Religious Studies Course Offerings
***Please check MYUI for the most current information and full descriptions***
RELS:1015 RELIGIONS IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT 3 s.h. Cargill Course Video
Examine the world’s religions and religious traditions, focusing specifically on areas where different religious traditions intersect and flashpoints of religious conflict around the world. By understanding the basic tenets of the world’s religions, we can better understand the fundamentals underlying religious conflict. Each week, the course examines an area of religious interaction, reviews the backgrounds of any present conflict, students learn the basic tenets of the various religious traditions, and explores ways in which an understanding of religious aspects of each conflict can potentially lead to conflict resolution.
RELS:1080 INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW TESTAMENT 3 s.h. J. Smith
GE: Values & Culture
Introduction to the contents of the New Testament, and examination of individual writings within their historical contexts. The purpose of this course is to understand this work within the broader cultural backgrounds of both Jewish and Greco-Roman cultures, the history of the people who composed the books, and how its literary contents reflect, reject, or otherwise interact with the cultural and historical circumstances of the times.
RELS:1250 MODERN RELIGION AND CULTURE 3 s.h. Mentzer
Same as HIST:1450 / GE: Historical Perspective
What does religion mean to ordinary people, and what role does it play in their everyday lives? We will explore many topics including the emergence of Protestantism and religious diversity, religiously driven violence, anti-Semitism, the rise of religious tolerance, and class, race and gender within the larger political and social context. The course spans the time from the Reformation of the sixteenth century to the present. Course requirements include three multiple-choice examinations and three short essays based on common readings.
RELS:1350 INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN-AMERICAN RELIGIONS 3 s.h. Turner
Same as AFAM:1250 / GE: Values & Culture
This course is designed to introduce students from a variety of majors to the social and cultural history of African Americans through the framework of religious history. It will provide students with the opportunity to explore how African- American religious communities developed and changed in response to various struggles for freedom in black America, and how these freedom struggles transformed religious consciousness and social and political values in the United States from the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade to the present. The course will engage students in critical and creative thinking about the cultural, historical, and political issues that have constructed the African American religious experience and the relationships between religion, race, and society in the United States.
RELS:1506 INTRODUCTION TO BUDDHISM: ANCIENT TRADITIONS IN MODERN WORLD 3 s.h. Zheng
Same as ASIA:1060, HIST:1612 / GE: Values & Culture
Buddhism consists of diverse traditions that have deeply influenced religious life, politics, economics, and culture throughout Asia –and in more recent times in much of the West as well. This course gives an introduction to the history, philosophy, practices, and institutions of Buddhism with special attention to Buddhist practice in the contemporary world. We will examine important aspects of how Buddhism is understood and practiced in different Asian societies, as well as discuss its more recent impact in the West. See Maui for more info.
RELS:1606 CIVILIZATIONS OF ASIA: SOUTH ASIA 3 s.h. F. Smith
Same as HIST:1606, ASIA:1606
Surveying the civilization of a vast region that includes present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, this course will impart basic geographic, political, religious, cultural, economic and social information from antiquity to the present, and foster an appreciation of the region's lasting achievements in art, literature, science, social organization, religion and philosophy.
RELS:1670 KOREA IN THE WORLD 3 s.h. Choi
Same as KORE:1725, ASIA:1670
Comprehensive and critical understanding of Korea's place in the world; emphasis on historical and sociocultural roots of various aspects of life on the contemporary Korean peninsula (both North and South Korea); comprehensive list of topics including cultural production (K-pop and film), religions, economy, gender relations, cuisine, politics, and prospects for reunification.
RELS:1725 GENDER & RELIGION IN KOREAN VISUAL CULTURE 3 s.h. Choi
Same as KORE:1725, ASIA:1725
This course focuses on the complex experience of women and men in the various religious traditions of Korea from the seventeenth century to the present. We will closely examine the imagery contained in paintings, films and photographs to uncover the historical and cultural experiences of Koreans and their multilayered relations with religious beliefs, rituals and customs.
