Course Descriptions

Term:

Winter Quarter (W20)

Dept/Description Course No., Title  Instructor
ART HIS (W20)155B  MEDIEVAL INDIAPATEL, A.

This course will explore some of the world’s great religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Islam) and their artistic traditions, challenging modern notions of religious and national identities. Beginning with the Guptas’ aesthetic legacies in the architecture, sculpture and painting of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka (South Asia), we will continue with the dissemination of religious ideas and artistic practices in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam (Southeast Asia) in the 8th-10th centuries. The course will also examine the dispersal of Islam in South Asia, beginning with the settlement of early Muslim commercial communities in the 8th century, continuing with the Islamic Sultanates of the 12th-15th centuries, and culminating in the magnificence of the Mughal Empire (1526-1857).
Days: TU TH  02:00-03:20 PM

ART HIS (W20)198  AFTER ALEXANDECANEPA, M.

This seminar explores the art, archaeology and history of Western, Central and South Asia after Alexander's destruction of the Persian Empire. It will concentrate on the development of architecture and urbanism under the Hellenistic kingdoms that emerged on the Iranian plateau, Central Asia and India after the fall of the Achaemenids, and the Iranian-speaking peoples who eventually overthrew these kingdoms and established their own empires. Thus seminar will focus first on the Seleucid and Arsacid (Parthian) empires, but we will also consider coeval and competing developments in the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Kushan India, and the Perso-Macedonian kingdoms of Anatolia.  Among other major themes, we will consider the role of Hellenistic Asian art as a transcultural idiom of communication and exchange; common/competitive court cultures that emerged among the Seleucid, Parthian, Greco-Bactrian and, later, Kushan courts; appropriation and transformation of Hellenistic culture in Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Central Asia kingdoms such as Commagene or Pontus; the interplay between Greek and Indian traditions under the Indo-Greek kingdoms of N. India; the interplay between nomadic and sedentary Iranian culture; and the use of post-Hellenistic forms to image early Kushan Mahayana Buddhism. In addition to an in-depth examination of the ancient sites and sources, this seminar will put the ancient material into dialogue with a select body of theoretical material stemming from archaeological, art historical and cultural studies discourse.
Days: WE  05:30-08:20 PM

COM LIT (W20)100A  REN EUR GOES MOVIESNEWMAN, J.

“History does not exist until it is created.”
-- Robert A. Rosenstone
In his essay in Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies (1996), scientist Stephen Jay Gould writes that the film Jurassic Park contains several errors, but that these errors “belong to the juicy and informative class of faults” that has been described in the following way: “Give me a fruitful error any time, full of seeds, bursting with its own corrections. You can keep your sterile truths for yourself.”
In this course, we will examine the “juicy faults” about the European Renaissance that we find in a series of movies from the 1940s up through the early twenty-first century, and look at them in conversation with primary and secondary historical and literary texts from and about the period. We will ask what role cinematic representations of the European Renaissance and European early modernity (c. 1500-1650) played in the fashioning of modern and post-modern political, religious, cultural, and scientific identities in the West from the Cold War up through the aftermath of 9/11 (c. 1945-2007). Among the topics we cover will be the persecution of witches, female leadership, Machiavellianism, the Reformation, Dutch and Italian Renaissance art history, contact with the Muslim Ottoman Empire, and the endless series of wars. Lecture attendance, completion of short reading assignments, and watching the films mandatory; on-line quizzes, two movie reviews, and short final paper.
Days: TU TH  09:30-10:50 AM

E ASIAN (W20)116  JAPANESE BUDDHISMTINSLEY, E.

