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College of Letters and Science

Religious Studies Program

Requirements for the Major, Honors in Major, and Certificate in Religious Studies
Requirements for the Major in Religious Studies
Requirements for Honors in the Major in Religious Studies
Requirements for the Certificate in Religious Studies
Course Descriptions

7143 Sewell Social Sciences Building, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-265-1854; fax 608-265-1856; rsp@wisc.edu; religiousstudies.lss.wisc.edu/

Director: Tom DuBois, 1406 Sterling Hall, 475 North Charter Street, Madison, WI 53706; 608-265-2090; tadubois@wisc.edu

Associate Director: Corrie Norman, 7139 Social Science, 1180 Observatory Drive,  Madison, WI  53706; cenorman@wisc.edu

Professors Bowie, Brantly, Brenner, Bühnemann, Chamberlain, Cohen, Dale, DuBois, Gade, Hansen, Hardin, Hildner, Howard, Koshar, Langer, Livorni, Loewenstein, Miernowski, Murray, Nadler, Numbers, Ohnuki-Tierney, Phillips, Salomon, Schamiloglu, Schenck, Schleicher, Schulenburg, Troxel, Wandel, Winichakul, Wink, Wolf, Yandell, Zaeske; Associate Professors Allen, Hsia, Hutton, Livanos, Meulenbeld, Rosenblum, Schweber, Shelef, Shoemaker, Thal, Thompson; Assistant Professors Al-Mohammad, Chamedes, Hollander, Todorovic

Undergraduate advisor and honors advisor in the major: Dr. Corrie Norman, 7139 Social Science Building; 608-263-1849; cenorman@wisc.edu

Faculty diversity liaison: program director

Religious studies is an academic discipline that looks at religious phenomena worldwide from a variety of angles in order to understand the many roles that religion plays in human life. To this end, students of religion learn to use a variety of theoretical analyses and methods. These include historical methods to understand how religions develop in time; critical literary methods to understand religious ideas; aesthetic methods to understand religious art and material culture; social-scientific methods to understand the relationship between religion, society and culture. Religious studies can also engage a variety of professional disciplines in analysis of how religion functions in economic, educational or political contexts, healthcare and scientific research, to name some examples.

Some ways of studying religion emphasize understanding religions on their own terms, other ways use comparative methods to discern differences and similarities between religions. Students of religion also study ways that people use religious resources to make meaning outside the boundaries of religious institutions and identities. Above all, the field of religious studies requires a willingness to explore different ways of interpreting human life and diligent effort to develop understanding of how religious ideas, symbols, rituals, spaces, etcetera serve as resources for people in a variety of contexts as they make sense of and live out their lives in the world. Thus religious studies provides important preparation for thinking, communicating and functioning professionally and personally in a complex, multi-dimensional world.

Requirements for the Major, Honors in Major, and Certificate in Religious Studies

Students who wish declare their intention to major or earn a certificate in Religious Studies must meet with the Undergraduate Advisor during regular office hours or by making an appointment. Students are encouraged to do this early in their academic careers in order to plan for successful completion and take advantage of opportunities such as Honors, special research, internship, service learning or study abroad opportunities in associate with the major or certificate.

Requirements for the Major in Religious Studies

To earn a major in Religious Studies, students must complete at least 30 credits as follows:

1. Religious Studies Core Courses

a. Gateway Course: Relig St 101
b. Capstone Sequence: Two capstone courses —Relig St 600 AND Relig St 601

2. Additional credits in Relig St to bring credits in the major to 30

a. At least 9 credits must be completed at the 300 or higher level.
b. All students must fulfill the L&S requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. Religious Studies courses numbered 206, 207, 227, 234, 235, 237, 251, 253, 257, 261 and all courses numbered 300–699, except 332, count toward this requirement.

