course at the advanced level.  Like majors and other students taking Religious Studies courses, they are afforded multiple opportunities to refine their skills in written and oral communication.  They are also offered multiple opportunities to develop information fluency and cultivate other research skills.  

Both majors and minors are encouraged to participate in a community of inquiry through advance study in topical seminars and to develop leadership skills by serving on the department′s Student Advisory Board.

Courses

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  101  INTRODUCTION TO RELIGION:  UNDERSTANDING GLOBAL RELIGION  An introduction to the study of religion, focusing on the various roles religions play in today′s globalized world.  This course begins with definitions, characterizations, and trends in religion, then uses case studies to examine the intersection of globalization and religion.  This is a team taught course.

               Enrollment limited to 60 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  E. Gallagher and S. Uddin

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  112  RELIGION, MEMORY, TRADITION  An introduction to study of religion through examination of the ways in which religious traditions relate to the formation and sustaining of memory.  Students will engage with multiple religious traditions and develop religious literacy and repertoires.

               Enrollment limited to 40 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6.  D.K. Kim

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  120  LIVED RELIGION:  RELIGIOUS STORIES AND PRACTICES IN EVERYDAY LIFE  An examination of religious narratives and practices in people's everyday lives.  Students read contemporary narrative accounts or ethnographies and also participate in small-scale fieldwork assignments.  Consideration is given to the merits and means of understanding religion as experienced variously by people in their diverse cultures.

               Enrollment limited to 40 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  K. Y. DeConinck

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  158  HOLY BOOKS:  THE WESTERN SCRIPTURAL TRADITION  The origins, development, and uses of scripture in the West.  Focus on the Hebrew Bible, Christian Scriptures, and Qur'an, with attention to other texts, such as the Book of Mormon.

               Enrollment limited to 40 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  E. Gallagher

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  201  INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN STUDIES  This is the same course as American Studies 201K.  Refer to the American Studies listing for a course description.

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  202  JEWISH TRADITIONS  An introduction to the long-existing monotheistic tradition of Judaism, its practitioners, and its identity.  The course is an overview of Jewish history, texts, traditions, practices, and beliefs.  We will emphasize the self-understanding of Judaism in continuity and change, on varieties of Judaism (″Judaisms″), and on the interplay between practice and doctrine.

               Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and to freshmen with permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  Offered annually.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6.  S. Portnoff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  203  CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS  The major teachings of Christianity as developed in the early, medieval, and Reformation church.  Topics include the Trinity, the divinity and humanity of Jesus, sin and grace, reason and revelation, skepticism and mysticism, and the differences between Roman Catholic and Protestant doctrine.

               Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and to freshmen with permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  Offered annually.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  D.K. Kim

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  205  HINDU TRADITIONS  The development of traditions of Hindu thought and practice including classical and contemporary Hinduism.  This is the same course as Anthropology 205.

               Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and to freshmen with permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  Offered annually.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  L. Harlan

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  206  BUDDHIST TRADITIONS  Indian Buddhism; its migration to South and East Asia and its relation to Jainism, Taoism, and Confucianism.  This is the same course as Philosophy 208.

               Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and to freshmen with permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  Offered annually.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  L. Harlan

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  207  ISLAMIC TRADITIONS  A look at Islam from three perspectives:  historical, phenomenological, and anthropological.  Focus on the early historical developments which have marked the emergence and early development of the Islamic community.  The basic myths and rituals which shape the principle Islamic identities of Sunnis and Twelver Shiites.  Contemporary issues in the Muslim world.

               Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and to freshmen with permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  Offered annually.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  Staff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  208  CONFUCIAN TRADITIONS  This is the same course as History 224/Philosophy 213.  Refer to the History listing for a course description.

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  209  DAOIST TRADITIONS  This is the same course as History 278/Philosophy 214.  Refer to the History listing for a course description.

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  222  ISLAM IN THE MODERN WORLD  Examination of ways in which Muslims have understood or reacted to the process of radical changes affecting their societies in the modern world.  Issues include modernity, nationalism, Islamic revivalism, feminism, and colonialism in the Muslim world, with emphasis on Muslim intellectual responses to these phenomena up to the contemporary era.

