Introduction to Religious Studies
Our approach to the study of religion in this class is comparative, historical, and analytical. In particular, we examine critical turning points within three of the world's major religions - Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. Students are introduced to foundational figures, events, and concepts within these religions, while also being exposed to the ways in which religions develop and change over time. The primary goals of the course include: preparing students to be more informed citizens capable of engaging in a religiously diverse world; training students to be more nuanced thinkers by equipping them with tools to interrogate the various ways in which humans across the globe (including themselves) conceptualize religion; and further developing students' skills in close reading and careful writing.
Religions of India
This course is an introduction to the religions of India. We focus predominantly on the theologies and rituals of religions that were established in the region (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism), while also examining religions that have taken root there over time (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism). Close attention is paid to the ways in which these religions intersect and overlap with one another. We also seek to understand the circumstances under which religious boundaries between these traditions have been more firmly defined such that their adherents come into conflict with one another. Finally, we examine the independence movements of the modern era and the implications of those firmly-drawn religious boundaries on the creation of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as separate nation-states.
The course is divided into three units that are divided thematically, but also follow a chronological trajectory: Asceticism and Devotion in Early Indian Religions; Monotheism Comes to India; and Religious Revival and Nationalism in Modern India.
Introduction to Hinduism
This course introduces students to some of the most influential texts, theologies, and rituals of Hinduism. Topics are organized both chronologically and thematically to demonstrate the historical development of the myriad traditions that come under the umbrella of what we now call "Hinduism." We will pay particular attention to the ways in which Hindu ways of being have been influenced by many factors in South Asian history, and have constantly been debated and in flux.
This course is divided into four units: Foundations, Encountering God/s in Stories, Encountering God/s on Earth, and Re-Presenting Hinduism.
Approaches to the Study of Religion
This student-led seminar is intended for upper-level students who are either Religious Studies majors or who have a deep interest in the academic study of religion. Honing in on the questions OU Religious Studies minors and majors have been asking throughout each of their courses, this seminar addresses the questions: What do scholars mean when we talk about religion? How ought we go about studying it? What do we gain from the practice of comparing religions, or thinking about religion as a universal category?
We begin by examining the ways in which early travelers and missionaries considered the religions of other peoples across the globe, paying close attention to the categories and approaches they employed. We then look at some of the foundational figures in the field and how they have defined their object of study from sociological, psychological, phenomenological, and anthropological perspectives. Finally, we turn to major critiques of the field that have been levied from both within and outside Religious Studies in the past forty years, and think about how those of us engaged in this field might respond to those critiques. By taking this historical approach, students gain entry into the major promises and perils of the field, and are able to confidently stake their own claim in it.