2014-2015 Graduate Courses

Note: This is an archive. View current courses.

updated September 7, 2014

Graduate Course Descriptions 2014-2015

Please check for updates with the Department. Please be aware that course registration in RLG courses will begin August 11. For permission to enroll in an RLG course (for non RLG students), please bring a completed Course Add/Drop Form to the Graduate Administrator. To enroll in a Directed Reading Course, students must have a Reading Course Form completed and signed by the instructor.

RLG1000Y: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion (PhD group)

John Marshall (Fall) and Kevin O'Neill (Spring) • Full Year, Tues: 10-12, JHB318
The seminar is the core course of the Department’s doctoral program. It is required of, and limited to, all first year Ph.D. students of the Department. The purpose of the course is to provide doctoral students with a general understanding of the study of religion through constructive engagement with a number of fundamental challenges--theoretical and methodological--that commonly confront researchers in the field. Among the foundational themes to be explored: the ontological specificity of religious phenomena; the peculiarities of religious language, discourse, and worldviews; the varieties of religious institutionalization; the historical transformation and social “embeddedness” of religions; the embodiment of religion; and the constitution of religious selves or actors. To facilitate our seminar engagements with problems of theory, concept-formation, methods, data, and explanation, a number of major interpretive controversies in the study of religion will also be featured.

RLG1200HF: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion (MA group)

Kevin O'Neill • Fall, Tues: 10-12, JHB317
The M.A. Workshop Group is required of all first year M.A students of the Department. M.A. students will meet every week during the first term in a seminar course designed to provide rigorous training in method and theory in the study of religion. Topics considered include: historical development of religious studies, significance and application of interdisciplinary methodologies, key theorists and theoretical controversies.

RLG1501H/RLG1502H Directed Reading

Staff • Independent Study Courses – Undertaken in Any Term with Approval
With the approval of the Associate Director, and, in the case of a doctoral student, with the approval of the student’s Advisory Committee as well, a student may construct an independent study course of Directed Reading with a professor who agrees to supervise the work. The form for this purpose is available at the Department. Normally no more than one full year or two half year courses of this type are permitted in a degree program. These courses may be undertaken during any term, including the summer.

RLG2000Y Major MA Research Paper

Staff • Prepared Under Direction of a Professor
Major research paper (at least 50 pages) on a topic relevant to the study of religion, prepared under the direction of a professor. By January 30 of the year in which they intend to write the paper, students should identify their topic and secure the approval of the professor who will direct their work on the paper.

RLG2025H Critical Theory, Psychoanalysis & Religion

Marsha Hewitt • Spring, Tues: 11-1, LA213
Psychoanalysis, critical social theory, and religion share in common what might be described as an “emancipatory interest.” What each of these fields means by this is widely diverse and often contradictory. There are both strong resonances between all three fields as well as sharp, at times insurmountable, divergencies. For all of this, the emancipatory interest of critical theory, psychoanalysis and religion are able to mount important critiques of particular social, cultural lifeforms that implicitly and explicitly point toward the possibility of transformed futurity for individuals and societies. At the same time, both critical social theory and psychoanalysis have a long-standing, deeply ambivalent relationship to religion that has often been mistaken for dismissive antagonism. While there is some truth to this view, it is based on partial, simplistic and distorting interpretations.

RLG2030H: Historiographies of Religion

Jennifer Harris • Spring, Mon: 10-12, JHB319
A seminar that examines theories of historical writing through two lenses, by exploring 1) the ways historians have examined religious traditions, and 2) the ways scholars of religion have employed historical categories.

RLG2072H: Kant`s Theory of Religion

James DiCenso • Spring, Wed: 3-5, JHB214
An advanced study of Immanuel Kant’s interpretation of religion, as developed in major writings such as Critique of Practical Reason and Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. Emphasizes rational ethical criteria as the basis for analyzing the doctrines, symbols, and institutions of historical religions.

RLG2084H: Social Science Approaches to Early Christianity

Joseph Bryant • Fall, Tues: 4-6, JHB319
This seminar will explore the tensions and interdependencies of historical & social scientific modes of inquiry, as these pertain to longstanding questions concerning the rise of Christianity in the ancient Mediterranean world.  Classical and contemporary contributions will be surveyed, from the pioneering Sitz im Leben approaches of the 19th-century “historical-critical” schools and the Marxist, Weberian, and Freudian traditions, on to recent applications, such as Rational Choice theory, Post-colonialism, and Neo-Evolutionary modelling. All topical explorations will feature efforts to situate the phenomena in question within their operative socio-historical contexts.

RLG2085H: Genealogies of Christianity

Pamela Klassen • Spring, Tues: 3-5, JHB317
A consideration of the ways Christian discourses and practices have arisen in intersection with a range of modern forms of power and knowledge, including colonialism, medicalization, media, science, and the related concepts of religion and secularity.  Readings focus on anthropological and historical texts from a range of regional contexts.

