GISRAM Courses 2007-2008

Winter 2008

Comparative Studies 620
Approaches to the Study of Religion
Instructor: Prof. Lindsay Jones
TR 3:30 - 5:18

Arabic 672
Arabic Folk Narratives in Translation
Instructor: Prof. Sabra Webber
M W 01:30 – 03:18

Greek 880
Ancient Mythology
Instructor: Prof. Fritz Graf
F 12:30-3:18


Spring 2008

(* means: there is a language prerequisite)

*Arabic 626
Introduction to the Arabic Qur'an
Instructor: Prof. Georges Tamer
TR 9:30-11:18

In this course, students are introduced to the Scripture of Islam, deemed to be the very words of God as revealed by His Messenger Muhammad, in its original Arabic text. The unique linguistic, literary, and conceptual features of the Qur’an have long been recognized among Muslims (who affirm its inimitability and divine origin) and non-Muslims alike. After a few background lectures dealing with relevant historical, cultural, religious, linguistic, and orthographical questions, students undertake a careful, detailed, and analytic reading of selected chapters (suras), with special attention to language, style, and content. Students will become acquainted with fundamental secondary source materials that are essential to an adequate understanding of the Arabic text, such as Qur’anic commentaries, dictionaries, philological and grammatical works, and monographic studies. The primary purpose of the course, along with increasing the students' mastery of classical Arabic, is to lead students to consider what the Messenger's Arabic message might have meant to its first audiences in early seventh-century Mecca and Medina, and how it might have moved them. --- Prereq: 403.

Hebrew 671
The Problem of Evil in Biblical and Post-Biblical Literature
Instructor: Prof. Reuben Ahroni
TR 1:30-3:18

This is an exploration of the most vexing of all biblical and post-biblical questions: how can a just and infallible God allow evil in His world and how does one account for the seeming contradiction between tradition and experience? Relevant passages from the Bible (Job and Koheleth in particular) and selections from apocryphal and rabbinic literature will be studied, along with comparable texts from ancient Near Eastern literatures and additional readings in contemporary secondary literature. Graduate students and undergraduate Hebrew majors will be required to read the texts in the original Hebrew. --- Prereq: 273 or 274 or equiv or permission of instructor. Given in English, but grad students and undergrad Hebrew majors will read the texts in the original Hebrew.

Hebrew 611
History of the Hebrew Language
Instructor: Prof. Sam Meier
MTWRF 9:30

A study of the panorama of the entire history of the Hebrew language, from the earliest biblical texts, through Classical and Late Classical Biblical Hebrew, Qumran Hebrew, Mishnaic Hebrew, Medieval Hebrew, early modern Hebrew and standard modern Hebrew. Taught in English. In this course, students read a variety of examples of Hebrew from many different periods, and discuss the development of the language based on the forms found in the texts. A comprehensive introduction is given before the texts are read. The class also reads some examples of Phoenician texts and extra-biblical contemporary texts to highlight the nature of the language as a member of the Semitic family. The unity of the language over time is stressed, and the development of new vocabulary is investigated. The issue of Hebrew as a "dead" language is addressed, and the period of the revival is subjected to linguistic scrutiny.

Comparative Studies 651
Religion and Magic
Instructor: Prof. Hugh Urban
MW 11:30-1:18

This course will examine the revival of interest in magic, neo-paganism and Satanism in the United States and Europe from the late 19th century to the present. Movements and figures discussed will include: Wicca, Gerald Gardner, Aleister Crowley, feminist and environmentalist paganism, the Church of Satan , Druidism, Chaos Magic and others. The class will include films, field trips and guest presentations by local neo-pagan practitioners. Students will be expected to produce a final research paper which will be presented to the class during the last two weeks of the quarter.

Comparative Studies 651M
The Idea of Religion: Past and Future
Instructor: Prof. Michael Swartz
T 2:30-5:18

How did we come to think of religion in the ways did we do? Are there alternatives? This course will examine the origins of contemporary conceptions of religion and contemporary critiques of those conceptions. We will look at the roots of the idea of religion in antiquity, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment, and also look at how those ideas are being challenged by social scientists, philosophers, and cultural historians. We will also look at "case studies" of particular aspects of religion and how they are dealt in religious studies that illustrate and apply the problems raised in the course.

Comparative Studies 651Y
Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion
Instructor: Prof. Lindsay Jones
TR 1:30-3:18

Though any map of contemporary religious studies is certain to be messy and incomplete, his course will proceed through issues and alternative approaches that may be somewhat clumsily labeled as follows: postmodern challenges to religious studies; post-modern hermeneutical approaches; religious studies and “the politics of difference;” heuristic non-reifying) approaches; non-literary (non-text based) approaches; materialist (Marxist) approaches; religious studies as public scholarship and/or cultural criticism; religious studies and Foucault; feminist approaches; post-colonial approaches; socio-biological (evolutionary) approaches; cognitive (neurobiological) approaches; intellectual biographical approaches; and autobiographical (self-reflexive) approaches. --- Prerequisite: Comparative Studies 620

Comparative Studies 826
Religion and Sexuality
Instructor: Prof. Hugh Urban
MW 1:30-3:18

This class will explore the intersections between religion and sexuality in a variety of historical examples and from several theoretical perspectives. Topics will include: sexuality in early Christianity; marriage and gender in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and other 19th century American movements; Muslim views of sexuality, gender and the body; transformations of sexuality in Hindu yoga and Tantra; the role of trans-gender figures in Native American spirituality; the role of sexuality and feminism in the modern revival of neo-paganism, witchcraft and magic; and other topics to be decided by class interest. We also discuss a variety of contemporary theoretical models for the analysis of religion and sexuality, including Freud, Foucault, Butler , and others. Students will be expected to pursue an original research project on a topic of their own choosing which will be presented to the class during the last two weeks of the quarter.

History of Art 663
Early Islamic Art
Instructor: Prof. Howard Crane
TR 30-5:18

A survey of the history of Islamic art and architecture from the seventh to the thirteenth century and its Late Antique antecedents in the Near East and Iran.

History of Art 720
At the Crossroads of Republic and Empire: 100 Years in the City of Rome
Instructor: Prof. Francesca Tronchin

This seminar will focus on the topography of Rome from ca. 50 BCE to ca. 50 CE, paying special attention to monuments and buildings commissioned by some of the most illustrious leaders of the period, including Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar, and Augustus. As we examine these building projects, we will question in what ways political and social motives influenced the style, siting, and function of the monuments. Funerary monuments, residences, fora, religious structures, and entertainment complexes like theaters will all be addressed in this seminar. We will also discuss the historical and functional developments of particular neighborhoods of Rome, like the Campus Martius and the Forum Romanum.