2015-2016 Graduate Courses

Note: This is an archive. View current courses.

Updated May 27, 2016 (Archived)


Religion students will be able to enrol in DSR graduate courses as of August 15, 2015 via SWS. Students from other Departments should complete a course add/drop form and obtain the necessary signatures before enrolling.

DSR Course Timetable

Please check for updates with the Department. Please be aware that course registration in RLG courses will begin August 15. 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.

Method and Theory in the Study of Religion



John Marshall

Tuesday 10-1, UC255


Kevin O’Neill

Tuesday 10-1, JHB217


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.


The MA Method and Theory Group

Kevin O’Neill

Tuesday 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.


Directed Reading
RLG1502H Directed Reading


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 is found here. 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.


RLG 2000Y
Major MA Research Paper


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.


Comparing Religion

Reid Locklin

Wednesday 5-7, Carr107


Few methods have been more foundational to the scholarly study of religion, or more subject to searching criticism, than the practice of comparison. This seminar offers an advanced introduction to comparative method in the contemporary academy by means of a close study of 4-6 significant comparative projects published in the last decade. Examples will be drawn from different sub-disciplines of Religion, including but not limited to ritual studies, philosophy of religion, comparative theology and/or ethnography.


Radical Evil: Religious, Philosophical and Psychological Responses

Marsha Hewitt

Monday 11-1, LA214


Terrorism, war, genocide, sexual abuse, murder: how can the human mind make sense of these horrors without reducing them to the ‘obscenity of understanding’ in trying to imagine and account for what to a healthy mind is the unimaginable? How can we possibly try to imagine the mind of perpetrators of violence, sexual abuse and terror? Yet these phenomena are becoming more pervasive and immediate and the destruction of human bodies and minds is worsening. How is it possible to sustain hope and faith in human goodness when our capacity for evil grows more sinister and ingenious? We will explore these and other questions comparatively and cross-culturally, examining the perspectives of religious, philosophical and psychoanalytic thinkers who represent Western and non-Western cultural and religious traditions.


Religion, Secularism, and the Public Sphere

J. Barton Scott

Wednesday 10-12, JHB214


In a secular age, public religion is—to recall Mary Douglas’ definition of dirt—matter out of place. Since the early modern consolidation of the category, “religion” has been understood as fundamentally private, cordoned off from politics, economics, and other social domains both conceptually and (in some cases) legally. But despite the emergence of regulatory structures meant to circumscribe or privatize it, religion has remained a vital component of public life worldwide, thus posing significant problems for secularist modes of thought. To make sense of this predicament, recent work in the emergent field sometimes described as critical secular studies has undertaken a critical reappraisal of secularism and related categories. This seminar introduces students to this ongoing scholarly conversation by asking how a critical genealogy of “the public” can contribute to it. What is a public? What is the genealogy of this term as a category of modern thought, and what is its relationship to political liberalism (or “government by discussion”)? Assigned readings will survey critical approaches to these questions emerging from media studies, postcolonial studies, critical legal studies, queer theory, and affect theory, as well as various fields within religious studies.


Critical Theory, Psychoanalysis & Religion

Marsha Hewitt

Tuesday 2-4, LA248


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.


Religion and Philosophy in the European Enlightenment

James DiCenso

Wednesday 3-5pm, JHB317


This is an advanced study of selected Enlightenment thinkers with a focus on their analyses of religion. The course is mainly devoted to the work of Spinoza, Hume, and Kant, although this may vary from year to year. Issues addressed include the rational critique of traditional religious sources and concepts, the relations among religion, ethics and politics, and the modern re-interpretation of religious ideas.


Modern Hermeneutics and Religion

James DiCenso

Wednesday 3-5, JHB317


This is a study of the way textual interpretation and theories of language have been central to the development of modern philosophy of religion. We begin with the foundational work of Schleiermacher and then move to a detailed inquiry into the hermeneutical contribution of Heidegger's Being and Time and Gadamer's Truth and Method. In particular, we explore the way in which twentieth century hermeneutical theory advances from the study of textual meaning per se to wider questions of the role of language in modes of consciousness and in the presentation of reality.


