Course Offerings (Spring 2019)

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

General education courses are marked with an asterisk (*).



REL 1000.1 is reserved for HSS Residential College.

*REL 1000.2 RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD    MWF 11:30-12:20    SMITH

*REL 1000.3 RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD    MWF 12:30-1:20      SMITH

REL 1000 provides a general introduction to the world's religions, including major traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as smaller indigenous traditions. The approach of the course is objective and academic; it is not designed to advocate any particular religious perspective or ideology. This course fulfills the General Education Humanities requirement and may count toward a concentration in Religious Studies.


*REL 1004.1 OLD TESTAMENT    TTh 12:00-1:20    ISBELL

REL 1004 is a broad survey that covers most of the literature of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and addresses literary, historical, archaeological, and theological issues. We will employ historical-critical methods to examine the religious ideas and practices of ancient Israel against the background of the cultures of its near eastern neighbors, including Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Syria. To prepare for each topic of lecture/discussion, we will read numerous narratives from the Bible, related passages from the required textbook, and selected articles by modern scholars. 


*REL 1004.2 OLD TESTAMENT    TTh 3:00-4:20    IRVINE

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.


*REL 1005.1 NEW TESTAMENT    MWF 10:30-11:20    BURKETT

This course will introduce you to the history, literature, and religion of the earliest period of Christianity (from about 30 to 150 CE). We will see how Christianity arose out of the Jewish religion and how it spread in the Greco-Roman world. We will examine a variety of writings from this period, including the collection of early Christian literature known as the New Testament. You will learn the historical, critical methods by which scholars study these writings as sources for our knowledge of the origins of Christianity. Course requirements include regular short homework essays and three exams.


*REL 1005.2 NEW TESTAMENT    TTh 10:30-11:50    STORIN

This course surveys one of the world’s most influential and controversial collections of scriptural texts: the New Testament. Students will meet the historical Jesus, the apostle Paul, the evangelists, and many other early Christians as we examine each of the New Testament writings in its historical context. This course will tour the eastern Mediterranean region as we track how authors of the New Testament writings engaged ancient Judaism and the Roman Empire. Additionally, we will chart the tremendous degree of religious variety within earliest Christianity to discover that the ancient world hosted a slew of “Christianities.”  Ultimately, students will learn how the New Testament became the New Testament and how Christianity became Christianity.


*REL 1007.1 HONORS: OLD TESTAMENT    TTh 9:00-10:20    IRVINE

Similar in scope and content to REL 1004, but with a smaller class size that combines short lectures with seminar discussions and student presentations. Intended for Honors credit, the course requires several writing assignments (e.g., short papers interpreting biblical texts, book reviews, reports on special topics).



This course provides a general introduction to the study of religion as an academic and humanistic subject. Though it discusses many different religions, it does not survey the religions of the world. Instead it investigates the nature and scope of religion itself, raising the question, “What is religion?” In the process it introduces students to various theories about religion and the various methods used by scholars who study religion. 


*REL 2001.1 FAITH AND DOUBT    MWF 10:30-11:20    YADLAPATI

REL 2001 considers how religious faith is challenged or supported by various factors, such as reason, morality, organized religion, and the experience of suffering. The course uses a selection of readings from Paine, Hume, Clifford, James, Kierkegaard, Hesse, Weil, Kushner, and others to address the following questions of religious faith and skepticism: (1) Is belief in God compatible with reason? (2) Is it valid to evaluate religious faith by critical reason? (3) What are the limits, if any, of religious knowledge? (4) To what extent is religious belief validated by the existence of moral norms? (5) To what extent does an individual’s faith depend upon or come into conflict with organized religion? (6) How has traditional theistic belief and language been challenged or modified by modern religious thinkers? (7) Is religious faith compatible with the experience of suffering and evil? 


REL 2120.1 THE HOLOCAUST    TTh 10:30-11:50    ISBELL

We will survey the long history of anti-Semitism that preceded and prepared the way for the specific program of Nazism. Along the way, we will consider the questions raised about God and suffering, human morality, and western civilization and modernity. We will also examine both the political responses of democratic countries and the religio-philosophical responses of Judaism and Christianity to the Nazi attempts to exterminate the Jews.


*REL 2027.1 ASIAN RELIGIONS    MW 3:00-4:20    ARAI

Become more culturally literate in a multicultural world. Asian civilizations have a long history with far-reaching impact and influence on our global community today. One does not need to 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. This course will focus on a variety of Asian religious traditions, including fundamental teachings of the Hindu, Confucian, Taoist, Shinto, and Buddhist traditions of India, Tibet, China, and Japan. We will explore how religious values influence decision-making processes in personal and public spheres.


*REL 2033.1 AMERICAN RELIGIONS    MWF 9:30-10:20    SMITH

REL 2033 surveys the history and culture of religion in the United States. Special consideration is given to the diversity of religion in America and the impact of religious ideologies on American culture. An assortment of reading materials, writing assignments, and creative projects provide a framework within which to engage a variety of religious issues and understand the significance of religion in American history.


REL 3010.1 JEWS OF HOLLYWOOD    M 3:00-5:50     RETHELYI

This class will explore representations of Jewish culture, religion, and life in American cinema since the silent era. 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 images of Jewish life, culture, and identities in film. Our discussions will include how the cinematic representations have led to general views of Jews and Jewish culture and life in America. The class will allow students to understand the different depiction of Jews in the media as well as the transformation of Jewish identity in twentieth-century America. The primary goal of the class is to build sensitivity to and understanding of the depiction of Jews in the Media as well as to learn to think critically. Students will gain insight into the complex nature of the influences of historical events and changing times on the depiction of Jews by Jewish and non-Jewish sources in cinema and will be able to understand how different cultural trends and historical events affect the media and its depiction of racial and religious minorities.





This course will study the paranormal and how it was an important aspect at many prominent universities in the discipline of parapsychology. The course offers alternate ways of understanding the world and phenomena and experiences that register outside the norms and methods of contemporary thought and science.



This course traces the development of ideas concerning life after death from ancient times to the present. We examine beliefs about the afterlife in various world religions, such as primal religions, ancient Egyptian religion, Eastern religions, and biblical religions. We give special attention to otherworld journeys, narratives in which an individual travels to the realm of the afterlife and returns to describe it. Modern forms of otherworld journeys, such as visions of heaven and hell, near-death experiences, and out-of-body experiences, are included, as are portrayals of the afterlife in contemporary fiction and film. Requirements for the course include regular attendance, short essays (2-3 pages each) relating to a reading assignment, participation in class discussion, and a final short essay reflecting on the course as a whole.


REL 4301.1 THEORIES OF RELIGION    MW 4:30-5:50    ARAI

We will explore what theories, methods, approaches, and concepts have helped develop the scholarship on human religiosity. The range of lenses will include cultural anthropology, theology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, art, ritual, gender, race, class, and science. Each approach illuminates a dimension at the same time it obscures another dimension. No single tool enables a scholar to see and understand all dimensions of human religiosity. We will consider which approaches would be well suited to which types of research projects. Cultivating the commensurate level of communication skills is central to our endeavor. The objective of the course is to learn how to think as a religiously literate person with nuanced skills of analysis and critical reasoning. REL 4301 is a required course for Religious Studies concentrators. It is also a certified Communication-Intensive course.



This course explores the religious thought of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X through a close examination of their most significant writings and speeches and dispels many myths and popular conceptions of their life and thought.