Courses for Spring 2021

Title Instructors Location Time Description Cross listings Fulfills Registration notes Syllabus Syllabus URL
RELS 108-401 Introduction To Folklore Dan Ben-Amos TR 01:30 PM-03:00 PM The purpose of the course is to introduce you to the subjects of the discipline of Folklore, their occurrence in social life and the scholarly analysis of their use in culture. As a discipline folklore explores the manifestations of expressive forms in both traditional and moderns societies, in small-scale groups where people interact with each face-to-face, and in large-scale, often industrial societies, in which the themes, symbols, and forms that permeate traditional life, occupy new positions, or occur in different occasions in everyday life. For some of you the distinction between low and high culture, or artistic and popular art will be helpful in placing folklore forms in modern societies. For others, these distinction will not be helpful. In traditional societies, and within social groups that define themselves ethnically, professionally, or culturally, within modern heterogeneous societies, and traditional societies in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia, folklore plays a more prominent role in society, than it appears to plan in literati cultures on the same continents. Consequently the study of folklore and the analysis of its forms are appropriate in traditional as well as modern societies and any society that is in a transitional phase. COML101401, FOLK101401, NELC181401 Cross Cultural Analysis Course Online: Synchronous Format
Humanities & Social Science Sector
https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS108401
RELS 110-401 American Jesus Gabriel Raeburn TR 12:00 PM-01:30 PM Images and beliefs about Jesus have always been a compelling part of American life. This course seeks to examine the social, political, religious and artistic ways that Jesus has been appropriated and used in American life, making him a unique figure for exploring American religious life. Special attention will be given to how Jesus is used to shape social and political concerns, including race, gender, sexuality and culture. AFRC109401 Course Online: Synchronous Format https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS110401
RELS 117-401 African American Religion Anthea Butler MW 11:00 AM-12:30 PM The unique history and experiences of African Americans can be traced through religion and belief. Through the mediums of literature, politics, music, and film, students will explore the religious experience of people of the African Diaspora within the context of the complex history of race in American history. The course will cover a broad spectrum of African American religious experience including Black Nationalism, urban religions, the "black church" and African religious traditions such as Santeria and Rastafarianism. Special attention will be paid to the role of race, gender, sexuality, and popular culture in the African American religious experience. AFRC117401 Course Online: Synchronous Format
RELS 120-401 Jews & Judaism in Antqty Simcha Gross TR 10:30 AM-12:00 PM A broad introduction to the history of Jewish civilization from its Biblical beginnings to the Middle Ages, with the main focus on the formative period of classical rabbinic Judaism and on the symbiotic relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. NELC051401, JWST156401, NELC451401, HIST139401 History & Tradition Sector Course Online: Synchronous Format https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS120401
RELS 127-401 Gender and Religion in Israel TR 03:00 PM-04:30 PM Contemporary Israel is a site not just of religious conflict but of clashing gender norms, bringing together a variety of groups - the secular and the religious, the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox - that are distinguished from each other in part by their understanding of gender and their treatment of women and LGBTQ people. As a way into understanding the interaction of religion and gender more broadly, this course survey various intersections of religion, gender and politics in Israel today, investigating how religion shapes gender relations, and is shaped in turn by gender. JWST127401 Course Online: Synchronous Format
RELS 143-401 Introduction To Islam Seyed Alireza Noori MW 12:00 PM-01:30 PM 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. SAST139401, NELC136401 Course Online: Synchronous Format
RELS 163-401 Introduction To Hinduism Davesh Soneji TR 03:00 PM-04:30 PM This course introduces students to the history, texts, philosophies and rituals of South Asia's oldest living religious traditions, represented today by the term "Hinduism." At the same time, it problematizes the idea of a monolithic "Hindu Tradition," in favor of an approach that recognizes several distinct, dynamic, yet symbiotic Hindu religious cultures. The course also places emphasis on the vitality of today's Hinduism(s), and the various historical, ritual, cultural, and social contexts that they represent and constitute. The course is organized around six modules: (1) Issues in the Academic Study of Hinduism; (2) Sanskrit (textual) tradition; (3) Philosophy; (4) Theology; (5) Ritual; (6) Modernity and Contemporary Politics. SAST009401 Course Online: Synchronous Format