Philosophical Topics in Religion (Tolerant Ethics, Intolerant Religions)

Sol Goldberg

Friday 12-2, JHB214


A seminar that explores a topic in the philosophical study of religion. Possible topics include: the nature of religious truth; the phenomenology of religion; religion and respect; religion and the meaning of life; the literal and metaphorical aspects of God-talk and other religious language; naturalizing religious belief; tolerance and religion


Social Science Approaches to Early Christianity

Joseph Bryant

Tuesday 4-6pm, JHB317


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.


Christianity and Judaism in a Colonial Context

John Marshall

Tuesday 1-3, UC257


This seminar sets the study of early Christianity and Second Temple Judaism into relation with a movement in critical historiography of the modern world, namely postcolonial theory. Though the term “postcolonial theory” encompasses a panoply of approaches and dispositions, the basic insight that founds the seminar is the non-givenness of colonial domination and the resulting close attention to the endeavour of constructing such domination as “natural” as well as to the subaltern strategies of negotiation to which such situations typically give rise. Ideally, the conversation between contemporary postcolonial theory and research and scholarship on early Christianity and Second Temple Judaism will go two ways. On the one hand, students of early Christianity and Second Temple Judaism into awareness of methodological developments in historical research on other periods and settings. On the other hand, there is a case to be made that postcolonial theorists can benefit from watching their insights applied to a very different situation.


Religion & Public Life in Canada

Mark Toulouse

Thursday 2-4, Emmanuel College 108


Seminar exploring patterns of involvement of religion in the public sphere. Traditional assumptions about church and state, impact of 19th-century "disestablishment" and 20th-century pluralism, Catholicism and the state in Quebec, women as religious reformers, the social gospel, Christian populism in the prairies, ecumenical and evangelical approaches to public engagement, implications of constitutional change are among the topics considered. Informed participation, mid-term written assignment, research paper.



Ann Jervis

Thursday 2-4, Wycliffe


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.


Words & Worship

Simon Coleman

Tuesday 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.


Sanskrit Readings 1

Ajay Rao

Monday and Wednesday 2-4, JHB319


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.


Sanskrit Readings 2

Ajay Rao

Thursday 11-1pm, JHB 214


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.


The Buddhist Canon

Amanda Goodman

Thursday 11-1, JHB319


Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

Advanced study of specialized topics in Buddhist Studies.


Buddhist Auto/Biography: Buddhist Text Readings

Frances Garrett

Wednesday 11-1, JHB319


This course explores the genres of autobiography and biography in Buddhist literature. The course will begin with theoretical studies on narrative and religious life-writing. We will then consider the development and distinctive features of auto/biographies and hagiographies in the literature one or more Buddhist cultures, analyzing representative examples of these genres from a range of traditions and historical periods, and considering how these sources have been understood and used in secondary scholarship.


Special Topics in Islamic Studies
(Religion and the Liberal State: The Case of Islam)

Mohammad Fadel

Tuesday 10-1, TF103


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.


Introduction to Islamic Law

Anver Emon

Fridays 10-12, tba


Registration for this course will not be available before Nov 2015

This course will introduce students to the history and jurisprudence of the Islamic legal tradition. It will involve a survey of Islamic legal history from the 7th century till the modern day, tracking its developments across both time and space. Students will be introduced to the doctrinal and theoretical traditions of Islamic law. Additionally, students will gain an appreciation of how Islamic law remains a core point of contention in both the Muslim world and elsewhere as governments seek to govern pluralistically in an era of increasing insecurity.


Hebrew Literature and Religion

Harry Fox

Tuesday 2-4, BA313


The themes of Eros and Thanatos will be explored in Aggadic texts from Song of Songs Rabbah. This midrashic text stands halfway in the tradition, both making use of earlier texts and being used by editors of later compilations. These interrelations will be the focus of our study as well as the relationship of the work to Scripture. This course will introduce students to the skills required in reading ancient literature. We will study Midrash Song of Songs with its manuscripts, sources and parallels. The language of instruction is either in Hebrew or English. The assignments may be written either in Hebrew or in English. The texts and most of the readings are in Hebrew.