               Prerequisite:  One course in religious studies or permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students. Staff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  229  THE DISCONTENTS OF CHRISTIAN MODERNITY  The fate of religion and freedom under conditions of Christianmodernity through a selective survey of modern religious, philosophical, and intellectual history.  An exploration of notions of experience, faith, freedom, reason, authority, tradition, and the self in works of Descartes, Emerson, DuBois, Feuerbach, Hume, Kant, Luther, Marx, and Cady Stanton.

               Enrollment limited to 40 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  D.K. Kim

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  231  RELIGIOUS ETHICS  An examination of the positions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam on holy war.  What do the various religious traditions of the world have to say about its necessity and/or permissability?  How does each position play out in contemporary circumstances.  Consideration of the secular alternative and the impact of war on the environment.

               Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and to freshmen with permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  S. Portnoff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  236  MYSTICISM  An exploration of the notions of ″mysticism″ and ″mystical experience″ through an examination of selected writings from Hindu, Christian, and Muslim traditions; the so-called ″New Age″ spirituality; and scholarly approaches from the comparative history of religions, psychology of religion, and neurobiology.  This course is not open to students who have received credit for Religious Studies 306.

               Enrollment limited to 30 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6.  Staff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  241  RELIGION, TRAUMA, COMMEMORATION, AND CELEBRATION  An examination of religious and ethical responses to personal and collective trauma.  The course considers how cultural and religious contexts can shape acts of memorialization, remembrance, and commemoration.  Students will engage with multiple religious traditions and consider cases in national and international contexts.

               Enrollment limited to 30 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  K. Y. DeConinck

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  248  HOLOCAUST AND POST-HOLOCAUST RESPONSES  An examination of the Holocaust as an historical event, as well as the  historical, theological, and literary responses to it.  Consideration of what, if any, role Holocaust memory should play, how to continue to believe in a God who was absent at Auschwitz, and how to speak about the event in memoir, poetry, and fiction.

               Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and to freshmen with permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  S. Portnoff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  251  STORIES IN JUDAISM'S BIBLE  The origin, development, and character of the Hebrew Scriptures.  Focus on how narrative creates religious meaning.

               Enrollment limited to 30 students.  Offered annually.  This course is not open to students who have received credit for Religious Studies 113.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  S. Portnoff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  252  ISLAM AND THE UNITED STATES  An exploration of the overlapping phenomena of the past and present of Muslims who were brought to, were born in, or who immigrated to the United States; the images of Islam and Muslims in popular American culture; and the fluctuations in the relationships between the United States and a number of predominantly Muslim countries.

               Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and to freshmen with permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  This course is not open to students who have received credit for Religious Studies 230 or 350.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  S. Uddin

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  253  HERO WORSHIP  An examination of the ways in which heroes serve as prisms of cultural values and religious commitments.  Considering heroes and heroic paradigms (gladiators, warriors, martyrs, teachers, and superheroes) from various cultures, the course contemplates meanings of sacrifice, glory, honor, resistance, homeland, and protest.

               Enrollment limited to 30 students.  Students may not receive credit for both this course and Course 493P, 494P.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  L. Harlan

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  254  RELIGION AND THE SPIRIT OF POLITICS  An examination of human agency in light of the relationship among the religious, the moral, and the political spheres.  Among the questions the course will ask are:  How does religious identity affect political life and action?  How does religion enable as well as disable political possibilities?  The course will be comparative in approach.  This is the same course as Comparative Race and Ethnicity 254.

               Enrollment limited to 30 students.  This course is not open to students who have received credit for Religious Studies 328.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  D.K. Kim

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  255  RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE  An examination of religion and public life in contemporary society and culture, with particular focus on questions of religion and politics ("church and state"), secularism, religion and identity (race, gender, sexuality, class), and considerations about civil society and the common good.  This is the same course as American Studies 255/Comparative Race and Ethnicity 256.

               Enrollment limited to 40 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  D.K. Kim

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  257  RELIGION IN THE ARTS  A comparison of artistic representations (literary, musical, visual arts) in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  We will compare and contrast how each religion uses (or suppresses) the arts or particular artistic representations to express its faith, as well as how these representations inform the political manifestations of the religion in particular times and places.