RELS 164-401 Hist,Cltr, Early India Daud Ali TR 01:30 PM-03:00 PM This course surveys the culture, religion and history of India from 2500 BCE to 1200 CE. The course examines the major cultural, religious and social factors that shaped the course of early Indian history. The following themes will be covered: the rise and fall of Harappan civilization, the "Aryan Invasion" and Vedic India, the rise of cities, states and the religions of Buddhism and Jainism, the historical context of the growth of classical Hinduism, including the Mahabharata, Ramayana and the development of the theistic temple cults of Saivism and Vaisnavism, processes of medieval agrarian expansion and cultic incorporation as well as the spread of early Indian cultural ideas in Southeast Asia. In addition to assigned secondary readings students will read select primary sources on the history of religion and culture of early India, including Vedic and Buddhist texts, Puranas and medieval temple inscriptions. Major objectives of the course will be to draw attention to India's early cultural and religious past and to assess contemporary concerns and ideologies in influencing our understanding and representation of that past. SAST003401, HIST086401 History & Tradition Sector Course Online: Synchronous Format
RELS 172-401 East Asian Religions Ori Tavor R 10:30 AM-12:00 PM This course will introduce students to the diverse beliefs, ideas, and practices of East Asia's major religious traditions: Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shinto, Popular Religion, as well as Asian forms of Islam and Christianity. As religious identity in East Asia is often fluid and non-sectarian in nature, there religious traditions will not be investigated in isolation. Instead, the course will adopt a chronological and geographical approach, examining the spread of religious ideas and practices across East Asia and the ensuing results of these encounters. The course will be divided into three units. Unit one will cover the religions of China. We will begin by discussing early Chinese religion and its role in shaping the imperial state before turning to the arrival of Buddhism and its impact in the development of organized Daoism, as well as local religion. In the second unit, we will turn eastward into Korea and Japan. After examining the impact of Confucianism and Buddhism on the religious histories of these two regions, we will proceed to learn about the formation of new schools of Buddhism, as well as the rituals and beliefs associated with Japanese Shinto and Korean Shamanism. The third and final unit will focus on the modern and contemporary periods through an analysis of key themes such as religion and modernity, the global reception and interpretation of East Asian religions, and the relationship between religion and popular culture. The class will be conducted mainly in the form of a lecture, but some sessions will be partially devoted to a discussion of primary sources in translation. The course assignments are designed to evaluate the development of both of these areas. No previous knowledge of East Asian languages is necessary, and all readings will be available in English on the Canvas site in PDF form. EALC008401 Course Online: Synchronous Format https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS172401
RELS 207-401 Jews, Race and Religion (SNF Paideia Program Course) Steven Phillip Weitzman TR 01:30 PM-02:50 PM Contemporary Jewish identity exists at an uneasy cross-section of race, religion and ethnicity. This course aims to expose students to the diversity of Jewish experience through the lenses of race and religion, examining the various ways these categories intersect and complicate each other. How can the study of race and religion help us to understand the present and future of Jewish life? How do Jews figure in the study of race and race relations in North America and Israel? Of what relevance is the category of whiteness for understanding Jewish identity, and what does their association in the U.S. mask about Jews and Jewish life today? And what are the roles of Jews in the continuing struggle for racial justice now underway in the world? This course aims to address these questions in light of a range of intellectual perspectives and disciplinary approaches. It will be built around a series of weekly guest lectures by leading scholars of Jews, race and/or religion, and will include among the questions and topics that it explores opportunities to explore connections among scholarship, personal experience and activism. JWST207401 Cultural Diversity in the US Designated SNF Paideia Program Course
Course Online: Asynchronous Format
https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS207401