Modern Jewish Thought

Sol Goldberg

Wednesday 12-2, JHB318


The course will consist of a close study of major themes, texts, and thinkers in modern Jewish thought. Attention will be focused on the historical development of modern Judaism, with special emphasis on the Jewish religious and philosophical responses to the challenges of modernity. Among the modern Jewish thinkers to be considered will be: Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Krochmal, Steinheim, Cohen, Rosenzweig, Buber, Scholem, Strauss, and Fackenheim.


Ritual and Scripture at Qumran

Judith Newman

Monday 1-3, JHB317


This graduate seminar will examine selected psalms, prayers, and hymns and other less overtly "liturgical" texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls. We will consider the performative role of such texts in the Qumran movement and their relation to the evolving growth of the Hebrew Bible in the two centuries before and after the common era. The relationship of these texts to later Jewish and Christian liturgical texts (e.g., the book of Psalms) and the New Testament will also be considered. Seminar participation,seminar presentations, major paper. Requires working knowledge of Hebrew.


Hindu Epics: The Mahabharata

Arti Dhand

Wednesday 12-2, NF009


Prerequisite: RLG205Y; Instructor’s permission required for admission to course.

Advanced study in specialized topics on Hinduism such as Ramayana in Literature: This course explores how this conception is the result of a historical process by examining documentable transformations in the reception of the Ramayana. Our focus will be on the shift in the classification of the Ramayana from the inaugural work of Sanskrit literary culture (adi-kavya) in Sanskrit aesthetics to a work of tradition (smrti) in theological commentaries, the differences between the Ramayanas ideal of divine kingship and medieval theistic approaches to Ramas identification with Visnu, the rise of Rama worship, and the use of Ramas divinity in contemporary political discourse.


RLG 4001H
Directed Reading: TST Seminar

Reading course designators for those who wish to take appropriate, upper level Toronto School of Theology Courses.


RLG 4004H
Centre Colloquium

Once General Exams are completed, students in the PhD program are required to participate at least once in the Centre for the Study of Religion’s colloquium before undertaking their final oral exams. The colloquium participation is recorded as a credit/non credit on the transcript.

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


Museums and Material Religion

Pamela Klassen

Tuesday 1-3, VIC304


May be taken as a Directed Reading Course (RLG1501H/1502H)

Museums have long been important sites for the presentation and curation of religion—and religious diversity—to public audiences. With multiple visits to the ROM, this course will give students opportunities to think critically about the changing ways that museums have constructed religion, while engaging with the hands-on challenges of museum curation. Assignments will be based on interaction with the ROM’s collections and will include an introduction to digital tools for humanities scholarship.


Anthropology of Islam

Amira Mittermaier

Tuesday 2-4, UC161


May be taken as a Directed Reading Course (RLG1501H/1502H)

Combines theoretical reflections on what an anthropology of Islam might entail with ethnographic readings on the practice of Islam in communities around the world.

All details concerning course offerings cross-listed from other departments should be checked with the relevant academic department as changes can occur which may not be reflected in our listing.



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

Archaeology of Ritual, Religion, and Ideology

E. Swenson

Thursday 1-4, AP3671


This course presents an intensive study of archaeological approaches to ritual performance, religious belief, and ideology within a cross-cultural comparative framework. Students will examine key theoretical paradigms in the anthropology of religion while assessing the ways in which inferences on social process, political structures, and prehistoric worldviews can be made from ritual contexts preserved in the material record. Emphasis will be placed on critically evaluating both archaeological methods deployed in the analysis of ancient ritual as well as theoretical approaches mobilized to interpret the material signatures of past ceremonialism. Other themes to be addressed in the course include: a critique of functionalist interpretations of prehistoric religion popular in current archaeological research; the intersection of power and ritual experience as embodied practice; the material and spatial specificity of religious events; the aesthetics and ideological valence of ritual theatre; and the archaeological investigation of world religions (with a particular focus on the potential political controversies posed by such research).

Book History and Print Culture

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

Mediascapes: Text, Stories, Land

Pamela Klassen

Wednesday 1-4, Colin Friesen Room, Massey College


Prerequisite or corequisite for students in the program: BKS1001HF. May be available without prerequisite to students outside the program by Permission of Instructor.

