Courses for Fall 2020

Title Instructors Location Time Description Cross listings Fulfills Registration notes Syllabus Syllabus URL
RELS 002-401 Religions of the West Reyhan Durmaz TR 09:00 AM-10:30 AM This course surveys the intertwined histories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We will focus on the shared stories which connect these three traditions, and the ways in which communities distinguished themselves in such shared spaces. We will mostly survey literature, but will also address material culture and ritual practice, to seek answers to the following questions: How do myths emerge? What do stories do? What is the relationship between religion and myth-making? What is scripture, and what is its function in creating religious communities? How do communities remember and forget the past? Through which lenses and with which tools do we define "the West"? JWST122401 History & Tradition Sector Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen. https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2020C&course=RELS002401
RELS 005-401 Gender,Sexualty,Religion Megan E Robb TR 10:30 AM-12:00 PM What does it mean to be a gendered individual in a Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, or Sikh religious tradition? How important are gender differences in deciding social roles, ritual activities, and spiritual vocations? This course tackles these questions, showing how gender - how it is taught, performed, and regulated - is central to understanding religion. In this course we will learn about gendered rituals, social roles, and mythologies in a range of religious traditions. We will also look at the central significance of gender to the field of religious studies generally. The first part of the course will be focused on building a foundation of knowledge about a range of religious traditions and the role of gender in those traditions. This course emphasizes religious traditions outside the West. Although it is beyond the scope of this class to offer comprehensive discussions of any one religious tradition, the aim is to provide entry points into the study of religious traditions through the lens of gender. This course will emphasize both historical perspectives and contemporary contexts. We will also read religion through feminist and queer lenses - we will explore the key characteristics of diverse feminist and queer studies approaches to religion, as well as limits of those approaches. FOLK029401, GSWS109401 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Humanities & Social Science Sector
RELS 013-401 Gods Ghosts & Monsters Justin Mcdaniel T 05:00 PM-07:00 PM This course seeks to be a broad introduction. It introduces students to the diversity of doctrines held and practices performed, and art produced about "the fantastic" from earliest times to the present. The fantastic (the uncanny or supernatural) is a fundamental category in the scholarly study of religion, art, anthropology, and literature. This course fill focus both theoretical approaches to studying supernatural beings from a Religious Studies perspective while drawing examples from Buddhist, Shinto, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Zoroastrian, Egyptian, Central Asian, Native American, and Afro-Caribbean sources from earliest examples to the present including mural, image, manuscript, film, codex, and even comic books. It will also introduce students to related humanistic categories of study: material and visual culture, theodicy, cosmology, shamanism, transcendentalism, soteriology, eschatology, phantasmagoria, spiritualism, mysticism, theophany, and the historical power of rumor. It will serve as a gateway course into the study of Religion among numerous Asian, and East Asian Studies, as well as Visual Culture and Film Studies. It will include guest lectures from professors from several departments, as well as an extensive hands-on use of the collections of the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the manuscripts held in the Schoenberg Collection of Van Pelt Library. It aims to not only introduce students to major, approaches, and terms in the study of religion and the supernatural, but inspire them to take more advanced courses by Ilya Vinitsky, Liliane Weissberg, Projit Mukharji, Talya Fishman, Annette Reed,David Barnes, David Spafford, Frank Chance, Michael Meister, Paul Goldin, Renata Holod, Paul Rozin, among several others. EALC022401 Humanities & Social Science Sector
Registration also required for Recitation (see below)
RELS 013-402 Gods, Ghosts, and Monsters CANCELED This course seeks to be a broad introduction. It introduces students to the diversity of doctrines held and practices performed, and art produced about "the fantastic" from earliest times to the present. The fantastic (the uncanny or supernatural) is a fundamental category in the scholarly study of religion, art, anthropology, and literature. This course fill focus both theoretical approaches to studying supernatural beings from a Religious Studies perspective while drawing examples from Buddhist, Shinto, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Zoroastrian, Egyptian, Central Asian, Native American, and Afro-Caribbean sources from earliest examples to the present including mural, image, manuscript, film, codex, and even comic books. It will also introduce students to related humanistic categories of study: material and visual culture, theodicy, cosmology, shamanism, transcendentalism, soteriology, eschatology, phantasmagoria, spiritualism, mysticism, theophany, and the historical power of rumor. It will serve as a gateway course into the study of Religion among numerous Asian, and East Asian Studies, as well as Visual Culture and Film Studies. It will include guest lectures from professors from several departments, as well as an extensive hands-on use of the collections of the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the manuscripts held in the Schoenberg Collection of Van Pelt Library. It aims to not only introduce students to major, approaches, and terms in the study of religion and the supernatural, but inspire them to take more advanced courses by Ilya Vinitsky, Liliane Weissberg, Projit Mukharji, Talya Fishman, Annette Reed,David Barnes, David Spafford, Frank Chance, Michael Meister, Paul Goldin, Renata Holod, Paul Rozin, among several others. EALC022402 Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 013-403 Gods, Ghosts, and Monsters Aditya Narayan Bhattacharjee F 11:00 AM-12:00 PM This course seeks to be a broad introduction. It introduces students to the diversity of doctrines held and practices performed, and art produced about "the fantastic" from earliest times to the present. The fantastic (the uncanny or supernatural) is a fundamental category in the scholarly study of religion, art, anthropology, and literature. This course fill focus both