St. George Campus Course Descriptions 2015-2016


Additional details about courses can be found on the Arts & Science timetable.
Sessional dates are available on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences website.
Course descriptions from prior years can be found in our archive.

UTSC Courses  UTM Courses

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Fall Courses

100 Series Courses

MHB155H1F1 Elementary Modern Hebrew I / Yigal Nizri (MW10-12)

Introduction to the fundamentals of Hebrew grammar and syntax. Emphasis on the development of oral and writing skills. Exclusion: Grade 4 Hebrew (or Grade 2 in Israel)/NML155H1

200 Series Courses

Note: No 200-series RLG course has a 100-series RLG course prerequisite or co-requisite.

MHB255H1F Intermediate Modern Hebrew I / Yigal Nizri (MW1-3)

Intensive study of written and spoken Hebrew. Prerequisite: MHB156H1/ NML156H1 or permission of instructor.
Exclusion: Grade 8 Hebrew (or Ulpan level 2 in Israel)/NML255Y1

RLG200H1F Study of Religion / Ryan Olfert (R5-8)

An introduction to the discipline of the study of religion. This course surveys methods in the study of religion and the history of the discipline in order to prepare students to be majors or specialists in the study of religion. Prerequisite: Open to Religion Specialists and Majors. Exclusion: RLG200Y1 SyllabusIcon

RLG209H1F Justifying Religious Belief / Sol Golberg (F12-2)

Beliefs typically characterized as “religious” concern such things as the existence and nature of the Deity, the afterlife, the soul, miracles, and the universe’s meaningfulness or ultimate purpose. Religious beliefs, in other words, typically refer to matters for which empirical evidence or other kinds of scientific verification are lacking. At least so say all those who insist that reasonable beliefs require justification and that justification comes either from empirical observation or solid scientific reasoning. Religious beliefs, it further seems, run counter to modern conceptions about who counts, not only as an acceptably rational, but also as a fully moral human being. How might people who hold – and want to continue to hold – religious beliefs respond to these challenges? Our course will examine these basic epistemological and moral challenges to religious belief as well as the various strategies available to religious believers who are confronted with such demands for justifications. By doing so, we will aim to understand better whether religious beliefs of various sorts could count as rational, whether reasonable people might disagree with each other about the very nature of the universe, and whether those who fall short of common intellectual and social ideals of rationality and reasonableness ought to be tolerated.

RLG211H1F Methods in the Psychology of Religion / Marsha Hewitt (T11-1)

Description updated July 7, 2015

The course will examine distinctions between psychology of religion; psychology as religion; and psychoanalytic study of religion. Different approaches to psychology as it relates to the study of religion are also examined. Discussions of the psychological dimensions of religious beliefs, experiences and practices that also include explorations of themes loosely associated with spiritualism, psychic research and the occult. Works from authors such as (but not limited to) Sigmund Freud, William James, Carl Jung, Jeffrey Kripal will be studied.

RLG215H1F Pilgrimage as Idea and Practice / Simon Coleman (W10-12)

The study of pilgrimage has become increasingly prominent in anthropology and religious studies in recent decades. Why should this be? This course provides some answers while engaging in a cross cultural survey and analysis of pilgrimage practices. We also explore whether research into pilgrimage has wider theoretical significance for the study of religion and culture.

RLG221H1F Religious Ethics: The Jewish Tradition / David Novak (W4-6)

This course will deal with some of the issues contemporary feminism raises for Jewish ethics. The works of several contemporary Jewish thinkers will be read and discussed. The course grade will be based on a midterm examination (1/3) and a final examination (2/3).

online course RLG233H1F Religion and Popular Culture / Jennifer Harris (W10-12; Online Course)

Description updated July 13, 2015

This is a fully online course that includes a weekly synchronous webinar for interested students (Wednesday’s at 10 am). The course will cover topics at the intersection of religion and popular culture, including the commodification of spirituality, censorship, boycotts and control of the media, and the use of popular culture in religious outreach. All course materials will be available asynchronously online, and assignments will be posted to group course blogs. Student will work individually and in small groups online to create blogs and other digital assignments. The instructor will be available for online and in-person office hours throughout the semester.

For more information, contact the instructor: jennifer.harris@utoronto.ca

RLG235H1F Religion, Gender, and Sexuality / Eleanor Pontoriero (M11-1)

Examination of gender as a category in the understanding of religious roles, symbols, rituals, deities, and social relations. Survey of varieties of concepts of gender in recent feminist thought, and application of these concepts to religious life and experience. Examples will be drawn from a variety of religious traditions and groups, contemporary and historical.
Note: for 2015-16 the course will focus on Religion and Gender only.
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RLG245H1F Religions of the Silk Road / Amanda Goodman (R11-1)

An historical introduction to the religious traditions that flourished along the Silk Road, including Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Nestorian Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam. Drawing on a variety of sources (textual, archaeological, works of art), the course will focus on the spread and development of these traditions through the medieval period. Issues include cross-cultural exchange, religious syncretism, ethnic identity formation and so on. Emphasis will also be placed on religious and political events in modern Central Asia.

300 Series Courses

Note: All 300-series courses presuppose at least three prior RLG half courses (or equivalent). Only specific prerequisites or recommended preparations are listed below. Students who do not meet the prerequisites but believe they have adequate preparation should consult the undergraduate coordinator regarding entry to the course.

MHB355H1F Advanced Modern Hebrew I / Yigal Nizri (MW5-7)

Advanced intensive study of written and spoken Hebrew. Prerequisite: MHB256H1/NML255Y1 or permission of instructor. Exclusion: OAC Hebrew/NML355Y1

RLG305H1F Material Religion / Simon Coleman (T10-12)

Religions are constituted by material forms, including bodies, shrines, relics, films,
icons, and ‘kitsch’. Anti-material impulses have also prompted many religious movements, involving forms of iconoclasm that ironically demonstrate the power of objects. What is at stake in studying materiality? How might such a perspective transform our view of religion?

RLG307H1F Museums and Material Religion / Pamela Klassen (T1-3)

Museums have long been important sites for the presentation and curation of religion—and religious diversity—to public audiences. With multiple visits to the ROM, this course will give students opportunities to think critically about the changing ways that museums have constructed religion, while engaging with the hands-on challenges of museum curation. Assignments will be based on interaction with the ROM’s collections and will include an introduction to digital tools for humanities scholarship. SyllabusIcon

RLG315H1F Rites of Passage / TBA (T6-8)

Analysis of rituals of transition from one social status to another (e.g., childbirth, coming of age, marriage,) from theoretical, historical and ethnographic perspectives. Particular attention is paid to the importance of rites of passage in the construction of gendered identities.

RLG317H1F Religion Violence and Nonviolence / Paul York (M6-8)

Religious violence and nonviolence as they emerge in the tension between strict adherence to tradition and individual actions of charismatic figures. The place of violence and nonviolence in selected faith traditions. Exclusion: RLG317H5. Recommended Preparation: RLG100Y1/280Y1.