An advanced seminar required of all doctoral students in the BHPC Program, this course will vary in content from year to year depending upon the expertise of the faculty member appointed to lead it. The term-paper research project will be open to work in all disciplines, periods, and languages in consultation with the instructor.

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.

The Historian as Ethnographer: Tacitus and the Ancient Ethnographic Tradition

Andreas Bendlin

Thursday 9-12


Recent research has again drawn our attention to the lack of clear generic boundaries between ancient historiography and ethnography; in order to support their own historiographical narratives, ancient historiographers routinely employed tales of ‘the other’, which outline the ethnic origin, geographical location, character traits, institutions, customs, and religious practices of both barbarians outside and minority ethnic groups inside ancient empires.

This research seminar discusses three Tacitean works in which ethnographic discourse plays a prominent role. We will focus largely on the following Tacitean texts: the Agricola, a generic hybrid of (encomiastic) biography, history, and political pamphlet, the central chapters of which discuss the ethnography of the Celtic peoples in Britain and at the same time dramatize the benefits and disadvantages of Roman imperialism in the province; the Germania, which discusses the various German tribes settling east of the river Rhine whose institutions, customs, and character traits contrast with the behavior of those partaking in Roman civilization within the Empire; and the Histories, whose surviving books contain several ethnographic digressions–particularly in Books 4 and 5, which include not one but two accounts of peoples opposing Rome: ethnography is implicit in Tacitus’s narrative of the Batavian revolt in the Northwest of the Empire while the account of the Jewish revolt in the Empire’s East contains one of the most explicit– and most problematic–examples of Tacitean ethnography.
We will pay close attention to the meanings of these texts, their content, Tacitus’s possible sources, and the literary and intellectual tradition in which these texts and their ethnographies are operating. We will also attempt to reconstruct the political background before which these texts were written and uncover the author’s–political, social, cultural, or moral–aims in writing these texts.


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

Worldviews and Ecology

Stephen Scharper

Thursday 2-4, 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 English Department please visit their website.


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

HIS 1268HS

Doris Bergen

Time and Location TBA


This course introduces graduate students to major issues in the study of the Holocaust and World War II. The focus is on connections between these interrelated events. Readings include classic as well as recent works from a range of disciplines and methodological approaches. Special attention will be paid to different national, political, and historiographical contexts in which the Holocaust and the war have been examined by scholars, beginning in the 1940s and up to the present. We will also investigate the postwar confrontation with the Third Reich, comparing social, cultural and judicial responses to Nazism in West and East Germany. This course will therefore provide an overview of Nazi Germany between 1933-45, an in-depth examination of the genesis of the Holocaust, and reflections on Nazism’s lingering presence in the two Germanys. Readings will include, among others, works by Hannah Arendt, Saul Friedlander, Gerhard Weinberg, Istvan Deac, Jan Gross, Omer Bartov, Christopher Browning, Zygmunt Bauman, Mark Roseman and Goetz Aly. Oral presentations and the long paper (which may be either a study based on research in primary sources or an historiographical survey) will give students an opportunity to explore areas of particular interest to them.

Crusades, Conversion and Colonization in the Medieval Baltic

Juri Kivimae

Thurday 5-7, SS2112


This seminar will explore the impact of crusades, religious conversion and colonization on medieval Baltic history. The focus of the course will be on close reading and analysis of the Chronicle of Henry of Livonia in English translation. Our readings and discussions will include topics such as crusades and violent conversion, medieval colonialism, Europeanization as well as German expansion eastwards, the role of the Teutonic Knights and the strategies of survival of the native Baltic people after conquest and Christianization.

The Islamic Revolution

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi

Wednesday 4-6, SS2129


This seminar explores the making of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Framed in a comparative historical perspective on revolutions, it interrogates the cultural and political peculiarities that made possible the rise of Shi‘i clerics to power after the overthrow of the Pahlavi Dynasty in February 1979. This course particularly focuses on the pre-revolutionary conception of a diseased “social body” that required the intervention of “spiritual physicians” to restore the moral and spiritual health of society. Exploring the consolidation of revolutionary regimes and the utilization of Islam as a state ideology, students will examine the interplay of public and private spheres as well as possible desacralization of everyday life in post-revolutionary Iran. Each student in this course is expected to write a publishable research paper that addresses a significant aspect of Iran’s Islamic.

