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RELIGST 108: Indian Epics: Past and Present (COMPLIT 148B)

The Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the two great epics of India, have been crucial texts in South Asian literatures and cultures for millennia. In this course, we will explore the diverse traditions of both epics from their Sanskrit versions, first composed more than 2,000 years ago, through retellings in newer media forms well into the twenty-first century. Among our primary interests will be comparing versions of each epic that have circulated in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the West at different times. We begin with abridged translations of both the Sanskrit Mahabharata (including the Bhagavadgita) and the Ramayana. We will discuss the major literary, religious, and social themes of each text as well as subsequent translations and transcreations of the stories in Indian and Southeast Asian contexts during the last thousand years. We will also investigate the modern lives of the epics, including their transformations into Indian television serials, film versions of both narratives (from India and America), and invocations of the epic stories in contemporary art, culture, and political disputes. Students will gain exposure to some of the foundational texts for the study of South Asia, both past and present. More broadly, students will cultivate the ability to fruitfully approach texts from different cultures and learn to critically analyze the impacts and roles of stories in various religious, literary, and historical contexts.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

RELIGST 111: Islam in India: Conflict and Accommodation (HISTORY 195X)

This course will investigate the history of Islam in South Asia, particularly interactions between Muslims and Hindus, through the lenses of conflict and accommodation. This topic has become increasingly important in modern times as India and neighboring nations experience sectarian violence and simultaneously strive to engender the peaceful coexistence of multiple religious communities. In many ways the debate over South Asia¿s present and future is being played out in regards to interpretations of its past. In this course, students will gain a solid overview of the chronological development of Islam in India and its negotiations with other religious traditions on the subcontinent. We will think critically about the relevance of South Asia¿s past to its present and the crucial role of forms of Indian Islam in the broader context of Islamic cultures across the globe.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

RELIGST 114: Yoga Ancient and Modern

Originating in ancient India, yoga went through many developments over more than 4000 years in India and other parts of Asia. Having migrated to Euro-America in the late nineteenth century, today yoga is everywhere--studios, schools, gyms, malls, resorts, ashrams, retreat centers. It comes in many flavors¿austere, with meditative instructors and Sanskrit chants; stylish, in 105-degree heat, with portable-miked instructors loudly motivating students to go through poses with speed and intensity; niche-crafted to meet the needs of busy professionals, pregnant women, senior citizens, or people with back problems. It may appear as a spiritual path or as a heavily marketed commodity. It generates lawsuits as teachers dispute ownership of certain styles, or as some Americans oppose its teaching yoga in public schools. In the first half of the course we will study the history of yoga in India, reading primary texts composed between about 500 BCE and 1600 CE. In the second half we will learn about yoga's globalization in the last century. Participating in a yoga class is recommended. 2 units of independent study (S-NC) are offered for those who participate in a weekly yoga class and write short reflections on the experience.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

RELIGST 117: Christianity in 21st-century America

As the largest religion practiced in the United States, Christianity not only shapes the lives of a large number of its citizens but also impinges on public discourse, policies, and debates. This course investigates the ways in which Christianity in America is changing and what these changes bode for its role in the public and private spheres. Issues include shifting demographics lead to declining numbers in 'mainline' denominations; the polarization of Christian conservatives and religious 'nones'; interfaith toleration and cooperation alongside interreligious conflict; the rise of 'spiritual, not religious' young adults; the effects of immigration; religion and science.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-AmerCul, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Instructors: Pitkin, B. (PI)

RELIGST 124: Sufi Islam

The complex of Islamic intellectual and social perspectives subsumed under the term Sufism. Sufi mystical philosophies and historical and social evolution. Major examples include: Qushayrî, Râbi'a, Junayd, Hallâj, Sulamî, Ibn al-'Arabî, Rûmî, Nizâm al-Dîn Awliyâ'. Social and political roles of Sufi saints and communities. Readings include original prose and poetry in translation, secondary discussions, and ethnography.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

RELIGST 156: Music and Religious Experience in the Contemporary World (MUSIC 186A, MUSIC 286A, RELIGST 256)

Explores the central role of music in the performance and experience of religion, positioning music not as an adjunct to silent rituals and liturgy, but as the catalyst and carrier of religious experience, indeed as religious experience itself. Topics include: trance, spirit possession, heightened religious experience, sacred sound and chant, shamanism, politics, and identity. Musical traditions include: Zimbabwean mbira music, African-American church music, Southeast Asian Buddhist ritual music, South Asian Hindu and Islamic devotional music, shamanistic music of Southeast Asia.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

RELIGST 162: Spirituality and Nonviolent Urban and Social Transformation (CSRE 162A, URBANST 126)

A life of engagement in social transformation is often built on a foundation of spiritual and religious commitments. Case studies of nonviolent social change agents including Rosa Parks in the civil rights movement, César Chávez in the labor movement, and WIlliam Sloane Coffin in the peace movement; the religious and spiritual underpinnings of their commitments. Theory and principles of nonviolence. Films and readings. Service learning component includes placements in organizations engaged in social transformation. Service Learning Course (certified by Haas Center).
Terms: not given this year | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-ED, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

RELIGST 179: Doing the Sacred: Religion and Performance

This course investigates religion as practice and performance, rather than as belief and doctrine. A performance-centered emphasis helps us understand how domination and authority, as well as creativity and individual resistance, underlie culture. From initiatory rites to cyber sermons, human action offers raw, physical data that unveils the mechanisms of social control, ideology, and individual resistance. Reorienting religion from the perspective of religious acts / actors -- those who are doing something they consider sacred -- evokes many interpretive possibilities: How do these performances create and maintain communities? How do they resolve conflicts that arise within everyday affairs? In what ways do they generate meaning and shape identity? What can these enactments reveal about the constructions of power, gender, and race? This course explores such issues, probing the complicated relationship between human intention and social reality. Ultimately, a study of religion and performance seeks to understand how performance and transcendence interact to make participants into who they are.nThe readings cover an array of religious traditions -- medieval and evangelical Christian, Hindu, Native American, Jewish, Buddhist, African and Haitian Vodou -- all of which present a rich repertoire of sacred drama, dance, and music. We will discuss performances that make modern readers uncomfortable, such as sacrifice and flagellation, and examine why they are meaningful within their specific cultural context. Finally, we will consider how secular practices and the internet mimic religious behavior. However divergent, all of these examples demonstrate how religious performance is no mere artifice, but a vehicle for the practitioner's own pious posturing -- one that is spiritually innovative and self-affirming -- yet shaped by hierarchical regimes.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Dickason, K. (PI)

RELIGST 188A: Issues in Liberation: El Salvador

Within the context of US intervention in Central America the course investigates the history of liberation movements in El Salvador (including ¿liberation theology¿), as well as ethical questions relating economic, social, and political issues in that country. This class will likely include immersion travel to El Salvador over spring break and consequently the size of this course is limited. Students will be given an application by email. All applications will be reviewed to determine final class enrollment.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-ED, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Sheehan, T. (PI)

RELIGST 255: Religion and Power in the Making of Modern South Asia (HISTORY 297F, RELIGST 355)

This course examines the diverse ways that religious traditions have been involved in the brokering of power in South Asia from the late seventeenth century to the present day. We will examine the intersection of religion and power in different arenas, including historical memory, religious festivals, language politics, and violent actions. At the core of our inquiry is how religion is invoked in political contexts (and vice-versa), public displays of religiosity, and the complex dynamics of religion and the state. Among other issues, we will particularly engage with questions of religious identity, knowledge, and violence. HISTORY297F must be taken for 4-5 units.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-GlobalCom, WAY-ED, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Truschke, A. (PI)
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