RELS:1903 QUEST FOR HUMAN DESTINY (FROM EDEN TO 2001) 3 s.h. E. Holstein
Online Course / GE: Values & Culture
The framework for this course is made up of three ancient works: The Epic of Gilgamesh and, from the Bible, the first nine chapters of the Book of Genesis and the Book of Jonah. The differing ways in which these three texts deal with the issue of the inevitability of death is the focal point of the course. How this point is exploited is examined in Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilych," Clarke's Childhood's End, the Book of Ecclesiastes, the E'numa E'lish, and Stanley Kubrick's film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. See MAUI for full information.
RELS:2087 NARNIA & BEYOND: WRITINGS OF CS LEWIS 3 s.h. Gerstmyer
Exploration of C.S. Lewis's use of fantasy to describe the indescribable, his efforts to empathize with human suffering while hoping in possibility of miracles, and his jargon-free narration of Christian beliefs for a war-weary country; Lewis's works that continue to attract attention, ranging from children's literature to science fiction to autobiography and nonfiction; as a professor of medieval and renaissance literature, Lewis's unique perspective on Christianity that led him to make use of imagery, metaphors, and narratives previously neglected by Christian thinkers.
RELS:2265 HARD CASES IN HEALTHCARE AT THE END OF LIFE 3 s.h. Cates Course Video
Online Course / Same as GHS:2265
This course is for everyone who wants to explore ethical issues that can arise when caring for people who are facing death. It examines clinical contexts where advanced technologies make it possible to keep people alive who, not very long ago, would simply have died. It addresses the fact that doctor's and nurses can now keep bodies alive or oxygenated long after the persons with whom those bodies have been associated seem to have left. The course also considers the ways that different people die, in the U.S. and around the world, due to uneven access to medical care, hospice care, and suicide assistance. Finally, the course addresses the role that religion plays in conditioning most people’s ways of thinking about and approaching death—whether they identify as “religious” or not. The course is highly interactive, including an open-source virtual reality component, allowing students to practice having difficult conversations about suffering, dying, and death in the guise of an avatar, in lifelike settings where patients wrestle with religious as well as medical questions. See MYUI for full info.
RELS:2620 POLITICS, SEX, AND THE BIBLE 3 s.h. J. Smith Course Video
GE: Diversity & Inclusion
Even in a country in which the Separation of Church and State is a stated goal, it is impossible to completely separate the two. People frequently base their decisions and opinions upon their religious beliefs. However, the debate over exactly how the Bible should influence our culture and laws is not just one between Christian Believers and Atheists. On the contrary, many Christians disagree over exactly how the Bible should be interpreted and applied in any given case. This course will introduce students to the variety of biblical stances presented on major issues influencing our country and help them better understand how so many different positions can be based upon the Bible.
RELS:2775 THE BIBLE AND THE HOLOCAUST-Online Course 3 s.h. Holstein
This course deals with the Nazi war against Jews and Judaism from both the perspective of the perpetrators and of the victims. In regard to the victims, we will read three accounts by survivors who found themselves caught in the Nazi web of terror: one hiding out with a Polish Catholic family, another on the lam in the Latvian countryside, and the last in the belly of the beast of the largest killing center (Auschwitz); additionally, we will view the film, SHOAH, by Claude Lanzmann, which presents first-person testimonies of survivors, witnesses and former Nazis. We will also read selections from the Hebrew Bible in order to determine whether in the light of the slaughter of six million Jews it can be said that the biblical God is still "alive."
RELS:2852 WOMEN IN ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST 3 s.h. Souaiaia
GE: Int’l & Global Issues; Values & Culture
This course is about women within and without the Muslim community, focusing on women from the early time periods of the rise of Islam until modern times. We will consider the textual references to women in the primary religious texts (Qur’ân and the Sunnah) and references and stories of prominent women as told in the Islamic history books. In order to provide a comprehensive exploration of the status of women and gender issues, the course will also rely on interviews, guest lectures, images, documentaries, and films produced from a variety of perspectives and through the lenses of a number of disciplines. See MAUI for full info.