theoretical approaches to studying supernatural beings from a Religious Studies perspective while drawing examples from Buddhist, Shinto, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Zoroastrian, Egyptian, Central Asian, Native American, and Afro-Caribbean sources from earliest examples to the present including mural, image, manuscript, film, codex, and even comic books. It will also introduce students to related humanistic categories of study: material and visual culture, theodicy, cosmology, shamanism, transcendentalism, soteriology, eschatology, phantasmagoria, spiritualism, mysticism, theophany, and the historical power of rumor. It will serve as a gateway course into the study of Religion among numerous Asian, and East Asian Studies, as well as Visual Culture and Film Studies. It will include guest lectures from professors from several departments, as well as an extensive hands-on use of the collections of the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the manuscripts held in the Schoenberg Collection of Van Pelt Library. It aims to not only introduce students to major, approaches, and terms in the study of religion and the supernatural, but inspire them to take more advanced courses by Ilya Vinitsky, Liliane Weissberg, Projit Mukharji, Talya Fishman, Annette Reed,David Barnes, David Spafford, Frank Chance, Michael Meister, Paul Goldin, Renata Holod, Paul Rozin, among several others. EALC022403 Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 013-404 Gods, Ghosts, and Monsters Aditya Narayan Bhattacharjee F 12:00 PM-01:00 PM This course seeks to be a broad introduction. It introduces students to the diversity of doctrines held and practices performed, and art produced about "the fantastic" from earliest times to the present. The fantastic (the uncanny or supernatural) is a fundamental category in the scholarly study of religion, art, anthropology, and literature. This course fill focus both theoretical approaches to studying supernatural beings from a Religious Studies perspective while drawing examples from Buddhist, Shinto, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Zoroastrian, Egyptian, Central Asian, Native American, and Afro-Caribbean sources from earliest examples to the present including mural, image, manuscript, film, codex, and even comic books. It will also introduce students to related humanistic categories of study: material and visual culture, theodicy, cosmology, shamanism, transcendentalism, soteriology, eschatology, phantasmagoria, spiritualism, mysticism, theophany, and the historical power of rumor. It will serve as a gateway course into the study of Religion among numerous Asian, and East Asian Studies, as well as Visual Culture and Film Studies. It will include guest lectures from professors from several departments, as well as an extensive hands-on use of the collections of the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the manuscripts held in the Schoenberg Collection of Van Pelt Library. It aims to not only introduce students to major, approaches, and terms in the study of religion and the supernatural, but inspire them to take more advanced courses by Ilya Vinitsky, Liliane Weissberg, Projit Mukharji, Talya Fishman, Annette Reed,David Barnes, David Spafford, Frank Chance, Michael Meister, Paul Goldin, Renata Holod, Paul Rozin, among several others. EALC022404 Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 013-405 Gods, Ghosts, and Monsters CANCELED This course seeks to be a broad introduction. It introduces students to the diversity of doctrines held and practices performed, and art produced about "the fantastic" from earliest times to the present. The fantastic (the uncanny or supernatural) is a fundamental category in the scholarly study of religion, art, anthropology, and literature. This course fill focus both theoretical approaches to studying supernatural beings from a Religious Studies perspective while drawing examples from Buddhist, Shinto, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Zoroastrian, Egyptian, Central Asian, Native American, and Afro-Caribbean sources from earliest examples to the present including mural, image, manuscript, film, codex, and even comic books. It will also introduce students to related humanistic categories of study: material and visual culture, theodicy, cosmology, shamanism, transcendentalism, soteriology, eschatology, phantasmagoria, spiritualism, mysticism, theophany, and the historical power of rumor. It will serve as a gateway course into the study of Religion among numerous Asian, and East Asian Studies, as well as Visual Culture and Film Studies. It will include guest lectures from professors from several departments, as well as an extensive hands-on use of the collections of the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the manuscripts held in the Schoenberg Collection of Van Pelt Library. It aims to not only introduce students to major, approaches, and terms in the study of religion and the supernatural, but inspire them to take more advanced courses by Ilya Vinitsky, Liliane Weissberg, Projit Mukharji, Talya Fishman, Annette Reed,David Barnes, David Spafford, Frank Chance, Michael Meister, Paul Goldin, Renata Holod, Paul Rozin, among several others. EALC022405 Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 013-406 Gods, Ghosts, and Monsters Aditya Narayan Bhattacharjee F 01:00 PM-02:00 PM This course seeks to be a broad introduction. It introduces students to the diversity of doctrines held and practices performed, and art produced about "the fantastic" from earliest times to the present. The fantastic (the uncanny or supernatural) is a fundamental category in the scholarly study of religion, art, anthropology, and literature. This course fill focus both theoretical approaches to studying supernatural beings from a Religious Studies perspective while drawing examples from Buddhist, Shinto, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Zoroastrian, Egyptian, Central Asian, Native American, and Afro-Caribbean sources from earliest examples to the present including mural, image, manuscript, film, codex, and even comic books. It will also introduce students to related humanistic categories of study: material and visual culture, theodicy, cosmology, shamanism, transcendentalism, soteriology, eschatology, phantasmagoria, spiritualism, mysticism, theophany, and the historical power of rumor. It will serve as a gateway course into the study of Religion among numerous Asian, and East Asian Studies, as well as Visual Culture and Film Studies. It will include guest lectures from professors from several departments, as well as an extensive hands-on use of the collections of the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the manuscripts held in the Schoenberg Collection of Van Pelt Library. It aims to not only introduce students to major, approaches, and