- Why Colby?
- Request Information
- College Profile
- Student Perspectives
- Alumni Success
- For Counselors
- Contact Admissions
|This page was last updated: 07/04/01 04:00:14 AM|
Chair, Professor Nikky Singh
Professors Thomas Longstaff and Singh; Associate Professor Debra Campbell; Faculty Fellow Martha Finch
The study of religion in a college curriculum involves the historical and comparative scrutiny of the world's religious traditions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Sikhism, and Shinto. Inevitably, the examination of basic questions about religion, such as the existence and nature of God, religious experience, and the role of religion in society, are central to the discipline.
Requirements for the Major in Religious Studies
The point scale for retention of the major applies to all courses that count toward the major.
Honors Program in Religious Studies
Requirements for the Minor in Religious Studies
 Suffocated or Ecstatic: Women in Pre-Modern India Formerly listed as Suffocated or Ecstatic: Women in Pre-Modern India in "Integrated Studies." Four credit hours. S, D.
117f A Passage to India: India and the Western Imagination Beginning with Walt Whitman's romantic journeys toward the "soul" of the universe, the course will study Western attitudes towards India and India's encounter with Western culture in return. Literature and film include Clear Light of Day, Salam Bombay, Siddhartha, The Razor's Edge, Gora, Cracking India, Mississippi Masala, and Four Quartets. Four credit hours. L, D. SINGH
 Introduction to Archaeology A first course in the principles and practice of field archaeology, examining the theories and methods of modern, scientific excavation and the importance of proper recording techniques as well as the tools and technology that contribute to successful excavation. Reference to both classical (especially biblical) and new world archaeology will be made. Enrollment for four credits is limited and will involve excavation at a Colby site or other exercises designed to allow students to develop archaeological skills. Three or four credit hours.
 Reflections on Evil: A Study of the Book of Job Beginning with Archibald MacLeish's well-known play J.B. and Rabbi Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People, the course will move on to a close reading of the Book of Job as a vehicle for raising the question of whether "personal religion"--the view that human beings are the objects of divine creation, nurture, guidance, and protection--survives the challenge of the experience of persistent evils in the world. This central question in the biblical Book of Job, and one that has troubled men and women in every generation, is the focus of study of Job in its historical and religious context; exploration of wider themes, including the relationship of the book to other literature in which the "problem of evil" is considered. Four credit hours.
 Religion and the Sexual Imagination in Asia Formerly listed as Religion and the Sexual Imagination in Asia in "Integrated Studies." Four credit hours. L, D.
197f Religion and the Internet: New Technologies and Timeless Phenomena A course to explore and analyze the multiple ways in which individuals and institutions are making use of new communications technologies for religious purposes. Although the focus is on religion and the Internet, broader questions, related to many other areas of inquiry, include: How does one make efficient and effective use of new information technologies? How does one evaluate the quality of the increasingly vast quantity of information that is available? No prior familiarity with the Internet is required. Four credit hours. LONGSTAFF
201f, 202s Biblical Hebrew Although biblical languages are not offered as regularly scheduled courses, it is possible for students to study biblical Hebrew. Completion of both semesters is required to earn academic credit. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Four credit hours.
203f, 204s New Testament Greek Although biblical languages are not offered as regularly scheduled courses, it is possible for students to study New Testament Greek. Completion of both semesters is required to earn academic credit. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Four credit hours.
211f Religions of India A study of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sufism, and Sikhism with a focus upon their religious texts and the cultural context within which they developed. An examination of the relationship these religious traditions have to one another, their metaphysical understanding of reality, their theories of self, and their views of the social--as expressed in ritual, myth, and poetry. Four credit hours. S, D. SINGH
212s Religions of China and Japan An examination of Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto--the indigenous religions of China and Japan; tracing the entrance of Buddhism into China and Japan and the resulting transformation of this religion in its interaction with these civilizations. The political ideology of Confucianism, the mystical dimensions of Taoism, the mythological aspects of Shinto, and the meditative experiences of Buddhism (haiku, swordsmanship, and the tea ceremony, etc.). Four credit hours. S, D. SINGH
 Religion, Magic, and Witchcraft Listed as Anthropology 214 (q.v.). Four credit hours.