RLG3143H/WYB5016HS: Hebraica

Glen Taylor • Spring, Thurs: 11-1, location TBA
Relevance of comparative (especially northwest) Semitic philology and historical Hebrew grammar to the exegesis of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and to the teaching of biblical Hebrew. Weekly reading, assignments, term paper/project. NB either this course or Biblical Aramaic satisfies a program requirement for TST doctoral studies in Old Testament. Lectures, student presentations, discussions of readings. Quizzes, assignments, term project.

RLG3190H: Pseudepigraphy in Ancient Mediterranean Religion

John Marshall • Spring, Tues: 1-3pm, UC148
A seminar examining the phenomenon of falsely claimed and/or attributed authorship in religions of the ancient Mediterranean, mainly Christianity and Judaism.  The course examines understandings of authorship and other cultural forms that facilitate or inhibit ancient pseudepigraphy, ancient controversies over authorship, as well as specific pseudepigraphical writings.

RLG3212H: Martyrdom & Christian Identity

Kyle Smith • Fall, Mon: 10-12, JHB319
In late antiquity, narrative accounts of Christians who chose to suffer and die rather than renounce their beliefs emerged as a distinct (and hugely popular) literary genre. The “acts” of the martyrs did more than preserve the memory of those who had died—they helped to shape the very identity of the remembering community. In this course, we will examine the persecution of Christians in the Roman and Persian Empires historically, literarily, theoretically, and culturally. Why were Christians persecuted, and what can we know about the periods of persecution? Furthermore, how did Christians narratively represent and celebrate pain and death, and how did the literary “making” of martyrs forge a religious identity premised upon the collective memory of suffering? In asking these questions, we will consider how literary concepts about the body, death, and holiness ultimately drove the development of the cult of the saints.

RLG3241H/WYB5741: Galatians

Ann Jervis • Fall, Thurs: 11am-1pm, location TBA

Seminar designed to enlarge students' understanding of Paul, of scholarship on Paul, and the letter he wrote to the Galatians. This course is designed both to deepen knowledge about Paul, Pauline scholarship and Galatians; and to sharpen students' research abilities and to provide an opportunity to prepare a trial thesis proposal. Teaching methods include lectures and seminar leadership. Evaluation is based on class presentations and a final project.

RLG3252H:  Letter of James and Early Christian Wisdom

John Kloppenborg • Fall, Wed: 9-12, TC24
An examination of key issues for the understanding of the letter of James: authorship, date, historical setting, genre, manuscript tradition, and attestation.  The course situates James in the context of Second Temple Jewish wisdom literature of the Judaean diaspora.

RLG3280H:  Christianities of South Asia

Reid Locklin • Fall, Thurs: 10-1, AH204
This seminar explores the claim of diverse Christian traditions in South Asia to be religious traditions of South Asia, with special attention to these traditions' indigenisation and social interactions with majority Hindu traditions.  Our study will begin with an overview of the historical development of Christianity in India from the first century CE to the present and then move to close readings of selected primary sources, comprehending both significant theological writings and contemporary ethnographic approaches to distinctive social and ritual practices.  Representative topics of discussion include the legacy of Thomas Christianity, Hindu-Christian dialogues, the Christian ashram movement, Dalit theology, conversion controversies, liturgical inculturation and religious hybridity.

RLG3290H: Words & Worship

Simon Coleman • Spring, Wed: 10-12, JHB214
How are we to analyze the words that Christians use? How might oral forms compare with written ones? And how should we try to understand the relationships between religious language and ritual action without seeing one as merely derived from the other? This course provides the opportunity both to explore theories of language use and to apply them to forms of verbal discourse ranging from prayers, speaking in tongues, and citing biblical verses to more informal narratives. Protestant and Catholic attitudes to religious language are examined in ways that sometimes reinforce, something challenge, theological distinctions between the two, and there will be the opportunity for students to bring their own texts for analysis. Some techniques for the analysis of ritual texts are explored, and the advantages and disadvantages of close textual analysis are discussed.

RLG3414H : The Vessantarajataka

Christoph Emmrich • Spring, Mon: 2-4, JHB319
The tale of the generous prince who gives away his kingdom, his children, and his wife is probably the best-known story in the Buddhist world. Its many versions celebrating the perfection of generosity have inspired Buddhists since the beginning of their shared literary history. In this course we will read, compare and discuss the story's most prominent versions transmitted in Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, Chinese, Newar and Burmese, mostly in the original, but also in their English translation. These sources will be placed in their respective ritual, performative, visual and aural contexts, such as the story’s recitation, its depiction on temple walls in Thailand, its staging as a drama in the Tibetan region, its role in Burmese textbooks and school examinations or its integration into rituals for women among the Newars of Nepal.

RLG3460H:  Sanskrit Readings 1

Ajay Rao • Fall, Wed: 10-12, Fri 1-3pm, JHB214
This course will have students read choice pieces of South Asian literature.  While tackling a text in simple Sanskrit from a major literary tradition, Buddhist or Hindu, and discussing it’s content and context, students will learn strategies for translating and interpreting Sanskrit literature.

