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Religious Studies Course Descriptions


103: World Religions (3)

The religious experience of varied persons and groups, East and West, in traditional and contemporary settings.

104: Introduction to Asian Religions (3)

This course provides an introduction to the most prevalent and enduring ideas, images, and personalities of Asian religious traditions including Daoism, Confucianism, East Asian Shamanism, Shinto and Buddhism. The regions of focus include India, Tibet, China, Korea and Japan, with some reference to the other areas of Asia.

301: Old Testament (3)

A critical study of the literature of the Old Testament emphasizing its historical development and meaning in the life of Ancient Israel.

 302: New Testament (3)

An historical and critical study of the origin, structure and transmission of the New Testament writings and their meaning in life and thought of the early Church; emphasis is placed on the life, teachings, and significance of Jesus and Paul - both for their day and ours.

311: Gospel Traditions (3)

An analysis of the historical and social settings of the Gospel designed to afford the student a fuller understanding of Jesus and his mission.

312: The Life and Letters of Paul (3)

A critical study in the life and thought of Paul, his letters to the early Christian churches, his role in the expansion of the Christian movement, and his continuing influence today.

320: Introduction to Buddhism (3)

This course provides an introduction to the diverse Buddhist traditions of the world through a study of theories, practices, images and social settings. It begins with an examination of stories of the life of Buddha and the religious- political situation in India at the same time his ideas began to flourish. It follows the development of later Buddhism in India and its manifestations as Theravada traditions of Southeast Asia. It also examines Buddhism's developments a Mahayana and Tantric traditions in Tibet and East Asia.

322: Introduction to Islam (3)

This course is an introduction to the diversity of the Islamic tradition and various Muslim communities, as well as the methods and resources used in Religious Studies. It will cover some of the history of the development of the Islamic tradition and various Muslim communities, while exploring wide-ranging beliefs, practices, figures, concepts, debates, institutions, and communities. It will explore the tradition both historically and contemporarily.  Topics covered may include debates over the idea of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, the Qur’an, and some subsequent Islamic expressions, such as Sunni and Shi’i Muslims, the development of schools of law, theological debates, Islamic mysticism, responses to modernity, and contemporary Muslim communities. Fall or Spring

 324: Hinduism (3)

A survey of Hinduism through history, theology, sacred texts, spiritual practices, social organizations, and politics. The course proceeds from the earliest phases of the religion to contemporary groups and practices. Students will be introduced to key ideas and beliefs in Hinduism, and will examine major texts in the tradition.  They may also study Hindu devotional deities as depicted in art and music, and explore modern developments in Hinduism, including major political initiatives. Spring

325: Religion in Contemporary American Film (3)

A critical study of religious beliefs and practices as seen through the medium of film. Students will view contemporary American films and film clips through the lens of religious studies. Lectures and films are augmented by WebCT discussion boards.

326: Buddhism in Literature and Film (3) (prereq: one religious studies course or permission of the instructor)

A study of representations of Buddhism in selected scriptures and ideas identified as Buddhist in world literature and film.  The course considers the nature, power, or inability of literature and film to convey various themes such as “no-self”, “suchness,”  “Buddhamind, “ and “enlightenment.” Students are challenged to questions ideas of scriptural authority as well as “Orientalist” representations.

 350: Lives of Hindu and Buddhist Saints (3)

A study of lives of individuals related to Hinduism and Buddhism who are alleged to be “saints” in stories, biographies, and autobiographies. These life accounts are compared to archetypes found in canonical sources including the Ramayana, the Bhagavata Purana, and Buddhist Jataka.  The class considers the genre of religious biography/hagiography in such terms as intended audience and practical usage of the texts.  Students will examine stories about ancient and modern Hindus and Buddhists from India, China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and America.  Spring

 351: Religion of India (3)

The personal religious goals and characteristics social patterns which have developed in India from pre-Vedic times to the modern period.  Particular attention will be given to the interaction of Hinduism, Buddhism, and transcultural influences.

 352: Zen Buddhism (3)

A study of the philosophies and practices of Zen Buddhism as they appear in East Asia and America.  Primary emphasis is placed on the idea of Zen as a transformative practice.  The course uses classic Mahayana texts and the writings of Zen teachers.  It also examines Zen through koans, zazen, engaged Buddhism, arts, and films.  The class considers the relationship of Zen mind and Zen practice.  May

 355: Islam, Ethics, and the Environment (3)

This course is to serve as an overview of environmental ethics, religious responses to environmental issues, and Islamic ethics, as well as some of the gaps between ideals and practices.  Fall

 360: Women and World Religions (3)

An examination of the historical and social context of issues in religion or sanctioned by religion that are uniquely related to women.

363: Women and Gender in Islam (3)

This course will serve as an introduction to the relations between gender and Islamic belief and practice.  It will examine the historic, social, cultural, political, and economic factors that have influenced Muslim ideas and practices pertaining to gender and sexuality, as well as perceptions about the relation between Islamic belief, practices, and gender.  Fall

365: Religious Diversity in the South. (3)

This is a survey of the evolution of religion in the South from its beginnings to the arrival of new religions and movements in the twentieth century. this course will review the development of major denominational churches as well as the evolution of "folk belief". integral to the course will be the consideration of women's roles and attitudes toward women in religion. Religous history of South Carolina and the low country, specifically, will serve as the focus for the course, with particular attention given to new religious arrivals.

399: Independent Study (3)

For more information, see the Non-Traditional Coursework in the Academic Regulations section in this Catalog. May be repeated for credit under different topics.

399H: Interdisciplinary Independent Study (3-9)

Directed independent study at the honors level in two or more departments.

491: Selected Topics in Religious Studies (3)

Course content varies and will be announced in the schedule of courses by suffix and title. May be repeated for credit under different topics.

498: Advanced Project (3)

A supervised research project or other creative work, normally taken in the senior year.

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