terms in the study of religion and the supernatural, but inspire them to take more advanced courses by Ilya Vinitsky, Liliane Weissberg, Projit Mukharji, Talya Fishman, Annette Reed,David Barnes, David Spafford, Frank Chance, Michael Meister, Paul Goldin, Renata Holod, Paul Rozin, among several others. EALC022406 Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 013-407 Gods, Ghosts, and Monsters CANCELED This course seeks to be a broad introduction. It introduces students to the diversity of doctrines held and practices performed, and art produced about "the fantastic" from earliest times to the present. The fantastic (the uncanny or supernatural) is a fundamental category in the scholarly study of religion, art, anthropology, and literature. This course fill focus both theoretical approaches to studying supernatural beings from a Religious Studies perspective while drawing examples from Buddhist, Shinto, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Zoroastrian, Egyptian, Central Asian, Native American, and Afro-Caribbean sources from earliest examples to the present including mural, image, manuscript, film, codex, and even comic books. It will also introduce students to related humanistic categories of study: material and visual culture, theodicy, cosmology, shamanism, transcendentalism, soteriology, eschatology, phantasmagoria, spiritualism, mysticism, theophany, and the historical power of rumor. It will serve as a gateway course into the study of Religion among numerous Asian, and East Asian Studies, as well as Visual Culture and Film Studies. It will include guest lectures from professors from several departments, as well as an extensive hands-on use of the collections of the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the manuscripts held in the Schoenberg Collection of Van Pelt Library. It aims to not only introduce students to major, approaches, and terms in the study of religion and the supernatural, but inspire them to take more advanced courses by Ilya Vinitsky, Liliane Weissberg, Projit Mukharji, Talya Fishman, Annette Reed,David Barnes, David Spafford, Frank Chance, Michael Meister, Paul Goldin, Renata Holod, Paul Rozin, among several others. EALC022407 Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 079-401 Religion of Anime Jolyon Thomas MW 05:00 PM-06:00 PM Be it shrine maidens, gods of death, and bodhisattvas fighting for justice; apocalypse, the afterlife, and apotheosis... the popular Japanese illustrated media of manga and anime are replete with religious characters and religious ideas. This course uses popular illustrated media as a tool for tracing the long history of how media and religion have been deeply intertwined in Japan. EALC079401 Cross Cultural Analysis Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Registration also required for Recitation (see below)
https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2020C&course=RELS079401
RELS 079-402 The Religion of Anime F 11:00 AM-12:00 PM Be it shrine maidens, gods of death, and bodhisattvas fighting for justice; apocalypse, the afterlife, and apotheosis... the popular Japanese illustrated media of manga and anime are replete with religious characters and religious ideas. This course uses popular illustrated media as a tool for tracing the long history of how media and religion have been deeply intertwined in Japan. EALC079402 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 079-403 The Religion of Anime F 12:00 PM-01:00 PM Be it shrine maidens, gods of death, and bodhisattvas fighting for justice; apocalypse, the afterlife, and apotheosis... the popular Japanese illustrated media of manga and anime are replete with religious characters and religious ideas. This course uses popular illustrated media as a tool for tracing the long history of how media and religion have been deeply intertwined in Japan. EALC079403 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 079-404 The Religion of Anime F 01:00 PM-02:00 PM Be it shrine maidens, gods of death, and bodhisattvas fighting for justice; apocalypse, the afterlife, and apotheosis... the popular Japanese illustrated media of manga and anime are replete with religious characters and religious ideas. This course uses popular illustrated media as a tool for tracing the long history of how media and religion have been deeply intertwined in Japan. EALC079404 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 079-405 The Religion of Anime F 11:00 AM-12:00 PM Be it shrine maidens, gods of death, and bodhisattvas fighting for justice; apocalypse, the afterlife, and apotheosis... the popular Japanese illustrated media of manga and anime are replete with religious characters and religious ideas. This course uses popular illustrated media as a tool for tracing the long history of how media and religion have been deeply intertwined in Japan. EALC079405 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 079-406 The Religion of Anime F 12:00 PM-01:00 PM Be it shrine maidens, gods of death, and bodhisattvas fighting for justice; apocalypse, the afterlife, and apotheosis... the popular Japanese illustrated media of manga and anime are replete with religious characters and religious ideas. This course uses popular illustrated media as a tool for tracing the long history of how media and religion have been deeply intertwined in Japan. EALC079406 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 079-407 The Religion of Anime F 01:00 PM-02:00 PM Be it shrine maidens, gods of death, and bodhisattvas fighting for justice; apocalypse, the afterlife, and apotheosis... the popular Japanese illustrated media of manga and anime are replete with religious characters and religious ideas. This course uses popular illustrated media as a tool for tracing the long history of how media and religion have been deeply intertwined in Japan. EALC079407 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 100-301 Meditation and Text Itay Moshe Blumenzvig M 02:00 PM-05:00 PM Meditation, so it seems, is everywhere. Walking across Locust Walk, numerous posters jump to the eye calling for engagement with all sorts of mindfulness and spiritual contemplations. We often associate with it: quiet, detachment, calm. Yet before meditation acquired this silent character, it was in fact rather ecstatic and voluble. Meditators used to employ text to tease an introspection and put their experience into extensive writing that documents their reaction to the text, allowing the meditator to construct and reveal his or her self through the engagement with the written word. To study the history of meditation is thus to great extent to study the history of reading, and maybe more importantly, the history of the self. The course offers a survey of the history of meditation in the West: Starting with the self-examination of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and the medieval monastic traditions, going through some salient meditators of the early modern period (Montaigne, Ignacio of Loyola, Descartes), all the way to the invasion of Buddhist trends to the West in the 19th and 20th century. It also provides a window to major intellectual trends in the West, and to some key texts of various religions. Given the nature of the material, we will be interested in the ways in which texts affect us, considering the impact of timing, location, reading out loud vs. silently etc. The course involves weekly reading of primary and secondary sources, active in-class discussions and brief individual presentations by the students. Students will be encouraged to bring from their own national/religious/cultural background and to develop a personal project that will culminate in a final conference-like presentation. This is proposed as a Critical Speaking Seminar. COML110301