RLG3461H:  Sanskrit Readings 2

Ajay Rao • Spring, Mon & Wed: 10-12, JHB214/319
This course will have students read choice pieces of South Asian literature.  While tackling a text in simple Sanskrit from a major literary tradition, Buddhist or Hindu, and discussing its content and context, students will learn strategies for translating and interpreting Sanskrit literature.

RLG3464H:  Historiography of Buddhism

Frances Garrett • Fall, Wed: 3-5, JHB319
This course examines histories of Buddhism authored inside and outside Asia, considering how various models of historiography affect our knowledge of Buddhism and Buddhist cultures. Readings will include translations of indigenous Buddhist histories, recent histories of Buddhism that have shaped the field of Buddhist Studies, and theoretical studies of historiography.

RLG3501H/LAW321H1F: Religion and the Liberal State: The Case of Islam

Mohammad Fadel • Fall, Tues: 2-4, NF235  (note first class is Tuesday Sept 2)
This seminar will address, as a theoretical matter, the relationship of religion to a liberal state, with particular attention to the writings of John Rawls as set forth in Political Liberalism and leading “religion” cases law from Canada, the United States and the European Court of Human Rights that address the relationship of religion and a liberal constitutional order. The course will also provide an introduction into classical and modern Islamic thought on the State.

RLG3544H: Islamicate Material Cultures

Karen Ruffle • Fall, Tues: 1-3, JHB319
This course examines the role of things, practices, circulation, space, and embodiment have played a critical role in shaping material forms of religious culture to reveal the historically contingent nature of trans-local practices in Muslim history. As Muslims settled beyond the Arab core In Iberia, South Asia, China, Iran, and Sub-Saharan Africa, we will focus on issues of repurposing and reuse of objects and space and questions of ownership, gifting and alienability, and the many lives of an object. We will examine such topics as relics, re-use/appropriation of sacred spaces/objects, amulets, and tombs. Primary sources for this course will include the Islamic collection at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Aga Khan Museum.

RLG3610H: Wisdom in 2nd Temple Period

Judith Newman • Fall, Thurs: 12-3, JHB317
In different years, this seminar treats either books (Job, Ben Sira/Sirach, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom  of Solomon) or thematic aspects (creation, prayer, eschatology) of the wisdom tradition as it evolved in the period 333 BCE - 70 CE with an eye to the relationship of these books to the broader swath of sapiential traditions of the era, including the instruction literature from Qumran. In 2012, the focus will be on Ben Sira. Seminar participation, seminar presentations, major paper.  Requires working knowledge of Hebrew, Greek.

RLG3622H: Maimonides

David Novak • Spring, Thurs: 2-4, UC255
An introduction to The Guide of the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides, and to some of the basic themes in Jewish philosophical theology and religion. Among topics to be considered through close textual study of the Guide: divine attributes; biblical interpretation; creation versus eternity; prophecy; providence, theodicy, and evil; wisdom and human perfection. Also to be examined are leading modern interpreters of Maimonides.

RLG 3653H: Jewish Exegetical Traditions in Antiquity

Harry Fox • Fall, Tues: 1-3, Bancroft
A study of  Bible exegesis in Hebrew and translation, illustrating the growth of scriptural traditions in various Jewish sectarian groups and communities.  The selection will include Philo and other Hellenistic Jews, the Dead Sea Scrolls sectarians, mystics, apocalypticists, Pharisees and rabbis.  During the second term discussion will focus on the Jewish-Christian polemic ranging from New Testament and rabbinic sources to occasional explorations into church fathers and gnosticism.

RLG 3655H: Readings in Jewish Literature

Terence Donaldson • Spring, Wed: 9-11, Wycliff
A study of selected Jewish literature from the Second-Temple period. To provide thematic unity to our reading, we will pay particular attention to the treatment in this literature of Gentiles and their status vis-a-vis God, Israel and "salvation."

RLG 3714H: Sacred Biography in South Asia

Ayesha Irani • Fall, Wed, 1-3, JHB214
This seminar will examine sacred biography in South Asia centered upon the figures of religious founders and holy people, such as the Buddha, Krishna Caitanya, the Prophet Muhammad, sants and Sufis. We will examine the relationship between sacred biography and other forms of biography, as well as literary genres such as puranas and Islamic universal histories. Emphasis will be placed on the conjunction of history, myth, and memory in sacred biography, on the impact of distance between biographer and subject on biography, on narrative choice in event history and portraiture, and on the archetypal narremes that are used to construct the biographic image of the sacred subject. We will also examine the political, ideological, and social reasons for why sacred biographies are written, and their role in religious identity formation. Wherever possible, we will study the impact of sacred biography as a socio-historical reality on the biographer’s own place in community memory.