RLG323H1F Jesus of Nazareth / Duncan Reid (R6-8)

The quest for a plausible historical understanding of Jesus of Nazareth continues to attract much attention despite the multiple challenges and many competing hypotheses. This course will provide an introduction to the history of the quest for the historical Jesus, the scholarly methods for studying the historical Jesus, the historical context in which Jesus lived, various specific elements of Jesus tradition, and the competing conclusions that exist today. Prerequisite: RLG241Y1. Exclusion: RLG323H5. SyllabusIcon

RLG341H1F Dreaming of Zion: Exile and Return in Jewish Thought / Kenneth Green (W2-4)

An inquiry into the theme of exile and return in Judaism, often called the leading idea of Jewish religious consciousness. Starting from Egyptian slavery and the Babylonian exile, and culminating in the ideas of modern Zionism, the course will examine a cross-section of Jewish thinkers–ancient, medieval, and modern. Prerequisite: RLG100Y1/RLG202Y1/RLG280Y1/RLG342Y1. SyllabusIcon

RLG350H1F The Life of Muhammad / Walid Saleh (T6-8)

This course examines Muhammad’s life as reflected in the biographies and historical writings of the Muslims. Students will be introduced to the critical methods used by scholars to investigate Muhammads life. Issues include: relationship between Muhammad’s life and Quran teachings and the veneration of Muhammad. Prerequisite: RLG100Y1/RLG200Y1/RLG204Y1/NMC283Y1/RLG204H5.

 

RLG369H1F The Mahabharata / Arti Dhand (W12-2)

A study of the great Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata. Prerequisite: RLG205Y1.

RLG378H1F Himalayan Buddhism / Frances Garrett (W11-1)

This course will examine the diversity of Buddhist traditions in the Himalayan region, covering texts, rituals, histories, and personalities relevant to their study, and the methods employed in the field. Prerequisite: RLG206Y1 or RLG205Y1

RLG388H1F Special Topics I- Wit and Humour in Islam / Mourad Laabdi (W6-8)

This course is intended to satisfy two major goals. On the one hand, it provides an inclusive overview of the history of wit and humour in the Islamic tradition. We will learn about the nature and functions of jokes and laughter in the Quran, prophetic tradition, medieval literature, Islamic law, and Muslim ethnic humor post 9/11. On the other, it offers an opportunity to engage theoretically with various forms of humour by Muslims and about them. We will examine key approaches to humour in psychoanalysis, philosophy and sociology, and learn to apply them to specific relations such as the sacred/profane and hate/free speech. This course is designed to allow students discuss safely, but responsibly, present-day controversial issues relevant to humor and Muslims.

400 Series Courses

Note: 400-series courses are intended primarily for Specialists and Majors who have already completed several RLG courses. Prerequisite for all 400-level courses requires permission of the instructor. All 400-level courses are E indicator courses and also cross-listed as graduate courses. For further information on how to enroll, please click here.

RLG405H1F Capstone Practical / Laura Beth Bugg (M12-2)

A capstone seminar that emphasizes integration of the study of religion with contemporary public life in the development of a research project, locating a research specialization in relation to non-academic contexts, and communicating the process and results of a research project to non-academic audiences. Prerequisite: open to 4th year Religion Specialists and Majors. SyllabusIcon

RLG411H1F Advanced Topics in Religion/ TBA (TBA)

Details forthcoming.

RLG414H1F Comparing Religions / Reid Locklin (W5-7)

Few methods have been more foundational to the scholarly study of religion, or more subject to searching criticism, than the practice of comparison. This seminar offers an advanced introduction to comparative method through close study of 4-6 recent works, from ritual studies, philosophy of religion, comparative theology and/or ethnography. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. SyllabusIcon

RLG425H1F Hermeneutics and Religion / James DiCenso (W3-5)

A study of how principles of textual interpretation and theories of language have been central to modern philosophy of religion. We begin with Schleiermacher, and then move to an in-depth treatment of the 20th century hermeneutical theories of Heidegger, Gadamer, and Ricoeur. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Recommended Preparation: RLG310Y1

RLG434H1F Modern Jewish Thought: Kierkegaard and Jewish Philosophy / Sol Golberg (W12-2)

The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard is one of the great defender of Christian faith against the challenges of modern philosophy; but his defense surprisingly places front and centre the Biblical figure of Abraham, the father of Judaism. This course will explore central concerns, methods, and ideas of modern Jewish philosophy by looking at various Jewish philosophical responses to Kierkegaard. The course will begin with a close reading of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling before turning to responses by Buber, Soloveitchik, Fackenheim, Levinas, and Derrida. Prerequisite: Permission of Instructor.

RLG446H1F Social Science Approaches to Early Christianity: Topical Investigations / Joseph Bryant (T4-6)

This seminar will explore the tensions and interdependencies of historical & social scientific modes of inquiry, as these pertain to longstanding questions concerning the rise of Christianity in the ancient Mediterranean world. All topical explorations will feature efforts to situate the phenomena in question within their operative socio-historical contexts. Prerequisite: RLG210Y, RLG241Y; permission of instructor.

RLG474H1F Sanskrit Readings I / Ajay Rao (MW2-4)

This course will have students read choice pieces of South Asian literature. While tackling a text in Sanskrit from a major literary tradition, Buddhist or Hindu, and discussing its content and context, students will learn strategies for translating and interpreting Sanskrit literature. Prerequisite: Intermediate Sanskrit.

RLG490Y1F | RLG491H1F | RLG492H1F Individual Studies / Staff

Student-initiated projects supervised by members of the Department. The student must obtain both a supervisor’s agreement and the Department’s approval in order to register. The maximum number of Individual Studies one may take is two full course equivalents. Deadline for submitting applications to Department including supervisor’s approval is the first week of classes of the session.

Spring Courses

100 Series Courses

MHB156H1S Elementary Modern Hebrew II / Yigal Nizri (MW10-12)

Continued introduction to the fundamentals of Hebrew grammar and syntax. Emphasis on the development of oral and writing skills. Prerequisite: MHB155H1/NML155H1 or permission of instructor. Exclusion: Grade 4 Hebrew (or Grade 2 in Israel)/NML156H1

200 Series Courses

Note: No 200-series RLG course has a 100-series RLG course prerequisite or co-requisite.

MHB256H1S Intermediate Modern Hebrew II / Yigal Nizri (MW1-3)

Continued intensive study of written and spoken Hebrew. Prerequisite: MHB255H1/NML156H1a> or permission of instructor.
Exclusion: Grade 8 Hebrew (or Ulpan level 2 in Israel)/NML255Y1

RLG229H1S Death, Dying and Afterlife / Amanda Goodman (T11-1)

This course introduces students to various religious approaches to death, the dead, and afterlife. Through considering different ways in which death has been thought about and dealt with, we will also explore different understandings of life and answers to what it means to be human.

RLG232H1S Religion and Film / Tenzan Eaghll (R6-9)

The role of film as a mediator of thought and experience concerning religious worldviews. The ways in which movies relate to humanitys quest to understand itself and its place in the universe are considered in this regard, along with the challenge which modernity presents to this task. Of central concern is the capacity of film to address religious issues through visual symbolic forms. Exclusion: RLG232H5

300 Series Courses

Note: All 300-series courses presuppose at least three prior RLG half courses (or equivalent). Only specific prerequisites or recommended preparations are listed below. Students who do not meet the prerequisites but believe they have adequate preparation should consult the undergraduate coordinator regarding entry to the course.

MHB356H1S Advanced Modern Hebrew II / Yigal Nizri (MW5-7)

Continued advanced intensive study of written and spoken Hebrew. Prerequisite: MHB355H1 or permission of instructor. Exclusion: OAC Hebrew/NML355Y1

RLG303H1S The Problem of Evil and Suffering / Sol Golberg (W1-3)

The existence of evil poses a problem to theistic beliefs and raises the question as to whether a belief in a deity is incompatible with the existence of evil and human (or other) suffering. This course examines the variety of ways in which religions have dealt with the
existence of evil.

RLG308H1S Religion and the City / TBA (R12-2)

The course focuses on the role of religion in the genesis and development of cities, as well as the ways urbanization and immigration have transformed religious organizations and identities. Various methodologies, including ethnography, social and cultural history, and textual analysis will be considered. In some years, course projects will focus on mapping the changing significance and presence of particular religions in Toronto.