RELS 105-001 Virtual Religion Reyhan Durmaz W 02:00 PM-05:00 PM How has religion responded and adapted to modern technology? How has the internet impacted our understanding of community, religion, morality, and embodiment? Can piety be digitized; can artificial intelligence be religious? In the new world in which we are discussing the advantages and perils of automatization, humans vs. robots, advanced medical practices, and the like, where does religion fit in? How to understand the discussions around virtual religious gatherings during the global pandemic? This course explores the ways in which religion is expressed and experienced through digital media around the globe. We will read literature on philosophy of technology, environment, and material aspects of religion. In light of such theoretical frameworks, we will analyze media that have been changing the paradigms of religious practice, such as the internet, digitization of texts and objects, 3-d printing, virtual reality experiments, artificial intelligence, and the recent global health crisis. The course will draw examples from a variety of religious traditions and will study various conversations taking place between religion and technology. We will give special attention to the on-going debates about virtual religion in connection to the Covid-19 pandemic, and will speak about the future of religious communities and practice. Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen. https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2020C&course=RELS105001
RELS 109-401 Witchcraft & Possession Robert St.George MW 01:00 PM-02:00 PM This course explores world witchcraft and possession from the persecutions of the early seventeenth century through the rise of Wicca in the twentieth century. The mere mention of these terms, or of such close cousins as demonology, sorcery, exorcism, magic, and the witches Sabbath, raises clear ethnographic and historical challenges. How can the analysis of witchcraft-- including beliefs, patterns of accusation, the general social position of victims, the intensity and timing of witch hunts, and its relation to religious practice, law, language, gender, social marginalization, and property--lead us to a more humane understanding of belief and action? Films such as The Exorcist, The Blair Witch Project, The Crucible, and Three Sovereigns for Sarah will focus discussion. ANTH118401, HIST118401, GSWS119401 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Humanities & Social Science Sector
Registration also required for Recitation (see below)
RELS 109-402 Witchcraft & Possession F 12:00 PM-01:00 PM This course explores world witchcraft and possession from the persecutions of the early seventeenth century through the rise of Wicca in the twentieth century. The mere mention of these terms, or of such close cousins as demonology, sorcery, exorcism, magic, and the witches Sabbath, raises clear ethnographic and historical challenges. How can the analysis of witchcraft-- including beliefs, patterns of accusation, the general social position of victims, the intensity and timing of witch hunts, and its relation to religious practice, law, language, gender, social marginalization, and property--lead us to a more humane understanding of belief and action? Films such as The Exorcist, The Blair Witch Project, The Crucible, and Three Sovereigns for Sarah will focus discussion. ANTH118402, HIST118402, GSWS119402 Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 109-403 Witchcraft & Possession F 02:00 PM-03:00 PM This course explores world witchcraft and possession from the persecutions of the early seventeenth century through the rise of Wicca in the twentieth century. The mere mention of these terms, or of such close cousins as demonology, sorcery, exorcism, magic, and the witches Sabbath, raises clear ethnographic and historical challenges. How can the analysis of witchcraft-- including beliefs, patterns of accusation, the general social position of victims, the intensity and timing of witch hunts, and its relation to religious practice, law, language, gender, social marginalization, and property--lead us to a more humane understanding of belief and action? Films such as The Exorcist, The Blair Witch Project, The Crucible, and Three Sovereigns for Sarah will focus discussion. ANTH118403, HIST118403, GSWS119403 Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 109-404 Witchcraft & Possession R 04:30 PM-05:30 PM This course explores world witchcraft and possession from the persecutions of the early seventeenth century through the rise of Wicca in the twentieth century. The mere mention of these terms, or of such close cousins as demonology, sorcery, exorcism, magic, and the witches Sabbath, raises clear ethnographic and historical challenges. How can the analysis of witchcraft-- including beliefs, patterns of accusation, the general social position of victims, the intensity and timing of witch hunts, and its relation to religious practice, law, language, gender, social marginalization, and property--lead us to a more humane understanding of belief and action? Films such as The Exorcist, The Blair Witch Project, The Crucible, and Three Sovereigns for Sarah will focus discussion. ANTH118404, GSWS119404, HIST118404 Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 112-401 Relig Civ Rights To Blm Anthea Butler TR 12:00 PM-01:30 PM Religious beliefs of Malcolm X and MLK formed their social action during the Civil Rights for African Americans. This seminar will explore the religious biographies of each leader, how religion shaped their public and private personas, and the transformative and transgressive role that religion played in the history of the Civil Rights movement in the United States and abroad. Students in this course will leave with a clearer understanding of religious beliefs of Christianity, The Nation of Islam, and Islam, as well as religiously based social activism. Other course emphases include the public and private roles of religion within the context of the shaping of ideas of freedom, democracy, and equality in the United States, the role of the "Black church" in depicting messages of democracy and freedom, and religious oratory as exemplified through MLK and Malcolm X. AFRC115401 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Contact Dept Or Instructor For Classrm Info