RLG3720H: Sex & Gender in South Asian Religious Traditions

Karen Ruffle • Fall, Mon: 3-5, UTM-IB350
This course is designed to explore the central ideas and problems in the study of such South Asian religious traditions as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism in itscontrol and maintenance of the body through asceticism, sexual regulations, and other practices; in debates over women’s religious authority and leadership, and other questions. We will examine sexual abstinence and promiscuity as forms of piety, and we will examine performances of the gendered body that transcend and/or problematize the binary construction of masculine and feminine. In this course we will assess some of the work that has been done to date on the role of gender, sexuality, and the body in South Asian religious tradition, and to consider new ways in which theories on gender and the body can be applied to religion.

RLG3741H: The Guru Between East & West

Srilata Raman • Spring, Thurs: 10-12, JHB319
The historical moment of the 21st century – where the very term guru has acquired an uncritical polysemy that effortlessly moves between the boundaries of the “religious” and the “secular”, between the ashram and the market place – seems to be an apt moment to revisit again, in depth, contemporary Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and other South Asian religious traditions linked to living, charismatic founders. Even while focusing on the contemporary, the course will also seek to trace the  genealogy of the guru thus enabling us to map carefully, in several of its stages, one important vector in the creation and diffusion of Indian religious communities within the Indian sub-continent and outside it, in the diaspora and, more generally, in the global landscape  of “spirituality”.

RLG 3762H: Religion and Aesthetics in South Asia

Ajay Rao • Spring, Tues: 3-5, UTMDV1147
"Religion" and "asthetics" are sometimes constructed as separate categories, but in South Asia religion is not often conceptually distinct from an autonomous sphere of aesthetic reflection. South Asian religious traditions are suffuced with aesthetic elements and processes - Hindu temple worship, for example, abounds in music, song, dance, and iconography; similarly, religious themes are pervasive in much classical poetry, dance, and aesthetic theory. This course examines two sorts of South Asian materials: those in which an aesthetic dimension is integral to religious traditions; and those in which religion and aesthetics are collapsed as the result of specific historical processes. In conversation with recent sociological, anthropological, and philosophical writings, we will explore this issue through careful study of a variety of Sanskrit sources: the epics, Abhinavagupta's commentary on the Natya Sastra, Vaisnava, Saiva, and Jaina appropriations of Sanskrit aesthetics and courtly poetry, and the works of Rabindranath Tagore. Students are encouraged to work with sources in the primary languages, although materials will also be provided in translation.

The following courses may be taken as a Directed Reading Course (RLG1501H/1502H):

RLG418H What Theists Care About that Atheists Don’t

Sol Goldberg • Spring, Thurs 12-2pm, JHB317
The philosophical debate between theists and atheists has historically been framed in terms of belief: what one camp asserts the other denies (i.e., God's existence), and so each camp demands that the other adduce compelling justifications and evidence in support of its beliefs. But this way of carrying on the debate increasingly strikes many on both sides as fruitless and too narrow a basis to consider the difference between the theistic and atheistic positions, especially in the light of the broader notions of rationality found in both the continental and analytic philosophical traditions. This seminar accordingly will start with a classical debate about the ethics of religious belief, and then ask how this debate might be changed by coupling notions of reason and rationality with a consideration of whether and why we care about certain beliefs. To help achieve this goal, we'll turn to such philosophers as Immanuel Kant, Harry Frankfurt, Martin Heidegger, Soren Kierkegaard, and Ludwig Wittenstein, who offer various ways understanding the importance of what we care about.

Other Courses of Interest to DSR Students

The Toronto School of Theology courses below may also be taken as a Directed Reading Course (RLG1501/2H) but students should speak with the Graduate Director (Jennifer Harris) before enrolling.

SMT6645HF Indian Christianity: History, Thought, Practice

Reid Locklin, Fall, Thurs, 10am-1pm, Location TBA
This seminar explores the claim of diverse Christian traditions in South Asia to be religious traditions of South Asia, with special attention to these traditions' indigenisation and social interactions with majority Hindu traditions. Our study will begin with an overview of the historical development of Christianity in India from the first century CE to the present. In a second unit, we move to close readings of major theological articulations for and against an indigenous South Asian Christianity. Finally, our attention will tum to the concept of "ritual dialogue" in Christian practice and the ethnographic study of Christian communities in India. Most of our attention will be focused on Christian traditions in South India, but students are encouraged to choose topics related to Christianity in other parts of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and/or Bhutan for their research papers.

EMH6801HF Christianity and Crisis in North America

Phyllis Airhart, Fall, Thurs 9-11am, Location TBA
This course is designed to explore the role of religion in times of war and cultural unrest. Topics to be considered include visions of national destiny in colonial times; nation-building in Canada and the United States; national disunity during civil war, responses to Christian imperialism and international conflict (including pacifism), Cold War, culture wars, and the challenges of pluralism and globalism to "national" identity.

WYB6641HF  Matthew's Story of Jesus

Terry Donaldson, Fall, Tues, 2-4pm, Location TBA
An examination of Matthew's Gospel from the perspective of narrative criticism. Attention will be given to the story itself, the manner in which the story is narrated, and the role of the reader in producing meaning. Written preparation for three seminar discussions, final paper.