RLG326H1S Roots of Early Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism / Judith Newman (F1-3)

This course examines a range of Jewish texts from the 6th century BCE to the 1st century CE in order to illuminate the diverse cultural matrix from which early Christianity and rabbinic Judaism took shape. A major theme of the course is the formation of scripture and scriptural interpretation as a central factor in shaping distinctive Jewish cultures, particularly as this was intertwined with worship and ritual practices. Desired outcomes for students are that they will come to think critically about ancient texts, learn to contextualize them in their cultural milieu, and appreciate the diversity of Jewish thought and practice in this formative era. Primary readings will include selections from the Bible, the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Students should come with some knowledge of the Hebrew Bible and its contents or the willingness to learn it. Prerequisite: RLG241Y1/RLG202Y1/RLG203Y1. Exclusion: RLG326H5.

RLG328H1S The Politics of Belief in Early Christianity / Joseph Bryant (T4-6)

This course examines historical processes, negotiations, and strategies involved in the consolidation of discourses and practices of orthodoxy and heresy in Christianity from the second through fifth centuries. Topics include: intellectual, therapeutic, and social models of orthodoxy; methods of discipline; historical events and contexts; the political and social contexts of theological conflict; and the gendered production of the orthodox subject.

RLG343H1S Kabbala: A History of Mystical Thought in Judaism/ Kenneth Green (W2-4)

A historical study of the Kabbala and the mystical tradition in Judaism, with emphasis on the ideas of Jewish mystical thinkers and movements. Prerequisite: RLG100Y1/RLG202Y1/RLG280Y1. SyllabusIcon

RLG355H1S Anthropology of Islam / Amira Mittermaier (T2-4)

Combines theoretical reflections on what an anthropology of Islam might entail with ethnographic readings on the practice of Islam in communities around the world.

RLG373H1S Buddhist Ritual / Barbara Hazelton (T6-8)

Daily worship, the alms round, life-crisis celebrations, healing rituals, meditation, festivals, pilgrimage, the consecration of artefacts and taking care of the ancestors are among the forms of Buddhist ritual introduced and analyzed in this course. Liturgical manuals, ethnographic descriptions and audiovisual records form the basis for a discussion of the role of ritual as text and event. Recommended Preparation: RLG206Y1/RLG206H5.

RLG388H1S Special Topics I- Discourses of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS / Youcef Soufi (T5-7)

This course presents an historical overview of Muslim discourses of jihad or “just war”. It focuses on three periods. The first examines how early jihad discourses developed in tandem with Mohammad and the first caliphs’ military engagements and conquests. The second studies medieval jurists’ enduring debates on laws of war (when, why, and how jihad is to take place). Examining Muslim empires’ political exigencies will contextualize these juristic
discourses. The last period focuses upon the postcolonial period (post-1945). It studies theorists such as Sayyid Qutb, Abdullah ‘Azzam, and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi concomitantly with the events that shaped their thought, in particular the decolonization period, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the American invasion of Iraq, and the Arab Spring. The course elucidates how present jihadist thought relates to historical religious ideas and contemporary politics.
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RLG389H1S Gender, Human Rights, and Religion / Eleanor Pontoriero (M11-1)

This course explores the dynamic interrelations of gender, human rights, and religion within a contemporary global context. SyllabusIcon

400 Series Courses

Note: 400-series courses are intended primarily for Specialists and Majors who have already completed several RLG courses. Prerequisite for all 400-level courses requires permission of the instructor. All 400-level courses are E indicator courses and also cross-listed as graduate courses. For further information on how to enroll, please click here.

RLG404H1S Capstone Research / Justin Stein (M12-2)

An integrative capstone seminar that emphasizes iterative development of a research project, locating a research specialization within its broader disciplinary audience, and communicating the process and results of a research project to non-specialists within the study of religion. Prerequisite: open to 4th year Religion Specialists and Majors only.

RLG411H1S Advanced Topics in Religion – Buddhist Narrative Sanskrit / Joel Tatelman (W2-4)

Details forthcoming.

RLG412H1S Adcanced Topics in Religion – The Mahabharata / Arti Dhand (W12-2)

See descrition for RLG369.

RLG417H1S Radical Evil / Marsha Hewitt (M11-1)

Interrogation of the concept of ‘radical evil’ from perspectives of philosophy, critical theory, psychoanalysis and the study of religion. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

RLG418H1S Advanced Topics in the Philosophical Study of Religion: Tolerant Ethics, Intolerable Religions / Sol Golberg (F12-2)

Few deny that liberalism and multiculturalism rest on promoting tolerance towards divergent religious outlooks. Yet, the value of tolerance seems to be plagued by several contradictions, paradoxes, and shortcomings. Consider the following three difficulties that plague the concept and alleged virtue of tolerance. (1) Tolerance can only be exercised with respect to outlooks deemed intolerable, but why should one ever tolerate the intolerable? (2) If liberalism does not extend its tolerance to intolerant belief systems, then how may it nevertheless claim its superiority to them because of its self-professed tolerance? (3) If tolerance is the virtue of putting up with something intolerable for good reason, then an extremely tolerant person must find many views and behaviors objectionable. How could that conclusion ever be squared with ordinary view about tolerance as a kind of acceptance? This course will look at the necessity, sufficiency, and congruity of tolerance as a value, paying special attention to the historical and contemporary problem of religious diversity. Prerequisite: RLG209H1; Permission of instructor

RELG420H1S Religion and Philosophy in the European Enlightenment / James DiCenso (W3-5)

An advanced study of selected Enlightenment thinkers with a focus on their interpretations of religion. The main thinkers discussed are Spinoza, Hume, and Kant. Issues include the rational critique of traditional religion, the relations among religion, ethics and politics, and the pursuit of universal approaches to religion. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

RLG421H1S Critical Theory, Psychoanalysis, and Religion / Marsha Hewitt (T2-4)

Advanced study of key figures past and present in the psychoanalytic study of religion, including Freud and other psychoanalytic interpreters from both Anglo-American and European traditions.  Crucial distinctions between psychology of religion and the psychoanalytic study of religion. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

RLG426H1S Religion in the Public Sphere Service-Learning Course / Pamela Klassen (T10-12)

This course offers upper-year students from any discipline to engage in a 30-40 hours service learning placement in a professional setting that addresses issues of religious diversity in public spaces and institutions. Class meetings focus on critically reflecting on your placement experience in conjunction with readings from disciplines including study of religion, political theory, law, and history. Prerequisite: As this course requires significance student engagement in the classroom and the placement, the instructor’s permission is required for admission to the course. Interested students should visit http://religion.utoronto.ca/courses/undergrad/rlg426-application/ for more information and to submit an application. Note: Applications are closed for 2015-16

RLG441H1S Words and Worship in Christian Cultures / Simon Coleman (T10-12)

How are we to analyze the words that Christians use? And how are such words related to ritual forms? We explore techniques for the analysis of texts, while looking at various forms of verbal discourse including sermons, prayers, speaking in tongues, and citing the Bible. Prerequisite: ANT356H1/RLG212Y1 and permission of instructor.

RLG453H1S Christianity and Judaism in Colonial Context / John Marshall (T1-3)

Sets the study of early Christianity and Second Temple Judaism into relation with postcolonial historiography. Topics include hybridity, armed resistance, the intersection of gender and colonization, diaspora, acculturation, and the production of subaltern forms of knowledge. Comparative material and theories of comparison are also treated. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

RLG458H1S Advanced Topics in Islam: Women and Gender in Sufism / Laury Silvers (T5-7)

Advanced study of specialized topics in Islam. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. SyllabusIcon

RLG465H1S Readings in Buddhist Texts / Frances Garrett (W11-1)

An advanced study of select Buddhist texts with a focus on issues of translation, interpretation, commentarial approaches, narrative strategies, as well as issues related to the production, circulation, and consumption of these works. Themes and texts will vary by year; consult the departmental website for this year’s course description. Prerequisite: Reading knowledge of Sanskrit/Pali/Tibetan or Chinese; permission of instructor.

