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As an intellectual inquiry into an important dimension of human experience, the exploration of religion is intrinsically valuable and constitutes a rich resource for reflection on meaning in life and on personal growth. It also prepares students for a wide range of careers (e.g. social work, law, politics from the local to the international level, teaching, medicine, leadership in religious organizations). The academic study of religion, combined with appropriate language preparation, can also open out into graduate work leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. in the growing number of universities offering advanced graduate degrees in the field, and in the University's own Graduate Centre.
Historically, the academic study of religion has taken a variety of forms, each with its own rationale. The Department identifies itself with a model in which the major religious traditions (e.g. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism) are studied within a comparative frame. We employ and encourage a variety of approaches (e.g. historical, textual, social scientific) without sacrificing specialized skills and training. The diversity which characterizes this model is reflected in the variety of courses offered or crosslisted by the Department, and by the wide range of training and expertise of our faculty.
Programs are described in detail in the Departmental Handbook; it also includes a limited number of cross-listed courses offered by Colleges or departments such as East Asian Studies, History, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Philosophy, and Sociology. Students aiming to complete any RLG program should consult the Undergraduate Secretary at least once a year for assistance in selecting courses that address the student's interests and fulfill the program's requirements.
Undergraduate Secretary: 123 St. George Street, 2nd Floor (978-2395)
Enquiries: 123 St. George Street, 1st Floor (978-2395)
Enrolment in Religion programs requires completion of four courses; no minimum GPA required.
Specialist program (Hon.B.A.): S01511 (10 full courses or their equivalent)
Major program Major program: M01511 (6 full courses or their equivalent) Major programs can be constructed in various ways; students are strongly advised to consult a faculty adviser.
Minor program Minor program: R01511 (4 full courses or their equivalent)
RELIGION: CHRISTIAN ORIGINS (B.A.)Consult Professor P. Richardson, Department for the Study of Religion
Specialist program (Hon.B.A.): S15201 (11 full courses or their equivalent with four courses at the 300+ level, including one course at the 400-level)
RELIGION AND EAST ASIAN STUDIES See EAST ASIAN STUDIES AND RELIGION
RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY See PHILOSOPHYSection 4 for Key to Course Descriptions)
For Distribution Requirement purposes, all RLG courses are classified as HUMANITIES courses except RLG 210Y, 211Y, 301H, 302H, 303H, 304H, 307Y, which are SOCIAL SCIENCE courses.
Undergraduate seminar that focuses on specific ideas, questions, phenomena or controversies, taught by a regular Faculty member deeply engaged in the discipline. Open only to newly admitted first year students. It may serve as a breadth requirement course; see First Year Seminars: 199Y.
An introductory study of the ideas, attitudes, practices, and contemporary situation of the Judaic, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, and Shinto religious traditions.
Theories about the variety and nature of religious experience, personal and collective. How religious life is expressed in such forms as myth, narrative and ritual, systems of belief and value, morality and social institutions.
NOTE No 200-series course (except RLG 200Y) has a 100-series RLG course prerequisite or corequisite.
The academic study of religion as a multidisciplinary enterprise. The disciplinary fields: their strengths and weaknesses. Representative theories on religion by scholars in various humanities and social sciences. Problems and issues in the selection and use of theories and methods.
Co- or Prerequisite: RLG100Y/101Y/280Y
The meaning of religious symbolism fundamental to the myths, rites, and images of prehistoric and tribal peoples, using a comparative approach to the history of religions as developed by Mircea Eliade.
An introduction to the religious tradition of the Jews, from its ancient roots to its modern crises. Focus on great ideas, thinkers, books, movements, sects, and events in the historical development of Judaism through its four main periods - biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and modern.
An introduction to the Christian religious tradition as it has developed from the 1st century C.E. to the present and has been expressed in teachings, institutions, social attitudes, and the arts.
The faith and practice of Islam: historical emergence, doctrinal development, and interaction with various cultures throughout the world.
A historical and thematic introduction to the Hindu religious tradition as embedded in the socio-cultural structures of India.
The teachings of the Buddha and the development, spread, and diversification of the Buddhist tradition from southern to northeastern Asia.
Sikh religious teachings, practices and institutions; the founder, Guru Nanak, and the scripture, the Adi Granth; subsequent Gurus, other Sikh texts and the religious aspects of the history of the Sikh community in India and abroad.
Basic teachings and historical developments of the Jain religious tradition, with attention to Jain contributions to religious philosophy, ethics, religious biography, literature and the arts.
Religion from the sociological viewpoint; religion as the source of meaning, community and power; conversion and commitment; religious organization, movements, and authority; the relation of religion to the individual, sexuality and gender; conflict and change; religion and secularization. Emphasis on classical thinkers (Durkheim, Marx, Weber) and contemporary applications.
This is a Social Science course
A survey of the various psychological approaches to aspects of religion such as religious experience, doctrine, myth, ritual, community, ethics and human transformation. The historical place of introspective, psychoanalytic, humanistic and transpersonal methods in the psychology of religion.