This course is an introduction to the history of Buddhism in Japan. Japanese Buddhism--which preceded its official introduction in the sixth century with a famous and fabled tale of conflict with leaders of its indigenous beliefs--appeared little by little with icons, writings and teachings that likely arrived with merchants as they travelled the extensive, multi-cultural Silk Road. Nevertheless, in time a number of "schools" were instituted - all the way in co-existence with the twists and turns of political changes. Reclusive practitioners also co-existed with (or even founded) soon-to-prosper temple communities who gathered the fervent faith of many laypeople - from imperial pilgrims to women who, banned from much sacred space and practice, worshipped from a fenced-off distance. Elsewhere, nuns found their way in convent lives, or personal paths that involved self-mutilation, or as unmarried princesses placed in and provided for by lavish cloisters. Men ensconced on sacred mountains and in urban temples also developed elaborate rituals and doctrine: Zen, Shingon, Tendai, Pure Land, Nichiren. All flourished, and from each was born often stunning art, literature, music, culture, and of course, salvation - in various forms of enlightenment. Seated meditation, name-chanting, important sutras, and fire-rituals are a few of the diverse practices we will learn (to some extent in "practice"), and art and literature will be positioned in the context of beliefs. Each school, too, and individual Buddhist figures, found their way to join forces with the pre-Buddhist sacred beings who, they claimed, "softened their light and mingled with the dust" of this world. In order to cultivate a solid understanding of Buddhism in a specific cultural context, we will look at a variety of important primary texts, art, and artifacts that represent the traditions, and explore the ideas and rhetoric they present, their unique vocabulary (reading in translation), and the socio-historical context from which they emerged.
Days:   12:00-12:00 AM

E ASIAN (W20)55  HORROR & JPN RELIGTINSLEY, E.

"Within that whirling gyre [of love and grief], all manner of madnesses exist: ghosts and spirits and dream visitations, and everything else that we, in our anguish, will into existence. Those are precious gifts that are as valued and as real as we need them to be." (Nick Cave)

There is a fine line between the sacred and the horrific or profane. Both are taboo; both may provide powerful experiences; both are often to be approached or exposed to with care, caution, and permission. Religion and horror are closely bound: what is awesome may also be awful. This course teaches the narratives of fear according to different religious cultures (here, primarily Japanese) so that the student may recognize and, perhaps, disarm them. We will look not only at the religious motifs and stories that horrify, but the "structure" of fear, and the ways in which fascination, repulsion, and terror are evoked. Through a series of recent films (including The Ring (Ringu) and Dark Water (Honogurai Mizu no soko kara), The Inerasable (Zane), Suicide Club (Jisatsu Sakuru), and Tag (Rearu Oni-gokko), as well as earlier founding masterpieces of horror cinema such as Black Cat (Kuroneko), Onibaba, Kwaidan, along with contemporaneous postwar works like Gate of Flesh (Nikutai no mon) and Women of the Night (Yoru no Onnatachi) we explore the roots of horror in postwar expression and the reshaping of old folk religious ghost tales into new reflections of contemporary issues. New technology, conformity, contagion, the issue of the "shut-in" (hikikomori), the shifting shape of the family unit, and concepts of purity and impurity all conflicted and combined with religions in Japan. Our explorations of these will be buttressed by readings (in English) from - among others - Edogawa Ranpo, Tamura Taijiro, Kirino Natsuo, and Nakata Hideo, and by both canonical and popular art of the twentieth century that drew religion into the region of horror and the horror film. Alongside religious concepts and practices that pertain to the development of horror, theories of hauntology and of the ethics of viewing sacredness and horror will also be presented. Japanese language and cultural knowledge is not required for this course, only a passion for exploring the depths of the sacred and the profane, the way these intertwine with cultural anxieties, and the ethical approaches we might bring to the subject of dealing with the realms of the sacred and of the disturbing.
Days:   12:00-12:00 AM

HISTORY (W20)114  ATHEISM IN EUROPEMCKENNA, J.