HIS 1830HS
Critical Approaches to Historical Anthropology

Malavika Kasturi

Wednesday 1-3pm, Location TBA


‘Historical anthropology’ as a distinct, appealing and influential mode of enquiry seeking to combine historical and anthropological approaches to analyse social and cultural processes through time, emerged from important dialogues and engagements between historians and anthropologists over the past three decades. Through a critical examination of the propositions of ‘historical anthropology’, the course will probe how its practitioners have grappled with the constitutive, if problematic relationships between ‘culture’, power and history and ethnography and the ‘archive’. Equally, it will assess the extent to which historical anthropology has elaborated new research methodologies, shaped historiography and facilitated conversations and encounters between disciplines. In this regard, course readings will draw attention to recent strategies proffered by scholars grappling with the possibilities and dilemmas of historical anthropology in spaces deeply marked by colonialism, nationalism and globalisation like South Asia. Course materials will draw upon, but will not be limited to readings from South Asia.

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.

HPS 4511HF
Philosophy of Science and Religion

Yiftach J. H. Fehige

Tuesday 10-12, BC20


“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.

Medieval Studies

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

MST 3237S
Through the Lens of Monastic Rules and Customaries

Isabelle Cochelin

Tuesday 2-4, LI 301


This course explores the history of monasticism from late antiquity to the late Middle Ages through its so called normative sources, especially rules and customaries. The main goal of the course is in-depth reading of primary sources, however, attention will also be given to the recent secondary literature on these texts, challenging the traditional history of monasticism. While the focus is on monasticism, it is also a social history course as it allows the study of medieval daily life even in periods for which we have no similar sources for other groups of society. Students will be able to choose one theme to study through all the sources read in class (in translation and Latin) – such as food, organization of space, punishment or sexuality – or to investigate lesser known (and usually not yet translated) rules and customaries.

MST 3321F
Philosophy of Mind in the Middle Ages

Deborah Black

Wednesday 10-12, LI 301


All texts will be available in English translation. Some prior acquaintance with Aristotle’s De anima would be helpful.

The nature of the mind or intellect was one of the most disputed and controversial topics in medieval philosophy, and one of the focal points of the Condemnations at the University of Paris in 1277. At the heart of these controversies was the view of the Islamic philosopher Averroes (Ibn Rushd), who claimed that the human intellect is a separate mind common to all human knowers. Averroes’s views, while puzzling and counter-intuitive on the surface, raise many difficult issues about the nature of abstract thought and the role of consciousness in human understanding. This course will begin with a close reading of Averroes’s commentaries on Aristotle’s De anima in which he develops and defends his views. We will then examine the reactions, of Latin authors, both positive and negative, to the Averroist account of the mind. The principal Western authors to be examined will be Thomas Aquinas and Siger of Brabant, along with a few other Latin Averroists.

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.

Syriac Exegetical Texts,

Amir Harrak

Tuesday 9-11, BF316


Selections from exegetical literature on the Bible will be read in Syriac and will be analyzed not only for their linguistic form and data, but also for their interpretive content. Extant literature includes commentaries on Genesis and Exodus by Ephrem the Syrian (4th century), as well as commentaries on all biblical books by Ishodad of Merv (9th century) and Dionysius bar Salibi (12th century). In addition, numerous “scolia” on individual passages have survived, such as those of James of Edessa (7th century) and, further, his Hexaemeron, a commentary on the six days of creation. In light of the chronological span of the literature, some attention will be paid to the development of Syriac interpretive tradition.

