Course Offerings (Fall 2017)

For a full list of religious studies courses, including those not offered this semester, click here.


*REL 1000: Religions of the World

REL 1000 explores the history, teachings, texts, practices, internal diversity, demographic scope, material culture, and controversies surrounding some of the world’s most impactful religious cultures. In addition to surveying a variety of religious traditions, we will also consider the many different ways scholars have theorized the category “religion,” as well as the ways in which the study of religion differs from the practice of religion. As the semester progresses, students will come to master an historically grounded and evidence-based understanding of religion in the contemporary world.

Section 1: MWF 12:30-1:20, Smith
Section 2: MWF 2:30-3:20, Smith


*REL 1004: Old Testament

REL 1004 is a survey of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) against the background of the history and religious life of ancient Israel. The approach to the literature is strictly historical and intended for undergraduates without prior experience in the academic study of the Bible.

Section 1:  TTH 9:00-10:20, Isbell


*REL 1005: New Testament

REL 1005 introduces students to ancient Christianity through an examination of the early writings contained in the New Testament. This course will discuss most books of the NT in their historical, social, literary, and religious contexts. While the writings of the NT came to be regarded as Scripture, and thereby occupy a foundational place within later Christian traditions, we will read these works as historical texts and products of the Greco-Roman world that reveal the variety of Christianities in the first and second centuries of the Common Era. There are no prerequisites for the course, and no prior knowledge is assumed.

Section 1: MWF 10:30-11:20, Burkett


*REL 2000: Introduction to the Study of Religion

What is religion? That is the central question posed in REL 2000. Many of us have seldom thought deeply and critically about our own religious worlds: how they are symbolically structured, how myth and ritual function in them, how they are rooted in historical processes that stretch back for centuries, how they at times employ violence to reach their theological or practical ends, and, perhaps most importantly, how they relate to other religious worlds that operate with radically different practices, experiences, deities, and teachings. This course is designed to provide students with the intellectual resources to better pose and investigate such questions. In order to better understand what makes something a “religion,” we will explore and consider some of the most influential theories about the origins and functions of religion and its various aspects, such as ritual, myth, experience, doctrine, ethics, and social formation.

Section 1: MWF 8:30-9:20, Smith

Section 2: MWF 9:30-10:20, Smith


*REL 2027: Asian Religions

Asian civilizations have a long history with far-reaching impact and influence on our global community today. One does not need to even travel to Asia to be affected by Asian people, economic and political activities, cuisine, arts and entertainment, health treatment options, and religious orientations. To understand Asian civilizations, one must know the contours of the religious landscape. To that end, the course will enable you to acquire knowledge about a variety of Asian religious traditions that includes fundamental teachings of Hindu, Confucian, Taoist, Shinto, and the Buddhist traditions of India, Tibet, China and Japan. The aim is to engage you in active application of concepts and values derived from Asian religious traditions as the method to learn the significance of religions in shaping cultures, societies, and worldviews. Think of how effective you will be in your personal and professional life if you are culturally literate in a multicultural world!

Section 1: TTh 1:30-2:50, Arai

Section 2: MWF 9:20-10:20, Yadlapati

Section 3: MWF 10:30-11:20, Yadlapati


*REL 2029: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

REL 2029 offers an historical and comparative introduction to Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religious cultures. Please not that, as a general education course in the humanities, this course has the following learning objective: LSU graduates will demonstrate an understanding of historical, cultural, and philosophical complexity which supports sophisticated discourse. 

Section 1: MWF 12:30-1:20, Rethelyi


REL 3010: Jews and Hollywood

This class explores how Jews, Jewish culture and religion have been depicted in American cinema since the silent era of film. We will examine how cinematic representations have been influenced by historical and sociological changes in the surrounding society, and how these changes led to a variety of different representation of Jewish life, culture and identities in film. Our discussions will also include how the cinematic representations have led to general views of Jews and Jewish culture and life in America that either aided or hurt Jewish presence in the general American society. 

Section 1: MWF 11:30-12:20, Rethelyi


REL 3090: Comparative Mythology

Cross-listed with CLST 3090.

This course offers a wonderful opportunity to explore myths from various cultures, past and present.  These myths bring us into contact with ways of thinking which are different from our own.  Students will be introduced to theories of myth and asked to apply these theories to the myths in order to gain insight into the different thought patterns.  Students will also learn methods of comparison so that students will be able to recognize both the similarities and differences of myths from different cultures.   Textual and visual sources will be evaluated. 

Section 1:  TTh1:30-2:50, Watanabe


REL 3786: Religion of Islam

Cross-listed with INTL 3786.

This course examines the development of Islam from its origins in sixth-century Arabia to its manifestations in the modern world.  After delving into the sacred biography of the Prophet Muhammad and reading selections from the Quran, Islam’s Holy Scriptures, we will study the rise of an Islamic Empire over much of Asia and Africa.  We will explore classical Islamic civilization through examples of philosophical writing, theological and legal debates, and mystical music.  We will then study Islam in non-Arab societies.  Finally, we will address Islam’s encounter with modern Europe. 

