Fall 2020

  • RELG 100: Christianity and Colonialism

    From its beginnings, Christianity has been concerned with the making of new persons and worlds: the creation of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. It has also maintained a tight relationship to power, empire, and the making of modernity. In this course we will investigate this relationship within the context of colonial projects in the Americas, Africa, India, and the Pacific. We will trace the making of modern selves from Columbus to the abolition (and remainders) of slavery, and from the arrival of Cook in the Sandwich Islands to the journals of missionaries and the contemporary fight for Hawaiian sovereignty.

    6 credits; Argument and Inquiry Seminar, Writing Requirement, International Studies; offered Fall 2020 · Kristin Bloomer
  • RELG 100: Religion and the American Landscape

    The American landscape has shaped and has been shaped by the religious imaginations, beliefs, and practices of diverse inhabitants. This course explores the variety of  ways of imagining relationships between land, community, and the sacred, and how religious traditions have been inscribed on land itself. Indigenous and Latino/a traditions will be considered, as will  Euro-American traditions ranging from Puritans, Mormons, immigrant farmers, utopian communities, and Deep Ecologists.

    6 credits; Argument and Inquiry Seminar, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Fall 2020 · Michael McNally
  • RELG 110: Understanding Religion

    How can we best understand the role of religion in the world today, and how should we interpret the meaning of religious traditions — their texts and practices — in history and culture? This class takes an exciting tour through selected themes and puzzles related to the fascinating and diverse expressions of religion throughout the world. From politics and pop culture, to religious philosophies and spiritual practices, to rituals, scriptures, gender, religious authority, and more, students will explore how these issues emerge in a variety of religions, places, and historical moments in the U.S. and across the globe.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021 · Caleb Hendrickson, Elizabeth Dolfi, Kristin Bloomer
  • RELG 130: Native American Religions

    This course explores the history and contemporary practice of Native American religious traditions, especially as they have developed amid colonization and resistance. While surveying a broad variety of ways that Native American traditions imagine land, community, and the sacred, the course focuses on the local traditions of the Ojibwe and Lakota communities. Materials include traditional beliefs and practices, the history of missions, intertribal new religious movements, and contemporary issues of treaty rights, religious freedom, and the revitalization of language and culture. 6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Fall 2020 · Michael McNally
  • RELG 152: Religions in Japanese Culture

    An introduction to the major religious traditions of Japan, from earliest times to the present. Combining thematic and historical approaches, this course will scrutinize both defining characteristics of, and interactions among, various religious traditions, including worship of the kami (local deities), Buddhism, shamanistic practices, Christianity, and new religious movements. We also will discuss issues crucial in the study of religion, such as the relation between religion and violence, gender, modernity, nationalism and war. 6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, International Studies, Writing Requirement; offered Fall 2020, Spring 2021 · Asuka Sango
  • RELG 155: Hinduism: An Introduction

    Hinduism is the world’s third-largest religion (or, as some prefer, “way of life”), with about 1.2 billion followers. It is also one of its oldest, with roots dating back at least 3500 years. “Hinduism,” however, is a loosely defined, even contested term, designating the wide variety of beliefs and practices of the majority of the people of South Asia. This survey course introduces students to this great variety, including social structures (such as the caste system), rituals and scriptures, mythologies and epics, philosophies, life practices, politics, poetry, sex, gender, Bollywood, and—lest we forget—some 330 million gods and goddesses.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, International Studies; offered Fall 2020, Spring 2021 · Kristin Bloomer
  • RELG 217: Faith and Doubt in the Modern Age

    Is religion an illusion we create to explain what we don’t understand? An elaborate means to justify the violence we commit? Modern thinkers have put religion under the microscope and held faith to account. This class considers a number of historically significant critiques of religion in modern western thought and how those critiques have shaped the modern theological and literary imagination. Is God dead? Or only hiding–in aesthetic experience, solidarity with the suffering, projects of liberation, or the depths of human love?  

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement; offered Fall 2020 · Caleb Hendrickson
  • RELG 242: Oh My G*d: Christianity and Sexual Revolutions

    This course introduces students to Western Christianity by studying Christian movements, theologies, communities, eschatologies, and sensibilities through the lens of marriage, sexual revolutions, and counterrevolutions. Using a multidisciplinary approach, we will engage with scholarship from media theory, history, anthropology, sociology, and literary studies to consider the boundaries of “Christian traditions” and the transformation of religious and sexual cultures. While “sexuality” and “religion” are often imagined as oppositional social forces, this course will introduce students to a rich and complex range of practices, modes of embodiment, and territories of socio-cultural negotiation in which religion and sexuality are entangled, imagined, and co-constituted. 