Midreshei Halakha: Purity and Cultic Texts

Tirzah Meacham

Wednesday 1-4, RL14081


Halakhic Midrash, the rabbinic continuation of biblical law, is one of the three major literary creations of the Tannaitic period, making it one of the most important sources for Middle Hebrew. Midreshei Halakha are the ancient Jewish biblical interpretations and constitute the earliest and closest reading of the Pentateuch excluding Genesis. A study of terminology and methodology indicates the existence of two midrashic systems: D’vei R. Yishmael and D’vei R. Aqiva. We will examine the scholarly debate concerning the exact time in which midreshei halakha were composed and redacted and concerning the transfer of terminology and material between the schools. In this course we shall study selections from the cultic and purity texts from Leviticus in Sifra or Torat Kohenim and/or from Numbers in Sifrei and Sifrei Zuta. In the course of our study, we shall develop facility with midrashic terminology and midrashic logic. We shall compare the texts in the standard scholarly editions with the manuscripts of those texts, parallel material in other compositions in Middle Hebrew (Mishnah and Tosefta) and the Talmudim. Students will gain facility in reading and creating a critical apparatus. This course will demonstrate the context of ancient Jewish law in matters of purity and cultic practice for students of Hebrew Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls, and Rabbinics.

Special Topics in Comparative Religious Law

Tirzah Meacham

Time TBA, BF Library



Readings in Qur’an and Tafsir

Walid Saleh

Tuesday 1-3, BF214


Prerequisites: At least two years of Arabic, or advanced reading knowledge, or the permission of the instructor.

This course is an introduction to the rich literature that has grown around the study of the Qur’an in the Arabic tradition. In addition to readings in the Qur’an students will read selections from works in ma’ani, and majaz; we will then move to the major works in tafsir; selections include material from al-Tabari, al-Tha`labi, al-Zamakhshari, al-Qurtubi, al-Razi, Ibn Taymiyah, and al-Suyuti. The course will culminate in the study of al-Itqan of al-Suyuti. The course will also introduce students to the major reference works that are used for research in this field.

Theory and Method in Middle Eastern Studies

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi

Thursday 5-8pm, BF214


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.

Anthropology of the Middle East

Amira Mittermaier

Monday 3-5pm, location TBA


This course examines current theoretical and methodological trends in the anthropological study of the Middle East. The readings will offer students ethnographic insight into the region, introduce them to current research, and acquaint them with the kinds of questions that anthropologists ask (and the ones that they fail to ask). Possible topics include: (post-) colonialism, nationalism, gender, violence, history/memory, the politics of archeology, mass mediations, neoliberalism, and questions of ethnographic authority. A central goal of the course is to enable students to think in new, creative, and critical ways about their own research projects.

Islamic History to the Fall of Baghdad

Linda Northrup

Monday and Wednesday 6pm, BF215


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.

Zoroastrian Cosmic History: From Genesis to Universal Judgment

Enrico Raffaelli

Thursday 1-3pm, BF316


The course surveys the history of the Zoroastrian religion from antiquity to the modern times, with a particular attention to the pre-Islamic Iranian history. The main focus of the course are the cosmological doctrines attested in the Zoroastrian texts in Avestan and Middle Persian. The position of these doctrines in the system of beliefs and practices of the Zoroastrian religion is highlighted, as well as the points in common of cosmological doctrines of Zoroastrianism and of other Iranian and Near Eastern religions.

The Islamic City

E.J. Keall

Tuesday and Thursday 6-8, BF315


It is generally recognized that the city formed the focal point for the development of Islamic civilization. Large metropolitan complexes were in fact typical of mediaeval Islam. Using architectural studies, archaeology, and historical sources as the basis of the inquiry, this course will examine the physical and social morphology of the pre-industrial Islamic city. The approach will be an in-depth study of individual cities, ranging from Central Asia to North Africa and Spain, followed by an attempt to draw some general conclusions about the ecology, demographic characteristics, and processes of urbanization of the Islamic city from the 7th to 17th centuries. This course is appropriate for students of mediaeval and Islamic studies, as well as architecture and urban studies. (Offered every three years)


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

Philosophy of Religion

David Novak

Monday 9-12, JH418


This course will deal with what is arguably the central question of philosophy of religion: Can God’s existence be proven? We will consider the affirmative arguments of Aristotle, Maimonides, Aquinas, Spinoza, and Leibniz. We will also consider the negative arguments of Hume, Kant, and Karl Barth.

School of Public Health & Joint Centre for Bioethics

For further information on graduate courses offered by Joint Cetnre for Bioethics please visit their website.


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


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.

