- RLGS 1101 Religious Lives: Jesus (4 credits)
- The title of this course has a double meaning. On the one hand, the title suggests
ours is a study of a religiously important figure. Jesus is one such historical personage.
Hence his life is the object of study. The course title also points to the character
of the gospels. They are ?lives,? ?religious lives? of Jesus that arose out of storytelling
cultures. In those contexts, stories were read and heard aloud, often ?performed?
and adapted. Gospels are not ?biographies? of Jesus, as we typically think of that
genre. It is important to recognize that in ?telling the story of Jesus,? the gospel
writers were also telling us a story of their own communities, framing stories that
would influence how early Christians lived out their religious commitments to Jesus
in a world shaped by the forces of late ancient Judaism and Greco-Roman imperialism.
We must follow tantalizing clues and draw conclusions from texts--usefully compared
to the scripts of plays--that were not interested, primarily, in objective, non-partisan,
historical description. Both Jesus and the gospels rivet our attention in this course.
- RLGS 2001 Theory & Method for Rlgs Stds (4 credits)
- This course provides a historical and theoretical introduction to issues, thinkers,
and texts in the academic study of religion. Topics covered include the development
of religious studies as distinct from Christian theology; definitive questions and
problems within the discipline; and the study of religions in relation to race, class,
and gender realities.
- RLGS 2101 Exploring Religion in America (4 credits)
- What do Americans believe? Is there a singular religion or set of religious beliefs
that bind together the varieties of American faith traditions and ethnic cultures
into a common national identity? E pluribus unum--from the plurality a unity is formed--is
one of three official mottoes adapted in 1782 to define and represent the U.S. To
what extent is this true, both today and in the past? Americans are faced with the
difficult task of creating a harmonious society from the encounter, repulsion, and
attraction of discrete civilizations. At the vanguard of modern republican democracy,
the U.S. is the central playing field upon which cultural/religious pluralism is negotiated,
defined, and legislated. The course explores the evolution of the American nation
as a pluralistic belief or faith community and explores the meaning and potential
for a singular national religious community.
- RLGS 2102 Judaism, Christianity & Islam (4 credits)
- This course introduces students to the three major monotheistic religious traditions:
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In the process of tracing the long and rich histories
of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, we examine the beliefs and practices that became
central and definitive for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. We begin with the ancient
heritage of each religion (scriptures, founders, early institutions). Then we explore
how these foundational traditions were preserved and re-invigorated in response to
centuries of social change and critical moments of political upheaval. Most significant,
in this regard, is the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim encounter with their respective
holy Scriptures--as generation after generation of adherents have attempted to understand
the revealed words of God, to proclaim their continual relevance for all places and
all times and to inscribe them upon their bodies and hearts through prayer, worship,
and daily life.
- RLGS 2103 Religions of China & Japan (4 credits)
- This is an introduction of some of the major East Asian religious and ethical traditions,
focusing on Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto. By examining both translations
of sacred texts as well as scholarly analyses, we explore the basic ideas, practices,
and historical development of these varied and interconnected traditions. Special
attention is paid to how people incorporate East Asian religious and ethical ideas
and beliefs into contemporary life and how gender shapes the experience of religion.
- RLGS 2104 The Bible as Literature (4 credits)
- This course is an analytical/critical study of selected books of the Bible with an
emphasis on its literary qualities, genres and influence. We read the Bible, one of
the most important works in all of Western culture, as a masterpiece of literature.
Rather than focusing on theological questions about this work as inspired scripture,
we instead focus on its rich literary qualities and explore some ways in which these
stories have influenced modern society. Reading select passages, we discuss its literary
genres, forms, symbols and motifs, many of which are important in modern literature,
such as hero stories, origin stories, parables, apocalyptic literature, the loss of
Eden and the Promised Land.