RELS:2855 HUMAN RIGHTS, LAW, RELIGION & CULTURE 3 s.h. Souaiaia
Applying historical and analytical approaches, we explore the social forces, legal regimes, and cultural norms that have shaped the debate on human rights in a global context and within Islamic societies. We will analyze historical accounts, legal documents, and past and current events to introduce students to human rights beyond its international law framework.
RELS:2877 SPORT AND RELIGION IN AMERICA 3 s.h. Nabhan-Warren
Same as SPST:2077
On a global level, young people today are growing up in a world where sport culture has taken on religious and spiritual elements and for many in the Americas, as is evident with the World Cup coverage, sport has become a religion. In Sport and Religion in America, an entry-level course where there will be no pre-requisites, students will read academic articles as well as popular news reports that demonstrate the ways that sport has taken on religious elements and has even become a "religion" for some individuals and groups. Students will be introduced to some theories of religious belief and practice and will be asked to apply the theories to the discourse of sport events as well as the culture of the events themselves. The class will be interactive and frequent YouTube videos, podcasts will be used in class to provide greater context for sport and religion in America.
RELS:3190 MEDIEVAL-MODERN: BIRTH OF PROTESTANTISM 3 s.h. Mentzer
Study the religious movement that gave birth to modern Protestantism, focusing on developments in Germany, France and England. Topics include the splintering of late medieval Christianity, Martin Luther and the German Reformation, John Calvin and religious transformations in France, and the emergence of the Church of England with Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Course requirements include a mid-term and final examination as well as two short reflective essays based on common readings.
RELS:3247 BANNED FROM THE BIBLE: PSEUDEPIGRAPHA 3 s.h. Cargill
Same as CLSA:3247
Introduction to biblical Pseudepigrapha and Apocrapha; writings dating from third century B.C.E. to third century C.E. fictionally attributed to characters in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, or written as though they originated in the First or Second Temple periods, not included in Jewish or major Christian canons of scripture; English translations of documents from this period; key themes and interpretative techniques common throughout biblical texts that provide tremendous insight into the worlds that produced the Hebrew Bible and New Testament.
RELS:3550 SOCIAL JUSTICE, RELIGION & SPIRITUALITY 3 s.h. Nabhan-Warren
Examination of some distinctively American traditions of religion, spirituality, and social justice, including women and men who have channeled their religio-spiritual beliefs into social justice in their communities; historical and anthropological focus; examination of U.S. movements (e.g., the Catholic Worker movement, the United Farm Workers movement, the civil rights movement, iterations of the feminist movement); direct involvement with the communities.
RELS:3808 MALCOLM X, KING, AND HUMAN RIGHTS 3 s.h. Turner
Same as AFAM:3500
The course explores the religion and politics of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the context of U.S. civil rights and international human rights in West Africa and the Muslim world. Emphasis is placed on civil rights connections to Gandhi, the Nobel Peace Prize, and other international experiences that have impacted Pan Africanists such as Stokely Carmichael who have worked on human rights.
RELS:3855 HUMAN RIGHTS AND ISLAM 3 s.h. Souaiaia
Same as ISIS:3855
In this course, we will examine the origins and contexts of the human rights discourse. We will adopt historical and analytical approaches to explore the social forces, legal regimes, and cultural norms that shaped the debate on human rights in a global context and within Islamic societies. We will analyze historical accounts, legal documents, and past and current events to introduce students to human rights beyond its international law framework.
RELS:4950 SENIOR MAJORS SEMINAR: Why I Majored in Religious Studies 3 s.h. J. Smith
The Senior Seminar is a capstone course that allows you to reflect on what you have learned in your Religious Studies courses and how it is relevant to your life and future. This semester, we will examine several ways in which Religious Studies is related to our culture and world, such as morality, international relations, politics, and the media. You will also complete a Senior Seminar Project on a subject related to your personal goals and interest in Religious Studies.