               Enrollment limited to 30 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  S. Portnoff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  258  WOMEN, RELIGION, AND MODERNITY  An examination of modern discourses on women's roles, rights, and obligations in contemporary religious communities.  Liberal, conservative, feminist, and fundamentalist treatment of myth, ritual, secular and religious law will be the focus of this course.  The course also explores the question of global "sisterhood," its strengths, influence, and limitations.  This is the same course as Gender and Women's Studies 258.

               Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and to freshmen with permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  S. Uddin

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  259  LOVE AND JUSTICE  An exploration of Christian social ethics through key imperatives of love and justice.  The course examines Christian responses to problems of evil, social injustice, and poverty from global perspectives, including liberation theology, social gospel, and movements and figures such as Francis of Assisi, Luther, Voltaire, Dorothy Day, Gutierrez, and Martin Luther King.  This is the same course as Comparative Race and Ethnicity 259.

               Enrollment limited to 30 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  D. K. Kim

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  260  PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION  This is the same course as Philosophy 260.  Refer to the Philosophy listing for a course description.

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  271  JEWISH PHILOSOPHY  This is the same course as Philosophy 271.  Refer to the Philosophy listing for a course description.

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  311  MUSLIM WOMEN'S VOICES  This course looks at women through their own articulations of identity while challenging current assumptions of Muslim women as victims.  We will explore the discourse surrounding construction of gender roles across different periods and regions.  To do this, the course takes into consideration women's fiction and non-fiction writing.  This is the same course as Gender and Women's Studies 311.

               Prerequisite:  One course in religious studies or permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  S. Uddin

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  315  ISRAEL  With the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, Jews gained political sovereignty for the first time since the Destruction of the Temple in ancient times.  This has presented Jews with the opportunity to flourish culturally, politically, and religiously.  But the gaining of a political state in modern times has posed specific challenges both to Jews and to traditional normative Jewish self-definition.  This course will examine some of these changes and challenges to introduce the dynamic and multi-ethnic nature of Israeli society.

               Open to juniors and seniors; and to sophomores with permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  This is a designated Writing course.  S. Portnoff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  316  RELIGION AND VIOLENCE IN LATIN AMERICA (In Spanish)  This is the same course as Hispanic Studies 316.  Refer to the Hispanic Studies listing for a course description.

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  317  JEWISH ETHICS  Medical, sexual and professional ethical issues through the life cycle from birth through marriage and adulthood to death.

               Prerequisite:  Course 202 or permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  Staff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  320  JEWS IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN SOCIETY  An introduction to American Jewish thought and experience in the modern period.  Topics include the question of whether Judaism is a race, an ethnicity, or a religion; American Jewish identity; how contemporary Jews are perceived and how they perceive themselves; the histories of Israel and Zionism; and Jewish secularism.

               Open to juniors and seniors, and to sophomores with permission of instructor.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  This is a designated Writing course.  S. Portnoff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  321  LATIN AMERICAN RELIGIONS IN ACTION (In Spanish)  This is the same course as Hispanic Studies 321.  Refer to the Hispanic Studies listing for a course description.

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  346  CULTS AND CONVERSION IN MODERN AMERICA  A historical and comparative study of new religious movements in the contemporary U.S.

               Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  Enrollment limited to 30 students.  E. Gallagher

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  349  GLOBALIZATION AND ISLAM:  RELIGION AND POLITICS IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD  An examination of various ways in which Muslims respond to globalization.  The course examines major trends in Islamic thought and practice, such as LGBTQ Muslims speaking out, women fighting for equal prayer space, people demanding democracy in Muslim majority countries, and others attempting to silence these resistances.

               Prerequisite:  Course 101 or 207 or 225.  Enrollment limited to 20 students.  This is a designated Writing course.  S. Uddin

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  401  THEORIES OF RELIGION  The most important and influential modern proposals concerning the nature, function, and value of religion in human culture.  Readings and analysis of major texts in the study of religion, including authors such as Durkheim, Weber, Freud, and Eliade.