- RLGS 2105 Works and Lives (4 credits)
- This course is an introduction to the study of religion through the examination of
religious works and lives. For purposes of our exploration, we think of religion as
a system of relationships between major ideas and everyday life practices that orients
people to a view of the whole of existence. "Works" is a term that covers two major
aspects of religions: rituals and moral codes. The term "works" has to do with behaviors,
whether they are the behaviors involved in a specifically religious situation (often
rituals) or the behaviors in everyday life that are addressed by religious commands
and prohibitions (often morals). We also consider stories of lives and guidelines
for "lives." Some of these lives are clearly related to daily life within the religious
traditions. Some are stories of lives that seem utterly fantastic. We question why
such lives are written, what the reader can take from them, and what points they might
- RLGS 2106 Religs & Social Justice:Vienna (4 credits)
- This special travel course provides an opportunity for students to learn how certain
major religions are globally engaged in the promotion of social justice through humanitarian
relief work and cultural exchanges. In addition to a brief survey of the historical
relationship between the beliefs, teachings, and social practices of the major Western
traditions, the course offers hands-on experience and interaction with Jewish, Catholic,
and Protestant relief agencies as well as other non-governmental organizations in
Vienna, Austria, which has become the international center for UN-directed human services
and humanitarian relief efforts as well as global headquarters for leading NGOs. Students
discover how the culture, history, and geography of Vienna have nurtured the vast
global human services "economy" to which these religious organizations contribute
and which are built around the work of the United Nations.
- RLGS 2107 Culture/Conscience in Vienna (4 credits)
- This study abroad course focuses on the cultural and social history of the city of
Vienna as the hub of politics, culture, and religion for Central Europe with special
attention to its religious heritage as the seedbed for its rich cultural traditions.
The course examines how its religious heritage, particularly Judaism, shaped its rich
cultural heritage and the birth of modernism.
- RLGS 2108 Islam in the United States (4 credits)
- A historical introduction to the presence of Islam and Muslims in the United States,
from an examination of the first Muslims in North America, to the substantive influence
of the minority Indian evangelical Ahmadiyya movement, to Islam in African American
communities. Also examines contemporary Muslim communities in the U.S. and the ways
in which ritual and faith are today developing with "American" accents.
- RLGS 2109 Religions of Tibet (4 credits)
- This course explores the religious terrain of Tibet by looking at the historical and
cultural development of the four main Tibetan Buddhist traditions: Nyingma, Sakya,
Kagyu and Geluk, as well as the indigenous religion called Bon. Topics include the
sacred landscape of Tibet; key doctrinal features; cultural artifacts like sacred
biographies, art, and poetry; the 20th-century spread of Tibetan Buddhism from the
Himalayas to North American communities; the future of Tibetan Buddhism in exile;
and China and the West.
- RLGS 2110 Buddhism in the U.S.A. (4 credits)
- Exploration of different viewpoints on complex issues related to the assimilation,
acculturation and reinvention of Asian Buddhist traditions both locally and globally
in the past 150 years. Students consider the "two-way traffic" between recent developments
in various traditions of newly Americanized Buddhism and their respective cultures
of origin through the processes of globalization and transnationalism.
- RLGS 2111 Islam and U.S. Politics (4 credits)
- This course offers students a historically grounded introduction to the relationship(s)
between Islam and United States politics. Students consider the role played by Islam
and Muslims in early American political thought, Americans? relationships with Muslims
abroad and at home, as well as evangelization efforts. It examines the impacts of
the Nation of Islam, the Cold War, Iranian Revolution and Gulf War I, as well as of
the September 11 terror attacks, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the 2006 and 2008
elections, and concludes by reflecting on the 2012 election and suggesting how Islam
might impact U.S. politics over the next decade.