RELS:5300 GENEOLOGIES OF RELIGION 3 s.h. Dilley
This course seeks to provide grounding in the three Western religious traditions that are necessary for graduate work in religious studies. It will focus on the history of scholarship as well as on the basic themes and tenets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The format of each session will be primarily summary and discussion of the reading materials, and short lectures explaining and/or adding to the information presented in the assigned chapters. Ideally, discussions will be the major component as the course progresses. The goals of the course are: to acquaint you with the state of scholarship in this field; to provide bibliographical resources for further study; and to sharpen two forms of scholarly writing: intensive exposition of a primary text, and the academic book review.
RELS:6200 SEMINAR: RELIGIOUS ETHICS 3 s.h. Cates
This graduate seminar examines multiple approaches to the study of emotion, including philosophical, psychological, anthropological, and neuroscientific, in an effort to determine what an emotion is or how it is best defined. The seminar also considers the impact that religion—in a variety of its guises—can have on people’s emotions and emotional habits.
***Please check MYUI for the most current information and full descriptions***
RELS:1001 JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY, AND ISLAM Instructor TBA
GE: Historical Perspectives
This course offers an introduction to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by focusing on the scriptural foundation and historical development of these three related traditions. Lectures cover the texts and other forms of religious expression, including art, music, literature, and philosophy.
RELS:1060:EXV JOURNEY THROUGH WORLD RELIGIONS F. Smith
What makes a religion work, where do they come from, why and how religion(s) become structured in the lives of individuals and cultures, and how different cultures define and inhabit the religions that are practiced on their soil.
RELS:1070 INTRO TO THE HEBREW BIBLE/OLD TESTAMENT J. Smith
GE: Values & Culture
What exactly is the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament? How can we understand this work when so many Jewish and Christian groups not only disagree about its interpretation but also what books and even versions of those books should be included? The purpose of this course is to understand the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible within the broader cultural background of the ancient Near East, the history of the people who composed the book, and how the literary contents of the Bible reflect, reject, or otherwise interact with the cultural and historical circumstances of the times.
RELS:1130 / HIST:1030 INTRODUCTION TO ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION Souaiaia
GE: Values& Culture; International and Global Issues
Historical survey of Islamic institutions, communities, literature, arts, sciences, cultures, and practices since the 7th century. For students with an interest in learning about the Islamic civilization, the religious practices and beliefs, and/or the history or the regions where Muslims are in the majority. Examine traditions and main social and legal institutions of Islam. *See MYUI
RELS:1225 / HIST:1025 MEDIEVAL RELIGION AND CULTURE Mentzer
GE: Historical Perspectives
Explore European religion, principally Western Christianity and its broader cultural setting from the end of antiquity to the eve of the Reformation (ca. 1500). Examine beliefs and practices among the intellectual and social elite as well as the meaning of religion for the largely illiterate and unlearned majority of the population, including roles of women, religious opposition, the place of the liturgy, religious art and architecture, politics and religion, and the syncretic blend of “official” and folk religion.
RELS:1404 / ASIA:1040 LIVING RELIGIONS OF THE EAST: Ancestors, Buddhas, Gods, and God Schlütter
GE: Values& Culture
Human beings in the East and the West share more similarities than differences. However, the differences are important to understand because not only are they interesting but they can have tremendous impact on our life, work, and community. This course uses a comparative and cross-cultural approach to examine major world religions: Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism/yoga, Shinto, and Taoism, among others. Differing from Christianity, these belief systems are both “philosophy” and “religion.” *See MYUI
RELS:1702 RELIGION IN AMERICA TODAY Nabhan-Warren
