Religious Studies Spring 2019 Course Offerings

Department of Religious Studies
Course Offerings for Spring 2019
Director – Morten Schlütter
314 Gilmore Hall, 335-2164

Updated 10/24/2018

***Please check MYUI for the most current information and full descriptions***

RELS:1015    RELIGIONS IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT         3 s.h. Cargill   Course Video
This course examines 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.

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.

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.

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 doctor215164s 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.  Religion is an expression of the human longing for meaning and connection, and it is an aspect of every culture.  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 about women within and without the Muslim community. It focuses 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. In this course, we aim to explore the role and status of women in the modern and pre-modern Middle East with respect to institutions such as the law, religious practices, work, politics, family, and education. Additionally, we will examine themes of social protocols, sexuality, gender roles, and authenticity as contested norms. 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.

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. 

Updated: 10/24/2018

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The University of Iowa
Department of Religious Studies
314 Gilmore Hall