All RLST undergraduate classes satisfy the Arts & Sciences General Education: Distribution-Arts & Humanities.

Jewish History Since 1492

RLST/HIST/JWST 1828-001 | 3.0
Jacob Flaws, MWF 1:00–2:40, HY In-person (CLUB 106)/Remote, 3.0   

Surveys the major historical developments encountered by Jewish communities beginning with the Spanish Expulsion in 1492 up until the present day. Studies the various ways in which Jews across the modern world engaged with the emerging notions of nationality, equality and citizenship, as well as with new ideologies such as liberalism, socialism, nationalism, imperialism and antisemitism.

Holocaust and Global Genocide

RLST/JWST 1830-001 | 3.0
Jacob Flaws, MWF 10:20–11:10, HY Remote/Online

Examines the interplay of politics, culture, psychology and sociology to try to understand why the great philosopher Isaiah Berlin called the 20th century, "The most terrible century in Western history." Our focus will be on the Holocaust as the event that defined the concept of genocide, but we will locate this event that has come to define the 20th century within ideas such as racism, imperialism, violence, and most important, the dehumanization of individuals in the modern world.

A&S Core: Historical Context
Arts & Sciences General Education: Diversity-Global Perspective

Introduction to the New Testament

RLST 1910-001 | 3.0 
Celene Lillie, MWF 12:40–1:30, Remote

We often think of the history of the NT as the history of Christianity, but it is really a history that lies at the crossroads of ancient Israel and the Roman Empire.  In this class, we will explore the earliest scriptures of what eventually became Christianity in the context of their Jewish and Roman imperial roots.

The Muslim World, 600–1250

RLST/ARAB 2320-001 | 3.0 
Brian Catlos, TTH 2:20–3:35, HY Remote/Online

Focusing on the history of the Muslim World in the age of the caliphates (650-ca1200 CE), this course takes an interdisciplinary, comparative approach to the development, tracing the evolution of Islamic religion, society and culture from the era of pre-Islamic Arabia through the “Golden Age of Islam.”

A&S Core: Human Diversity
Asia Content
Arts & Sciences General Education: Diversity-Global Perspective

Judaism, Christianity, Islam

RLST/JWST 2600-001 | 3.0
Samuel Boyd, TTH 9:35–10:50, Remote

In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Abraham is described as a founding figure. In recent times, the label “Abrahamic Religions” has become increasingly important both as a way to describe the origins and beliefs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and as a means for finding common ground in political and religious discourse. Yet in each religion Abraham is also used in strikingly different ways and for distinct purposes. In this course, we will look at these three religious traditions and how each one imagines Abraham. In particular, the focus will be on how each religion uses Abraham to construct foundational stories of a special relationship to God, stories that ultimately serve to promote religious identity over time.

A&S Core: Ideals & Values
Asia Content
Arts & Hum: Ways of Thinking

Happiness and Nirvana: Enlightenment in Indian Religions

RLST 2610-001 | 3.0
Loriliai Biernacki, MWF 1:50–2:40, Remote

This course looks at religion in India, karma, rebirth and enlightenment in society from the ancient past to the present.

A&S Core: Ideals & Values
Asia Content
Arts & Hum: Lit & Humanities

Native American Religious Traditions

RLST 2700-010  ETHN 2703-010 | 3.0
Natalie Avalos, MW 10:20–11:10, Remote

In this course, students will study the religious lifeways of selected Indigenous peoples in North America in conversation with their overlapping histories of colonialism. The class seeks to understand how Native American religious praxis facilitates individual/community healing; movements of social protest; and efforts for self-determination. Students will critically explore the impact of colonial structures, such as forced removal, missionization, and compulsory schooling on Native American religious traditions. Students will evaluate the meaning of decolonization as both a pathway and goal supporting Native wellbeing.

A&S Core: Human Diversity
A&S Core: Ideals & Values
Arts & Sciences General Education: Diversity-U.S. Perspective
Arts & Hum: Lit & Humanities

Women and Religion

RLST/WGST 2800-001
Celene Lillie, MWF 11:30–12:20, Remote

What is a woman?  What is religion?  How does the answer to one inform the answer to the other?  In this course, we will explore a range of literature from ancient Greek and Roman mythology to first and second century Jewish and Christian writings alongside contemporary readings from Buddhist, Muslim, Indigenous, and Christian traditions.  To frame these explorations, we will engage theories of gender and religion, particularly the ways in which they intersect with race, class, and violence.

A&S Core: Human Diversity
Arts & Sciences General Education: Diversity-U.S. Perspective
Arts & Hum: Lit & Humanities

Christian Traditions

RLST 3000-001 | 3.0
Brian Catlos, TTH 11:10–12:25, HY Remote/Online

What are Christian Traditions?
Many would say that Christianity defines western culture and society. Media figures constantly reference “Christian values” and “Christian traditions.” But what are the origins of Christianity? Have Christian values and traditions been constant over time? And what are the forces that shaped Christian beliefs today. Over the course of the semester RLST 3000 traces Christianity from its remotest origins in ancient Mesopotamia, through the time of Jesus and the Church Fathers and on through the age of Crusade to the Reformation and the Wars of Religion -- the dawn of modern Christianity. 

Brian Catlos is a historian of religion and society who works on Muslim-Christian-Jewish relations in the medieval Mediterranean. He has written four books that have won four major prizes and have been published in eight languages. See

A&S Core: Historical Context

Modern Christianity: World Christianities

RLST 3001-001 | 3.0
Jason Purvis, MWF 10:20–11:10, Remote

This class will be an exploration of the emergence and variety of Christian expressions that have developed around the globe. As Christianity has spread through conquest, missionary work, immigration, trade, and other means, new converts and their offspring have had to reconcile Christian doctrines, rituals, and ethics with the beliefs and practices of their own cultures. This class will take the following as its foundational perspective: from the early Christian community to contemporary denominational specificity, ALL forms of Christianity have emerged as a result of cultural contextualization.