Requirements for Honors in the Major in Religious Studies

To earn Honors in the Major in Religious Studies, students must complete at least 30 credits as follows:

1. Required Core and Honors Courses

a. Gateway Course: Relig St 101
b. Religious Studies 600 preferably during junior year
c. Religious Studies 601 preferably during junior year with the aim of producing a detailed senior thesis research proposal that can be submitted to the Hilldale competition as well as the Honors Senior Thesis research grant competition;
d. Religious Studies 681 and 682 Senior Honors Thesis, taken during senior year.

2. At least 6 more honors credits at the intermediate or advanced level to bring the total honors credits to at least 19 credit hours.

Since students will take 600, 601, 681, and 682 for honors credits, they will earn 13 of the required 19 honors credits as part of the capstone experience. The remaining 6 credits should consist of two courses that will help the honors student work in greater depth in a particular topic area and form a relationship with a faculty member who will likely supervise the student's 681 + 682 sequence.

3. Students must earn a 3.5 GPA within the major, and a minimum of 3.3 cumulative GPA.

The Honors in the Major Program resides within the Honors Program of the College of Letters & Science, which is located at: L&S Honors Program, Washburn Observatory:608-262-2984; fax 608-263-7116; honors@honors.ls.wisc.edu

Requirements for the Certificate in Religious Studies

A certificate in Religious Studies is available to all undergraduates and special students studying at UW–Madison. To earn the certificate, students must complete:

1. Religious Studies Core Courses

a. Gateway Course: Relig St 101
b. Capstone Course: Relig St 600

2. An additional 12 credits in Relig St courses to bring total credits to at least 18 credits

• Average GPA of Relig St courses must be 2.000 or higher.
• At least 9 credits must be earned in residence on the UW–Madison campus


Courses are listed below according to the major requirements they fulfill. Check with the program office for information on specific courses.

Note: Because religious studies is an interdisciplinary program drawing upon many departments, some courses may have prerequisites in their home departments that must be fulfilled even though the prerequisites themselves have no bearing on progress within the religious studies major. Students are responsible for ensuring that they have met all the prerequisites to enter a course before they enroll in it.