GE: Values & Culture
Have you ever been curious about what and why people believe? Do you wonder about why people eat certain things at certain times of the year, why people pray, why they raise their families in certain ways? Explore commonalities and differences among religious and spiritual groups in the US including evangelical Protestant Christians & Roman Catholics; Orthodox, Conservative & Reform Jews; Muslims, Amish, Scientologists, Jehovah Witnesses & more. *See MYUI
RELS:1810 HAPPINESS IN A DIFFICULT WORLD Cates
GE: Values & Culture
Everyone wants to be happy. For many people, being happy involves gaining freedom from factors in their lives that keep them from realizing their full potential and feeling connected to others. Is religion a help or hindrance in seeking freedom? This introductory course seeks wisdom from three iconic figures, focusing on religious backgrounds and unique spiritualities of Maya Angelou (an African-American Christian), Black Elk (a Lakota Sioux medicine man), and the Dalai Lama (a Tibetan Buddhist monk). *See MYUI
RELS:1903EXV/EXW QUEST FOR HUMAN DESTINY E. Holstein
GE: Values & Culture
Explore three ancient works: The Epic of Gilgamesh and, from the Bible, the first nine chapters of the Book of Genesis and the Book of Jonah. The differing ways in which these three texts deal with the issue of the inevitability of death is the focal point of the course. How this point is exploited is examined in Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilych," Clarke's Childhood's End, the Book of Ecclesiastes, the E'numa E'lish, and Stanley Kubrick's film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. We will reflect on how various quests for meaning in life as expressed in literature relate to the human condition, with particular attention to matters relating to the table, the bedroom, and the grave. *See MYUI
RELS:1997 HARRY POTTER: MYSTERY & MAGIC OF LIFE Gerstmyer
Exploration of Harry Potter novels and films that offer millions of people an entrée into a world of wizards, witches, and muggles; this engrossing world created by J.K. Rowling invites readers and viewers to explore the power of human imagination, creates a space for asking questions of personal significance (What defines me as a person? What sort of person am I in the process of becoming? What are the most significant factors that are shaping my identity and destiny?); students read selections and view film segments while exploring these essential questions.
RELS:2260:EXW HARD CASES HEALTHCARE AT THE BEGINNING OF LIFE Cates
This highly interactive, online course is for everyone who is intrigued by—and wants to explore—the ethical impact that advances in biotechnology, including genetic, reproductive, and neonatal technology, are having in the medical arena and, more generally, on our humanity. It is also for those who want to understand the growing religious diversity of America’s communities and the impact that religion and spirituality can have on people’s ways of confronting matters of life and death. The central goal of the course is to help you prepare for life and work in contexts where ethical, religious, and spiritual questions simply cannot be avoided and ought to be treated with intelligence and sensitivity. See MYUI.
RELS:2272 GODS AND SUPERHEROES: RELIGION IN FILM J. Smith
Religious figures and divine beings have long provided the source material for important myths and cultural narratives. While seemingly about extraordinary beings, these myths also discuss important questions about being human, such as how to treat others, how to live the best life, or even what does it mean to be human. Recent blockbuster movies (Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Ghost in the Shell) have turned once again to ancient myths to address new pressing questions about life in the modern world. Intro to myths of several different cultures as a foundation to watch and analyze modern movies. Focuses on how movies update and adapt these ancient myths and how that influences the messages they convey.
RELS:2330 ECONOMICS AND ISLAM Souaiaia
GE: Diversity and Inclusion
Examine the body of literature and data dealing with economics and Islam from the perspective of a variety of disciplines, including law, economics, sociology, anthropology, history, and political science. Study how religion and culture shape economic decisions drawing This course draws on settled knowledge in a variety of disciplines to allow students to see the rich connections among academic disciplines and economic and social institutions.