RLST 3040-001 | 3.0
Patrick D’Silva, TTH 2:20–3:35, Remote

What is the Quran? Muslims and non-Muslims alike often think of the Quran as a book, one that people can read, in Arabic or in translation, to understand Islam. While there is certainly some truth to that, this course will introduce students to other, arguably more important, aspects of the Quran. Students will read the Quran, learn about its history, and see how it is connected to modern debates. This course also introduces students to different modes of inquiry that underlie the field of Religious Studies.

Asia Content
Arts & Sciences General Education: Diversity-Global Perspective

Islamic Mysticism: Sufi Tradition

RLST 3070-001 | 3.0
Patrick D’Silva, TTH 12:45–2:00, Remote

Students will explore the world of Islamic Mysticism or Sufism. We will examine the historical development of Sufism from an early piety movement to a full-fledged social institution. Students will be introduced to classical and modern expressions of Sufism including treatises on spirituality and ethics like The Revelation of the Veiled by Ali Hujwiri; commentaries on the Quran by al-Qushayri and Maybudi; the timeless poetry of Rumi; the music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; and the mystical philosophy of Ibn Arabi and his followers. Students will learn how Sufism differs across cultural contexts (including West Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and North America), and how it compares to other great mystical traditions.


RLST/JWST 3100-001 | 3.0
Eli Sacks, TTH 9:35–10:50, HY In Person (FISK M150)/Remote

What is Judaism?  What beliefs and practices have been associated with this tradition, and how have these ideas and customs developed over time?  Is there such a thing as Judaism, or should we speak instead of various Judaisms?  This course will explore such questions, surveying Jewish belief, practice, and literature from the biblical period to the present day.  We will encounter diverse voices and explore the changing contexts in which these voices have emerged, paying special attention to the relationship between the beliefs that Jews have held and the rituals that Jews have performed.  We will consider specific topics such as forms of worship associated with Jewish life, Jewish views on religious diversity, and attempts to reimagine inherited beliefs in light of developments such as the Holocaust.  Exploring these topics will also lead us to reflect more broadly on the nature of religion.

A&S Core: Historical Context
Asia Content

Women, Gender & Sexuality in Jewish Texts and Traditions

RLST/JWST/WGST 3202-001 | 3.0
Rebecca Wartell, TTH 12:45–2:00, Remote/Online

Reads some of the ways Jewish texts and traditions look at women, gender and sexuality from biblical times to the present. Starts with an analysis of the positioning of the body, matter and gender in creation stories, moves on to the gendered aspects of tales of rescue and sacrifice, biblical tales of sexual subversion and power, taboo-breaking and ethnos building, to rabbinic attitudes towards women, sexuality and gender and contemporary renderings and rereadings of the earlier texts and traditions.

A&S Core: Human Diversity
Arts & Sciences General Education: Diversity-Global Perspective

Women in Buddhism

RLST 3750-001 | 3.0
Holly Gayley, TTH 11:10–12:25, Remote/Online

Buddhist texts depict an array of female figures: cajoling goddesses, prostitute temptresses, enlightened queens, numinous hags, ardent nuns, scorned wives, celestial maidens, flesh-eating demonesses and more. This course explores diverse representations of the female in Buddhist literature as well as the social realities of actual women in different historical contexts. Through case studies that traverse Buddhist Asia, we delve into the life stories of Buddhist women, monastic views of gender and the female body, idealized images of the feminine, philosophical discussions of gender, and contemporary issues such as the nun's revival moment. Readings include doctrinal, narrative and ritual texts alongside fictional works, secondary sources, and ethnographies.

Asia Content

Chinese Religions

RLST 3800-001 | 3.0
Terry Kleeman, TTH 12:45–2:00, Remote

Learn the secrets of the Book of Changes. Explore Daoist non-action, so that you can try not to try. Study how Confucians sought to order their state through ritual while Daoist priests used ritual to traverse the cosmos in astral flight. Investigate the meditative techniques of Buddhist monks as you discover the origins of Zen. All this awaits you in RLST 3800 Chinese Religions. This course is a broad survey, introducing you to the historical development of the religions of China while paying close attention to contemporary practice. This is a hands-on course, where you will grapple with the original scriptures, revelations, and ethical codes that have guided the Chinese people for the last three millennia. No prior knowledge required. If you have questions, contact me at

Asia Content

Senior Seminar

RLST 4830-001 | 3.0
Loriliai Biernacki, M 4:10–6:40, In-person (HLMS 137)

Topics in Buddhism: Buddhist Ethics

RLST 4250/5250-001 | 3.0
Holly Gayley, W 4:10–6:40, Remote

This seminar explores lay ethics in Buddhist doctrinal and narrative texts. We begin by examining classical sources for Buddhist ethics in scriptural and commentarial literature. With this foundation, we spend the bulk of the semester looking at how Buddhist narrative literature in South Asia portrays ethical ideals as well as conflicting moral imperatives. How are normative ethics (as well as transgression) conveyed and ethical dilemmas resolved through characters, plots, rhetorical devices, and other narrative strategies? In what ways do Buddhist texts engage the reader in ethical reflection? In the final weeks of the semester, we will consider the emergent field of constructive Buddhist ethics and reflect on contemporary issues and questions of method.

Asia Content

Interdisciplinary Seminar on Religion: Religion and the Environment

RLST 4820/5820-001 | 3.0
Deborah Whitehead, T 3:55–6:25, Remote