WYB6714HS  Salvation as Liberation in Paul

Terry Donaldson, Winter, Tues 9-11am, Location TBA
A significant reappraisal of Paul's theology is currently underway, involving not only particular aspects (e.g. justification by faith, atonement) and overall structure, but also the more basic question of how we might speak of Paul as a theological thinker. This course will study major theological themes in Paul's letters - including the nature of human existence; sin; the law; the death and resurrection of Christ; life "in Christ"; Israel and the Gentiles - with special emphasis on salvation as liberation (from "the powers" to the new solidarity of life "in Christ"). Three short resumes, final paper.

WYB6641HF  Matthew's Story of Jesus

Terry Donaldson, Fall, Tues 2-4pm, Location TBA
An examination of Matthew's Gospel from the perspective of narrative criticism. Attention will be given to the story itself, the manner in which the story is narrated, and the role of the reader in producing meaning. Written preparation for three seminar discussions, final paper.

WYB6714HS  Salvation as Liberation in Paul

Terry Donaldson, Winter, Tues 9-11am, Location TBA
A significant reappraisal of Paul's theology is currently underway, involving not only particular aspects (e.g. justification by faith, atonement) and overall structure, but also the more basic question of how we might speak of Paul as a theological thinker. This course will study major theological themes in Paul's letters - including the nature of human existence; sin; the law; the death and resurrection of Christ; life "in Christ"; Israel and the Gentiles - with special emphasis on salvation as liberation (from "the powers" to the new solidarity of life "in Christ"). Three short resumes, final paper.

WYT5410HS  The Church Evangelical and Catholic

Joseph Mangina, Winter, Thurs 2-4pm, Location TBA
This course explores a range of proposals in contemporary ecclesiology across the ecumenical spectrum. Special attention will be given to questions surrounding the Church's concretely historical character, as in the ecclesiology of "practices" and its critics. Authors read may include Ratzinger, Jenson, Hauerwas, Cavanaugh, Radner and Healy. Seminar discussion; brief, bullet-point responses to the readings; 2500-word final paper.

WYT6406HF  Bread, Wine, and Water: Baptism and Eucharist as Sacraments of the Gospel

Joseph Mangina, Fall, Thurs 11-1pm, Location TBA
The Church baptizes and catechizes. The Church celebrates Eucharist. What does it mean to perform these actions? How can we perform them more faithfully? This course provides a 'systematic' theological overview of the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, incorporating biblical and historical perspectives along the way. Although the goal of the course is to develop a constructive Anglican theology of the sacraments, we will engage texts and authors from across the ecumenical spectrum. Some attention will also be paid to the 'other' sacraments, such as penance and holy orders. Final exam, short (10-15 page) final paper. Seminar discussions, lectures.

RGP6207HS  Spirituality and Suffering

Michael Stoeber, Winter, Thurs 11am-1pm, Location TBA
A critical exploration of religious responses to suffering. Focal issues will include the relation of love and spiritual transformation to suffering, the role of religious models or exemplars of suffering, and religious experience and the problems of theodicy. Readings will include works by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Dorothee Soelle and Simone Weil, as well as other selections drawn from the Christian, Buddhist, and Jewish traditions. Lectures, discussion, critical reflection papers.

RGT6745HS  Issues in the Philosophy of Religion and The Brothers Karamazov

Michael Stoeber, Winter, Mon, 2-4pm, Location TBA
This course explores issues in the philosophy of religion, with special reference to The Brothers Karamazov. Major themes include: the existence and nature of God, religious language, religious experience, faith and reason, the problem of evil, religion and morality, and afterlife beliefs. Readings include Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and selections from theologians and philosophers of religion. Lectures, discussion, participation, and critical reflection papers.

EMB5703HS  Paul: Biographical Problems

Leif Vaage, Winter, Thurs, 9-11am, Location TBA
An examination of different issues related to the "historical" Paul, including sources, composition history, composition history of the corpus paulinum, social location, mission, and comparative analogies. Research seminar with paper.

EMB6654HF  Gospel of Mark and Christian Origins

Leif Vaage, Fall, Thurs, 11am-1pm, Location TBA
Investigation of Mark's overarching rhetorical strategy and theological purpose: attention will be paid to questions of original life-situation, source and redaction criticism, relationship to Q, literary structure and ideological criticism.

Courses from Other Departments


 For further information on graduate courses offered by the Department of Anthropology please visit their website.
 ANT 6007H S - Magic, Science and Religion (T. Sanders)
Magic, science and religion have long preoccupied anthropologists. This course considers these topics by raising fundamental questions about the nature of knowledge: what can we know about the world, and how can we know it? Through close readings of key anthropological texts we consider what – if anything – differentiates magic, religion and science, belief and knowledge, subjectivity and objectivity, irrationality and rationality.

Centre for Comparative Literature

For further information on graduate courses offered by the Centre for Comparative Literature please visit their website.


For further information on graduate courses offered by the Classics Department please visit their website.