RELS 114-401 Religion Ancient Egypt David P Silverman MW 02:00 PM-03:30 PM Weekly lectures (some of which will be illustrated) and a field trip to the University Museum's Egyptian Section. The multifaceted approach to the subject matter covers such topics as funerary literature and religion, cults, magic religious art and architecture, and the religion of daily life. NELC166401, NELC468401
RELS 121-401 Med & Early Mod Jewry Anne O Albert TR 01:30 PM-03:00 PM Follow the journey of one global diaspora over a millennium of cultural, intellectual, social, and religious change. From the rise of Islam in the seventh century to the separation of church and state in the seventeenth, Jewish people were intimate parts of, and at the same time utterly othered by, the many societies in which they lived. This basic duality is at the heart of this course, exploring how Jewish religion and culture evolved in relationship with Muslim and Christian majorities. Students will develop an understanding of the rich dynamism of premodern Judaism and Jewish life, with an emphasis on global diversity and internal differentiation as well as change over time. We will look for threads of continuity and moments of transformation, decode illustrative texts, images, and documents (in English), and ask how the Judaism that faced modernity had been shaped by a staggering array of different cultural circumstances after antiquity. The course includes attention to anti-Jewish phenomena like expulsion and blood libel, but also at coexistence and creative cultural synthesis, avoiding any simplistic narrative and asking about their legacy in the present day. It will look at the Jewish past from the inside, including less familiar dimensions including philosophy, magic, messianism, and family life. HIST140401, NELC052401, JWST157401 History & Tradition Sector
RELS 128-001 Spirituality in Contemporary Israel CANCELED This course maps out spiritual and religious life in Israel today, ranging from state-supported orthodox communities to groups that practice alternative forms of spirituality. What role do tradition, custom and ritual practice play in the construction of contemporary Israeli identity? How does the State shape religious and spiritual life? What forms of spiritual life are emerging beyond orthodoxy? The course will explore these and other questions through the examination of various media including newspapers, movies, and online conversations with Israeli religious leaders and important figures in popular culture. Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
RELS 128-401 Spirituality in Contemporary Israel CANCELED This course maps out spiritual and religious life in Israel today, ranging from state-supported orthodox communities to groups that practice alternative forms of spirituality. What role do tradition, custom and ritual practice play in the construction of contemporary Israeli identity? How does the State shape religious and spiritual life? What forms of spiritual life are emerging beyond orthodoxy? The course will explore these and other questions through the examination of various media including newspapers, movies, and online conversations with Israeli religious leaders and important figures in popular culture. JWST128401
RELS 130-401 How To Read the Bible Steven Phillip Weitzman TR 01:30 PM-03:00 PM The aim of this course is to explore what the Bible means, and why it means such different things to different people. Why do people find different kinds of meaning in the Bible. Who is right in the struggle over its meaning, and how does one go about deciphering that meaning in the first place? Focusing on the book of Genesis, this seminar seeks to help students answer these questions by introducing some of the many ways in which the Bible has been read over the ages. exploring its meaning as understood by ancient Jews and Christians, modern secular scholars, contemporary fiction writers, feminist activists, philosophers and other kinds of interpreter. JWST131401, NELC153401 Benjamin Franklin Seminars https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2020C&course=RELS130401
RELS 143-401 Introduction To Islam CANCELED This course is an introduction to Islam as a religion as it exists in societies of the past as well as the present. It explores the many ways in which Muslims have interpreted and put into practice the prophetic message of Muhammad through historical and social analyses of varying theological, philosophical, legal, political, mystical and literary writings, as well as through visual art and music. The aim of the course is to develop a framework for explaining the sources and symbols through which specific experiences and understandings have been signified as Islamic, both by Muslims and by other peoples with whom they have come into contact, with particular emphasis given to issues of gender, religious violence and changes in beliefs and behaviors which have special relevance for contemporary society. NELC136401, SAST139401 Cross Cultural Analysis Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
RELS 150-401 Intro To the Bible Isabel Cranz TR 04:30 PM-06:00 PM An introduction to the major themes and ideas of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), with attention to the contributions of archaeology and modern Biblical scholarship, including Biblical criticism and the response to it in Judaism and Christianity. All readings are in English. NELC150401, NELC450401, JWST150401 Cross Cultural Analysis Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Humanities & Social Science Sector
RELS 155-401 Intro To Indian Phil Deven Patel TR 04:30 PM-06:00 PM This course will take the student through the major topics of Indian philosophy by first introducing the fundamental concepts and terms that are necessary for a deeper understanding of themes that pervade the philosophical literature of India -- arguments for against the existence of God, for example, the ontological status of external objects, the means of valid knowledge, standards of proof, the discourse on the aims of life. The readings will emphasize classical Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain philosophical articulations (from 700 B.C.E. to 16th century C.E.) but we will also supplement our study of these materials with contemporary or relatively recent philosophical writings in modern India. SAST050401, PHIL050401 History & Tradition Sector
Cross Cultural Analysis
Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