101 Religion in Global Perspective
110 Asian Religions in Global Perspective
112 The World of Late Antiquity (200–900 C.E.)
131 Introduction to Christianity: Jesus to the Present
151 The Bible in the English Tradition
200 Introductory Topics in Religious Studies—Humanities
201 Introductory Topics in Religious Studies—Social Studies
205 The Making of the Islamic World: The Middle East, 500–1500
206 Introduction to the Qur’an
208 Western Intellectual and Religious History to 1500
211 Introduction to Judaism
212 History of Western Christianity to 1750
217 Islamic Mystical Poetry in Translation
227 Introduction to Biblical Literature (in English)
230 Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Braided Histories
234 Genres of Western Religious Writing
235 Genres of Asian Religious Writing
237 Biblical Poetry in Translation
251 The Civilizations of India—Classical Period
253 Literature in Translation: Dante’s Divine Comedy
257 Literatures of Muslim Societies in Translation
261 Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
270 Environment and Religion
271 Religion in History and Culture: The West
273 Religion in History and Culture: The East
274 Religion in South Asia
278 Food in Rabbinic Judaism
309 The Crusades: Christianity and Islam
312 The Medieval Church
317 Medieval Social and Intellectual History, 400–1200
318 Medieval Social and Intellectual History, 1200–1450
323 The Anglo-Saxons
325 Eastern Christianity/Russian Orthodoxy in a Global Context
328 Classical Rabbinic Literature in Translation
331 Science, Medicine and Religion
332 Prophets of the Bible
333 Early Christian Literature: Matthew—Revelation
334 The Reformation
340 Introduction to the I-Ching: Book of Change
342 In Translation: Mythology of Scandinavia
343 Anthropology of Religion
346 Jewish Literature of the Greco-Roman Period
348 Literary Aspects of the English Bible [Old Testament]
349 Literary Aspects of the English Bible [New Testament]
350 Introduction to Taoism
351 Religions of the Ancient Near East
352 Shamanism
355 Hinduism
356 Islam, Science and Technology, and the Environment
357 Literatures of Muslim Societies
359 Myth
361 Early Christian Literature: Pauline Christianity
363 Introduction to Confucianism
364 Introduction to Buddism
366 Medieval Monasticism
367 Jainism: Religion of Non-Violence
368 The Bible in the Middle Ages
369 Ethnic and Minority Religions in America
370 Islam: Religion and Culture
372 Jews of Central and Eastern Europe
374 Rhetoric of Religion
376 Ancient Jewish Psychology and Ethics
377 Jewish Cultural History [ancient and rabbinic]
378 Jewish Cultural History [medieval and modern]
379 Islam in Iran
400 Topics in Religious Studies—Humanities
401 Topics in Religious Studies—Social Studies
402 Thought of Gandhi
403 Topics in Religious Studies—Ethnic Studies
416 Introduction to Religions of South Asia
417 History-telling in the Bible
420 Hinduism and Islam in Medieval South Asia
421 A Survey of Tibetan Buddhism
422 Hinduism and Religions of Modern South Asia
423 Buddhist Iconography
425 Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts
426 Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts
427 Readings in Japanese Buddhist Texts
428 Readings in Japanese Buddhist Texts
436 History of Chinese Buddhism
437 Western Christianity from Augustine to Darwin
438 Buddism and Society in Southeast Asian History
439 Islamic History from the Origin of Islam to the Ottoman Empire
434 Milton
435 Jewish Philosophy from Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century
437 Western Christianity from Augustine to Darwin
440 Francis of Assisi: Literature and the Arts
441 Introduction to Sufism (Islamic Mysticism)
446 Holy Places and Sacred Times in Rabbinic Literature
448 Classical Rabbinic Texts
451 American Religious History to the Mid-Nineteenth Century
453 Buddhist Ethics
455 History of Japanese Buddhism, 550–1333
456 History of Japanese Buddhism, 1333–1965
459 Islamic Culture: Meanings and History
461/471 Topics in Contemporary Buddhism
463 Introduction to Indian Philosophy
464 Goddesses and Feminine Powers
465 Religion in Politics
466 Buddhist Throught
470 Religious Thought in Modern Europe
471 Topics in Contemporary Buddhism
472 Christian Literature: The Gospels
475 Education and Jewish Civilization
477 Portraiture in Premodern China
478 Art and Religious Practice in Medieval Japan
479 Ritual and Ritual Theory
501 Philosophy of Religion
502 Special Topics in the Philosophy of Religion
503 Survey of Buddhist Meditational Literature
516 Religion and Public Education
517 Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean
525 Intermediate Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts
526 Intermediate Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts
527 Intermediate Readings in Japanese Buddhist Texts
528 Intermediate Readings in Japanese Buddhist Texts
529 Intellectual and Religious History of European Jewry, 1648–1939
547 Religion, Colonialism & Modernity in Southeast Asia
551 Religious and Love Poetry in Mediaeval Hindi
553 Ritual in Buddhist Life
576 Buddhism and Literature
592/3 Buddhist Doctrinal Systems
600 Religion in Critical Perspective
601 Senior Capstone Research and Colloquium
613 Jewish Law and Ethics in Comparative Perspective
614 Social Structures of Muslim Societies
615 Sociology of Religion
616 Problems and Methods in the Study of Religion
618 Political Islam
620 Proseminar: Studies in Religions of Asia
620 Studies in Religions of Asia
621 Buddhism in the History of South and Southeast Asia
622 Cross-Cultural Spread of World Religions
623 Yoga: Methods and Goals
624 Meditation in Indian Buddhism and Hinduism
625 Sanskrit and Asian Cultures
626 Gods and Goddesses of South Asia
628 Hindu Law
634 Social Structure of India
650 Proseminar in Buddhist Thought
660 Proseminar: History of Buddhism and Buddhist Social Institutions
666 Anthropology of Shamanism and Occult Experience
670 Proseminar: The Culture of Buddhist Tibet
681–682 Senior Honors Thesis
691–692 Senior Thesis
695 Research Colloquium for Majors
697 Independent Research for Majors
699 Directed Study