CLA 5025F "The Hellenistic Eastern Mediterranean 

B. Chrubasik, Fall, Fri 10am - 1pm, LI103
This seminar will explore the world of the Eastern Mediterranean during the Hellenistic period. Through a close study of the wonderful breath of sources at our disposal – such as inscriptions in Greek and other languages, coins and near-eastern records we will be able to analyse fascinating snapshots of the political, religious, and social life of the Hellenistic world from western Asia Minor via the Levant into Central Asia. Beyond documentary evidence we will naturally devote time on the available literary material, and ponder about how previous scholarship, and of course we, can ‘write’ Hellenistic history when much of the literary sources were written centuries after the events they describe.


For further information on graduate courses offered by the School of the Environment please visit their website.

ENV1008HS Worldviews and Ecology

Stephen Scharper, Spring, Thurs. 2-4pm, ES1042
This course undertakes a historical and interdisciplinary examination of diverse ecological worldviews as a means for instigating and enhancing class discussion. Our focus will be the current environmental situation/crisis and the several religious/spiritual as well as contemporary cultural worldviews that have given rise to the environmental situation today and the way in which we understand the way things are. We will assess the cosmological dimensions of human-nonhuman natural dynamics in various historical traditions/paradigms: (a) the spiritual worldviews of First Nations, Judaism, Islam, Western Christianity, Orthodox Easter Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism; (b) contemporary dominant secular worldviews: globalization, postglobalization, modernity/enlightenment/modern science, capitalism/consumerism; and (c) emerging worldviews with new possibilities: ecofeminism, deep ecology, Whiteheadian process philosophy, Bateson’s systems theory, Thomas Berry’s ecozoism. We will delve into these worldviews with the hope of understanding them and their context for environmental concerns today. We will try to see how each one of them affects human consciousness and knowing awareness, as well as how each separately or some of them jointly inform our decision-making and activity in terms of the natural (human and nonhuman) systems.


For further information on graduate courses offered by the School of the Environment please visit their website.

HIS 1709H-F Conversion and Christianities in the Early Modern Spanish World

Ken Mills, Fall, Tues 1-3pm, LA340
Our seminar investigates processes of religious transformation and the ways in which human allegiances and identities change. In a broader sense, we aim to understand the interactive emergence and mobility of religion and culture. The points of view and actions of purveyors and promoters of would-be universal brands of religion prove as interesting as those of the receivers, users and re-makers of local systems of belief and practice. Our readings and discussions will range widely, but ultimately concentrate on the proliferation of Catholic Christianities in the Spanish world between about the fifteenth and the eighteenth centuries. Surrounding subjects and settings will vary from year to year. Along the way, we will also discuss a selection of methods and “thinking tools,” many of them employed in the study of other times and places.Our readings consist of a mixture of books, essays compiled in a course reader prepared only for class use, and some materials available online. Completing the readings, and giving yourself time to reflect on them, are vital in preparation for discussion.There will normally be one seminar each week in the Fall semester. There is an emphasis on discussion. This is a joint graduate / upper level-undergraduate course (HIS 441 HF).

History & Philosophy of Science

For further information on graduate courses offered by the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology please visit their website.

HPS4511H Philosophy of Science and Religion

Yiftach Fehige, Spring, Tuesdays 10-12, NF235
“Science and Religion” is a relatively young field of research. Philosophy matters crucially both for relating science and religion, and in tackling issues that are central to their relationship. This course explores different models for relating science and religion. Topics include: creation vs. multiverse in Big-Bang cosmologies, the reliability of human cognitive faculties vs. naturalism, and deductive vs. inductive proofs for the existence of god.

Italian Studies

 For further information on graduate courses offered by the Department of Italian Studies, please visit their website.

ITA1735HS: Two Worlds Colliding: Renaissance Culture and the New World Project

 Dr. Mary Watt (University of Florida), Spring (January 5 - February 13, 2015), Mon & Tues, 10am - 12noon, TF2 (Teefy Hall)
This course explores literary, cultural and artistic responses to the new world project and the age of discovery. Specifically, the course considers how European thinkers including Ludovico Ariosto, Torquato Tasso, Alonso de Ercilla, Martin Behaim, François Rabelais, Lucas Cranach and Christopher Columbus, interpreted Europe's place in this new enterprise. The course will, therefore, concern itself with questions of nationalism and colonialism. The primary aim of the course, however, will be to examine the role that the great minds of the Renaissance played in shaping old world perceptions of what Columbus called an "other world" and what Vespucci called a "new world."

Medieval Studies

For further information on graduate courses offered by the Centre for Medieval Studies please visit their website.

MST 3210: Medieval Spain

Mark Meyerson, Spring, Mon 10-12 LI310
This course will explore primarily the social history of Castile and Aragon-Catalonia in an era of conquest, settlement, and social and institutional formation.  Among the topics to be treated are frontier society, the colonization process, the emergence and solidification of social groups in urban and rural areas, and Christian relations with Muslims and Jews.  Students will read secondary and primary texts.