RELS 173-401 Intro Buddhism Justin Mcdaniel CANCELED This course seeks to introduce students to the diversity of doctrines held and practices performed by Buddhists in Asia. By focusing on how specific beliefs and practices are tied to particular locations and particular times, we will be able to explore in detail the religious institutions, artistic, architectural, and musical traditions, textual production and legal and doctrinal developments of Buddhism over time and within its socio-historical context. Religion is never divorced from its place and its time. Furthermore, by geographically and historically grounding the study of these religions we will be able to examine how their individual ethic, cosmological and soteriological systems effect local history, economics, politics, and material culture. We will concentrate first on the person of the Buddha, his many biographies and how he has been followed and worshipped in a variety of ways from Lhasa, Tibet to Phrae, Thailand. From there we touch on the foundational teachings of the Buddha with an eye to how they have evolved and transformed over time. Finally, we focus on the practice of Buddhist ritual, magic and ethics in monasteries and among aly communities in Asia and even in the West. This section will confront the way Buddhists have thought of issues such as "Just-War," Women's Rights and Abortion. While no one quarter course could provide a detailed presentation of the beliefs and practices of Buddhism, my hope is that we will be able to look closely at certain aspects of these religions by focusing on how they are practiced in places like Nara, Japan or Vietnam, Laos. EALC015401, SAST142401 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Registration also required for Recitation (see below)
RELS 173-402 Introduction To Buddhism CANCELED This course seeks to introduce students to the diversity of doctrines held and practices performed by Buddhists in Asia. By focusing on how specific beliefs and practices are tied to particular locations and particular times, we will be able to explore in detail the religious institutions, artistic, architectural, and musical traditions, textual production and legal and doctrinal developments of Buddhism over time and within its socio-historical context. Religion is never divorced from its place and its time. Furthermore, by geographically and historically grounding the study of these religions we will be able to examine how their individual ethic, cosmological and soteriological systems effect local history, economics, politics, and material culture. We will concentrate first on the person of the Buddha, his many biographies and how he has been followed and worshipped in a variety of ways from Lhasa, Tibet to Phrae, Thailand. From there we touch on the foundational teachings of the Buddha with an eye to how they have evolved and transformed over time. Finally, we focus on the practice of Buddhist ritual, magic and ethics in monasteries and among aly communities in Asia and even in the West. This section will confront the way Buddhists have thought of issues such as "Just-War," Women's Rights and Abortion. While no one quarter course could provide a detailed presentation of the beliefs and practices of Buddhism, my hope is that we will be able to look closely at certain aspects of these religions by focusing on how they are practiced in places like Nara, Japan or Vietnam, Laos. EALC015402, SAST142402 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 173-403 Introduction To Buddhism CANCELED This course seeks to introduce students to the diversity of doctrines held and practices performed by Buddhists in Asia. By focusing on how specific beliefs and practices are tied to particular locations and particular times, we will be able to explore in detail the religious institutions, artistic, architectural, and musical traditions, textual production and legal and doctrinal developments of Buddhism over time and within its socio-historical context. Religion is never divorced from its place and its time. Furthermore, by geographically and historically grounding the study of these religions we will be able to examine how their individual ethic, cosmological and soteriological systems effect local history, economics, politics, and material culture. We will concentrate first on the person of the Buddha, his many biographies and how he has been followed and worshipped in a variety of ways from Lhasa, Tibet to Phrae, Thailand. From there we touch on the foundational teachings of the Buddha with an eye to how they have evolved and transformed over time. Finally, we focus on the practice of Buddhist ritual, magic and ethics in monasteries and among aly communities in Asia and even in the West. This section will confront the way Buddhists have thought of issues such as "Just-War," Women's Rights and Abortion. While no one quarter course could provide a detailed presentation of the beliefs and practices of Buddhism, my hope is that we will be able to look closely at certain aspects of these religions by focusing on how they are practiced in places like Nara, Japan or Vietnam, Laos. EALC015403, SAST142403 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 173-404 Introduction To Buddhism CANCELED This course seeks to introduce students to the diversity of doctrines held and practices performed by Buddhists in Asia. By focusing on how specific beliefs and practices are tied to particular locations and particular times, we will be able to explore in detail the religious institutions, artistic, architectural, and musical traditions, textual production and legal and doctrinal developments of Buddhism over time and within its socio-historical context. Religion is never divorced from its place and its time. Furthermore, by geographically and historically grounding the study of these religions we will be able to examine how their individual ethic, cosmological and soteriological systems effect local history, economics, politics, and material culture. We will concentrate first on the person of the Buddha, his many biographies and how he has been followed and worshipped in a variety of ways from Lhasa, Tibet to Phrae, Thailand. From there we touch on the foundational teachings of the Buddha with an eye to how they have evolved and transformed over time. Finally, we focus on the practice of Buddhist ritual, magic and ethics in monasteries and among aly communities in Asia and even in the West. This section will confront the way Buddhists have thought of issues such as "Just-War," Women's Rights and Abortion. While no one quarter course could provide a detailed presentation of the beliefs and practices of Buddhism, my hope is that we will be able to look closely at certain aspects of these religions by focusing on how they are practiced in places like Nara, Japan or Vietnam, Laos. EALC015404, SAST142404 