RLG468H1S Special Topics in Buddhism: The Buddhist Canon / Amanda Goodman (R11-1)

Advanced study of specialized topics in Buddhist Studies. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Recommended Preparation: RLG206Y1Y

RLG490Y1S | RLG492H1S | RLG493H1S | RLG494Y1S Individual Studies / Staff

Student-initiated projects supervised by members of the Department. The student must obtain both a supervisor’s agreement and the Department’s approval in order to register. The maximum number of Individual Studies one may take is two full course equivalents. Deadline for submitting applications to Department including supervisor’s approval is the first week of classes of the session.

Year Courses

First Year Seminars

First-Year Seminars (199 courses) are open only to newly-admitted, Faculty of Arts & Science students (3.5 credits or less). They are full-credit or half-credit courses that focus on discussion of issues, questions and controversies surrounding a particular discipline (or several disciplines) in a small-group setting that encourages the development of critical thinking, writing skills, oral presentation and research methods. 199 seminars are as rigorous and demanding as any other first-year course and require in addition the acquisition of those skills expected of successful undergraduate students. With a maximum enrolment of 24 students each, they are an ideal way to have an enjoyable and challenging small-class experience in your first year.

Below are first-year seminars taught by DSR faculty.

More Details

SII 199Y1Y Society and Its Institutions
Section L0391 How Christianity Became the World’s Largest Religion / C. Thomas McIntire (W1-3)

This seminar asks: How did a small movement of followers of Jesus of Nazareth in first century Palestine turn into the World’s largest religion? Christians now number 2.3 billion people, one-third of the world’s population. They maintain communities in every country of the world, the only religion to do so. They form the majority of the population in two-thirds of the countries of the world. Christianity is the largest religion in Africa, Australia, Oceania, Europe, North America, South America, and even Antarctica. In Asia, they form the majority in the Philippines, as well as huge minorities in India, China, Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam, and Burma. To answer this intriguing question the seminar goes global and deals with a wide range of subjects over a 2000 year span.

TBB 199Y1Y Thought, Belief and Behaviour
Section L5391 Embarrassment of Scripture / Harry Fox (R10-12)

In this first year seminar we shall explore the concept of embarrassment as an emotion different from its common usage as a weaker cousin and synonym of shame. In our sense it will convey the feeling of discomfort elicited by a sense of superiority that someone other than ourselves has disappointed us, or done something unseemly in one way or another, eliciting from us embarrassment. In literature this sense of the word elicits a catalytic effect of causing texts to be ignored, or re-read so as to avoid the embarrassment. As a result we shall explore toxic texts, texts of terror, the process of canon formation, mainly in the Jewish tradition. Students will be encouraged to explore taboo topics which often hide the embarrassment tradition has had with embarrassing texts. These will include such topics as sexuality, anthropomorphism, election, polygamy, genocide, slavery, and the environment. Six short writing assignments (three each semester, some of which will be presented orally), will be used in the grading process as well as at class participation.

100 Series Courses

RLG100Y1Y World Religions / L0101 Arti Dhand (MW9; Tutorial F12) / L5101 David Perley (R6-8; Tutorial R5)

An introductory study of the ideas, attitudes, practices, and contemporary situation of the Judaic, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, and Shinto religious traditions. Exclusion: RLG280Y1; HUM B03H3, HUM B04H3. Note: HUM B03H3 and HUM B04H3 taken together are equivalent to RLG100Y1. Note: RLG101H5 is not equivalent to RLG100Y1.

200 Series Courses

Note: No 200-series RLG course has a 100-series RLG course prerequisite or co-requisite.

RLG202Y1Y Judaism / Kenneth Green (W10-12)

An introduction to the religious tradition of the Jews, from its ancient roots to its modern crises. Focus on great ideas, thinkers, books, movements, sects, and events in the historical development of Judaism through its four main periods – biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and modern. Exclusion: RLG202H5. Recommended Preparation: RLG100Y1/RLG200H1/RLG280Y1 SyllabusIcon

RLG204Y1Y Islam / Laury Silvers (R2-4)

The faith and practice of Islam: historical emergence, doctrinal development, and interaction with various world cultures. Note: this course is offered alternatively with NMC283Y1, to which it is equivalent. Exclusion: NMC185Y1, NMC185H1, NMC283Y, RLG204H5. Recommended Preparation: RLG100Y1/RLG200H1/RLG280Y1 SyllabusIcon

RLG210Y1Y Introduction to the Sociology of Religion / Joseph Bryant (W6-8; Tutorial W5)

This course will examine religious beliefs, practices, and experiences from a historical-sociological and comparative perspective. Classical and contemporary theories will be reviewed and applied to investigate such topics as: the social origins of religions; the formation of religious communities; heresies, schisms and the making of orthodoxies; secularization and fundamentalism; cults and new religious movements; religious regulation of the body and person; and the variable linkages of religion to politics, war, art and science. Note: This course is equivalent to SOC250Y1. Exclusion: SOC250Y1. SyllabusIcon

RLG241Y1Y Early Christian Writings / Brigidda Bell and Ryan Olfert (W5-7)

An introduction to New Testament literature and early Christian writings, examined within the historical context of the first two centuries. No familiarity with Christianity or the New Testament is expected. Exclusion: RLG241H5; RLG341H5; HUMC14H3. SyllabusIcon

RLG260Y1Y Introduction to Sanskrit / Libbie Mills (TR4-6)

An introduction to Sanskrit for beginners. An overview of basic grammar and development of vocabulary, with readings of simple texts.

RLG280Y1Y World Religions: A Comparative Study / L0101 Arti Dhand (MW9; Tutorial F12) / L5101 David Perley (R6-8; Tutorial R5)

An alternative version of the content covered by RLG100Y1, for students in second year or higher who cannot or do not wish to take a further 100-level course. Students attend the RLG100Y1 lectures and tutorials but are expected to produce more substantial and more sophisticated written work, and are required to submit an extra written assignment. Prerequisite: Completion of 5.5 full course equivalents. Exclusion: RLG100Y1/RLGA01H3/RLGA02H3.

RLG299Y1Y Research Opportunity / Staff

Credit course for supervised participation in faculty research project.

For specific courses and more information.

300 Series Courses

Note: All 300-series courses presuppose at least three prior RLG half courses (or equivalent). Only specific prerequisites or recommended preparations are listed below. Students who do not meet the prerequisites but believe they have adequate preparation should consult the undergraduate coordinator regarding entry to the course.

RLG340Y1Y Classical Jewish Theology / David Novak (R10-12)

Theology is reflection on the relationship of God and humans. Jewish theology is the reflection of Jewish thinkers on this relationship. In this course, we will read and discuss three classics of Jewish theology: Avot de-Rabbi Nathan(ancient); Saadiah Gaon, The Book of Beliefs and Opinions (mediaeval); Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man (modern). The course grade will be based on the fall midterm examination (15%); fall term examination (20%); 5,000 word term paper due by March 24 (30%); final examination (35%).

JPR364Y1Y Religion and Politics / Ruth Marshall (M12-2)

400 Series Courses

Note: 400-series courses are intended primarily for Specialists and Majors who have already completed several RLG courses. Prerequisite for all 400-level courses requires permission of the instructor. All 400-level courses are E indicator courses and also cross-listed as graduate courses. For further information on how to enroll, please click here.