MST 3262: Monastic Identities

Isabelle Cochelin, Fall, Wed 9-11, LI310
The goal of this course is to explore the various modes through which medieval monks and monastic houses defined and developed their sense of self. We will ask how they conceived their identity within the social hierarchy; with or against other social communities; in space; and with respect to other monks and monastic houses. Issues to be discussed include oblation, control of relics, hagiographical writing, and production and transmission of rules and customaries, either in general or with reference to one specific community.

MST 3311: Topics in Medieval Metaphysics

Deborah Black, Fall, Wed 10-12, LI301
A study of the main metaphysical texts of two of the most influential philosophers from the medieval Arabic-Islamic tradition, Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna, d. 1037) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes, d. 1198). Some consideration will also be given to the views of earlier Islamic authors, such as Al-Kindī (d. 870) and Al-Fārābī (d. 950). Topics to be considered include the subject-matter of metaphysics and the relation between ontology and theology; the distinction between essence and existence; the existence and attributes of God; necessity and possibility; causality.

Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations

For further information on graduate courses offered by the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Studies please visit their website.

NMC1105Y: Syriac Historical Text

Amir Harrak, Full Year, T9-11, BF316
Selected texts from the extensive Syriac historiographical literature will be read in the original Syriac language and scripts and analyzed for style, grammar, and content. The texts will be taken from Syriac chronicles, of which there is a series culminating in the voluminous works of Michael the Syrian (12th century) and Bar-Hebraeus (13th century). Both are precious sources, mainly but not exclusively, for the history of the Crusades. Particular attention will be paid to the history of the Middle East and Byzantium from the 5th to the end of the 14th centuries. Students are expected to prepare the texts in advance for reading and analysis in class.
Evaluation: based on class participation, one major essay, and one final test.

NMC1314HS: Law in Ancient Judaism

Sarianna Metso, Spring, Thurs 12-2, BF316
Law reflects the way in which society understands and organizes itself through common agreements and forms of restraint. This course examines the different ways religious legislation was generated in ancient Jewish communities and the different functions such legislation served in these communities. Special attention will focus on the legal codes embedded in the Torah, exploring the many similarities with and dependence upon other ancient Near Eastern legal corpora and judicial systems. Extra-canonical Jewish texts from the Second Temple and early rabbinic period will be studied as well, since they illumine the processes of scriptural exegesis and community development through which legal codes evolved.

NMC2055H1F: The Qu`ran and its Interpratations

Walid Saleh, Fall, Tues 10-12, BF201
This course is designed to orient students to the field of contemporary Qur’anic studies through reading and discussion of the text itself (in translation) and of significant European-language scholarship about the Qur’an as well as through examination of the principal bibliographical tools for this subject area.

NMC2080: Theory and Method in Middle Eastern Studies

M.Tavakoli-Targhi, Fall, R6-9, BF215
This reading-, speaking-, and writing-intensive course explores the history of the discipline and engages students in ongoing historiographical debates in Near and Middle Eastern Studies.  In addition to the emergence of “Oriental Studies” in Europe and North America, students will interrogate the historical connections between the field and other academic disciplines. Particular attention will be paid to the conceptions of time, history, and society, which have played an important role in research and writing on the Middle East. Each student is required to apply the critical approaches and concepts learned in this course to a final historiographical research paper that is directly related to her/his major field of inquiry.

NMC2090Y Islamic History to the Fall of Baghadad

Linda Northrup, Full Year, M & W 6-7pm, SS1069
An introduction to the history of Islamic civilization in the core Islamic regions from the rise of Islam to the fall of the Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad to the Mongols in 1258. Covering aspects of the religious, political, socio-economic, and cultural history of the formative period of Islamic civilization and focusing on some major themes and issues, this course provides a foundation and framework for further study in Islamic history and essential background for other fields. NMC 2090Y is the graduate section of NMC 273Y. Graduate students attend all of the lectures, and in addition to some shared assignments, are expected to read more widely and to write a major research paper.

NMC2119H1S: Readings in Medieval Arabic Legal Documents

Linda Northrup, Spring, Tues 1-4, BF219
The seminar provides an introduction to the use of medieval Arabic administrative and legal documents as historical sources. Copies of original specimens of a variety of types of documentary evidence, preserved in collections in Cairo and Jerusalem, and others preserved in chronicles, scribal, and shurut manuals and including petitions (qissa), decrees (marsum), endowment deeds (waqfiyya), deeds of sale, and purchase, estate inventories, etc. will be sampled. Documents will be read and prepared at home and analyzed in seminar with regard to palaeography, structure, content with a view to their use as a rich source of historical data for Egypt and Syria in the late medieval period.
Prerequisites: Adequate knowledge of Arabic and permission of the instructor.

NMC2180H1S: Iranian Modernity

M.Tavakoli-Targhi, Spring, W6-9, BF319
This seminar explores competing conceptions of Iranian modernity within a comparative historical framework on “multiple modernities.” While interrogating the modernity debate, it explores themes of the development and transformation of public and private spheres, imaginings of the national body and the body social, the themes of secularism and Islamism, rational and religious subjectivities, sexuality and gender, history and memory, revolution and national refashioning, universality and peculiarity, archotopia and heterotopia, and Self and the Other in Iran. A major theme is the exploration of the temporality and historicity in discussions of Iranian modernity. Each student in this course is expected to write a publishable research paper that addresses a significant aspect of Iranian modernity.

