REL 158 Holy Books: The Western Scriptural Tradition
The origins, development, and uses of scripture in the West. Focus on the Hebrew Bible, Christian Scriptures, and Qur'an, with attention to other texts, such as the Book of Mormon.
As a religious studies major, you engage in a rigorous course of study centered on your interests across religious traditions, sects and practices. You will study religion from historical, social, cultural and applied perspectives (e.g. religion and public life, Islam in the U.S., and religion and popular culture); explore major religious traditions including Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism; and delve into newer religious movements, such as Mormonism, Rastafarianism and Scientology. Through this interdisciplinary study, you gain the ability to analyze religion and religious phenomena through the key human conditions of race, gender, sexuality and class.
You have abundant opportunities to work closely with faculty in Religious Studies. Our students have traveled with faculty to Bangladesh, Israel and Jordan, as well as to national conferences. Many religious studies students undertake independent studies with our faculty, exploring topics such as religion and contemporary media, indigenous responses to Christian missions, religion and popular culture, and memory and trauma. Advanced students in the major serve as teaching interns in courses such as “Introduction to Religion,” “Cults and Conversion” and “Religion and Public Life.” Additionally, the Religious Studies Student Advisory Board plans public events throughout the year on topics such as Jerusalem now and then, global expressions of Islam, and religion and food.
The study of religion moves fluidly between the classroom and the world at large. You can pursue the study of religion in conjunction with international relations, economics, the arts, law and politics. Our department regularly partners with the College’s interdisciplinary centers, including the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy and the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE).
Natalie Avalos is an ethnographer of religion whose research and teaching focus on Native American and Indigenous religions in diaspora, healing historical trauma, decolonization and social justice. She has explored the religion and resistance movements of transnational Native American and Tibetan peoples.
Lindsey Harlan's main area of interest is religion in South Asia, especially India. She also does research in Trinidad and the United States. Her courses, Hindu Traditions and Women and Religion in India, treat various aspects of ritual and narrative traditions. Her comparative interests are reflected in her courses Religion and Conflict, Religious Pilgrimage and Buddhist Traditions.
David Kyuman Kim has written on freedom and agency in modernity and post-modernity, Asian American diasporas, and the Asian American religious experience.
Among the courses Sharon Portnoff teaches are The Holocaust and Post-Holocaust Responses, Religious Ethics and Jewish Traditions. Portnoff's areas of research include Leo Strauss’ influence on Emil L. Fackenheim and Primo Levi’s use of Dante’s Commedia in If This is a Man. Portnoff also coordinates the Miriam Melrod Lecture in Judaic Studies.
Sufia Uddin's research interests focus on constructions of Bengali-Muslim religious community from the colonial to the contemporary period. Her work examines the many Bengali expressions of Islam. Her research also covers shared sacred space and religious elements common to both Bengali Hindus and Muslims.
A: I stumbled upon it freshman year when I took "Religion and the Spirit of Politics." It was one of my most challenging, engaging courses. I’ve been able to study a wide range of subject matter, from Dante's Inferno to the Sunni awakening. My professors have a genuine interest in my success, and I've enjoyed their mentorship both inside and outside the classroom.
A: Another student and I pursued an independent study with Professor Kim. We examined the ways in which trauma destroys and stimulates world views. I concluded the project with a paper, "On Hearing Trauma" and submitted it to the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay Contest. I am a finalist.
A: My CELS counselor helped me identify internship options, edit cover letters and conduct a mock interview. I interned with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and had a terrific summer in New York City.