RELS 215-001 Satan Reyhan Durmaz TR 01:30 PM-03:00 PM This course explores the oldest and the most powerful antagonist of human history. Satan, the Devil, referred with many other names in different religious traditions, has a rich history from ancient dualist cosmologies, through the monotheistic traditions, up to the modern day. In this course, we will survey the many expressions of human creativity that underlies the emergence and development of this character. We will study mythology, scripture, philosophy, medicine, material culture, ritual practice, and iconographic representations to discover the many dimensions of the archenemy over the course of two millennia. Through an extensive study of Satan, we will see the ways in which people answered some perennial questions, such as: What is a human? How do we relate to the cosmos and nature? How do we make meaning of suffering? What is morality? Course Online: Synchronous Format
Humanities & Social Science Sector
https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS215001
RELS 224-401 The Book of Exodus Isabel Cranz TR 04:30 PM-06:00 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." COML380401, NELC550401, JWST255401, NELC250401 Course Online: Asynchronous Format https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS224401
RELS 235-401 Eastern Christianities Reyhan Durmaz TR 10:30 AM-12:00 PM The history of Christianity is often told from the perspective of its spread westward from Israel to Rome. Yet, in the first millenium, there were more Christians living in the East, in places as far away as Persia, Yemen, India, China, and Mongolia, than in the West. Spread across the Asian continent, these Christians were actively involved in local and imperial politics, composed theological literature, and were deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of their host societies. This course traces the spread of Christianity eastward, paying particular attention to its regional developments, its negotiations with local political powers, and its contact with other religions, including Buddhism, Manichaeism, and Islam. Readings will cover a broad range of sources, including selections from classical Syriac literature, Mesopotamian magic bowls, the so-called "Jesus Sutras," and the Quran. NELC385401, SAST245401 Course Online: Synchronous Format https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS235401
RELS 237-401 Gender Religion & China Hsiao-Wen Cheng R 04:30 PM-07:30 PM This course examines the interrelationship among "gender," "religion," and "China" as conceptual and historical categories. We ask, for example, how gender plays critical and constitutive roles in Chinese religious traditions, how religion can be used both to reinforce and to challenge gender norms, how religious women impact Chinese society and culture, and what the construction of "China" as a cultural identity and as a nation-state has to do with women, gender, and religion. We will also think about what assumptions we have when speaking of gender, religion, and China, and the infinite possibilities when we strive to think beyond. We will read three kinds of materials: (1) scholarship on gender and religion in historical and contemporary China as well as the Chinese-speaking world, (2) scholarship concerning theories and methodology of gender and religious studies not necessarily focused on China, and (3) historical record of religious women in English translation. RELS630401, GSWS630401, GSWS234401, EALC630401, EALC230401 Course Online: Synchronous Format https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS237401
RELS 254-401 Violnce,Tolernce,Freedom Jolyon Thomas MW 03:30 PM-05:00 PM This seminar examines how the adjective "religious" has been used to modify the nouns "violence", "tolerance", and "freedom". It traces the historical development of liberal ideas of tolerance and human rights, interrogates the common assumption that religion exerts a perverse influence on politics and vice versa, critically examines the concept of terrorism, and connects the neoliberal ideal of unfettered free markets to the idea of being "spiritual but not religious." Previous courses in RELS or ANTH recommended. ANTH253401 Crse Online: Sync & Async Components https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS254401
RELS 257-401 Women in the Bible Isabel Cranz TR 12:00 PM-01:30 PM JWST254401, NELC257401, GSWS258401 Cross Cultural Analysis Course Online: Asynchronous Format
Benjamin Franklin Seminars
https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS257401
RELS 271-401 The Politics of Shinto Jolyon Thomas T 05:30 PM-07:00 PM Shinto-derived images and ideas frequently appear in Japanese anime and film, and journalists and academics frequently mobilize the term Shinto as a way of explaining Japan's past or envisioning its future. The environmentalist left champions a green Shinto while Shinto-derived ideas serve as red meat for politicians pandering to Japan's nationalist right. While the influential position Shinto occupies in Japanese sociopolitical life is therefore clear, the term Shinto itself is actually not. Depending on who one asks, Shinto is either the venerable indigenous religion of the Japanese archipelago, the irreducible core of Japanese culture, a tiny subset of Japanese Buddhism, an environmentalist ethic, or some combination of these. This course investigates the multifarious types of Shinto envisioned by these competing interest groups. EALC653401, EALC253401, RELS671401 Crse Online: Sync & Async Components https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS271401