NMC2228H Zoroastrian Apocalyptic Literature

Enrico Rafaelli, Spring, Thurs 11-1, BF315
The course studies the Zoroastrian apocalyptic texts that we have received. These texts (composed in the 9th-10th century A.D., based on texts written in the Sassanian times, 3rd-7th century A.D.) present divine beings disclosing to human recipients the future developments of history, and the structure of the netherworld. The course also discusses whether apocalyptic texts were produced by Zoroastrians before the Sassanian times, thus constituting a possible source of Judaic apocalypticism.


For further information on graduate courses offered by the Department of Philosophy please visit their website.

School of Public Health & Joint Centre for Bioethics

JRH5124 Public Health Ethics

Alison ThompsonFall, Wed 9:30am-12:30pm, HS705 (155 College Street)
This is an advanced level graduate seminar course in the ethics of public health. This is distinct from the ethics in public health and the course attempts to give students some familiarity with some of the most important ethical issues facing those engaged in public health research (health promotion, disease prevention, and epidemiological and biostatistical research). The course is based on seminar discussions of course readings, and case studies. Students will be able to identify, articulate and analyze ethical issues arising from public health, and to formulate critical and well-reasoned ethical arguments.


For further information on graduate courses offered by the Department of Sociology please visit their website.

Toronto School of Theology

This is a list of 5000 level TST courses taught by DSR cross appointed faculty. For purposes of SGS registration these courses are assigned a Departmental designation of RLG4001H.  Further information can be found on their website.

SMT5522HF Lonergan and Sexual Morality

Michael Vertin, Fall, Fri 10am-1pm, Location TBA
Theological disagreements on particular moral issues often reflect underlying but unnoticed differences on the more general question of how a theologian properly makes any moral judgment. This course draws on the writings of Bernard Lonergan to explore both (i) that more general question and (ii) current theological disagreements on two particular issues of sexual morality, namely, contraceptive acts and homosexual acts. Previous familiarity with Lonergan's work is helpful but not required. Readings include selections from Lonergan's writings and Vatican documents. Weekly discussion preparation and participation, four one-page reflections, final paper, and take-home exam.

Language Courses at U of T


NMC 2100Y Introductory Standard Arabic: Mon & Wed 10-12, Friday 10am, BF215
NMC 2101Y Intermediate Standard Arabic I: Mon & Wed 1-3pm, Fri 1pm, BF215
NMC 2102Y Intermediate Standard Arabic II: Tues & Thurs 10-12, Fri 11am, BF215
NMC 2103Y Advanced Standard Arabic: Tues & Thurs 10am-12pm, BF214


NMC1100Y: Introduction to Aramaic

A. Harrak, full year, MW4-6; BF315
The course is designed to introduce the student to the Aramaic language through selected readings and a study of grammar. First term: Ezra 4:8‑6:18; 7:12‑26; and selected Aramaic texts from the 5th/4th centuries B.C.E. Second term: Daniel 2:4‑7:28. Grammar will be studied with reference to Hebrew and Syriac. Because of the type of Aramaic studied, students of Akkadian and Egyptian should be interested. The course is valuable for students concentrating on Syria‑Palestine.

NMC1102Y: Palestinian Aramaic Text

T.Meacham, full year,T10 -1; BF200B
This course is designed to enable students to undertake intensive study in the Palestinian dialect of Aramaic (Western Aramaic) found in the Palestinian Talmud and the Palestinian midrashic texts. This year we will begin our study with Tractate Niddah chapters 1 and 2. We will focus on Aramaic terminology and its function in the punctuation of the text. We will examine the way in which tannaitic material, especially Tosefta is used in text. Special attention will be paid to the parallels in the Babylonian Talmud to determine the mode and accuracy of transmission. Secondary literature and aids such as the Bar-Ilan database, concordances, and dictionaries will be introduced to the student.


FSL6000HF / FSL6000HS Reading French for Graduate Students, Tues, 4-6pm, Teefy Hall, Room 101


GER6000HF / GER6000HS Reading German for Graduate Students, Tues, 6-8pm, CR405


MST1000Y Introductory Medieval Latin        D. Townsend/W. Robins          M-F, 1-2pm, LI301
MST1001Y Intermediate Medieval Latin         L. Armstrong                           M-F, 1-2pm, LI310


NMC2200Y: Introductory Persian

Azita Taleghani, Full Year, Tues & Thurs 10-12, Fri 11am, SS2111
A member of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European linguistic family, Persian (Farsi) is today the official language of Iran and Tajikistan, and one of the two official languages of Afghanistan (where it is called Dari). The goal of the course is the rapid mastery of the fundamentals of Persian script and grammar, and the attainment of fluency in reading, writing, and speaking Persian at the elementary level. The course also serves as a basis for the classical language.