Course code:



I - Introductory

Class size limit:


Typically offered:

Upon occasion

How do theorists define religion? What functions does religion serve? And how do we study religion?  This course is designed to introduce students to the academic study of religion. Rather than focus on a particular religious tradition or set of religious traditions, we will instead engage some of the major theories and methods relevant to the study of religion. The guiding questions of this course are meant to help us explore the reciprocal relationship between theory and method. What we think religion is or how we think it functions (theory) necessarily informs how we study it (method) and vice versa. This course is therefore interdisciplinary and applicable to students working in a broad range of fields. We will engage some of the classic works on religion in psychology, the history of religions, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and feminism towards broadening and complicating our understandings of the study of religion. We will also pay close attention to the various and shifting constructions of the category of “religion” across disciplines throughout time and interrogate the strengths and weaknesses of theorists’ attempts to explain religion in terms of belief, ritual, behavior, psychology, society, history, gender, etc. Short weekly written assignments encourage students to learn to read and write critically. This course is also largely discussion-based to help students deepen, nuance, and/or complicate their understanding of the readings as well as collectively develop particular themes, ideas or questions that arise in written assignments. Evaluation will be based on weekly written assignments, three take-home essay assignments, and an in-class presentation.



Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.