This is a Social Science course
This course deals with how the momentous experience of the Holocaust, the systematic state-sponsored murder of six million Jews as well as many others, has forced thinkers, both religious and secular, to rethink the human condition.
A brief survey of the Jewish biblical and rabbinic traditions; the extension of these teachings and methods of interpretation into the modern period; common and divergent Jewish positions on pressing moral issues today.
Reason and experience (the natural law tradition) and revelation as the bases for moral judgment; faith and morality; freedom of conscience and the Church's claim to be a moral teacher; relevance to contemporary Catholic moral theology.
The development of Protestant ethics since the Reformation. Gospel and law, love and justice, realism and perfectionism, moral norms and moral context, the personal, political, and economic orders.
Concepts of obligation and duty in Islam: their foundation in the scriptural and legal tradition, and their elaborations according to philosophical principles. Issues analyzed: personal morality, justice, war, peace.
The ethics and religious symbolism of environmental change: animal domestication and experimentation, deforestation, population expansion, energy use, synthetics, waste and pollution.
The ways in which selected texts from a variety of cultures and times are linked both to specific religious traditions as well as to broader notions of what it means to be "religious." Concepts to be treated may include identity, suffering, duty, class, individuality, community, tradition, innovation, loss, consolation, memory, time, beauty, creation, nature, feminism, and colonialism.
The impact of the physical and social sciences on religion and religious thought. A comparative philosophical study of scientific and theological ways of analysis and of the status of scientific and religious assertions. Areas of cooperation and of conflict between the "two cultures."
The role of film as a mediator of thought and experience concerning religious worldviews. The ways in which movies relate to humanity's quest to understand itself and its place in the universe are considered in this regard, along with the challenge which modernity presents to this task. Of central concern is the capacity of film to address religious issues through visual symbolic forms.
Continued investigation into the relations between religion and film. Distinguished from RLG232H according to the concerns of the instructor.
The social and legal status of women in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The historical and contemporary situation of women in these traditions.
Some topic of central interest to students of religion, treated on a once-only basis by a professor visiting from another university. For details of this year's offering, consult the Department's current undergraduate handbook.
The history and surviving documents of Judaism and Christianity, and of religious movements underlying and associated with them from about 200 BCE to about 70 CE.
An introduction to New Testament literature, examined within the historical context of the first two centuries. No familiarity with Christianity or the New Testament is expected.
The religions and philosophies of China, including ancient religion and mythology, the three traditions of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism (including their philosophical dimensions), and Chinese popular religion.
The religions of Japan (Shinto, Buddhism, Confucianism) and the religions of Korea (Confucianism, Buddhism, Shamanism).
An alternative version of the content covered by RLG 100Y, for students in second year or higher who cannot or do not wish to take a further 100-level course.
Credit course for supervised participation in faculty research project. See Research Opportunity Program for details.
NOTE All 300-series courses normally presuppose at least three prior RLG half-courses (or equivalent). Only specific prerequisites or recommended preparations are listed below. Students who do not meet the prerequisites but believe they have adequate preparation should consult the instructor regarding entry to the course.
Systematic analysis of Freud's main writings on religion, studied within the context of central concepts and issues in psychoanalysis such as: the Oedipus Complex, the meaning and function of symbols, the formation of the ego and the superego, and the relations between the individual and culture.
This is a Social Science course
Jung's analysis of the development of the personality through its life cycle, and of the central place which religion holds within the process of maturation. The unconscious, the collective unconscious, dreams, myths, symbols, and archetypes; implications for religious thought, therapy, education, and definitions of community.
This is a Social Science course
Problems of negative life experience and their relations to issues of meaning and personality development. Includes discussion of internal conflict and suffering in the experience of melancholia and the divided self, and the existential experiences of evil and suffering. Examines myth, symbol, and forms of religious discourse as responses to such crises.
This is a Social Science course
Theories of the self that involve the constitutive role of language in its various forms. Problems of socially-conditioned worldviews and sense of self as related to discourse. Myth, symbol, metaphor, and literary arts as vehicles for personality development and self-transformation along religious lines.
This is a Social Science course
Sociological examination of religion in contemporary Canadian society: religions of English and French Canada; religious organization and demography; relation of religion to ethnicity, social questions and politics; secularization and privatization.
This is a Social Science course
The relationships between religious and ethical norms, social and political ideals, and systems of law. The roots of Western legal concepts such as authority, duty, rights, and punishment in biblical and natural law tradition, and their counterparts in positive law theory. Church and State conflict in a philosophy of law context.
Historical and critical-philosophical examination of the development of atheism in Western intellectual circles. Consideration of 18th, 19th and 20th century critiques of religion derived from: theories of knowledge that privilege science; radical social and political thought; and analysis of the soul and its symbol-systems. Authors include Hume, Marx, Bakunin, Nietzsche, and Freud.
Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Karl Barth, Schubert Ogden and Karl Rahner on the relationship between religious belief and critical thought, including the question of God.
Analysis of rituals of transition form one social status to another (e.g., childbirth, initiation, weddings) from theoretical, historical and ethnographic perspectives. Particular attention is paid to the multi-religious North American environment, and to the importance of rites of passage in the construction of gendered identities.
Judaism and Christianity in the period from 70 C.E. to 200.CE. The course focuses on the relationship between the two religious groups, stressing the importance of the setting within the Roman Empire.
An introduction to the first and second century Christian writings. A survey of the surviving works and their historical contexts, close analysis of selected texts and an examination of what these sources tell us about the early Christian communities.
An examination of the "historical Jesus" based on a critical study of the earliest accounts of Jesus, with intensive study of the Gospels to determine what can be said about Jesus' activities and teachings.
An examination of Paul's life and thought as seen in the early Christian literature written by him (the seven undisputed letters), about him (the Acts of the Apostles, the Acts of Paul) and in his name (the six disputed NT letters).
A study of some of the most important and influential attempts by Christians to reconcile their experience and understanding of evil with their purported experience and understanding of God. Selections from biblical writers, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, Karl Barth, and Gustavo Gutierrez.
The formation and development of distinctively Eastern traditions of Christianity. The history and major writers of Eastern Christianity up to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The development of the national Eastern Churches up through the modern period, and their particular contributions to the Eastern Christian tradition.
The central ideas of Protestant Christianity from the 16th century reformers to their 20th century heirs: Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Edwards, Schleiermacher, Ritschl, Rauschenbusch, Barth, Tillich, Niebuhr, Moltmann. Analysis of pietism, orthodoxy, liberalism, fundamentalism, neo-orthodoxy, the contemporary situation.
Papal and episcopal documents dealing with social issues from Leo XIII (late 19th century) to John Paul II. Origins and development of Catholic social teaching; recent changes occasioned by anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles.
A study of four great figures during critical moments in Jewish history, each of whom represents a turning point: Jeremiah (biblical era), Rabbi Akiva (rabbinic era), Moses Maimonides (medieval era), Franz Rosenzweig (modern era). Belief in God; Torah as law, teaching, tradition, revelation, eternity of Israel, meaning of Jewish suffering, problem of radical evil, history and messianism.
The development and range of modern Jewish religious thought from Spinoza, Mendelssohn and Krochmal, to Cohen, Rosenzweig and Buber. Responses to the challenges of modernity and fundamental alternatives in modern Judaism.
The religious and cultural roots of antisemitism and its manifestations in Western civilization: anti-Jewish aspects of pagan antiquity, the adversus Judaeos tradition in classical Christian theology; racist antisemitism in Europe (the Aryan myth); the rise of political antisemitism; the Nazi phenomenon, antisemitism in Canada and the United States.
The revelatory process and the textual formation of the Qur'an, its pre-eminent orality and its principal themes and linguistic forms; the classical exegetical tradition and some contemporary approaches to its interpretation.
Aspects of the relationship of Islam with other religions and cultures. Topics treated may include attention to both the medieval and the modern periods as well as to contemporary challenges faced by Muslim populations in Europe and North America.
Hindu responses to Western influences (imperial and post-imperial) on Indian religious life in the modern age. Hindu fundamentalism, communalist politics, secularization, lowcaste alienation, feminist activism in India.
Readings in Vedic, Pauranic, Tantric and folk myths; traditional Hindu understandings of myth; recent theories of interpretation, e.g. those of Levi-Strauss, Eliade, Ricoeur, applied to Hindu myths.
Hindu ideas of self, world and ultimate reality. Hindu ways of interpreting sacred texts. Readings from the Upanishads and later Vedanta texts.
Hindu ritual in its Vedic, Pauranic, Tantric, and popular forms; the meaning that ritual conveys to its participants and the relation of ritual to Hindu mythology and to social context.
The schools of Buddhism in East Asia, with focus on two principal ones: Ch'an (Zen) and Pure Land. Readings in translation from their basic sutras.
A comparative examination of Christian (Latin and Orthodox), Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, Hindu and Islamic mystical traditions.
The role and social context of prophets and prophetic movements in the religions originating in the Middle East. Illustrations from the literature and experience of Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Islam.
The contemporary phenomenon of religious pluralism: its historical emergence, social context and intellectual justifications. Achievements, techniques and outstanding issues in inter-religious dialogue.
NOTE 400-series courses are intended primarily for Specialists and Majors who have already completed several RLG courses. Prerequisite for all 400-level courses is permission of the instructor.
Intensive programs of study including site visits and lectures in areas of religious significance abroad. Preparatory work expected, together with paper or assignments upon return. (Y course: 4 weeks minimum; H course: 2 weeks minimum)
Student-initiated projects supervised by members of the Department. The student must obtain both a supervisor's agreement and the Department's approval in order to register. The maximum number of Individual Studies a student may take is two full course equivalents.
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