- RLGS 2112 Mjr Islamic Thnkrs 1900s-2000s (4 credits)
- This course offers students a substantive introduction to the major Islamic thinkers
of the 20th and 21st centuries. Starting with Abu `Ala Maududi, whose work on Qur'anic
interpretation and the meaning of jihad laid the groundwork for new waves of radical
activism in the modern Muslim world, this course exposes students to the works of
major "movers and shakers" like Sayyid Qutb and Ayotollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Students
engage these thinkers through a mixture of primary and secondary sources, developing
a sense of context as they work through these thinkers' arguments. The course continues
with an examination of some of the major later 20th-Century Islamic thinkers active
in Muslim-minority spaces, focusing on Bosnian Grand Mufti Mustafai Ceric and the
late Moroccan-French scholar Mohammed Arkoun. It concludes by looking at two major
figures of the early 21st century, noting how they blend intellectual and political
activism: Iranian cleric Mohsen Kadivar and American scholar Amina Wadud. Throughout
the course, student groups present on various contemporary issues, helping them develop
presentation and writing skills while allowing them to apply course knowledge to real-world
- RLGS 2201 Hebrew Bible (4 credits)
- The legacy of the Hebrew Bible has been great for both Western and world culture.
In this course, we read the books of the Hebrew Bible critically as literature, as
religious text and as a source of sociological knowledge. The students gain a general
overview of the narrative and historical development of the text while simultaneously
being introduced to the various modes of biblical interpretation. Emphasis is placed
on situating the literature and religious expression of the Bible within its ancient
Near Eastern milieu.
- RLGS 2202 New Testament (4 credits)
- This course takes a multifaceted approach (historical, literary, and critical) to
the writings that comprise the Christian New Testament. The New Testament are read
as a collection of primary documents that chronicle the primitive Church?s slow and
often painful process of self-definition. In these writings it is possible to discern
the tension that arose because of the strong religious and cultural ties early Christianity
maintained with Palestinian Judaism, from which it emerged as a sectarian or reform
movement. The careful reader also finds evidence of the new religion?s encounter with
the Greco-Roman world from whose variegated ethos and culture it borrowed considerably
on the way to becoming an important religious force in the first century. In exploring
the New Testament, then, we attempt to recover something of the sense of what it meant
to be a Christian in New Testament times.
- RLGS 2401 Social Justice in Global Cntxt (4 credits)
- Theories of social justice, beginning with the ancient Hebrews and Greeks and running
up through the modern era. The religious sources of these ideas, drawn primarily from
the monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are profiled.
- RLGS 2410 Religious Diversity in Israel (4 credits)
- Through religious, sociological and historical sources, as well as documentaries,
movies and scholarly readings, this course examines religious diversity in Israel
since its establishment (1948) to current events in its 64th year (2012).
- RLGS 2501 Islam on Film (4 credits)
- This course uses the medium of film to introduce students to the history, faith, practice,
culture(s), and politics of Islam. Focusing on feature films and documentaries, it
employs film to open up a broad spectrum of questions relating to personal piety,
gender equity, generational conflicts, social class, governmental repression, and
ritual practice. Proceeding thematically along a broad historical frame, the course
focuses on the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, presenting a balanced
picture of life in Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority countries and highlighting
the complex picture of Muslim life today.
- RLGS 3001 Judaism (4 credits)
- A literary and historical journey through Judaism. This course examines the "Jewish
story" from its roots to its modern-day manifestations, focusing on select, classic
Jewish texts in their historical contexts. From them, students will explore Jewish
tradition and practice and will actively engage with and in the vivid interpretive
imagination of the authors of Judaism throughout the ages.
- RLGS 3151 Dead Sea Scrolls (4 credits)
- Dead Sea Scrolls in their historical, literary and religious context in English translation,
together with some relevant scholarly research.
- RLGS 3192 Christian Classics (4 credits)
- Reading and discussion of influential historic books pertaining to Christian life
- RLGS 3203 Christianity (4 credits)
- This is an introductory course about the Christian religion, with a substantial component
devoted to experiential learning. The primary goal of the course is to acquaint students
with the richness, dynamism and diversity of one of the world?s largest and most influential
religious traditions. Even those students who have some general knowledge of Christianity
benefit from the disciplined approach of the academic study of religion.