Section 1: TTh 10:30-11:50, Wagner


REL 4010: Sex, Society, and the Bible

Religious Studies 4010 is a special topics number for which the content changes depending on the instructor and what he/she wishes to cover. I have been asked by the department to lead a discussion-type class on numerous modern issues in society and the way in which they are impacted by biblical narrative or teachings. So we will be reading several articles about love, courtship, marriage, children, family life, warfare, property ownership, worship practices, the death penalty, the USA legal system of justice, gay marriage, etc. For each article, we will also read matching biblical passages that touch on the subject at hand. Then we will discuss them in class as a method of learning how the Bible is used or abused in modern American life.

Section 1: TTH 12:00-1:20, Isbell


REL 4010: Black Religion and Film

This course will use the genre of film to examine African American religion with particular attention given to race, class, gender, and sexuality. Film is an untapped resource for understanding the human condition and interpreting various identities.  Consciously or unconsciously, film incorporates elements of religious discourse and practice.

Section 2: T 4:30-7:20, Finley


REL 4011: Section 2: Age of Reformation

Cross-listed with HIST 4011, section 2

A survey of the religious changes that swept through Western Europe in the period between 1400 and 1650.  We will investigate the revolutionary theologies of Luther, Calvin and Zwingli, as well as the political, social and cultural effects of religious reformation for both the Protestant and Catholic regions of Europe.  Course requirements include primary-source readings, class discussions, two papers and two examinations.

Section 2: MWF 10:30-11:20, Kooi


REL 4018: Religion and Healing

The perspectives of modern bio-medical (allopathic) medicine and various healing and spiritual practices will be the focus of our cross-cultural exploration.  Analysis of cultural and religious influences on the concepts of illness and health and the relationship of body and mind will direct our inquiry.  An "Integrated Model of Affliction and Healing" from Boston University Medical School will facilitate our cross-cultural understandings and discussions.  Through hands-on research, such as interviews and keeping a field journal, we will investigate the relationship of healing and the root assumptions that undergird the treatments and activities thought to help one heal.  The questions that will guide us on our quest include:  How does attitude and belief influence health and illness?  What difference does culture make to your health?  What did ancient cultures know about healing?  How do Japanese Buddhist healing practices compare with modern western scientific medicine?  Does a prayer a day keep the doctor away?  Can gratitude be an important part of healing treatment?

Section 1: TTh 3:00-4:20, Arai


REL 4161: History of Religion in the Unites States

Cross-listed with HIST 4161

This course is a chronological and thematic survey of American religious history, with special consideration given to the diversity of religion in the United States. The course begins with the European colonization of the Americas and moves through topics such as the Great Awakenings, slave religions, Mormonism, Native American religions, fundamentalism, Roman Catholicism, and Judaism, as well as new immigrant religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Students will learn how religious groups influenced and were influenced by American culture. An assortment of reading materials, writing assignments, and creative projects will allow students to engage a variety of religious issues and understand the significance and relevance of religion in the history of the United States.

Section 1: TTh 10:30-11:50, Pasquier


REL 4191: Religions of China and Japan

Cross-listed with HIST 4191. 

This course will focus on the major religious and philosophical traditions of East Asia, especially China and Japan, including Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and Shinto, the gateways to a 'deep' understanding of East Asian cultures. It will both analyze these religions from the standpoint of the history of religion, and show how these religions have influenced and enriched such aspects of Chinese and Japanese culture as landscape painting, popular novels and drama, and the monumental Buddhist sculpture of medieval China. The course will also cover popular or folk religion as illustrated in the celebration of festivals such as the Chinese New Year and the Japanese 'Ghost' Festival (o-bon). Finally, it will include the Chinese and Japanese reception of Western religions (and science), particularly Christianity (and Renaissance science) from the seventeenth century onward. The course requirements include two midterms, a short paper, two or three quizzes, and a final exam. The readings will include one omnibus sourcebook of East Asian religious traditions and a classic Chinese novel (JOURNEY TO THE WEST). The format for the class will be lecture-discussion, with several films and film clips on subjects ranging from the Japanese 'fire festival' to Chinese opera. No previous knowledge of Chinese or Japanese history or religion is assumed or required. Warning: the instructor teaching this class has been known to try singing in class, with the operative word here being 'try.'

Section 1:  9:30 – 10:20 MWF, John Henderson


HNRS 2030: Humanities Colloquium: Synoptic Gospels.

The first three gospels in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are called “the Synoptic Gospels.” These are the earliest sources preserved for the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Because these gospels have many of the same stories in the same order with much the same wording, scholars have recognized that some literary relation exists between them. We will examine these gospels from literary and historical perspectives. The course will focus on the distinctive characteristics of each gospel as well as the relations between them. The course will introduce some of the critical methods by which scholars study these writings within the discipline of academic biblical studies. It will also familiarize students with the scholarly tools and resources that facilitate the study of these gospels.  Course requirements will emphasize helping students to develop their writing skills both generally and with respect to the discipline of academic biblical studies.

Section 1: W 6:00-8:50, Burkett