Religious Studies Spring 2018 Course Offerings
Department of Religious Studies
Course Offerings for Spring 2018
Director – Diana Fritz Cates, 314 Gilmore Hall, 335-2164
***Please check MYUI for the most current information and full descriptions***
RELS:1015 RELIGIONS IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT
Prof. Robert Cargill
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Introduction to the religions of the world focusing on how religion is impacting culture and politics in the contemporary global context. Learn about Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, as well as Native American, Afro-Caribbean, and shamanic traditions. Explore case studies that focus on religious apocalypticism, utopian religious movements, and religion and revolution. The course is designed to appeal to a broad range of interests, with no expectation of previous exposure to the material. This is the required gateway course for the Religious Studies major and is a foundation course for the International Studies program.
RELS:1080 INTRO TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
Dr. Jordan Smith (GE: Values, Society, & Diversity/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 / HIST:1450 MODERN RELIGION AND CULTURE
Prof. Raymond Mentzer (GE: Historical Perspective)
Explore 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.
RELS:1350 / AFAM:1250 INTRO TO AFRICAN-AMERICAN RELIGIONS
Troy Mills (GE: Values, Society, and Diversity)
Students from a variety of majors are introduced to the social and cultural history of African Americans through the framework of religious history. Explore how African-American religious communities developed and changed in response to various struggles for freedom in black America, and how the freedom struggles transformed religious consciousness and social and political values in the US from the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade to the present.
RELS:1430 THE BIBLE: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Dr. Jordan Smith
Curious about what the Bible is or how it was created, the biblical character that your friends keep referencing, where ideas like Satan and the apocalypse come from, or how the Bible influences our world today? Introduction to the Bible and its influences on Western culture; course format organized by question types to allow flexibility in learning.
RELS:1506 / ASIA:1060 INTRO TO BUDDHISM: AN ANCIENT TRADITION IN THE MODERN WORLD
Prof. Morten Schlütter (GE: Values, Society, and Diversity)
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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.
RELS:1620 BHAGAVAD GITA: INDIA’S GREATEST TEACHING
Prof. Fred Smith
Read the Bhagavad Gita and discuss its interpretations and use in classical and modern religious, literary, and political contexts. Composed around 2000 years ago, it is the best known and most influential religious text in Indian history and concisely addresses war & peace, duty & righteousness, renunciation, devotion, and the nature of the universe. The Bhagavad Gita has been read, debated, and discussed by ancient philosophers, modern religious teachers, and political figures such as Gandhi.
RELS:1903 QUEST FOR HUMAN DESTINY (FROM EDEN TO 2001) - Online Course
Ellen Holstein (GE: Values, Society, and Diversity)
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.
RELS:2041 UNDERSTANDING “THE MUSLIM WORLD”
This course is a general introduction to the various representations of Muslims around the world. It will introduce students to the historical and geographical spread of Islam and its interactions with and accommodation to different cultures in Africa, South Asia, Central Asia, East Asia and Europe. Covering a wide range of geographical regions with various languages, ethnicities and cultures, this course seeks to demonstrate how different Muslim groups understands Islam, what it means for them to be a Muslim, and what makes them feel a part of the so called “the Muslim world” at large.
RELS:2182 ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN RELIGIONS
Prof. Paul Dilley (GE: Values and Culture)
(Students admitted Summer 2011-2017 Values, Society, and Diversity; and Students admitted prior to Summer 2011 Humanities)
An introduction to the major religious traditions of the ancient Mediterranean world, from Mesopotamia, the Levant (Hebrew Bible), Egypt, Greece, and Rome. We will explore central aspects of their mythology, ritual, and archaeology, both individually and in comparative perspective. Ancient Judaism and Christianity will also be considered in their various cultural contexts.
RELS:2265 / GHS:2265 HARD CASES IN HEALTHCARE: ETHICS AT THE END OF LIFE
Prof. Diana Cates - Online Course
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Preparation for healthcare providers to make difficult ethical decisions regarding the end of life; highly interactive course.
RELS:2420 HUMAN IDENTITY IN SCIENCE FICTION
Dr. Robert Gerstmyer
What does it mean to be human? What distinguishes humans from other sorts of entities, such as cyborgs and robots? What are the ethical implications of a post-human future? Students pursue these questions through exploration of science fiction in books, short stories, film, and television.
RELS:2620 POLITICS, SEX, AND THE BIBLE
Dr. Jordan Smith
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Examination and analysis of the role of the Bible in contemporary culture; how different groups can read the exact same passages, yet reach different conclusions about how they and others should live.
RELS:2700 / AINS:2700 SACRED WORLD OF NATIVE AMERICANS
Prof. Michelene Pesantubbee (GE: Values, Society, and Diversity)
Study creation stories, rituals, and beliefs of selected indigenous groups in North America. Critically examine the portrayal of Native American religious traditions in texts and other media in order to gain greater understanding of the complexity and richness of Native American religious traditions. The class will also engage students in discussions about how Native American beliefs and practices have changed over time since the nineteenth century due to various factors such as consumerism, land use, western education, and technology.
RELS:2775 THE BIBLE AND THE HOLOCAUST - Online Course
Prof. Jay 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.
RELS:2877 / SPST:2077 SPORT AND RELIGION IN AMERICA
Dr. Brandon Dean
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. Students will read academic articles as well as popular news reports that demonstrate how sport has 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. Interactive and frequent YouTube videos and podcasts will provide greater context.
RELS:2930 / COMM2017 DIGITAL MEDIA AND RELIGION
Some characterize the digital age by the rise of science and technology and the death of religion. This course offers a different perspective, exploring diverse relationships between religion and technology—from enthusiastic fusion to adamant prohibition—focusing on three questions: What makes a medium digital? How do we connect to and disconnect from the world around us? And is there such a thing as "online religion"?
RELS:3385 EARLY MODERN CATHOLICISM
Prof. Raymond Mentzer
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:4950 SENIOR MAJORS SEMINAR: ALTERNATIVE RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS
Prof. Michelene Pesantubbee
Designed for majors who have completed or are close to completing their major requirements. Includes weekly discussions and written reflections of a comparative nature, but with a focus on new or alternative religious movements. Study the development and attraction of new religious movements in their specific historic context and their global presence, as well as more general features such as charismatic leadership, recruitment and conversion, and prophecy.
The University of Iowa
Department of Religious Studies
314 Gilmore Hall