RELS 273-401 Buddhist Literature Justin Mcdaniel TR 12:00 PM-01:30 PM This course seeks to introduce students to the diversity of texts, textual practices, and textual communities in Buddhist Asia. We will look at cosmological, historical, narrative, psychological, grammatical, magical, didactic, and astrological genres to gain an understanding of how Buddhist writers from various places and times have expressed their views on the inner workings of the mind, the nature of action, the illusion of phenomena, the role of the ethical agent, the origin of chaos, the persistence of violence, the contours of the universe, and the way to Enlightenment. EALC036401 Crse Online: Sync & Async Components
RELS 288-401 Religion and Society in Africa David K. Amponsah TR 10:00 AM-11:30 AM In recent decades, many African countries have perennially ranked very high among the most religious. This course serves as an introduction to major forms of religiosity in sub-Saharan Africa. Emphasis will be devoted to the indigenous religious traditions, Christianity and Islam, as they are practiced on the continent. We will examine how these religious traditions intersect with various aspects of life on the continent. The aim of this class is to help students to better understand various aspects of African cultures by dismantling stereotypes and assumptions that have long characterized the study of religions in Africa. The readings and lectures are will be drawn from historical and a few anthropological, and literary sources. AFRC287401 History & Tradition Sector Course Online: Asynchronous Format https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS288401
RELS 439-401 Religion, Social Justice & Urban Development Andrew T. Lamas M 06:00 PM-09:00 PM Urban development has been influenced by religious conceptions of social and economic justice. Progressive traditions within Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Baha'i, Humanism and other religions and systems of moral thought have yielded powerful critiques of oppression and hierarchy as well as alternative economic frameworks for ownership, governance, production, labor, and community. Historical and contemporary case studies from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East will be considered, as we examine the ways in which religious responses to poverty, inequality, and ecological destruction have generated new forms of resistance and development. AFRC405401, URBS405401 Crse Online: Sync & Async Components https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS439401
RELS 501-401 Religions of the African Diaspora Anthea Butler M 02:00 PM-05:00 PM This course deals with various religious topics, such as Mass Religious Conversion. AFRC547401 Course Online: Synchronous Format
RELS 616-401 Coptic David P Silverman MW 02:00 PM-03:30 PM ANEL664401 Course Online: Synchronous Format https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS616401
RELS 630-401 Gender Religion & China Hsiao-Wen Cheng R 04:30 PM-07:30 PM This course examines gender in Chinese religious culture from ancient to contemporary times. We will explore topics including the Buddhist accommodation of Chinese family system, Chinese transformation of the bodhisattva Guanyin, female deities in Daoist and popular religious pantheons, writings about religious women, female ghosts and fox spirits in literary imagination and folk tales, and the significance of yin force in Chinese medicine and Daoist alchemy. Through the case of China, we will look at how gender plays critical and constitutive roles in religious traditions, and how religion can be used both to reinforce and to challenge gender norms. GSWS630401, GSWS234401, EALC630401, EALC230401, RELS237401 Course Online: Synchronous Format https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS630401
RELS 671-401 The Politics of Shinto Jolyon Thomas T 05:30 PM-07:00 PM Shinto-derived images and ideas frequently appear in Japanese anime and film, and journalists and academics frequently mobilize the term Shinto as a way of explaining Japan s past or envisioning its future. The environmentalist left champions a green Shinto while Shinto-derived ideas serve as red meat for politicians pandering to Japan s nationalist right. While the influential position Shinto occupies in Japanese sociopolitical life is therefore clear, the term Shinto itself is actually not. Depending on who one asks, Shinto is either the venerable indigenous religion of the Japanese archipelago, the irreducible core of Japanese culture, a tiny subset of Japanese Buddhism, an oppressive political ideology linked to the emperor system, an environmentalist ethic, or some combination of these. This course investigates the multifarious types of Shinto envisioned by these competing interest groups. RELS271401, EALC653401, EALC253401 https://pennintouchdaemon.apps.upenn.edu/pennInTouchProdDaemon/jsp/fast.do?webService=syllabus&term=2021A&course=RELS671401