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Skidmore College
Religious Studies Department

FALL 2022


Number/Name Days/Times Credits Professor

RE 103  Understanding Religions

This course is an in-depth investigation of religion from a variety of perspectives employed in the contemporary study of religion. With attention to religion as a global, cross-cultural human phenomenon, we will examine multiple traditions, geographical locations and historical periods, with particular focus on Buddhism and Mesoamerican religion. Exemplary scholarly approaches to the study of religions from the humanities and social sciences will provide a basis for empathetically exploring religious self-understandings while also critically examining them within larger political, social and cultural contexts.

Fulfills Humanistic Inquiry requirement; fulfills non-Western and Global Cultural Perspectives requirement.

9:40 - 11:00





3 R. Overbey

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

An introduction to the diversity of religions in America and to basic categories and questions in the academic study of religion. The United States is one of the most religiously diverse nations on earth. This course investigates that diversity, in the past and in the present, and explores traditions imported to America, recent traditions born in America, and/or traditions indigenous to the Americas. Students will explore what counts as “religion” in America and how religious traditions shape and are shaped by other forms of difference (race, class, gender, age, sexuality, etc.)

Fulfills Humanistic Inquiry requirement, Global Cultural Perspectives and Cultural Diversity requirement.

Counts toward American Studies.

Sec. 001: T/TH 12:40 - 2:00


Sec. 002: T/TH
3:40 - 5:30 

3 Prof. Prince

RE 206  Religion and the Scientific Imagination

An intersectional feminist inquiry into the relationship between religion and science. What is the relationship between religious knowledge and scientific knowledge? How have these categories and the infrastructures around them historically interfaced with systems of race, gender, class, and empire? How should we think about formations that blur the lines between the religious and the scientific—from fitness fads like SoulCycle to definitions of “natural” gender roles to the rejuvenating waters of Saratoga Springs? Students will encounter these questions as we explore the many ways that "religion" and "science" have interacted, conflicted, collided, and combined. Focusing mostly on sources from the nineteenth and twentieth century United States, we will practice reading theoretical sources and historical documents with clarity, precision, and care—while foregrounding themes of power and justice. There will be field trips and hands-on applied activities throughout the semester.

Fulfills Humanities, Humanistic Inquiry and Bridge Experience requirements. Counts toward Gender Studies.

T  2:10-3:30 &  TH  2:10-4:40 4 L. Hulsether

RE 215  Islam

A basic introduction to Islamic scripture, rituals, and spiritual practices. Roughly one out of every five people on this planet today identify as Muslim, and yet Americans know relatively little about a religious tradition having such a profound influence on world history and culture and which continues to impact contemporary life. Whereas media images tend to distort its message and dilute its meanings, we will give Islam far more careful consideration, approaching this religion as the rich and multi-faceted tradition that it is. Covering some core beliefs and practices shared by most Muslims, we will emphasize the complexity and diversity of Muslim cultures; while adopting a global perspective for a global religion, we will also take a historical look at Muslims in the U.S.

Fulfills Humanistic Inquiry requirement; fulfills non-Western and Global Cultural Perspectives requirement.

11:10 - 12:30
3 G. Spinner

RE 216R  Asian Religions in America

An examination of Asian religions in the United States from the eighteenth century to the present day. To heighten awareness of the power and justice issues raised by course materials, students will begin by investigating the increasingly polarized, competing visions of the United States' national character. Our examination of religions with roots in Asia (which may include South Asian Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Taoism and/or Confucianism) allows us to explore patterns in the representation of Asian religions in America, and responses and counter-representations from both Asian and non-Asian adherents. How have these representations supported, or undermined, rights to religious freedom? We conclude by exploring how Asian-Americans have - in the years since the passage of the landmark 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act - adapted their religious traditions and communities to the United States.

Fulfills Humanistic Inquiry, Global Cultural Perspectives, Cultural Diversity and Bridge Experience requirements.

Offered as Explorations of Religious Studies through Research.

Counts toward American Studies and Asian Studies.

12:20 - 1:40    &                M  12:20-1:15
3 E. Kent

RE 223  Comparative Myth

A primer for both the study of myth and the comparative method. 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 prompt us to feel. This course provides a generous sampling of myths from around the world (including from Norse, Egyptian, Greek, and Mesopotamian literature, as well as indigenous stories from the Pacific Northwest and South America), coupled with a survey of important theories of myth.

Fulfills Humanities, Humanistic Inquiry and Global Cultural Perspectives requirement.

2:30 - 3:50
3 G. Spinner

RE 230D   The Christian Right

A cultural and historical study of conservative Christianity in the United States. The Christian Right has played a defining role in American and global politics since at least the 1940s. What is the history of this movement? Who are conservative Christians, and how are they distinct from other kinds of religious actors? What, exactly, do they believe—about feminist and LGBT rights, healthcare, education, civil rights, religious liberty, and capitalism? This course explores these questions and more, with an emphasis on intersectional feminist analysis of the themes and histories at hand.

Fulfills Humanities and Humanistic Inquiry requirement.

8:10 - 9:30 &  asynchronous 4th credit hour
4 L. Hulsether

RE 330D  Goddesses and Other Powerful Women

An examination of the feminine divine as it finds expression in cultures across space and time.  As a comparative investigation of goddesses in selected societies, 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 social norms surrounding gender, race, religion and power. 

Fulfills humanistic inquiry requirement; counts toward Gender Studies.

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

M/W/F       11:15 – 12:10 4 E. Kent

RE 375   Magic and the Study of Religion: An Exercise in               Re-enchantment (Senior Seminar)

What, exactly, is magic? How does “magic” differ from “religion?” And why do these categories matter? In the late nineteenth century, anthropologists like James George Frazer and E.B. Tylor argued for a strict separation of the categories of “magic,” “science,” and “religion.” By 1917, the great sociologist Max Weber would announce that “The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the ‘disenchantment of the world.’” Magic was primitive, irrational, doomed to the past. In science we could look forward to a gleaming modernist future of efficiency and rationality. And religion? Well, that’s where the story gets complicated.

This course is an exercise in re-enchantment. We will explore the ways that the concept of “religion” and the academic field of “religious studies” only emerged through deep entanglements with “magic”— as a category, as an object of scholarly inquiry, and also as a personal and communal practice. Along the way we will read exciting new works in religious studies that engage creatively with the category of magic. WARNING: by the end of this course, you may begin to see magic all around you.

Fulfills humanistic inquiry requirement.

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

12:20 - 2:10 
 4 R. Overbey