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement; offered Fall 2020 · Elizabeth Dolfi
  • RELG 280: The Politics of Sex in Asian Religion

    This course will explore the intersection of religion, sex, and power, focusing on Asian religions. Key questions include: In what ways do religions normalize certain constructions of sex, gender, and sexuality while marking others deviant and unnatural? How do they teach us to perform (and sometimes to overcome) “masculinity” or “femininity”? We will probe these questions by studying both traditional and contemporary examples—such as abortion and reproductive politics in Buddhism, Confucian-influenced practice of foot-binding, Buddhist masculinities and male-love, sati (widow burning) and same-sex marriage in Hinduism, and the concept of a “third sex” in these traditions.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, International Studies; offered Fall 2020 · Asuka Sango
  • RELG 359: Buddhist Studies India Program: Buddhist Meditation Traditions

    Students will complement their understanding of Buddhist thought and culture through the study and practice of traditional meditation disciplines. This course emphasizes the history, characteristics, and approach of three distinct meditation traditions within Buddhism: Vipassana, Zazen, and Dzogchen. Meditation practice and instruction is led in the morning and evening six days a week by representatives of these traditions who possess a theoretical as well as practical understanding of their discipline. Lectures and discussions led by the program director complement and contextualize the three meditation traditions being studied.

    Prerequisites: Acceptance into the Carleton-Antioch Program required 8 credits; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement, International Studies; offered Fall 2020 · Arthur McKeown

Winter 2021

  • RELG 110: Understanding Religion

    How can we best understand the role of religion in the world today, and how should we interpret the meaning of religious traditions — their texts and practices — in history and culture? This class takes an exciting tour through selected themes and puzzles related to the fascinating and diverse expressions of religion throughout the world. From politics and pop culture, to religious philosophies and spiritual practices, to rituals, scriptures, gender, religious authority, and more, students will explore how these issues emerge in a variety of religions, places, and historical moments in the U.S. and across the globe.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021 · Caleb Hendrickson, Elizabeth Dolfi, Kristin Bloomer
  • RELG 121: Introduction to Christianity

    This course will trace the history of Christianity from its origins in the villages of Palestine, to its emergence as the official religion of the Roman Empire, and through its evolution and expansion as the world’s largest religion. The course will focus on events, persons, and ideas that have had the greatest impact on the history of Christianity, and examine how this tradition has evolved in different ways in response to different needs, cultures, and tensions–political and otherwise–around the world. This is an introductory course. No familiarity with the Bible, Christianity, or the academic study of religion is presupposed. 6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, International Studies; offered Winter 2021 · Caleb Hendrickson
  • RELG 239: Religion & American Landscape

    The American landscape is rich in sacred places.  The religious imaginations, practices, and beliefs of its diverse inhabitants have shaped that landscape and been shaped by it. This course explores ways of imagining relationships between land, community, and the sacred, the mapping of religious traditions onto American land and cityscapes, and theories of sacred space and spatial practices. Topics include religious place-making practices of Indigenous, Latinx, and African Americans, as well as those of Euro-American communities from Puritans, Mormons, immigrant farmers.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Winter 2021 · Michael McNally
  • RELG 250: It’s the End of the World: Religion, Moral Panics, and Apocalypses

    Pandemics, global climate destabilization, the collapse of good order, the rise and fall of empires, and life at the edge of civilization — for many religious communities, in many historical moments, it has seemed clear that the world is ending. In this course, we will examine some of the ways that religious communities in the United States have imagined and narrativized impending apocalypse(es) and the problem of living when the world is falling apart. Emphasizing the cultural politics of apocalypticism, this course will explore race, gender, affect, ritual practice, epistemology, and community formation in contexts including nineteenth century millennialist movements, alien abductions, contemporary conspiracy theories, sex panics, indigenous resistance to colonialism, cold war apocalyptic literature, and Afro-futurist responses to climate collapse.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Winter 2021 · Elizabeth Dolfi
  • RELG 274: Religion and Bioethics

