REL 105.001

Honors Introduction to Religious Studies

T, R | 9:30-10:45

PRH 207

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What is “religion”? And what is “religious studies”? Who decides what gets to count as “religious” and what are the implications of classifying something as “religious”? Because classes just like this one have a huge role in shaping answers to those questions, we are going to read three very different textbooks commonly used in introductory courses like this. We will consider each author’s approach to the topic, and think about how these types of books, these types of courses, and this type of discourse among the general public actually shapes the way we view “religion.” Along the way, you will have the opportunity to gain many new insights into the doctrinal and ritual dimensions of several cultural practices commonly labeled religions; however, the main point of the course is to figure out and articulate the assumptions, values, and goals that shape our thinking about religions (and other stuff!).

Overall, my goal is to encourage you to be curious about how you think — what do you normalize and/or tend to take for granted, how do you go about using different words to describe and navigate the world around you? Why do these processes matter?

Our course engages with three basic questions:

  • Definitional: What is “religion”? Who decides what gets to count as religion? Can we compare?
  • Methodological: How can or should we study “religion”?
  • Theoretical: What can we say about “religion”? How does religion work?

No required resources.

Online Readings

Blackboard Other texts will be available through the Blackboard course site.