RLGN 101: Religion and Culture
This course introduces students to the study of religion by examining religious practices within a variety of cultural and historical contexts around the world. The course invites students to think comparatively and critically about the role of religion within broader cultural discourses (e.g., gender, politics, and the environment).
Instead of surveying what were formerly called the “world’s great religions,” this course builds religious literacy by examining religious practices within particular geographical and thematic areas. Through comparative case studies drawn from a diverse range of “non-western” cultures, students will learn about religions and spiritualities across the globe. These cultural touchstones will build core literacy in other cultures, positioning students to engage more fully in the religious and cultural diversity that they will encounter in their own lives and careers.
Alongside these geographic case studies, the course will also examine key themes in the study of religion, such as diasporic transnationalism, liberation theology, and ritual practice. We will use these themes to tease out and debate some of the core theoretical and methodological challenges in the study of religion, including postcolonial critiques of the origin and history of the field of religious studies itself.
To be clear, religion is our subject, not our approach. Although students will find opportunities to reflect on their own spirituality/disbelief, the course does not presume any particular religious or non-religious perspective. Indeed, the study of religion is itself concerned not only with the world’s religious traditions, but also with contemporary questions of skepticism, science, disbelief, and secularity.
Evaluation will be based on class preparation and participation, regular short papers, a midterm exam, and a final take-home essay exam.
For summer 2021, this course will be offered remote-synchronous. For more information, please reach out to the instructor.
Dates: July 6 - August 2, 2021
Session: 4 Week Session (2)
Time: MWF 9:30-12:25
Instructor: Brian Clites
Credits: 3 credits
Departments: New 2021 Summer, Religious Studies