               Prerequisite:  Two courses in religious studies.  Open to juniors and seniors.  Enrollment limited to 16 students.  Offered annually.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  Staff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  402  CAPSTONE SEMINAR  A research and writing seminar that encourages students to reflect on their prior academic study of religion, formulate a research project that will deepen and extend their previous experience, and compose and present a significant piece of research that culminates their study of religion at Connecticut College.

               Prerequisite:  Course 401.  Enrollment limited to 16 students.  This is a designated Writing course.  E. Gallagher

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  426  FUNDAMENTALISMS  An exploration of “fundamentalism” as a modern response to the predicaments of religion and secularity through an examination of selections from Christian and Muslim authors/leaders often labeled as "fundamentalists"; theories that attempt to explain the nature of religion in the public square; and the relation between religion,  modernization, and violence.

               Enrollment limited to 16 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  This course is not open to students who have received credit for Religious Studies 226.  Staff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  493, 494  ADVANCED STUDY SEMINARS  Intensive study of specific topics in religious studies for students with significant preparation in the field.

               Prerequisite:  Unless otherwise stated two courses in religious studies.  Open to juniors and seniors.  Enrollment in each seminar limited to 16 students.

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  493B, 494B  END OF THE WORLD IN AMERICA  A study of the persistence of the expectation of the coming of the millennium in American religious history.  Groups considered will include the Shakers, the Millerites, the Branch Davidians, and the readers of the "Left Behind" series. 
              This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  E. Gallagher

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  493D, 494D  PROPHECY AND HERESY:  CONSTRUCTION, CLASSIFICATION, AND SOCIETY  Analyzes the types and functions of prophecy and heresy and focuses on the ways in which prophecy and heresy were linked as a form of cultural critique.  Emphasis is placed on the construction of the ″heretic″ as prophet and vice versa and on the issues of gender, authority, and polemic. Staff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  493E, 494E  PILGRIMAGE  An investigation of ritual, spiritual, and metaphorical pilgrimages.  Readings include theoretical and narrative perspectives drawn from a variety of cultures, particularly Hindu, Christian, and Muslim.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  L. Harlan

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  493L, 494L  TO HELL AND BACK:  PAGAN, CHRISTIAN, AND MODERN VISIONS OF HUMANITY  An examination of the role of the journey to Hell in human experience.  The course compares the descriptions of the journey in texts, artwork, and films from various periods and cultures.  Emphasis on whether the journey serves as a means to responsibility and/or conformity, and whether it is an accurate description of the human experience.  This is the same course as Medieval Studies 493L, 494L.

               Open to juniors and seniors, and to others with permission of the instructor.  S. Portnoff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  493M, 494M  RELIGIOUS CONFLICT  A study of collisions between and coincidences of key religious boundaries, including those related to sacred space (especially shrines), time (especially festivals), and identity (of person and of community).  Case studies are drawn especially from South Asia and the Caribbean.

               Prerequisite:  One course in religious studies or permission of the instructor.  This course satisfies General Education Area 6 and is a designated Writing course.  L. Harlan

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  493N, 494N  WORLDVIEWS OF JEWS IN EUROPE AND THE MIDDLE EAST  An examination of the religious, cultural, and historical contexts of the Jews of Europe and the Middle East.  Differences between Jewish experiences living side by side with European Christians and with Middle Eastern Moslems will be considered.  Countries studied will include France, Germany, Russia, Iraq, and Yemen.  This is the same course as Slavic Studies 449.

               Prerequisite:  One course in religious studies.  Open to juniors and seniors, and to sophomores with permission of the instructor.  This is a designated Writing course.  S. Portnoff

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  493R, 494R  RELIGION AND POPULAR CULTURE  An examination of diverse popular genres of religious expression.  Treats representations, dilemmas, and controversies in media such as movies (Hollywood, Bollywood, Anime), television, music, fashion, and comic books.  Examines theories of ″the popular″ in this rapidly emerging subfield of Religious Studies.  Provides an opportunity to do individual research.

               Prerequisite:  Open to juniors and seniors; and to sophomores with permission of the instructor.  This is a designated Writing course.  L. Harlan

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  291, 292  INDIVIDUAL STUDY

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  391, 392  INDIVIDUAL STUDY

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  491, 492  INDIVIDUAL STUDY

RELIGIOUS STUDIES  497-498  HONORS STUDY