- RLGS 3204 Christianity in British Isles (4 credits)
- It is the contention of this course that Christianity in the British Isles constitutes
a singular chapter in the history of the religion and must be approached and appreciated
as such. The circumstances surrounding Christianity?s introduction to Britain--as
documented by the Venerable Bede in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People--presaged
a destiny for the English Church that would be ?peculiar.? With decidedly Roman sympathies,
Bede?s reforming agenda is presented as historical fait accompli. The narrative nevertheless
bears witness to the vibrant and resilient character of Celtic spirituality. Although
Henry VIII officially brought the Protestant Reformation to England from the Continent
in the 1530s when he severed the English Church from the Papacy, the extent to which
the Reformation in England was ever as theologically ?Protestant? as it was in Europe
is open to debate. The Oxford movement--at once reforming and catholicizing--would
otherwise seem incongruous were that not the case. Indeed, as we shall see, the notion
of semper reformanda ecclesia is, perhaps, most suited to this geographical context.
Not surprisingly, playwrights, novelists, and filmmakers have found no little inspiration
in Anglican reform?s concomitant turmoil and intrigue.
- RLGS 3212 Development of New Testement (4 credits)
- Using a variety of critical methods, this course explores the social, political, and
religious influences that shaped the New Testament as it was written, copied, edited,
canonized, and translated into its current forms. Students will perform a variety
of exercises in class to illustrate the complicated process by which the New Testament
- RLGS 3300 Psychology of Religion (4 credits)
- Beliefs, feelings and actions representing human religious response of experience;
function of religion in individual life.
- RLGS 3302 Islamic Fundamentalism (4 credits)
- This writing-intensive course introduces students to the history and scope of fundamentalist
movements in the Muslim world, focusing on the Middle East. Beginning with a look
at the internal traditions of renewal and reform built around the idea of a return
to the fundament or origins of Islam, the course examines the rise of major movements
from the 1700s to the present. Students will engage with key questions, including
the following: What distinguishes fundamentalism from radicalism? How do Sunni and
Shii fundamentalisms differ? What roles have these movements played in politics and
society, and how might these evolve in the future? How might policy makers and others
best approach fundamentalist groups? A basic knowledge of Islam is assumed; students
wishing to enroll without this background knowledge will be provided supplementary
- RLGS 3315 Rlgn & Moral Psychology (4 credits)
- Philosophical foundations and research strategies of psychological studies of moral
thought; Aristotelian, Kantian and utilitarian thought included, as well as religious
dimensions of morality.
- RLGS 3318 Jesus on the Silver Screen (4 credits)
- First and foremost, this is a course in religious studies. It is a course about Jesus,
a religious reformer of late ancient Judaism whose movement, by the end of the first
century of the Common Era, gave rise to an identifiably separate tradition. It is
a course about New Testament portrayals of Jesus in the Gospels. It is a course about
contemporary, historical research on the figure of Jesus. It is also a course about
film and cinematography, about reading film critically as a ?text,? and, in this context,
the way in which film ?translates? or ?transforms? Jesus into another medium. Finally,
it is a course about how Jesus films serve to convey modern cultural assumptions.
- RLGS 3350 Culture, Psyche, and Religion (4 credits)
- RLGS 3370 Freud, Psychology, & Religion (4 credits)
- Readings, discussion, and papers help students learn about the life, intellectual
and social environment, and clinical and theoretical work of Sigmund Freud. Attention
is given to the influence of Freud's work on the understanding of religion at the
beginning of the 21st century.
- RLGS 3381 Religion & Psychobiography (4 credits)
- Use of different psychological theories to understand life and religious experience
of individuals known through historical records.
- RLGS 3400 Philosophy of Religion (4 credits)
- Inquiries into nature of religion, religious experience, language, methods of thinking.
- RLGS 3452 Political Theology (4 credits)
- A general inquiry, focusing on the modern and postmodern eras, into various forms
of philosophical reflection on the relationship between religion and political theory.
