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Skidmore College
Religious Studies Department


Number/Name Days/Times Credits Professor

RE 103  Understanding Religions

An in-depth investigation of religion as a global, cross-cultural phenomenon. Religions situate human actors in relation to nonhuman agents, and yet scholars of religion view religion as a profoundly human activity – as something “made” not by gods and spirits but by people. In our effort to study religion both critically and empathetically, we examine multiple traditions from different times and places, and we engage scholarly approaches that help us to consider religion from different perspectives. 

Fulfills humanistic inquiry requirement.

3:40 - 5:30 p.m.



4 R. Overbey

RE 105  American Gods: Religious Diversity in the U.S.

What is an “American” religion? What do people mean when they refer to the United States as a site of “religious diversity” or “religious freedom”? This course explores these questions, with special attention to how issues of religion are shaped by dynamics of race, gender, sexuality, and nation. Students will encounter key players in the religious history of the Americas and build a toolbox for  interpreting the interplay of religion, culture, and politics more broadly.

Fulfills cultural diversity and humanistic inquiry requirements.

12:20 - 2:10 p.m.
4 L. Hulsether

RE 221  Buddhism: An Introduction

A broad introductory survey of the Buddhist tradition, focusing on the tradition’s history and development, its key doctrines and practices, its geographic spread, and its cultural adaptations. The course materials have a dual focus. We will examine the intellectual and philosophical history of Buddhism in detail; and we will also explore how Buddhism functions as a living, practical tradition.

Fulfills humanistic inquiry requirement; fulfills non-Western and Global Cultural Perspectives requirement. Counts toward Asian Studies.

9:40 - 11:00 a.m.
3 R. Overbey

RE 223  Comparative Myth 

A myth is a sacred story believed by those telling it to disclose important truths about the world and how people should live in it. Myths are always good stories, infused with meaning, that make us think and allow us to feel. This course provides a generous sampling of myths from around the world (including Norse, Egyptian, North and South American, Japanese, Mesopotamian, and Greek stories), coupled with a survey of important theories of myth

Fulfills humanistic inquiry requirement.

T / TH
11:10 - 12:30 p.m.
3 G. Spinner

RE 230C-001   Ecstasy

A cross-cultural examination of sacred trance and religious ecstasy. Throughout the world, people commune with spirits to gain knowledge and to heal; they experience visions that result in prophecy, poetry, music, and art. By learning about shamans, mystics, and psychonauts, we probe the nature of religious experience and explore complex interactions between mind, body, and soul. Topics include: spirit possession, firewalking, speaking in tongues, and sacramental use of psychedelics.     

Fulfills humanistic inquiry requirement.

2:10 - 3:30 p.m.
3 G. Spinner

RE 230C-002   Celebrity, Politics, Power

Fame, self-branding, stardom, performance: what is the relationship between celebrity culture, political life, and religion in the United States? What is the difference between a religious movement and a celebrity culture—and under what conditions are they the same thing? This interdisciplinary class explores these questions using critical cultural and religious studies theory. Attuned to the media landscape around the 2020 election, we explore the overlap between popular culture and Presidential politics, analyzing the blurry lines between these domains. Other topics include the intertwined histories of religious and celebrity subcultures; gendered notions of health, beauty, and fitness; the overlap between spiritual devotion and celebrity fandom; the rise of self-branding and social media micro-celebrities; and the ways that individuals become commodities to be produced and consumed.

Fulfills humanistic inquiry requirement. Counts toward American Studies.

W / F
8:40 - 10:00 a.m.
 3  L. Hulsether

RE 230C-003    God, Sex, Love

Christian approaches to the divine have played a decisive role in the formation of Western and global cultures, including approaches to love, sex, and marriage. However, within the Christian tradition there are—and always have been—transgressive voices who have challenged and subverted these approaches. In this class, we will first examine Jewish and Christian constructions of love, gender, and marriage based on notions of the complementarity of the sexes, love as eternal union, and marriage as a divine intimacy with God. We shall then approach texts and figures that challenged such conceptions, and in some ways opened pathways for modern/contemporary discussions concerning love, sex, and partnership.

Fulfills humanistic inquiry requirement. Counts toward Gender Studies

12:40 - 2:00 p.m.
 3  B. Onishi

RE 330D   Goddesses

An examination of the feminine divine as it finds expression in cultures across space and time.  As a comparative investigation of goddesses in Ancient Greece, Christianity, Hinduism and Voudon, we will read myths, ethnographies and scholarly studies that explore the theological and political possibilities of female divinity.  We will also explore how people in particular socio-historical contexts – scholars, people of faith, men, women and transgendered individuals - have drawn on goddess mythology, symbolism and ritual in order to challenge, or justify, established norms surrounding gender, race, religion and power.

Fulfills humanistic inquiry requirement. Fulfills non-Western requirement and Global Cultural Perspectives requirement; counts toward Gender Studies.

Prerequisite:One prior Religious Studies or Gender Studies course or permission of the instructor.

12:20 - 2:10 p.m.

4 E. Kent

RE 375   Senior Seminar

Secularization, Disenchantment, and Re-Enchantment

A study of various attempts to define "modernity" in terms of the decline, transformation, and/or displacement of religious thought and practice in the modern West. Students explore depictions of the modern West from the perspective of a variety of disciplines, including some of the following: sociology, psychology, philosophy, theology, literature, art. We will examine the “secularization thesis,” as it was articulated by philosophers and sociologists during the twentieth century, and the related doctrine of secularism. In the course of examining different theories of religion and secularity in the context of modern culture we will also analyze how secularity, for some theorists, is the pathway to re-enchantment, rather than the cause of disenchantment, and how this approach opens new possibilities for understanding the relationship between the secular and the religious.

Fulfills humanistic inquiry requirement.

Prerequisite: One prior Religious Studies course or permission of the instructor.

3:40 - 5:30 p.m.
4 B. Onishi