Early Christian Self-Definition

Terence Donaldson

Wednesdays 9-11, location TBA



A study of the developing self-understanding of early Christianity, seen in the context of the process by which the Christian movement separated from its Jewish matrix and developed into a distinct, largely Gentile religion. The major portion of the course will consist of a study of selected Christian literature (up to the mid-second century) with attention to specific issues of self-definition. Lectures, discussions of assigned readings and student presentations. Seminar paper and final research paper.

Paul and the Septuagint

Bradley McLean

Wednesday 9-11, location TBA



The Septuagint functioned as the Scriptures of the early Christian church and were considered to have at least equal authority to the Hebrew Scriptures. The primary focus of this course is the analysis of Paul's citations of Septuagintal texts and how Paul employs the Septuagint in his own scriptural reasoning. This course will also discuss the linguistic relationship between the Septuagint and its source (Hebrew) text, and apply the 'interlinear paradigm' for translating it.

Book of Genesis

Glen Taylor

Tuesday 2-4, location TBA



Critical and exegetical study of Hebrew text of Genesis. In addition to historical-critical issues, attention will be paid to Ancient Near Eastern parallels as well as to the book's themes, structure and theological significance.

Theology and Spirituality of Dorothee Soelle

Michael Stoeber

Thursday 11-1, location TBA



Critically explores the theology and spirituality of Dorothee Soelle, with special attention on the themes of creation-liberation theology, suffering, God, feminist concerns, embodied spirituality, and mysticism. Seminar discussion, lecture, short presentations, major essay.

Augustine, Aquinas, Lonergan

Michael Vertin

Friday 10-1, Location TBA



This course investigates certain key developments regarding God in the theological tradition of Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, and Bernard Lonergan. The focus is three topics: God as knowable by natural reason, God as manifested by supernatural revelation, and the psychological analogy for the Trinity. Readings include appropriate sections of Augustine's Confessions and On the Trinity, Aquinas' Summa theologiae, and Lonergan's Method in Theology and Third Collection. Lecture plus seminar. Requirements: weekly seminar preparation and participation, four one-page reflections, final paper, and take-home exam.

These 6000 level Toronto School of Theology courses may be taken as a Directed Reading Course (RLG1501/2) but students should speak with the DSR Graduate Director before enrolling.

Varieties of North American Christianity

Phyllis Airhart

Wednesday 9-11, location TBA



Topics for the seminar will vary from year to year but will focus on issues related to approaches to spiritual formation and the relationships between individual experience, social transformation, and institutional identity in North American contexts. Seminar format involving student leadership; discussion of assigned readings, presentation of research.

The Role of Emotions in the Letters of St. Paul

Colleen Shantz

Tuesday 2-4, location TBA



The course offers an interdisciplinary exploration of the role of emotion in Paul's communication with early Christian communities. We will study emotional appeals as a rhetorical strategy of the letters as well as the effects of such emotions in human beings (including their cultural construction, biological and psychological effects, role in cognition). The overarching question of the course is how to cultivate emotional intelligence in our readings of Paul's letters. Lectures, class discussions of assigned readings, graded presentations and writing assignments.



Introduction to Sumerian

H. Baker

Thursday 10-1, BF316



The course will include basic and intermediate study of grammar Sumerian and its complex writing system. The course will involve reading and discussion of the main grammatical works as well as progressive exercises from actual texts. By the end of the year students should have acquired a fairly good understanding of the grammar and script and be able to read royal inscriptions and basic economic and administrative texts.


NMC 1100Y
Introduction to Aramaic

Amir Harrak

Monday and Wednesday 4-5:30, BF316



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.

Babylonian Aramaic

Tirzah Meacham

Thursday 10-1, BF308


Strong Hebrew background and/or introductory Aramaic required.

Learning the syntax of Babylonian Aramaic and building vocabulary will be accomplished through study of the text of a Babylonian Talmud tractate and its traditional commentaries. Comparisons to Biblical Aramaic and other Aramaic dialects will be noted. Y. N. Epstein’s Aramit Bavlit will be the reference for grammar study. M. Sokoloff’s A Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic is the required dictionary. Jastrow’s Dictionary of Talmud Babli, Yerushalmi, Midrashic Literature and Targumim may also be helpful.