Survey of the seminal ideas of such major thinkers as Kant, Hegel, Schmidt, Strauss,
Derrida, Agamben, Asad, and Zizek.
- RLGS 3460 Nietzsche & the Death of God (4 credits)
- This course will involve an intensive reading and discussion of Friedrich Nietzsche's
'Thus Spake Zarathustra,' together with relevant associated materials, especially
'The Gay Science.'
- RLGS 3465 Derrida and Postmodernism (4 credits)
- RLGS 3475 Deleuze and Semiotics (4 credits)
- Examines the development of the thought of the famous French postmodern thinker Gilles
Deleuze with special attention to his cultural and semiotic theory to the degree that
it is relevant to the philosophy of religion. The course also investigates how Deleuze's
work has shaped, and is beginning to push in new directions, contemporary postmodern
philosophy. Prerequisite: must be at least junior standing and have completed at least
two undergraduate courses in philosophy.
- RLGS 3500 Islam (4 credits)
- Introduction to the history, faith, practice, culture(s), and politics of Islam, starting
with the Judeo-Christian Near Eastern context in which it emerged and tracing its
theological development and geographic spread around the world. Proceeding thematically
along a broad historical frame, the course ends with an examination of the numerous,
often competing, trends in contemporary Muslim communities.
- RLGS 3501 Pilgrimage in Islam (4 credits)
- Introduction to the ideas and practices of pilgrimage in Islam, focusing on the hajj
as Islam's paradigmatic form of pilgrimage and the one to which all others are compared,
but also considering other local or "lesser" pilgrimages, often known as ziyarat or
visits. The course excavates the history of the practice of pilgrimage, situating
it within the social, political, economic and cultural contexts that have helped frame
Muslims' understandings of the spiritual and social meanings of various kinds of pilgrimages
at different times and places across the Muslim world. The course includes consideration
of the hajj experiences of non-Arab Muslims through documentary and news programs,
investigates contemporary re-thinkings of the meaning of "hajj", and reflects on the
key geo-political and religio-political issues that may surround Muslim pilgrimage
in the 21st century.
- RLGS 3502 Contemporary Islam (4 credits)
- This course introduces students to contemporary Islam. After a historical overview,
the course looks thematically at different spheres of Muslim life. It considers changes
that relate to political systems and forms of governance, styles of education, labor
and professional work, changes in daily life habits such as timing and organization,
changes in gender relations, and changes in religious authority. It also pays attention
to the ways in which faith and practice are articulated through cultural practices
like pop music and film.
- RLGS 3503 Quran and Hadith (4 credits)
- This writing-intensive course introduces students to the key texts of Islam--the Qur?an
and hadith--including their origins and meaning as well as how they have been interpreted
by Muslims over time, and focusing as well on case studies that highlight issues of
crucial relevance for today and the future.
- RLGS 3570 Rel & Morality Amer Pub Square (4 credits)
- Close focus on one or two moral issues in which religion is drawn into public debate
in the contemporary U.S. Observation of the debate first hand at demonstrations, town
meetings, and discussion groups, etc. Analysis of these observations is facilitated
by readings on the subject and class discussion.
- RLGS 3604 Faith & Ethics-Rlgn Biography (4 credits)
- Modes of reconciling private (faith) and public (ethics) in thought and careers of
selected modern individuals.
- RLGS 3641 Religion and Race in America (4 credits)
- Explores the relationship between racism and religious activism by focusing on the
biographies of activists.
- RLGS 3680 American Religious Experience (4 credits)
- RLGS 3693 Religion and the Media (4 credits)
- Interactions between religion and all forms of communications media in American life.
