Warren Wilson College Catalog 07-08

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Courses in Religious Studies (REL)

REL 111 Exploring Religions 4cr

Exploring Religions is a survey course designed to introduce students to selected religions of the world and the academic study of religion. This course carefully examines a wide variety of primary and secondary sources to help us understand and appreciate the diversity of ways in which human beings have asked, answered, and responded to questions of life and death, values and ethics, power and danger. This course does not aspire nor pretend to cover all religions but instead will focus on a few selected religions such as Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam , and Confucianism. Students learn how to employ research methods in the academic study of religion through their textual research and possibly on-site field experiences.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion or Language/ Global Issues

REL/WMS 112 Women and Global Religious Traditions 4cr

This course focuses on women's experiences within religious traditions such as Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Neo-paganism. Questions concerning the status of women, strategies for empowering women within religions, similarities between male and female religious experience, women's work for social and environmental justice within religions, and ways that women are transforming global religious traditions are explored.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion or Language/Global Issues

REL 190-198 Special Topics in Religion 2-4cr **

In-depth consideration of a topic of particular concern within the disciplines of Religion. May be repeated for credit under different topics.

REL 199 Independent Study 1-4cr **

REL 212 Religion, Nature, and the Environment 4cr

This course explores, through textual study and field experience, the manifold ways that humans as religious and/or spiritual entities try to make sense of their place in the cosmos and the ethical responsibilities that are incumbent upon them if they are to live in a mutually enhancing and sustainable relationship to their environment. The religious and ethical sensibilities of particular religious traditions such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Judaism, among others, along with ecologically informed movements such as deep ecology and ecofeminism, and the work of nature writers, theorists, and religious naturalists are explored.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion or Language/ Global Issues

REL 221 History and Literature of the Ancient Israelites 4cr

This course introduces the Hebrew Bible as an anthology of ancient Israelite religious and literary texts. Emphasis is placed on the texts' literary-cultural aspects, including history, composition, structure, and cultural contexts, as well as themes, images, and other conventions. The course also explores ways in which these texts shape contemporary Jewish practices (holidays).
Triad: Philosophy/Religion or Language/ Global Issues

REL 238 History and Literature of Buddhism 4cr *(2007-08)

This course is designed to introduce students to the Buddhist religion - its history, fundamental doctrines, and practices. It will pay close attention to how Buddhism influenced the collective histories and personal lives of the people who identify themselves as "Buddhists" across the expanse of time and space. This course will focus on both historical and contemporary expressions of Buddhism. Careful readings of translations of Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, and Tibetan primary texts will be done in tandem with readings of modern critical studies of these texts. Special attention will be given to Thai, East Asian, and Tibetan Buddhism.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion or Language/Global Issues

REL 239 Hinduism: Texts and Tradition 4cr * (2007-08)

This course is designed as an introduction to the many different religious traditions of South Asia that we identify as "Hinduism." Although this course begins with the premise that there is no single Hinduism, it will nonetheless focus on how the diverse religious traditions of South Asia form an inter-related whole. Seeking both to clarify and complexify our understanding of what it means to be Hindu in the past as well as in the modern world, we will rely on a number of media, including classical primary texts, ethnographic accounts, films, archival data, and video and audio recordings to help us understand and appreciate the complexity of Hinduism.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion or Language/Global Issues

REL 241 History and Literature of the New Testament 4cr

This course offers the student a critical introduction to the life and literature of the early Christian movement. Primary attention will be given to the various writings of the New Testament, to the issues and events that gave rise to their composition, and to the concrete situations and communities that these writings originally addressed.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion

REL 252 Life and Teachings of Jesus 4cr * (2007-08)

Who was the man Jesus of Nazareth and how do people understand his life and teachings today? This course looks at Jesus from four angles: the Jesus as presented in the Bible and the Gnostic Gospels, contemporary research on Jesus in light of his times, the way people from non-Christian religions perceive Jesus, and the way Jesus is portrayed in modern film.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion

REL 253 Emerging Christian Theologies 4cr **

Emerging theologies explore the experiences of people who have been invisible to traditional theological discussions - people of color, women, people from developing nations, gay/lesbian/bisexual people, and the poor in general, as they begin to challenge contemporary Christian faith and the political and economic structures that contribute to their invisibility. Students will read theologies that give voice to these experiences of oppression and do service/solidarity projects alongside the people who are suffering in our midst.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion or Language/Global Issues

REL 255 Contemporary Christian Thought and Experience 4cr **

This course provides students the opportunity to reflect on the diverse ideas represented by 20th and 21st century Christians. Some representative thinkers who may be addressed include Nazi war resister Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Catholic social activist and contemplative Thomas Merton, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., contemporary Christian ecofeminist Rosemary Radford Ruether, and evangelical C.S. Lewis.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion

REL 290-298 Special Topics in Religion 2-4cr **

In-depth consideration of a topic of particular concern within the disciplines of Religion. May be repeated for credit under different topics.