Advanced Ancient Hebrew Grammar

R. Holdmstedt

Tuesday 9-12, UC65



Advanced discussion of phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of ancient Hebrew. Consideration of the various linguistic methods used to investigate ancient Hebrew. Investigation of the most visible and currently unresolved grammatical issues. For each language issue addressed, selections of texts from ancient Hebrew will be used as a reference point. Weekly Hebrew composition will also be required.


Introductory Standard Arabic

A-K. Ali

Monday and Wednesday 10-12, Friday 10, BF215




Intermediate Standard Arabic I

A-K. Ali

Monday and Wednesday 1-3, Friday 12, BF215




Intermediate Standard Arabic II

F. Ragheb

Tuesday and Thursday 10-12, Friday 11, BF215



Reading and detailed analysis of connected passages of text in both Classical and Modern standard Arabic.

Advanced Standard Arabic

A-K. Ali

Tuesday and Thursday 10-12, BF215


Students enrolled in this course are assumed to have active knowledge of the grammar and vocabulary covered in previous levels.

After a brief review, the course continues from where NMC 2102 leaves off. Its goal is to enable the students to reach a superior level of proficiency in Arabic. To this end, the materials covered are designed to strengthen the students’ reading and writing skills, refine and expand their knowledge of sentence structure, morphological patterns, verb system, and enrich their cultural background. The primary method is analysis of sophisticated authentic texts covering a wide range of genres and drawn from different parts of the Arabic speaking world. Although the main focus remains to be on Modern Standard Arabic, texts from the Classical Arabic literary tradition will be introduced incrementally throughout the course.


Intermediate Persian

A. Taleghani

Tuesday and Thursday 10-12, BA3012



The course involves reading, grammatical analysis, and translation of representative samples of contemporary and classical Persian prose and poetry of intermediate difficulty. Reading materials are selected from a wide range of sources in order to ensure balanced, yet comprehensive, exposure to the different usages of the language.


Reading German for Graduate Students

Josh Dittrich

Tuesday 3-5, TF101



In this course German reading knowledge is taught following the grammar-translation method designed for graduate students from the Humanities. It is an intensive course that covers German grammar with focus on acquiring essential structures of the German language to develop translation skills. The course is conducted in English, and consequently participants do not learn how to speak or write in German, but rather the course focuses exclusively on reading and translating German. Prior knowledge of German not mandatory. By the end of the course, students should be able to handle a broad variety of texts in single modern Standard German.

Reading German for Graduate Students

Viktoriya Melnykevych

Tuesday 3-5, CR405



In this course German reading knowledge is taught following the grammar-translation method designed for graduate students from the Humanities. It is an intensive course that covers German grammar with focus on acquiring essential structures of the German language to develop translation skills. The course is conducted in English, and consequently participants do not learn how to speak or write in German, but rather the course focuses exclusively on reading and translating German. Prior knowledge of German not mandatory. By the end of the course, students should be able to handle a broad variety of texts in single modern Standard German.


Reading French Course for Graduate Students

Nicholas Hauck

Tuesday 4-6, Carr Hall 406



Open to Masters and PhD graduate students who need to fulfill their graduate language requirement. On a case by case basis, students with prior language qualifications can access the exam-only option (still with course registration) after prior screening by the home department in support of the exam-only option. A grade of Credit/NonCredit (70% is the minimum grade for CR) will be entered on their transcripts. Students are not permitted to audit this course. This course is designed to develop students' reading skills particularly as they pertain to research interests. Some remedial grammar, but the primary emphasis is on comprehension of a wide variety of texts in French.

Reading French Course for Graduate Students

Instructor TBA

Tuesday 4-6, Teefy Hall 200



Open to Masters and PhD graduate students who need to fulfill their graduate language requirement. On a case by case basis, students with prior language qualifications can access the exam-only option (still with course registration) after prior screening by the home department in support of the exam-only option. A grade of Credit/NonCredit (70% is the minimum grade for CR) will be entered on their transcripts. Students are not permitted to audit this course. This course is designed to develop students' reading skills particularly as they pertain to research interests. Some remedial grammar, but the primary emphasis is on comprehension of a wide variety of texts in French.


Introductory Medieval Latin

L. Armstrong

Monday through Friday 1-2, LI 310



Intermediate Medieval Latin

D. Townsend

Monday through Friday 1-2, LI 301