RLG410Y1Y Advanced Topics in Religion / TBA (TBA)

This course examines the evolving role of religions in contemporary public, political contexts. Themes include: democracy and secularism; religion, human rights, law and justice; party politics, identity-formation and citizenship; gender and sexuality; interreligious conflict.Prerequisite: 1.0 POL credit/1.5 full course equivalents in Religious Studies. Exclusion: JPR364H1/RLG230H1/POL364H1/POL364Y1. (Given by the Departments of Political Science and Religion. Formerly POL364H/Y1)

Details forthcoming.

RLG469Y1Y Readings in Tibetan / Kunga Sherab (TR4-6)

Advanced readings in Tibetan literature using Tibetan language. Tibetan language skills required.
Prerequisite: Instructor’s permission required for admission to course.

RLG490Y1Y | RLG493H1Y | RLG494Y1Y Individual Studies / Staff

Student-initiated projects supervised by members of the Department. The student must obtain both a supervisor’s agreement and the Department’s approval in order to register. The maximum number of Individual Studies one may take is two full course equivalents. Deadline for submitting applications to Department including supervisor’s approval is the first week of classes of the session.

All Courses

First Year Seminars

First-Year Seminars (199 courses) are open only to newly-admitted, Faculty of Arts & Science students (3.5 credits or less). They are full-credit or half-credit courses that focus on discussion of issues, questions and controversies surrounding a particular discipline (or several disciplines) in a small-group setting that encourages the development of critical thinking, writing skills, oral presentation and research methods. 199 seminars are as rigorous and demanding as any other first-year course and require in addition the acquisition of those skills expected of successful undergraduate students. With a maximum enrolment of 24 students each, they are an ideal way to have an enjoyable and challenging small-class experience in your first year.

Below are first-year seminars taught by DSR faculty.

More Details

SII 199Y1Y Society and Its Institutions
Section L0391 How Christianity Became the World’s Largest Religion / C. Thomas McIntire (W1-3)

This seminar asks: How did a small movement of followers of Jesus of Nazareth in first century Palestine turn into the World’s largest religion? Christians now number 2.3 billion people, one-third of the world’s population. They maintain communities in every country of the world, the only religion to do so. They form the majority of the population in two-thirds of the countries of the world. Christianity is the largest religion in Africa, Australia, Oceania, Europe, North America, South America, and even Antarctica. In Asia, they form the majority in the Philippines, as well as huge minorities in India, China, Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam, and Burma. To answer this intriguing question the seminar goes global and deals with a wide range of subjects over a 2000 year span.

TBB 199Y1Y Thought, Belief and Behaviour
Section L5391 Embarrassment of Scripture / Harry Fox (R10-12)

In this first year seminar we shall explore the concept of embarrassment as an emotion different from its common usage as a weaker cousin and synonym of shame. In our sense it will convey the feeling of discomfort elicited by a sense of superiority that someone other than ourselves has disappointed us, or done something unseemly in one way or another, eliciting from us embarrassment. In literature this sense of the word elicits a catalytic effect of causing texts to be ignored, or re-read so as to avoid the embarrassment. As a result we shall explore toxic texts, texts of terror, the process of canon formation, mainly in the Jewish tradition. Students will be encouraged to explore taboo topics which often hide the embarrassment tradition has had with embarrassing texts. These will include such topics as sexuality, anthropomorphism, election, polygamy, genocide, slavery, and the environment. Six short writing assignments (three each semester, some of which will be presented orally), will be used in the grading process as well as at class participation.

100 Series Courses

MHB155H1F1 Elementary Modern Hebrew I / Yigal Nizri (MW10-12)

Introduction to the fundamentals of Hebrew grammar and syntax. Emphasis on the development of oral and writing skills. Exclusion: Grade 4 Hebrew (or Grade 2 in Israel)/NML155H1

MHB156H1S Elementary Modern Hebrew II / Yigal Nizri (MW10-12)

Continued introduction to the fundamentals of Hebrew grammar and syntax. Emphasis on the development of oral and writing skills. Prerequisite: MHB155H1/NML155H1 or permission of instructor. Exclusion: Grade 4 Hebrew (or Grade 2 in Israel)/NML156H1

RLG100Y1Y World Religions / L0101 Arti Dhand (MW9; Tutorial F12) / L5101 David Perley (R6-8; Tutorial R5)

An introductory study of the ideas, attitudes, practices, and contemporary situation of the Judaic, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, and Shinto religious traditions. Exclusion: RLG280Y1; HUM B03H3, HUM B04H3. Note: HUM B03H3 and HUM B04H3 taken together are equivalent to RLG100Y1. Note: RLG101H5 is not equivalent to RLG100Y1.

200 Series Courses

Note: No 200-series RLG course has a 100-series RLG course prerequisite or co-requisite.

MHB255H1F Intermediate Modern Hebrew I / Yigal Nizri (MW1-3)

Intensive study of written and spoken Hebrew. Prerequisite: MHB156H1/ NML156H1 or permission of instructor.
Exclusion: Grade 8 Hebrew (or Ulpan level 2 in Israel)/NML255Y1

MHB256H1S Intermediate Modern Hebrew II / Yigal Nizri (MW1-3)

Continued intensive study of written and spoken Hebrew. Prerequisite: MHB255H1/NML156H1a> or permission of instructor.
Exclusion: Grade 8 Hebrew (or Ulpan level 2 in Israel)/NML255Y1

RLG200H1F Study of Religion / Ryan Olfert (R5-8)

An introduction to the discipline of the study of religion. This course surveys methods in the study of religion and the history of the discipline in order to prepare students to be majors or specialists in the study of religion. Prerequisite: Open to Religion Specialists and Majors. Exclusion: RLG200Y1 SyllabusIcon

RLG202Y1Y Judaism / Kenneth Green (W10-12)

An introduction to the religious tradition of the Jews, from its ancient roots to its modern crises. Focus on great ideas, thinkers, books, movements, sects, and events in the historical development of Judaism through its four main periods – biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and modern. Exclusion: RLG202H5. Recommended Preparation: RLG100Y1/RLG200H1/RLG280Y1 SyllabusIcon

RLG204Y1Y Islam / Laury Silvers (R2-4)

The faith and practice of Islam: historical emergence, doctrinal development, and interaction with various world cultures. Note: this course is offered alternatively with NMC283Y1, to which it is equivalent. Exclusion: NMC185Y1, NMC185H1, NMC283Y, RLG204H5. Recommended Preparation: RLG100Y1/RLG200H1/RLG280Y1 SyllabusIcon

RLG209H1F Justifying Religious Belief / Sol Golberg (F12-2)

Beliefs typically characterized as “religious” concern such things as the existence and nature of the Deity, the afterlife, the soul, miracles, and the universe’s meaningfulness or ultimate purpose. Religious beliefs, in other words, typically refer to matters for which empirical evidence or other kinds of scientific verification are lacking. At least so say all those who insist that reasonable beliefs require justification and that justification comes either from empirical observation or solid scientific reasoning. Religious beliefs, it further seems, run counter to modern conceptions about who counts, not only as an acceptably rational, but also as a fully moral human being. How might people who hold – and want to continue to hold – religious beliefs respond to these challenges? Our course will examine these basic epistemological and moral challenges to religious belief as well as the various strategies available to religious believers who are confronted with such demands for justifications. By doing so, we will aim to understand better whether religious beliefs of various sorts could count as rational, whether reasonable people might disagree with each other about the very nature of the universe, and whether those who fall short of common intellectual and social ideals of rationality and reasonableness ought to be tolerated.

