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.

Religion and Peace: Case Studies in Activism and Reconciliation

Too often religion is cited as the root of conflict, yet often religious leaders and religiously-affiliated NGOs create the impetus for peace-making initiatives. Course uses case studies from different areas of “religious conflict” to examine questions of tolerance and co-existence. Asks questions about place and purpose of dialogue, activism and humanitarian involvement; readings and discussions assess responses to conflict in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Concepts and pedagogies for peacemaking brought to practical application during trip to Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Gandhi: Image and Reflection

Who is Gandhi amidst the thousands of images of him? Course focuses on the writings of, and the popular imagery about, one of the most inspirational figures of modern times, who evoked Einstein’s awe and shaped Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Considers Gandhi’s experiments and journeys across South Africa and India to understand his ideas of justice, method of civic protest, and way of living-with-others. First part of course studies Gandhi’s autobiography and other key writings.

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.

Religion & Politics: The Middle East Today

Explore how religious beliefs and practices shape identities and politics at the individual, local, national and global levels; examine the complexities of the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in their diversities as well as other religious traditions such as Baha’i and Zoroastrianism; examine how theological differences shape political conflicts and conversely, how entrenched political conflicts shape religious beliefs of their respective communities. Open only to students in FOCUS Program. One course.

Women in the Biblical Tradition: Image and Role

Women in ancient Israel, early Christianity, and early Judaism in their contexts in the Near Eastern and Greco-Roman worlds, with attention to the relation between textual depictions and social reality and to the ethical issues raised by the continuing authority of biblical texts for matters of gender. Sources include the Bible, images from art, and archaeological remains. One course.

Black Gods and Kings: Priests and Practices of the Afro-Atlantic Religions

Surveys the spiritual, political and economic experience of those who worship African gods – West and Central Africans, Cubans, Brazilians, Haitians, and North Americans. The gods as sources of power, organization and healing amid local political dominance of Muslims and Christians and seismic expansion of international capitalism.

Religion and Film

A study of the relationship between motion pictures and religion. Focus on the comparative portrayal of organized religions; expressions of religious life; and religious topics, such as God, evil and morality, in both Western and non-Western films in which contemporary artists and intellectuals explore the challenges of modernity. One course.