Unbelief in Gods is a permanent and inextirpable feature of human life.  Yet it is an old story seldom told.  While belief in Gods is prehistoric (older than 6000 years), lack of belief in Gods is older, having been the original state of humanity for tens of thousands of years before theism emerged relatively late to the world stage. Even after theism spread far and wide and most humans were either polytheists, henotheists, or monotheists, there was never a time when all humans universally believed in Gods—there were always those who did not believe in Gods and unbelief was never eradicated. Unbelief in Gods was not uprooted even when theists criminalized unbelief with torture and death. In the West, avowed and published unbelief first appeared in ancient Greece and Rome and then disappeared for a thousand years after Christian suppression began in late antiquity. Unbelief reemerged in renaissance Europe with the revival of ancient Greek and Roman skeptical texts and the eventual softening of laws against religious dissent. Unbelief in Europe has grown over the last 200 hundred years, especially over the twentieth century. Now, in the early decades of the twenty-first century, many (most?) Western intellectuals and scientists are without belief in God and tens of millions of the general population are either atheists or agnostics or skeptics or freethinkers or humanists or secularists or otherwise indifferent to religion. We will read primary sources from antiquity to the present and attempt to sympathetically understand the phenomenon of doubting God. Though I will have plenty to say, I will not lecture. I will instead facilitate student discussions of ideas emerging from reading assignments, and I’ll conduct the class as a seminar in a workshop style.  Three books + handouts.  Weekly writing.  Much discussion.  No tests.
Days: WE  03:00-05:50 PM

ITALIAN (W20)150  HOLOCAUSTCHIAMPI, J.

The course will concern itself with the vision of the Holocaust in the memoirs of Primo Levi and Liana Millu, as well as in the fiction of Giorgio Bassani. Framing their writings will be brief readings in the work of historians Liliana Picciotto Fargion, Michele Sarfatti and Susan Zuccotti. Italy had no native tradition of anti-Semitism to compare with that of the French or Austrians (Action Française; Karl Lueger’s Austrian Christian Social Party). Moreover, the Holocaust in Italy begins comparatively late: in 1943, with the overthrow of Mussolini. The class will briefly take up such questions as the relation between Italian Fascism and anti¬-Semitism, Pope Pius’s responsibility for the eventual deportations of the Jews, and, finally, the failure and heroism of Italian individuals and institutions (the diplomatic corps; Church schools and convents) in the face of such atrocity. In Levi and Millu we shall address more literary questions: Italian identity, for example. What did it mean to be an Italian Jew in the camps– hence a Sephardic Jew–thus unable to speak Yiddish and not observant, i.e. to be absurd to one’s fellow Jews? Or, the consequences of an Italian Jew’s complete assimilation to Italian life (“tutti dottori, tutti avvocati,” hence unused to manual labor) unlike, say, Polish and Russian Jews. We will study the development of the identity of the protagonist as s/he struggles to survive in the Italy of the Race Laws and then in the inconceivable conditions of Auschwitz.
All classes and readings are in English.
Days: MO WE  02:00-02:50 PM

PHILOS (W20)113  EVIL EARLY MOD PHILGREENBERG, S.

The problem of evil is standardly conceived to arise from an apparent tension between the existence of an all-perfect God and the obvious fact that bad things—such as earthquakes, the death of innocent children, and bad actions—occur.  The early modern period (roughly, 1517-1789) witnessed a spectacular flourishing of work on this topic, and this course will examine approaches to it  developed by some of the greatest philosophers of this period. Readings will be drawn from the writings of René Descartes, Nicolas Malebranche, Pierre Bayle, Immanuel Kant, Voltaire, and especially, G. W. Leibniz, whose Essays on Theodicy: On the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man, and the Origin of Evil will be the centerpiece of the course.  Our ultimate aim will be to determine whether any of these approaches are viable solutions to the problem of evil.

Days: MO WE  02:00-03:20 PM

PHILOS (W20)117  ASIAN PHILOSOPHIESDONALDSON, B.

What we call "Jainism" and "Buddhism" today emerged as reforming philosophies in approximately the 5th c. BCE in the Ganges plain of India. While both of these non-Vedic views were rooted in the universal importance of daily action (vs. ritual knowledge and practice), they offered distinct frameworks of what is real, how to know, and how to act. In this class, we will explore these two paths through secondary texts, textual translations, while also considering Buddhist and Jain communities that exist today globally and in our southern California neighborhoods.  

Days: TU TH  05:00-06:20 PM

Courses Offered by the Religious Studies Major & Minor or other Schools at UCI

Winter Quarter (W20)

Dept Course No., Title   Instructor
REL STD (W20)5A  WORLD RELIGIONS IMCKENNA, J.