RLG210Y1Y Introduction to the Sociology of Religion / Joseph Bryant (W6-8; Tutorial W5)

This course will examine religious beliefs, practices, and experiences from a historical-sociological and comparative perspective. Classical and contemporary theories will be reviewed and applied to investigate such topics as: the social origins of religions; the formation of religious communities; heresies, schisms and the making of orthodoxies; secularization and fundamentalism; cults and new religious movements; religious regulation of the body and person; and the variable linkages of religion to politics, war, art and science. Note: This course is equivalent to SOC250Y1. Exclusion: SOC250Y1. SyllabusIcon

RLG211H1F Methods in the Psychology of Religion / Marsha Hewitt (T11-1)

Description updated July 7, 2015

The course will examine distinctions between psychology of religion; psychology as religion; and psychoanalytic study of religion. Different approaches to psychology as it relates to the study of religion are also examined. Discussions of the psychological dimensions of religious beliefs, experiences and practices that also include explorations of themes loosely associated with spiritualism, psychic research and the occult. Works from authors such as (but not limited to) Sigmund Freud, William James, Carl Jung, Jeffrey Kripal will be studied.

RLG215H1F Pilgrimage as Idea and Practice / Simon Coleman (W10-12)

The study of pilgrimage has become increasingly prominent in anthropology and religious studies in recent decades. Why should this be? This course provides some answers while engaging in a cross cultural survey and analysis of pilgrimage practices. We also explore whether research into pilgrimage has wider theoretical significance for the study of religion and culture.

RLG221H1F Religious Ethics: The Jewish Tradition / David Novak (W4-6)

This course will deal with some of the issues contemporary feminism raises for Jewish ethics. The works of several contemporary Jewish thinkers will be read and discussed. The course grade will be based on a midterm examination (1/3) and a final examination (2/3).

RLG229H1S Death, Dying and Afterlife / Amanda Goodman (T11-1)

This course introduces students to various religious approaches to death, the dead, and afterlife. Through considering different ways in which death has been thought about and dealt with, we will also explore different understandings of life and answers to what it means to be human.

RLG232H1S Religion and Film / Tenzan Eaghll (R6-9)

The role of film as a mediator of thought and experience concerning religious worldviews. The ways in which movies relate to humanitys quest to understand itself and its place in the universe are considered in this regard, along with the challenge which modernity presents to this task. Of central concern is the capacity of film to address religious issues through visual symbolic forms. Exclusion: RLG232H5

online course RLG233H1F Religion and Popular Culture / Jennifer Harris (W10-12; Online Course)

Description updated July 13, 2015

This is a fully online course that includes a weekly synchronous webinar for interested students (Wednesday’s at 10 am). The course will cover topics at the intersection of religion and popular culture, including the commodification of spirituality, censorship, boycotts and control of the media, and the use of popular culture in religious outreach. All course materials will be available asynchronously online, and assignments will be posted to group course blogs. Student will work individually and in small groups online to create blogs and other digital assignments. The instructor will be available for online and in-person office hours throughout the semester.

For more information, contact the instructor: jennifer.harris@utoronto.ca

RLG235H1F Religion, Gender, and Sexuality / Eleanor Pontoriero (M11-1)

Examination of gender as a category in the understanding of religious roles, symbols, rituals, deities, and social relations. Survey of varieties of concepts of gender in recent feminist thought, and application of these concepts to religious life and experience. Examples will be drawn from a variety of religious traditions and groups, contemporary and historical.
Note: for 2015-16 the course will focus on Religion and Gender only.
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RLG241Y1Y Early Christian Writings / Brigidda Bell and Ryan Olfert (W5-7)

An introduction to New Testament literature and early Christian writings, examined within the historical context of the first two centuries. No familiarity with Christianity or the New Testament is expected. Exclusion: RLG241H5; RLG341H5; HUMC14H3. SyllabusIcon

RLG245H1F Religions of the Silk Road / Amanda Goodman (R11-1)

An historical introduction to the religious traditions that flourished along the Silk Road, including Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Nestorian Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam. Drawing on a variety of sources (textual, archaeological, works of art), the course will focus on the spread and development of these traditions through the medieval period. Issues include cross-cultural exchange, religious syncretism, ethnic identity formation and so on. Emphasis will also be placed on religious and political events in modern Central Asia.

RLG260Y1Y Introduction to Sanskrit / Libbie Mills (TR4-6)

An introduction to Sanskrit for beginners. An overview of basic grammar and development of vocabulary, with readings of simple texts.

RLG280Y1Y World Religions: A Comparative Study / L0101 Arti Dhand (MW9; Tutorial F12) / L5101 David Perley (R6-8; Tutorial R5)

An alternative version of the content covered by RLG100Y1, for students in second year or higher who cannot or do not wish to take a further 100-level course. Students attend the RLG100Y1 lectures and tutorials but are expected to produce more substantial and more sophisticated written work, and are required to submit an extra written assignment. Prerequisite: Completion of 5.5 full course equivalents. Exclusion: RLG100Y1/RLGA01H3/RLGA02H3.

RLG299Y1Y Research Opportunity / Staff

Credit course for supervised participation in faculty research project.

For specific courses and more information.

300 Series Courses

Note: All 300-series courses presuppose at least three prior RLG half courses (or equivalent). Only specific prerequisites or recommended preparations are listed below. Students who do not meet the prerequisites but believe they have adequate preparation should consult the undergraduate coordinator regarding entry to the course.

MHB355H1F Advanced Modern Hebrew I / Yigal Nizri (MW5-7)

Advanced intensive study of written and spoken Hebrew. Prerequisite: MHB256H1/NML255Y1 or permission of instructor. Exclusion: OAC Hebrew/NML355Y1

MHB356H1S Advanced Modern Hebrew II / Yigal Nizri (MW5-7)

Continued advanced intensive study of written and spoken Hebrew. Prerequisite: MHB355H1 or permission of instructor. Exclusion: OAC Hebrew/NML355Y1

RLG303H1S The Problem of Evil and Suffering / Sol Golberg (W1-3)

The existence of evil poses a problem to theistic beliefs and raises the question as to whether a belief in a deity is incompatible with the existence of evil and human (or other) suffering. This course examines the variety of ways in which religions have dealt with the
existence of evil.

RLG305H1F Material Religion / Simon Coleman (T10-12)

Religions are constituted by material forms, including bodies, shrines, relics, films,
icons, and ‘kitsch’. Anti-material impulses have also prompted many religious movements, involving forms of iconoclasm that ironically demonstrate the power of objects. What is at stake in studying materiality? How might such a perspective transform our view of religion?

RLG307H1F Museums and Material Religion / Pamela Klassen (T1-3)

Museums have long been important sites for the presentation and curation of religion—and religious diversity—to public audiences. With multiple visits to the ROM, this course will give students opportunities to think critically about the changing ways that museums have constructed religion, while engaging with the hands-on challenges of museum curation. Assignments will be based on interaction with the ROM’s collections and will include an introduction to digital tools for humanities scholarship. SyllabusIcon

RLG308H1S Religion and the City / TBA (R12-2)

The course focuses on the role of religion in the genesis and development of cities, as well as the ways urbanization and immigration have transformed religious organizations and identities. Various methodologies, including ethnography, social and cultural history, and textual analysis will be considered. In some years, course projects will focus on mapping the changing significance and presence of particular religions in Toronto.

RLG315H1F Rites of Passage / TBA (T6-8)

Analysis of rituals of transition from one social status to another (e.g., childbirth, coming of age, marriage,) from theoretical, historical and ethnographic perspectives. Particular attention is paid to the importance of rites of passage in the construction of gendered identities.

RLG317H1F Religion Violence and Nonviolence / Paul York (M6-8)

Religious violence and nonviolence as they emerge in the tension between strict adherence to tradition and individual actions of charismatic figures. The place of violence and nonviolence in selected faith traditions. Exclusion: RLG317H5. Recommended Preparation: RLG100Y1/280Y1.

