Jewish Mysticism

The main historical stages, personalities, texts, ethical doctrines, social teachings, and metaphysical doctrines from rabbinic to modern times. Topics include the significance of context and cross-cultural influence in shaping mystical traditions of a minority population living in Christian, Muslim, and secular environments and ways in which mysticism has served to empower and marginalize women. Readings emphasize primary sources (Hebrew Bible, Rabbinic writings, medieval mystical works) in translation and consider them both as literary works and elements of religious ritual.

Ethics in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

An introduction to ethics in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, addressing moral and ethical dilemmas within the varied sources of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the diversity of views and opinions within the text, and passages often regarded as problematic for modern readers. The use of the biblical text as a resource for the construction of pre-modern and modern Jewish and Christian ethics will also be explored. One course.

Ritual, Performance, and Religion

Exposes students to theories of ritual and performance (Turner, Schechner, Grimes, Geertz, Paden) in religious and non-religious contexts; compares contexts as a way of understanding common structures and what differentiates the religious/non-religious. Guest lecturers (from religion, dance, theater, psychology, English, visual and media studies, cultural anthropology) expose students to a range of approaches to specific kinds of ritual and performance. Possibly involves both class and individual trips to local religious events and performances for fieldwork exercises. No prerequisites.

American Apocalypse: Beat Generation Spirituality

Places Beat Generation spirituality in its contexts by study of sources and texts that influenced individual figures, specifically, the reading, world view, and practice of Kerouac, Snyder, Ginsberg, Burroughs, and di Prima; identifies the Asian and Native American texts and translations available to Americans in the post-war era and outlines Western influences (Thoreau, Spengler, Skinner, Reich, Neitzsche), reading these in relation to key my themes of American identity and destiny in the post-War era. One course.

Ethics in South Asia

Explores through anthropological and literary approaches, how ethics is articulated in religious texts and epics, in everyday contexts, and in the performative arts in South Asia. Examines ethical thinking reflected in conceptualization and expressions of personhood, duty, sexuality, family, and community. Explores issues such as the imagination and negotiation of moral authority; the constitution, assessment, and transmission of values; the role of colonialism; and the moral magnetism of epic traditions.