REL 299 Independent Study 2-4cr

REL 312 America's Alternative Religions 4cr * (2006-07)

America, particularly since the 19th century, has been a seedbed for the growth and success of a variety of new religions that provide alternatives to the traditional models of Christian faith. This course examines some of the early experiments (Shakers, the Oneida Community), some of the early philosophies and experiences that predate the New Age (Theosophy and Spiritualism), American success stories (Mormonism, Adventism, and Christian Science), and contemporary alternatives (Neo-Paganism, New Age Spirituality, and Christian Fundamentalism).
Triad: Philosophy/Religion or College Composition II

Prerequisite:
One prior course in Religious Studies or permission of the instructor.

REL/WMS 313 Goddess Traditions 4cr * (2006-07)

Even before written history, humans have tried to understand the holy in relation to a feminine creatrix and destroyer who is intimately related to the cycles of earth: the Goddess. This course examines the Goddess as she was known in Greco-Roman culture, Celtic and Germanic traditions, and the ways she is re-emerging in contemporary American spirituality. Attention will focus on history, mythology, and ritual.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion, Language/Global Issues, or College Composition II

Prerequisite:
One prior course in Religious Studies or permission of the instructor.

REL 315 Religion, Service, and the Development of a Life Philosophy 4cr * (2007-08)

This course provides opportunity for students to explore the concept of vocation in relationship to faith, or as Frederick Buechner describes it: "Where your deepest passion meets the world's greatest needs." Readings and class projects enable students to explore the meanings of work, service, and morality from the perspective of classic religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Judaism. Students develop their own service or career mentoring projects.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion or College Composition II

REL 338 Chan/Zen Buddhism 4cr *(2006-07)

This course introduces students to a living Buddhist tradition most commonly known in the West as "Zen." This course will focus on the history and development of Chan/Zen doctrines, practices, goals, and institutions. Upon successful completion of this course, students should have a critical understanding of Chan/Zen as well as a good grasp of Chan/Zen self-understanding. The last section of this course will focus on contemporary experiences of Chan/Zen in China, Korea, and the United States.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion, Language/Global Issues, or College Composition II

Prerequisite:
One prior course in Religious Studies or permission of the instructor.

REL 380 East Asian Religions: Seminar 4cr * (2007-08)

This course is an advanced seminar organized around a range of themes and issues pertaining to the diverse religious traditions of China, Korea, and Japan. We will examine five main rubrics: ideas, people, institutions, ritual, and space. A variety of classical texts such as the Analects, the Great Leaning, Mencius, Xunzi, Daode jing, Zhuangzi, Awakening of Faith, Heart Sutra, and Platform Sutra will be examined.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion or Language/Global Issues, or College Composition II

Prerequisite:
One prior course in Religious Studies or permission of the instructor.

REL 390-398 Special Topics in Religion 2-4cr **

In-depth consideration of a topic of particular concern within the disciplines of Religion. May be repeated for credit under different topics.

REL 399 Independent Study 1-4cr

REL 420 Religion, Peace, and Social Justice Seminar 4cr * (2006-07)

This advanced seminar examines key religious values and practices, sacred and classic writings, and case studies of religious leaders and cultures where religions have contributed significantly to the making and sustaining of peace.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion or College Composition II

Prerequisite:
One prior course in Religious Studies and permission of instructor. Recommended: REL 111 Exploring Religions

REL 425 Religious Studies Colloquium 4cr * (2006-07)

Students have the opportunity to develop their most significant academic interests through a colloquium where informed students research and present their findings as the culmination of their academic experience in Religious Studies.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion

REL 490-498 Special Topics in Religion 2-4cr **

In-depth consideration of a topic of particular concern within the disciplines of Religion. May be repeated for credit under different topics.

REL 499 Independent Study 2-4cr **