RLG323H1F Jesus of Nazareth / Duncan Reid (R6-8)

The quest for a plausible historical understanding of Jesus of Nazareth continues to attract much attention despite the multiple challenges and many competing hypotheses. This course will provide an introduction to the history of the quest for the historical Jesus, the scholarly methods for studying the historical Jesus, the historical context in which Jesus lived, various specific elements of Jesus tradition, and the competing conclusions that exist today. Prerequisite: RLG241Y1. Exclusion: RLG323H5. SyllabusIcon

RLG326H1S Roots of Early Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism / Judith Newman (F1-3)

This course examines a range of Jewish texts from the 6th century BCE to the 1st century CE in order to illuminate the diverse cultural matrix from which early Christianity and rabbinic Judaism took shape. A major theme of the course is the formation of scripture and scriptural interpretation as a central factor in shaping distinctive Jewish cultures, particularly as this was intertwined with worship and ritual practices. Desired outcomes for students are that they will come to think critically about ancient texts, learn to contextualize them in their cultural milieu, and appreciate the diversity of Jewish thought and practice in this formative era. Primary readings will include selections from the Bible, the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Students should come with some knowledge of the Hebrew Bible and its contents or the willingness to learn it. Prerequisite: RLG241Y1/RLG202Y1/RLG203Y1. Exclusion: RLG326H5.

RLG328H1S The Politics of Belief in Early Christianity / Joseph Bryant (T4-6)

This course examines historical processes, negotiations, and strategies involved in the consolidation of discourses and practices of orthodoxy and heresy in Christianity from the second through fifth centuries. Topics include: intellectual, therapeutic, and social models of orthodoxy; methods of discipline; historical events and contexts; the political and social contexts of theological conflict; and the gendered production of the orthodox subject.

RLG340Y1Y Classical Jewish Theology / David Novak (R10-12)

Theology is reflection on the relationship of God and humans. Jewish theology is the reflection of Jewish thinkers on this relationship. In this course, we will read and discuss three classics of Jewish theology: Avot de-Rabbi Nathan(ancient); Saadiah Gaon, The Book of Beliefs and Opinions (mediaeval); Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man (modern). The course grade will be based on the fall midterm examination (15%); fall term examination (20%); 5,000 word term paper due by March 24 (30%); final examination (35%).

RLG341H1F Dreaming of Zion: Exile and Return in Jewish Thought / Kenneth Green (W2-4)

An inquiry into the theme of exile and return in Judaism, often called the leading idea of Jewish religious consciousness. Starting from Egyptian slavery and the Babylonian exile, and culminating in the ideas of modern Zionism, the course will examine a cross-section of Jewish thinkers–ancient, medieval, and modern. Prerequisite: RLG100Y1/RLG202Y1/RLG280Y1/RLG342Y1. SyllabusIcon

RLG343H1S Kabbala: A History of Mystical Thought in Judaism/ Kenneth Green (W2-4)

A historical study of the Kabbala and the mystical tradition in Judaism, with emphasis on the ideas of Jewish mystical thinkers and movements. Prerequisite: RLG100Y1/RLG202Y1/RLG280Y1. SyllabusIcon

RLG350H1F The Life of Muhammad / Walid Saleh (T6-8)

This course examines Muhammad’s life as reflected in the biographies and historical writings of the Muslims. Students will be introduced to the critical methods used by scholars to investigate Muhammads life. Issues include: relationship between Muhammad’s life and Quran teachings and the veneration of Muhammad. Prerequisite: RLG100Y1/RLG200Y1/RLG204Y1/NMC283Y1/RLG204H5.

RLG355H1S Anthropology of Islam / Amira Mittermaier (T2-4)

Combines theoretical reflections on what an anthropology of Islam might entail with ethnographic readings on the practice of Islam in communities around the world.

JPR364Y1Y Religion and Politics / Ruth Marshall (M12-2)

This course examines the evolving role of religions in contemporary public, political contexts. Themes include: democracy and secularism; religion, human rights, law and justice; party politics, identity-formation and citizenship; gender and sexuality; interreligious conflict.Prerequisite: 1.0 POL credit/1.5 full course equivalents in Religious Studies. Exclusion: JPR364H1/RLG230H1/POL364H1/POL364Y1. (Given by the Departments of Political Science and Religion. Formerly POL364H/Y1)

RLG369H1F The Mahabharata / Arti Dhand (W12-2)

A study of the great Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata. Prerequisite: RLG205Y1.

RLG373H1S Buddhist Ritual / Barbara Hazelton (T6-8)

Daily worship, the alms round, life-crisis celebrations, healing rituals, meditation, festivals, pilgrimage, the consecration of artefacts and taking care of the ancestors are among the forms of Buddhist ritual introduced and analyzed in this course. Liturgical manuals, ethnographic descriptions and audiovisual records form the basis for a discussion of the role of ritual as text and event. Recommended Preparation: RLG206Y1/RLG206H5.

RLG378H1F Himalayan Buddhism / Frances Garrett (W11-1)

This course will examine the diversity of Buddhist traditions in the Himalayan region, covering texts, rituals, histories, and personalities relevant to their study, and the methods employed in the field. Prerequisite: RLG206Y1 or RLG205Y1

RLG388H1F Special Topics I- Wit and Humour in Islam / Mourad Laabdi (W6-8)

This course is intended to satisfy two major goals. On the one hand, it provides an inclusive overview of the history of wit and humour in the Islamic tradition. We will learn about the nature and functions of jokes and laughter in the Quran, prophetic tradition, medieval literature, Islamic law, and Muslim ethnic humor post 9/11. On the other, it offers an opportunity to engage theoretically with various forms of humour by Muslims and about them. We will examine key approaches to humour in psychoanalysis, philosophy and sociology, and learn to apply them to specific relations such as the sacred/profane and hate/free speech. This course is designed to allow students discuss safely, but responsibly, present-day controversial issues relevant to humor and Muslims.

RLG388H1S Special Topics I- Discourses of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS / Youcef Soufi (T5-7)

This course presents an historical overview of Muslim discourses of jihad or “just war”. It focuses on three periods. The first examines how early jihad discourses developed in tandem with Mohammad and the first caliphs’ military engagements and conquests. The second studies medieval jurists’ enduring debates on laws of war (when, why, and how jihad is to take place). Examining Muslim empires’ political exigencies will contextualize these juristic
discourses. The last period focuses upon the postcolonial period (post-1945). It studies theorists such as Sayyid Qutb, Abdullah ‘Azzam, and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi concomitantly with the events that shaped their thought, in particular the decolonization period, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the American invasion of Iraq, and the Arab Spring. The course elucidates how present jihadist thought relates to historical religious ideas and contemporary politics.
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RLG389H1S Gender, Human Rights, and Religion / Eleanor Pontoriero (M11-1)

This course explores the dynamic interrelations of gender, human rights, and religion within a contemporary global context. SyllabusIcon

400 Series Courses

Note: 400-series courses are intended primarily for Specialists and Majors who have already completed several RLG courses. Prerequisite for all 400-level courses requires permission of the instructor. All 400-level courses are E indicator courses and also cross-listed as graduate courses. For further information on how to enroll, please click here.

RLG404H1S Capstone Research / Justin Stein (M12-2)

An integrative capstone seminar that emphasizes iterative development of a research project, locating a research specialization within its broader disciplinary audience, and communicating the process and results of a research project to non-specialists within the study of religion. Prerequisite: open to 4th year Religion Specialists and Majors only.