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 173-405 Introduction To Buddhism CANCELED This course seeks to introduce students to the diversity of doctrines held and practices performed by Buddhists in Asia. By focusing on how specific beliefs and practices are tied to particular locations and particular times, we will be able to explore in detail the religious institutions, artistic, architectural, and musical traditions, textual production and legal and doctrinal developments of Buddhism over time and within its socio-historical context. Religion is never divorced from its place and its time. Furthermore, by geographically and historically grounding the study of these religions we will be able to examine how their individual ethic, cosmological and soteriological systems effect local history, economics, politics, and material culture. We will concentrate first on the person of the Buddha, his many biographies and how he has been followed and worshipped in a variety of ways from Lhasa, Tibet to Phrae, Thailand. From there we touch on the foundational teachings of the Buddha with an eye to how they have evolved and transformed over time. Finally, we focus on the practice of Buddhist ritual, magic and ethics in monasteries and among aly communities in Asia and even in the West. This section will confront the way Buddhists have thought of issues such as "Just-War," Women's Rights and Abortion. While no one quarter course could provide a detailed presentation of the beliefs and practices of Buddhism, my hope is that we will be able to look closely at certain aspects of these religions by focusing on how they are practiced in places like Nara, Japan or Vietnam, Laos. EALC015405, SAST142405 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
Registration also required for Lecture (see below)
RELS 184-401 What Is Taoism? Hsiao-Wen Cheng TR 03:00 PM-04:30 PM This course introduces a wide variety of ideas and practices that have at one time or another been labeled as Daoist (or "Taoist" in the Wade-Giles Romanization), in order to sort out the different senses of the term, and consider whether these ideas and practices have had any common features. We will begin with the two most famous Daoist works--the Zhuangzi and the Daodejing (or Laozi). We will also survey other bio-spiritual practices, such as the meditational techniques of Inner Alchemy and the self-cultivation regimens known today as Qigong and Tai-chi, as well as the theological and ritual foundations of organized Daoist lineages, many of which are still alive across East Asia. We will conclude with a critical review of the twentieth-century reinvention of "Daoism," the scientization of Inner Alchemy, and the new classification of "religious" versus "philosophical Daoism." While familiarizing ourselves with the key concepts, practices, and organizations developed in the history of Daoism, this course emphasizes the specific socio-political context of each of them. Throughout the course, we will think critically about the label of "Daoist" (as well as "Confucian" and "Buddhist") in Chinese history and in modern scholarship. We will also question modern demarcations between the fields of philosophy, religion, and science. EALC034401 Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen. https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2020C&course=RELS184401
RELS 224-401 Bible in Translation: Kings Isabel Cranz TR 12:00 PM-01:30 PM This course introduces students to one specific Book of the Hebrew Bible. "The Bible in Translation" involves an in-depth reading of a biblical source against the background of contemporary scholarship. Depending on the book under discussion, this may also involve a contextual reading with other biblical books and the textual sources of the ancient Near East. Although no prerequisites are required, this class is a perfect follow-up course to "Intro to the Bible." NELC550401, NELC250401, JWST255401 Cross Cultural Analysis Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen.
RELS 248-401 Intro To Islamic Law Joseph E. Lowry TR 01:30 PM-03:00 PM This course will introduce students to classical Islamic law, the all- embracing sacred law of Islam. Among the world's various legal systems, Islamic law may be the most widely misunderstood and even misrepresented; certainly, misconceptions about it abound. Islamic law is, however, the amazing product of a rich, fascinating and diverse cultural and intellectual tradition. Most of the readings in this course will be taken from primary sources in translation. Areas covered will include criminal law, family law, law in the Quran, gender and sexuality, the modern application of Islamic law, Islamic government and other selected topics. NELC238401
RELS 258-401 Asian Religions Global Jolyon Thomas T 06:00 PM-09:00 PM This seminar critically examines the missionary impulses, colonial exploits, and translation endeavors that contributed to the rise of Asian studies and the emergence of the scholarly notion of "Asian religions." It shows the crucial roles played by Asian agents and their European counterparts in the formation of modern conceptions of "religion"; it also engages reflexive questions regarding theory, method, and the geopolitical underpinnings of both Asian studies and the non-confessional academic study of religion. Students will conduct sustained research projects on the country or region of their choice. EALC657401, RELS658401, EALC257401 Cross Cultural Analysis Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen. https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2020C&course=RELS258401
RELS 261-401 Ancient Iranian Empires Simcha Gross T 03:00 PM-06:00 PM Iran - as a landmass and a political entity - was central to the ancient world in a variety of ways. Ancient Iranian Empires were of central importance to - and centrally located in - the ancient world. It was the successor kingdom to the Assyrians and Babylonians; the power against which Greece and Rome defined themselves; and the crucible in which various communities and models of rule developed. This course offers a survey of the history of the ancient Persianate world, focusing in particular on the political and imperial entities that rose to power, the cultural, political, mercantile, and other contacts they shared with their neighbors to the East and West, and the communities and religious groups that arose and flourished within their lands. Ancient Iranian empires rivaled the Greek and Roman Empires to their West, and the central and eastern Asian Empires to their east, and the ongoing history of diplomacy, cultural contact, and war between these regions was formative to each and to the ancient world as a whole. Iran was home to and similarly formative for a variety of religions, including Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Manichaeism, and Islam, and a central question Ancient Iranian political powers sought to address was how to negotiate and address the variety of populations under their control. The course will conclude by studying how, rather than a simplistic story of decline, the strategies, policies, institutions, and memory of the Iranian Empires continued to shape early Islam, medieval imagination, and modern political regimes. NELC261401, NELC561401, ANCH261401