    This class examines the ethical principles that often guide decision-making in health care. It focuses on principles espoused by many religious and humanistic traditions, within the context of a modern, pluralistic society. Using plentiful case studies, we consider a number of issues in bioethics, including assisted suicide; maternal-fetal relations; artificial reproduction, including human cloning; the use of human subjects in research; health care justice and reform; triage and allocation of sparse medical resources; and public health issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement; offered Winter 2021, Spring 2021 · Caleb Hendrickson
  • RELG 284: Art and Religion

    For much of recorded history, what we now call “art” and what we now call “religion” were inseparable. In the modern period, art and religion have gone their separate ways. What, if anything, continues to connect them? Is art inherently religious? Can religion be considered a form of art? In this class, we look at modern works of art (from Renaissance painting to contemporary performance art) alongside the sights and sounds of religion (including the symbols, rituals, and architecture of multiple religious traditions), seeking points of confluence and displacement between these apparently disparate areas of culture. 

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement; offered Winter 2021 · Caleb Hendrickson
  • RELG 287: Many Marys

    The history of Christianity usually focuses on Jesus: the stories and doctrines that have revolved around him. This course will focus on Mary and the many ways she has contributed to the various lived traditions of Christianity. We will, for example, consider the mother of Jesus (Miriam, as she was first called) as she has figured in literature, art, apparition, and ritual practice around the world. We will also consider Mary Magdalene, her foil, who appears in popular discourse from the Gnostic gospels to The Da Vinci Code. Case studies, texts, images, and film will be our fare.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Winter 2021 · Kristin Bloomer
  • RELG 300: Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion

    What, exactly, is religion and what conditions of modernity have made it urgent to articulate such a question in the first place? Why does religion exert such force in human society and history? Is it an opiate of the masses or an illusion laden with human wish-fulfillment? Is it a social glue? A subjective experience of the sacred? Is it simply a universalized Protestant Christianity in disguise, useful in understanding, and colonizing, the non-Christian world? This seminar, for junior majors and advanced majors from related fields, explores generative theories from anthropology, sociology, psychology, literary studies, and the history of religions. 6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry; offered Winter 2021 · Michael McNally
  • RELG 365: Mysticism

    Love. Emptiness. Union. Ecstasy. These are just a handful of ways that humans have described “mystical experience,” often explicated as an immediate encounter with God, ultimate reality, or the absolute—however those may be construed. This comparative course will explore the phenomenon of “mysticism” across traditions as we try to understand (and interrogate) both the term and the plethora of experiences that fall under its rubric. Questions will include: What is mysticism? Is mystical experience gendered? What is the role of the body in mystical practice? Does mystical experience free us? Are mystics critics of institutional religion or social injustice?

    6 credits; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement, Writing Requirement, International Studies; offered Winter 2021 · Kristin Bloomer
  • RELG 399: Senior Research Seminar

    This seminar will acquaint students with research tools in various fields of religious studies, provide an opportunity to present and discuss research work in progress, hone writing skills, and improve oral presentation techniques. Prerequisites: Religion 300 and acceptance of proposal for senior integrative exercise and instructor permission. 6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry; offered Winter 2021 · Asuka Sango

Spring 2021

  • RELG 110: Understanding Religion

    How can we best understand the role of religion in the world today, and how should we interpret the meaning of religious traditions — their texts and practices — in history and culture? This class takes an exciting tour through selected themes and puzzles related to the fascinating and diverse expressions of religion throughout the world. From politics and pop culture, to religious philosophies and spiritual practices, to rituals, scriptures, gender, religious authority, and more, students will explore how these issues emerge in a variety of religions, places, and historical moments in the U.S. and across the globe.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021 · Caleb Hendrickson, Elizabeth Dolfi, Kristin Bloomer
  • RELG 152: Religions in Japanese Culture

    An introduction to the major religious traditions of Japan, from earliest times to the present. Combining thematic and historical approaches, this course will scrutinize both defining characteristics of, and interactions among, various religious traditions, including worship of the kami (local deities), Buddhism, shamanistic practices, Christianity, and new religious movements. We also will discuss issues crucial in the study of religion, such as the relation between religion and violence, gender, modernity, nationalism and war. 6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, International Studies, Writing Requirement; offered Fall 2020, Spring 2021 · Asuka Sango
  • RELG 155: Hinduism: An Introduction