- RLGS 3707 Religion and Film (4 credits)
- Understanding religion requires us to take culture seriously. In doing so, we must
consider products of culture, including popular culture. This course engages both
classic and more recent films as ?texts? to be analyzed, not as mere entertainments
or diversions. We focus not only on those films that identify themselves explicitly
as ?religious? or reflect a particular religious tradition, but also moved that render
the subject more obliquely, which reveal ? via image and sound ? religion as a complex
- RLGS 3740 Bodies and Souls (4 credits)
- This course examines the unique place of the body in biblical religion. We ask how
the Bible and its interpreters have shaped current views on sex and the gendered body
in Western society. How has the Bible been (mis)used in relation to current understandings
of the physical body? Is the saying that a "human" does not have a body, but is a
body as true for the Hebrew Bible as the Christian New Testament? How have Judaism
and Christianity (de)valued sexuality, procreation, and celibacy? How do the biblical
traditions shape our modern opinions about the ideal physical body and body modifications?
How can we understand "out-of-body" experiences and notions of death and afterlife
in Western religion? Students are encouraged to interpret the Bible and their own
beliefs from a uniquely embodied perspective.
- RLGS 3760 Globalization and Religion (4 credits)
- This course explores how religious movements around the world both affect, and are
affected by, the process of globalization. A major segment of the course is devoted
to various theories of globalization and how they account for the increasingly important
role of religion. Focus is largely on the relationship between Christianity, Judaism,
- RLGS 3813 Ritual (4 credits)
- Classical and contemporary theories about the meaning, functions, and processes of
ritual, and its relationship to "religion."
- RLGS 3814 Modern Hinduism (4 credits)
- Doctrines, practices and history of South Asian Hinduism; conceptions of Gods and
gods; image worship and temples; and the influences of caste and gender on the experience
- RLGS 3816 Hinduism Through Texts (4 credits)
- History of ancient and medieval Hinduism, viewed through the lens of religious texts.
- RLGS 3820 Buddhism (4 credits)
- Buddhist life and thought from origins to present in India, Tibet, Japan and China.
- RLGS 3890 Religion and Diaspora (4 credits)
- When forced to leave a homeland, displaced communities frequently turn to religion
to maintain identity and adapt to--or resist--new surrounding culture(s). This course
examines the role of religion and identity in three Jewish and Christian communities
living in diaspora and poses questions such as the following: What is the relationship
between religion and (home)land? How have the biblical themes of exodus, diaspora,
promise and restoration been applied to contemporary experiences? And how have our
American stories been interpreted through the lens of the Bible? As part of the service
learning component, students have the opportunity to work with religious and immigrant
aid organizations in the Denver community.
- RLGS 3891 Justice: Biblical Perspective (4 credits)
- This is a service learning course designed for religious studies undergraduate majors,
though non-majors are welcome to enroll.
- RLGS 3892 Grant Writing (4 credits)
- This service learning / community engagement course introduces student to non-profit
work and to scholarship on non-profit activities. It connects students with community
partners, continuing the department's commitment to experiential learning and to engagement
with living faith communities. Students spend course time discussing scholarly research
on grant writing and non-profit grant support and discussing logistical and other
issues related to their service learning placements. This course is intended to help
provide M.A. students with arenas for future research, including possible thesis topics,
while also offering a unique practical opportunity for professional development. Experience
in forming a 501(c)3 corporation and writing grant proposals will be an asset for
students planning to work in non-profits as well as for those continuing on to doctoral
- RLGS 3899 Intn'l Srvc Lrning Colloquium (4 credits)
- The colloquium is the service learning core of the Vienna faculty-led study abroad
program. Undergraduate students must sign up concurrently with RLGS 2401. In conjunction
with the colloquium, students perform a total of approximately 60-75 hours of service
learning as well as weekly "dialogue" sessions of two hours each. Dialogue sessions
focus among students on common experiences, insights, problems, and challenges they
have met in an intercultural and international service learning setting. A number
of these sessions are conversations with representatives of, or visits to, different
United Nations agencies of NGOs pertaining to social justice work and global issues.
Dialogue sessions are scheduled in accordance with the availability of personnel and
their relevance to the topic at hand.