RELS 501-401 Topics in Religion Anthea Butler CANCELED This course deals with various religious topics, such as Mass Religious Conversion. AFRC547401
RELS 520-401 Spirit and Law Talya Fishman M 03:00 PM-06:00 PM While accepting "the yoke of the commandments", Jewish thinkers from antiquity onward have perennially sought to make the teachings of revelation more meaningful in their own lives. Additional impetus for this quest has come from overtly polemical challenges to the law, such as those leveled by Paul, medieval Aristotelians, Spinoza and Kant. This course explores both the critiques of Jewish Law, and Jewish reflections on the Law's meaning and purpose, by examining a range of primary sources within their intellectual and historical contexts. Texts (in English translation) include selections from Midrash, Talmud, medieval Jewish philosophy and biblical exegesis, kabbalah, Hasidic homilies, Jewish responses to the Enlightenment, and contemporary attempts to re-value and invent Jewish rituals. NELC454401, JWST320401
RELS 523-401 Medieval Jewish Culture Talya Fishman W 03:00 PM-06:00 PM Through close reading of primary sources in the original Hebrew, participants in this seminar will explore historical circumstances that engaged and shaped medieval Jews in both Christian and Muslim lands, along with the enduring cultural projects that Jews themselves produced. Topics will include Geonica, Karaism, the encounter of Reason and Revelation; the Christian "Other": the Muslim "Other"; legal codification; the Tosafist project; Rhineland Pietism; Minhag (custom); family life; the aesthetic dimension; Kabbalah; conversos; messianism. Students should be able to comfortably read unpointed Hebrew. HEBR583401, JWST523401
RELS 555-301 Print Culture of S Asia Megan E Robb M 01:00 PM-04:00 PM This course asks the question: what changes with the arrival of print in South Asia? The printing press arrived in India in force in 1800, within 25 years, hundreds of publications proliferated in several South Asian languages. The adoption and response to print in South Asia offers understanding not only regarding information dissemination but also authority production among a wide range of religious and cultural groups in South Asia. We will consider critically the relationship between material culture, networks of political power, modes of authority transmission and religious meaning in South Asia from 1600 to the present. This course will start with a unit considering the techniques of manuscript knowledge reproduction and transmission across South Asia from 1600 to 1800. We will then consider the rise of the East India Company's Press in the late 18th century, the development of print techniques, and the appearance of the private publishing company. We will then consider the rise of Lahore as a printing hub and center of print culture in the 19th century, alongside the wider entrenchment of a newspaper print network, railway and postal networks. The early 20th century sees the rise of both large urban and qasbah-based newspaper networks, alongside a thriving print culture in the context of nationalist movements and communal conversations. A final unit on the post-Partition milieu looks a the rise of digital and new medias. Crucial to our conversation will be the symbiotic role of print and formation of new boundaries around the category of religion.
RELS 632-401 Hinduism&Colonial Mdrnty Davesh Soneji T 10:00 AM-01:00 PM This seminar deals with the question of modernity in South Asia, with a specific focus on the construction, dissemination, and politicization of Hinduism in nineteenth and twentieth century India. It focuses on three central heuristic lenses--namely those of European imperialism, Orientalism, and nationalism--to study modernity and its discontents. What was at stake in the encounter between colonial modernity and India's religions in nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? How did colonial and native discourses on "reform" and "revival" shape Indian religions as we understand them today? Howis modern "Hinduism" inextricably hinged to early forms of cultural transnationalism, Orientalism, and incipient forms of nationalism? This seminarapproaches questions such as these and others, with an eye to understanding how nineteenth and early twentieth century discourses continue toshape contemporary understandings of Hinduism in deep and highly politicized ways. SAST632401
RELS 658-401 Asian Religions Global Jolyon Thomas T 06:00 PM-09:00 PM This seminar critically examines the missionary impulses, colonial exploits, and translation endeavors that contributed to the rise of Asian studies and the emergence of the scholarly notion of "Asian religions." It shows the crucial roles played by Asian agents and their European counterparts in the formation of modern conceptions of "religion"; it also engages reflexive questions regarding theory, method, and the geopolitical underpinnings of both Asian studies and the non-confessional academic study of religion. Students will conduct sustained research projects on the country or region of their choice. EALC657401, RELS258401, EALC257401 Cross Cultural Analysis Course is available to Freshmen and Upperclassmen. https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2020C&course=RELS658401
RELS 670-401 Religious Bodies and Sex in South Asia Terenjit Sevea W 01:00 PM-04:00 PM This graduate-level course introduces students to the writings of key religious scholars in modern South Asia who associated the regeneration of Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism with the cultivation of bodies and sexual practices. Particular attention will be paid towards religious texts produced in modern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh pertaining to sexual bodies, excercises and health; celibacy; body-building; the transmission of sexual knowledge; and the political roles of the 'Hindu', 'Muslim' and 'Sikh' body. In this course, students will be encouraged to engage a range of sources including religio-sexual manuals, autobiographies, novels, speeches, pamphlets, official records, recipes and films. Moreover, students will be introduced to the academic literature on South Asian religious scholars and 'sex gurus' in South and Southeast Asia; religious sexuality in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe; and, the transcultural literary networks that led to the production of religio-sexual texts in modern South Asia. SAST640401