    Hinduism is the world’s third-largest religion (or, as some prefer, “way of life”), with about 1.2 billion followers. It is also one of its oldest, with roots dating back at least 3500 years. “Hinduism,” however, is a loosely defined, even contested term, designating the wide variety of beliefs and practices of the majority of the people of South Asia. This survey course introduces students to this great variety, including social structures (such as the caste system), rituals and scriptures, mythologies and epics, philosophies, life practices, politics, poetry, sex, gender, Bollywood, and—lest we forget—some 330 million gods and goddesses.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, International Studies; offered Fall 2020, Spring 2021 · Kristin Bloomer
  • RELG 232: Queer Religions

    Passions, pleasures, ecstasies, and desires bear on religion and sexuality alike, but intersections and tensions between these two domains are complicated. This course wagers that bringing the hotly contested categories “queer” and “religion” together will illuminate the diverse range of bodies, activities, and identities that inhabit both. The course explores religion and sexuality in Modern Western thought, erotic elements in religious texts and art, and novels and narratives of religious belief and practice in queer lives. The course combines concrete cases with theoretical tools that queer and feminist scholars have used to analyze religious and sexual communities, bodies, and identities.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, International Studies; offered Spring 2021 · Elizabeth Dolfi
  • RELG 246: Christianity and Capitalism

    The Bible says that “the love of money is the root of all evil,” but the history of Christianity and mammon contains multitudes – voluntary poverty and acquisitive empires, radical utopian communities and the blessings of business, peace movement feasts and prosperity gospels, colonialism and humanitarian neo-liberalism, and commodity fetishism for Christ. This course will use a breadth of historical case studies alongside critical theories of modernity and capitalism to explore Christianity’s relationship with wealth, from pre-modern economic theologies, to faith in modern industrial capitalism and Christianity’s vexed entanglements with late capitalist ideologies and practices.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, International Studies; offered Spring 2021 · Elizabeth Dolfi
  • RELG 274: Religion and Bioethics

    This class examines the ethical principles that often guide decision-making in health care. It focuses on principles espoused by many religious and humanistic traditions, within the context of a modern, pluralistic society. Using plentiful case studies, we consider a number of issues in bioethics, including assisted suicide; maternal-fetal relations; artificial reproduction, including human cloning; the use of human subjects in research; health care justice and reform; triage and allocation of sparse medical resources; and public health issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement; offered Winter 2021, Spring 2021 · Caleb Hendrickson
  • RELG 283: Mysticism and Gender

    Love. Emptiness. Union. Ecstasy. These are some ways that humans have described “mystical experience,” often defined as an immediate encounter with God, ultimate reality, or the absolute—however those may be construed. This course interrogates “mysticism” across traditions, with close attention to issues of gender, sexuality, and race, through studying a number of famous female and male mystics across historical periods. Questions include: What, exactly, is mysticism? Is it gendered? Is it just the firing of a bunch of neurons? What is the role of the body in mystical practice? Are mystics critics of institutionalized religion? Radicals for social justice?

    6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Writing Requirement, International Studies; offered Spring 2021 · Kristin Bloomer
  • RELG 289: Global Religions in Minnesota

    Somali Muslims in Rice County? Hindus in Maple Grove? Hmong shamans in St. Paul hospitals? Sun Dances in Pipestone? In light of globalization, the religious landscape of Minnesota, like America more broadly, has become more visibly diverse. Lake Wobegon stereotypes aside, Minnesota has always been characterized by some diversity but the realities of immigration, dispossession, dislocation, economics, and technology have made religious diversity more pressing in its implications for every arena of civic and cultural life. This course bridges theoretical knowledge with engaged field research focused on how Midwestern contexts shape global religious communities and how these communities challenge and transform Minnesota. 6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies, Writing Requirement; offered Spring 2021 · Michael McNally
  • RELG 344: Lived Religion in America

    The practices of popular, or local, or lived religion in American culture often blur the distinction between the sacred and profane and elude religious studies frameworks based on the narrative, theological, or institutional foundations of “official” religion. This course explores American religion primarily through the lens of the practices of lived religion with respect to ritual, the body, the life cycle, the market, leisure, and popular culture. Consideration of a wide range of topics, including ritual healing, Christmas, cremation, and Elvis, will nourish an ongoing discussion about how to make sense of lived religion. 6 credits; Humanistic Inquiry, Intercultural Domestic Studies, Writing Requirement; offered Spring 2021 · Michael McNally
  • RELG 400: Integrative Exercise

    3 credits; S/NC; offered Spring 2021 · Asuka Sango

Related Courses

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