215f Christianity: An Introduction An introduction to the Christian religion that examines its evolution over the past two millennia. The course outlines the major turning points and important leaders in Christian history as well as the controversies that have broken out within Christian churches over questions of doctrine, politics, the distribution of wealth, scientific knowledge, human sexuality, racism, sexism, and cultural difference. How individual Christians (including prophets, mystics, and other countercultural figures) have sought to reinterpret the Christian message amidst changing times. Four credit hours. H. FINCH
217f Religion in the U.S.A. A historical approach to religion in the United States from the colonial period to the present. The course will trace the evolution of the dominant Christian tradition, paying close attention to indigenous traditions, American Judaism, and the "new" religions of the past two centuries. It explores the relationship between American culture, including popular culture, and religious life and thought. Four credit hours. H. FINCH
233fs Biblical Literature I An introduction to the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament in terms of their historical context, original meaning, and significance in the contemporary world. The narratives, prophecies, and other literary forms are studied against the background of the history of Israel in order to understand broadly the culture of the people for whom this literature became normative scripture. Four credit hours. L. LONGSTAFF
234s Biblical Literature II Intended as a sequel to Religious Studies 233; an introduction to the specifically Christian scriptures (the Old Testament Apocrypha and the New Testament). Beginning with the intertestamental period, an exploration of the literature that reflects the background and earliest stages of the Christian movement. Attention is given to the historical and cultural context of the literature and to the development of early Christian theology and its significance for the contemporary world. Four credit hours. L. LONGSTAFF
235f Sociology of Religion Listed as Sociology 235 (q.v.). Four credit hours. GILKES
254s Islam and the Middle East An introduction to Islam, beginning with Muhammad and the Qur'an and exploring the major beliefs, practices, and institutions of this religion. Consideration to the diversity within Islam (e.g., Sunni, Mu'tazilite, Sufi, Shi'ite, etc.) as well as to its general characteristics. Attention both to Islam in its formative period and to Islam as a dominant religion in the contemporary Middle East. Four credit hours. S, D. LONGSTAFF
 Religion in Film and Fiction An examination of selected works in American literature, with emphasis on the manner in which the authors treat biblical and religious themes, characters, and narratives. With reference to these works and films based upon them, students pursue related questions about the place of myth, symbol, and imagery in American thought and culture. Four credit hours. L.
 Women in American Religion The changing role of women in American religious movements from the 17th century to the present, focusing on the experiences of "famous" women, e.g., Anne Hutchinson, the Salem witches, Mother Ann Lee, the Grimke sisters, Frances Willard, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Dorothy Day, and Mary Daly, as well as the experiences of "anonymous" women in Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, and selected utopian communities. The ongoing struggle for women's ordination and women's equality within organized religion and the recent efflorescence of feminist theologies. Four credit hours. H, D.
 Romans and Jews: History, Religion, and Archaeology Listed as Classics 258 (q.v.). Three credit hours. H, D.
 Catholics An examination of the history and culture of the Catholic Church during the past century with special emphasis upon the recent past: Vatican II, the emergence of Third World liberation theologies, and the evolution of Catholic teachings on sexuality, nuclear weapons, economic affairs, technological change, and the role of women in the church. Four credit hours.
 Philosophy of Religion Listed as Philosophy 274 (q.v.). Four credit hours. S.
 Contemporary Wicca: Formalists, Feminists, and Free Spirits The history, the historicity, and the practice of contemporary Wicca on this continent. Wicca, one of the fastest growing religions in North America, and often erroneously confused with Satanism, is an earth-based religion centered on Goddess (and God) imagery that stresses the sacredness of each individual and all of life. Extensive readings and some videos on the thea/ology, rituals, practices, and political activism of Wiccans. Experiential components (which may include e-mail discussions with Wiccans, ritual design, participation in an open circle, or personal use of divination) and questions: How does the centrality of feminine divine imagery affect the development, structures, and practices of this religion? To what extent has feminism shaped Wicca in the United States and Canada? Why are so many Wiccans also activists, and why is there so much public resistance to and discrimination against Wiccans? Three credit hours. D.
 South Asian Women at the Crossroads: Tradition and Modernity The departure of the British and the partition of the Indian subcontinent created a new world in which indigenous traditions, Western imperialism, and independence deeply affected women and the rise of the women's movement. A study of both South Asian women who live in the subcontinent and those who have made their homes abroad, focusing on issues of gender, race, and class. In the writings of South Asian women, literary ideals, religious traditions, and societal issues overlap; caste and hierarchy, colonialism and its aftermath, sexuality, and the search for identity emerge vigorously in their speeches, novels, biographies, and poetry. Four credit hours. L, D.
316s Seminar: Contemporary Western Theology Following a brief recapitulation of early-20th-century theology and the religious crisis of the world wars, an intensive study of a variety of theological developments since mid-century, including post-Holocaust Jewish, feminist, Native American, black, Christian-Buddhist, liberation, process and eco-theologies. Prerequisite: Religious Studies 215. Four credit hours. FINCH
317f Sikhism: Scripture, Sacred Music, and Art The Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh bible, forms the focal point for the literature of the Sikhs as well as other aspects of their culture and values. The seminar will outline its artistic and metaphysical dimensions, including the reasons why it is considered a colossus in both Punjabi and world literature. Prerequisite: Religious Studies 211 or 212. Four credit hours. S, D. SINGH
 Seminar: Mary Daly An examination of the theological, spiritual, and ideological development of the radical feminist Mary Daly evident in her major works from The Church and the Second Sex (1968) to the present day. Special attention to Daly's controversial use of language and the various ways in which theologians and feminists have reacted to and been influenced by her work during her eventful and highly publicized career. Prerequisite: Religious Studies 257. Four credit hours.