RELS:2620 POLITICS, SEX, AND THE BIBLE J. Smith
GE: Diversity and Inclusion
Even in a country in which the Separation of Church and State is a stated goal, it is impossible to completely separate the two. People frequently base their decisions and opinions upon their religious beliefs. However, the debate over exactly how the Bible should influence our culture and laws is not just one between Christian Believers and Atheists. On the contrary, many Christians disagree over exactly how the Bible should be interpreted and applied in any given case. *See MYUI
RELS:2674 / GHS:2674 FOOD, BODY, AND BELIEF: A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE Choi
“Food is a pathway to enlightenment”, Jeong Kwan, Korean Zen Buddhist nun, in Chef’s Table (2017)
What you eat, and don’t eat, says a lot about who you are. We eat not only to fuel our bodies but also to explore where we come from and what we want to become. Our food choices or taboos are often linked to our religious, ethnic, gender, class, and political identity. In this course, we will explore the central role that food plays in shaping our religious, ethnic and gender identities from a global perspective. The course looks at a wide range of religious traditions to investigate how food and dietary regulations reflect their belief system and create rituals and moral discipline. *See MYUI
RELS:2775:EXW THE BIBLE AND THE HOLOCAUST J. Holstein
Study the Nazi war against Jews and Judaism from both perpetrators and victims’ perspectives. We will read three accounts by survivors who found themselves caught in the Nazi web of terror, one hiding out with a Polish Catholic family, another on the lam in Latvian countryside, and the last in the belly of the beast of the largest killing center (Auschwitz). *See MYUI
RELS:2852:EXV / GWSS:2052:0EXV WOMEN IN ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST Souaiaia
GE: International & Global Issues / Values & Culture
Study women within and without the Muslim community, focusing on women from early time periods of rise of Islam until modern times. C textual references to women in the primary religious texts (Qur’ân and the Sunnah) and references and stories of prominent women as told in the Islamic history books. We will focus on contemporary Muslim women in a number of different cultural contexts in order to highlight a variety of significant issues including, veiling & seclusion, kinship structures, violence, health, feminist activism, body & mind, and other themes. *See MYUI
RELS:3385 / HIST:3485 EARLY MODERN CATHOLICISM Mentzer
This course explores the religious and cultural transformations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that gave birth to modern Catholicism. The focus is on the transition from a relatively diverse medieval Christian community to a highly structured and unified Roman Catholic Church. Attention will be given to the internal dynamics of Catholicism as well as the Church’s reaction to the challenge of Protestantism.
RELS:3700, 3701 EXT, EXV, EXW NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS I
RELS:4352 / CLSA:4452 THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS Cargill
Intro to the Dead Sea Scrolls; reading of the scrolls in English translation; examination of Qumran site archaeology; survey of broader sociopolitical context of Second Temple Judaism (586 B.C.E. to 135 C.E.) out of which the scrolls emerged.
RELS:4960 INDIVIDUAL STUDY UNDERGRADUATES Independent Study
RELS:4970 HONORS TUTORIAL Independent Study
RELS:4975:0IND HONORS ESSAY Independent Study
RELS:5400 METHODS & THEORIES IN STUDY OF RELIGION Supp-Montgomerie
Study the historical development of religious studies as a field, and introduction to current theoretical approaches to religion coming out of such diverse disciplines as philosophy, anthropology, cultural studies, and neurobiology. The course is intended to give students a grounding in method and theory that will allow them to develop complex and nuanced research questions, to situate themselves in the broader field, and to discuss ideas across disciplinary boundaries.
RELS:6070, 6075 NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS I
RELS:6350 / GWSS:6350 GENDER AND RELIGION Nabhan-Warren
What contemporary religious and spiritual groups and their members believe about sex, sexuality, and gender; how they define and redefine what it means to be a "man" and a "woman"; exploration of contemporary "conservative" and "progressive" cosmologies and theologies; underlying beliefs that construct these perspectives and the impact on individual and group practices; broader implications of individual and group beliefs and practices on national and global policies.
RELS:7100:OIND READINGS IN AMERICAN RELIGIONS Independent Study
RELS:7200:OIND READINGS IN RELIGIOUS ETHICS Independent Study
RELS:7260:OIND FRENCH PALEOGRAPHY Mentzer Independent Study of original French writings.
RELS:7400:OIND READINGS IN THEOLOGY AND RELIGIOUS THOUGHT Independent Study
RELS:7450:OIND READINGS IN HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY Independent Study
RELS:7500:OIND READINGS IN ASIAN RELIGIONS Independent Study
RELS:7600:OIND READINGS: ISLAMIC & MIDDLE EASTERN ST Independent Study
RELS:7650:OIND READINGS: ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN RELIGIONS Independent Study
RELS:7900:OIND INDIVIDUAL STUDY GRADUATES Independent Study
RELS:7950OIND THESIS Independent Study
The University of Iowa
Department of Religious Studies
314 Gilmore Hall