Survey of the ‘Abrahamic religions’ and the key historical events, major figures, basic ideas, essential practices, significant texts, notable artifacts, and important trends in scholarship concerning these religions. One textbook.  Weekly essays.  Three tests. Attendance taken at discussions and lectures and points deducted for all absences. Sign up for a separate weekly discussion section (and the word ‘discussion’ means you must speak in order to get a good grade).
Days: MO WE  11:00-11:50 AM

REL STD (W20)100  HOLOCAUSTCHIAMPI, J.

The Holocaust, the Nazi state’s attempt to murder all European Jews, is a defining moment in modern history. How do we comprehend the incomprehensible? Can we make sense of such a horrifying event? Does it defy explanation? Is it unique or can we compare it with other forms of genocide? In this course, we will explore these questions by learning about the nature of Jewish communities in Germany before the Holocaust; considering other forms of genocide that preceded the Holocaust; and analyzing the Nazi rise to power and the Nazi state’s move toward the “final solution. In the second half of the course, we will look carefully at how the Holocaust has been remembered and commemorated since 1945. Readings will consist primarily of historical primary sources.

(same as 24045 Euro St 103, Lec A;   and 28881 Italian 150, Lec A)

REL STD (W20)103  ATHEISM IN EUROPEMCKENNA, J.

(same as 26640 History 114, Lec A)

Unbelief in Gods is a permanent, inextirpable feature of human life, and unbelief in Gods is a very old story seldom told. Though belief in Gods is prehistoric, lack of belief in Gods was the original state of humanity for hundreds of thousands of years. Theism emerged as a novelty. Even after theism reached the height of its ascendancy, Gods were never universally believed by all humans, though perhaps a majority of humans did become some kind of theist: either polytheists, henotheists, or monotheists. When theistic cultures criminalized unbelief, even with death penalties, this did not uproot unbelief, though theistic bullying did create a prudential and silent skepticism for centuries. Avowed, published unbelief, first articulated in antiquity  disappeared for a thousand years in Europe and reemerged in the Renaissance with the revival of ancient Greek and Roman skeptical texts. Unbelief has grown over the last three hundred years, especially in Europe. By the early decades of the twenty-first, a majority of Western intellectuals and scientists are without belief in God, and tens of millions of the general population are atheists or agnostics or skeptics or freethinkers or humanists or secularists—especially in Western Europe. We will read (entirely) primary sources from antiquity to the present. Though I will have plenty to say, I will not lecture, per se. I want you all to discuss the readings and discuss ideas emerging in your own minds when provoked by the readings. Weekly reading.  Weekly written summaries of reading and short weekly thought essays due.  No tests.  Attendance is necessary in a once-a-week class and all absences deduct points.  Enrolls 20-30 students.


Days: WE  03:00-05:50 PM

REL STD (W20)103   ASIAN PHILOSOPHIESDONALDSON, B.

(same as 30547 Philos 117, Lec A)

What we call "Jainism" and "Buddhism" today emerged as reforming philosophies in approximately the 5th c. BCE in the Ganges plain of India. While both of these non-Vedic views were rooted in the universal importance of daily action (vs. ritual knowledge and practice), they offered distinct frameworks of what is real, how to know, and how to act. In this class, we will explore these two paths through secondary texts, textual translations, while also considering Buddhist and Jain communities that exist today globally and in our southern California neighborhoods.

REL STD (W20)123  MEDIEVAL INDIAPATEL, A.

This course will explore some of the world’s great religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Islam) and their artistic traditions, challenging modern notions of religious and national identities. Beginning with the Guptas’ aesthetic legacies in the architecture, sculpture and painting of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka (South Asia), we will continue with the dissemination of religious ideas and artistic practices in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam (Southeast Asia) in the 8th-10th centuries. The course will also examine the dispersal of Islam in South Asia, beginning with the settlement of early Muslim commercial communities in the 8th century, continuing with the Islamic Sultanates of the 12th-15th centuries, and culminating in the magnificence of the Mughal Empire (1526-1857).
Days: TU TH  02:00-03:20 PM

ANTHRO (W20)139  ANTHROPOLOGY OF RELIGIONVARZI

Updated course description coming soon!