RLG405H1F Capstone Practical / Laura Beth Bugg (M12-2)

A capstone seminar that emphasizes integration of the study of religion with contemporary public life in the development of a research project, locating a research specialization in relation to non-academic contexts, and communicating the process and results of a research project to non-academic audiences. Prerequisite: open to 4th year Religion Specialists and Majors. SyllabusIcon

RLG410Y1Y Advanced Topics in Religion / TBA (TBA)

Details forthcoming.

RLG411H1F Advanced Topics in Religion/ TBA (TBA)

Details forthcoming.

RLG411H1S Advanced Topics in Religion – Buddhist Narrative Sanskrit / Joel Tatelman (W2-4)

Details forthcoming.

RLG412H1S Adcanced Topics in Religion – The Mahabharata / Arti Dhand (W12-2)

See descrition for RLG369.

RLG414H1F Comparing Religions / Reid Locklin (W5-7)

Few methods have been more foundational to the scholarly study of religion, or more subject to searching criticism, than the practice of comparison. This seminar offers an advanced introduction to comparative method through close study of 4-6 recent works, from ritual studies, philosophy of religion, comparative theology and/or ethnography. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. SyllabusIcon

RLG417H1S Radical Evil / Marsha Hewitt (M11-1)

Interrogation of the concept of ‘radical evil’ from perspectives of philosophy, critical theory, psychoanalysis and the study of religion. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

RLG418H1S Advanced Topics in the Philosophical Study of Religion: Tolerant Ethics, Intolerable Religions / Sol Golberg (F12-2)

Few deny that liberalism and multiculturalism rest on promoting tolerance towards divergent religious outlooks. Yet, the value of tolerance seems to be plagued by several contradictions, paradoxes, and shortcomings. Consider the following three difficulties that plague the concept and alleged virtue of tolerance. (1) Tolerance can only be exercised with respect to outlooks deemed intolerable, but why should one ever tolerate the intolerable? (2) If liberalism does not extend its tolerance to intolerant belief systems, then how may it nevertheless claim its superiority to them because of its self-professed tolerance? (3) If tolerance is the virtue of putting up with something intolerable for good reason, then an extremely tolerant person must find many views and behaviors objectionable. How could that conclusion ever be squared with ordinary view about tolerance as a kind of acceptance? This course will look at the necessity, sufficiency, and congruity of tolerance as a value, paying special attention to the historical and contemporary problem of religious diversity. Prerequisite: RLG209H1; Permission of instructor

RELG420H1S Religion and Philosophy in the European Enlightenment / James DiCenso (W3-5)

An advanced study of selected Enlightenment thinkers with a focus on their interpretations of religion. The main thinkers discussed are Spinoza, Hume, and Kant. Issues include the rational critique of traditional religion, the relations among religion, ethics and politics, and the pursuit of universal approaches to religion. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

RLG421H1S Critical Theory, Psychoanalysis, and Religion / Marsha Hewitt (T2-4)

Advanced study of key figures past and present in the psychoanalytic study of religion, including Freud and other psychoanalytic interpreters from both Anglo-American and European traditions.  Crucial distinctions between psychology of religion and the psychoanalytic study of religion. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

RLG425H1F Hermeneutics and Religion / James DiCenso (W3-5)

A study of how principles of textual interpretation and theories of language have been central to modern philosophy of religion. We begin with Schleiermacher, and then move to an in-depth treatment of the 20th century hermeneutical theories of Heidegger, Gadamer, and Ricoeur. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Recommended Preparation: RLG310Y1

RLG426H1S Religion in the Public Sphere Service-Learning Course / Pamela Klassen (T10-12)

This course offers upper-year students from any discipline to engage in a 30-40 hours service learning placement in a professional setting that addresses issues of religious diversity in public spaces and institutions. Class meetings focus on critically reflecting on your placement experience in conjunction with readings from disciplines including study of religion, political theory, law, and history. Prerequisite: As this course requires significance student engagement in the classroom and the placement, the instructor’s permission is required for admission to the course. Interested students should visit http://religion.utoronto.ca/courses/undergrad/rlg426-application/ for more information and to submit an application. Note: Applications are closed for 2015-16

RLG434H1F Modern Jewish Thought: Kierkegaard and Jewish Philosophy / Sol Golberg (W12-2)

The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard is one of the great defender of Christian faith against the challenges of modern philosophy; but his defense surprisingly places front and centre the Biblical figure of Abraham, the father of Judaism. This course will explore central concerns, methods, and ideas of modern Jewish philosophy by looking at various Jewish philosophical responses to Kierkegaard. The course will begin with a close reading of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling before turning to responses by Buber, Soloveitchik, Fackenheim, Levinas, and Derrida. Prerequisite: Permission of Instructor.

RLG441H1S Words and Worship in Christian Cultures / Simon Coleman (T10-12)

How are we to analyze the words that Christians use? And how are such words related to ritual forms? We explore techniques for the analysis of texts, while looking at various forms of verbal discourse including sermons, prayers, speaking in tongues, and citing the Bible. Prerequisite: ANT356H1/RLG212Y1 and permission of instructor.

RLG446H1F Social Science Approaches to Early Christianity: Topical Investigations / Joseph Bryant (T4-6)

This seminar will explore the tensions and interdependencies of historical & social scientific modes of inquiry, as these pertain to longstanding questions concerning the rise of Christianity in the ancient Mediterranean world. All topical explorations will feature efforts to situate the phenomena in question within their operative socio-historical contexts. Prerequisite: RLG210Y, RLG241Y; permission of instructor.

RLG453H1S Christianity and Judaism in Colonial Context / John Marshall (T1-3)

Sets the study of early Christianity and Second Temple Judaism into relation with postcolonial historiography. Topics include hybridity, armed resistance, the intersection of gender and colonization, diaspora, acculturation, and the production of subaltern forms of knowledge. Comparative material and theories of comparison are also treated. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

RLG458H1S Advanced Topics in Islam: Women and Gender in Sufism / Laury Silvers (T5-7)

Advanced study of specialized topics in Islam. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. SyllabusIcon

RLG465H1S Readings in Buddhist Texts / Frances Garrett (W11-1)

An advanced study of select Buddhist texts with a focus on issues of translation, interpretation, commentarial approaches, narrative strategies, as well as issues related to the production, circulation, and consumption of these works. Themes and texts will vary by year; consult the departmental website for this year’s course description. Prerequisite: Reading knowledge of Sanskrit/Pali/Tibetan or Chinese; permission of instructor.

RLG468H1S Special Topics in Buddhism: The Buddhist Canon / Amanda Goodman (R11-1)

Advanced study of specialized topics in Buddhist Studies. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Recommended Preparation: RLG206Y1Y

RLG469Y1Y Readings in Tibetan / Kunga Sherab (TR4-6)

Advanced readings in Tibetan literature using Tibetan language. Tibetan language skills required.
Prerequisite: Instructor’s permission required for admission to course.

RLG474H1F Sanskrit Readings I / Ajay Rao (MW2-4)

This course will have students read choice pieces of South Asian literature. While tackling a text in Sanskrit from a major literary tradition, Buddhist or Hindu, and discussing its content and context, students will learn strategies for translating and interpreting Sanskrit literature. Prerequisite: Intermediate Sanskrit.

RLG490Y1F | RLG490Y1S | RLG490Y1 | RLG491H1F | RLG492H1F | RLG492H1S | RLG493H1S | RLG493H1Y | RLG494Y1S | RLG494Y1Y Individual Studies / Staff

Student-initiated projects supervised by members of the Department. The student must obtain both a supervisor’s agreement and the Department’s approval in order to register. The maximum number of Individual Studies one may take is two full course equivalents. Deadline for submitting applications to Department including supervisor’s approval is the first week of classes of the session.