 Western Spirituality In contrast to theology (formal discourse about God and divine-human relations), the field of spirituality focuses upon the specific efforts of individuals to achieve communion (or even union) with God. The variety of ways that "ordinary people" and famous mystics within the Judeo-Christian tradition have sought to nurture close relations with God, covering the period from the rise of Christianity through the present day. Prerequisite: Religious Studies 215. Four credit hours.
 The Theology of Paul Early Christian theology was more often shaped by the heat of controversy than by the calm analysis of theological reflection. Paul's letters, and the controversies that prompted them, are studied as a basis for understanding Pauline theology, its relation to other elements of first-century religion, and its influence on later Western thought. Prerequisite: Religious Studies 234. Four credit hours.
355s The Goddess: A Hermeneutics in Thealogy An exploration of some Eastern and Western visions of divinity through feminine imagery and symbolism. The hermeneutic process entails a discovering and reimagining of the goddess's multi-dimensionality in art and literature. The objective is to appreciate the variety and complexity of the sacred in figures such as Sarasvati, Durga, Inanna, Athena, Aphrodite, Mary, Kuan Yin, Amaterasu. What powers do these goddesses manifest individually? How do creative, nurturing, and destroying elements combine in them? What validations do they offer society? What new dimensions of feminine life do they release? How does theology differ from thealogy? Prerequisite: Religious Studies 211 or 212. Four credit hours. S, D. SINGH
 The African-American Religious Experience A sociological analysis and historical overview of the diverse religious organizations, leaders, experiences, and practices of black people in the United States. Emphasis upon the predominant Afro-Christian experience, its relationship with the African background, contemporary African religions, other religions (e.g., Islam), political institutions, social change, urban problems, and the arts. Special attention to the role of black Christian women in church and society. Prerequisite: An introductory sociology or anthropology course, or American Studies 276. Four credit hours. D.
 Jesus of Nazareth: Entering the Third Millennium According to the calculations of most scholars, 1996 marked the 2000 year anniversary of the birth of Jesus. In recent years attention to the traditions about the life and teaching of Jesus has spread from the realms of the church and the university to the popular media. In this context, the seminar will undertake an intensive study to evaluate what can and cannot be known about the "historical Jesus." Prerequisite: Religious Studies 234. Four credit hours.
393f Seminar: Judaism, Ancient and Modern The evolution of Judaism from biblical times to the modern period. Against the backdrop of Jewish history and the evolution of tradition from TaNaK to Mishnah to Talmud and beyond, praxis will be emphasized. Sabbath observance, daily prayer, the rules of kashrut and other acts of devotion (practiced both at home and in the synagogue), the Jewish calendar (examining the annual cycle of feasts and fasts), and ceremonies that mark moments of life passage (including circumcision, bar/bat mitzvah, marriage, death and burial.) Four credit hours. S, D. LONGSTAFF
398s Religion and Culture in Early New England The ways in which English Puritan settlers shaped their lives in 17th-century New England. Intellectual, social, and cultural historical approaches are applied to a variety of primary texts (travel literature, sermons, journals, court records, letters, poetry) to explore how colonists understood and practiced their religion in public and private life. Topics discussed: the wilderness environment; native Algonkian culture; church organization and rituals; gender relations; food, dress, medical, sexual practices; witchcraft; corporal discipline and punishment--all carrying profound religious meanings for Puritan colonists. Prerequisite: Religious Studies 217 or History 131 or American Studies 271. Four credit hours. FINCH
483f, 484s Religious Studies Honors Program Research conducted under the guidance of a faculty member and focused on an approved topic leading to the writing of a thesis. Prerequisite: a 3.0 average in the major at the end of the junior year and permission of the department. Four credit hours. FACULTY
491f, 492s Independent Study Individual projects in areas where the student has demonstrated the interest and competence necessary for independent work. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. One to four credit hours. FACULTY
493s Senior Seminar A culminating seminar required for senior religious studies majors and minors. One credit hour. FINCH, LONGSTAFF, SINGH
Every effort is made to ensure that this information is correct. If you received conflicting information, have questions, or would like clarification, please contact the Registrar's Office at 207-872-3000.
Colby is a four-year, residential, liberal arts college in Waterville, Maine. Colby offers undergraduate courses during fall and spring semesters and grants bachelors of arts degrees.