2017-2018 Graduate Courses

Note: This is an archive. View current courses.

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Non-RLG Students: For permission to enroll in an RLG course, please bring a completed course add/drop form to the Graduate Administrator.




DSR Courses




TUE. 10A-12P
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.




TUE. 10A-12P
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.


MON. 3P-5P
For many, nature has become the place where one experiences and explores spirituality. At the same time, the language for expressing these sentiments is often lacking. The past decade has witnessed a flourishing in the genre of English creative non-fiction nature writing. At the precipice of environmental catastrophe, this popular, urgent literature often expresses a desire to spiritualize our language of nature, and re-enchant our understanding of it. By examining how the genre challenges destructive, abstract, immanence-bound narratives, this course will explore the spiritual and religious dimension of the New Nature Literature, bringing it into dialogue with readings from religious studies, philosophy and theology, to explore issues including eco-spirituality, post-humanism, and the shape of post-secular religion.


THURS. 10A-12P
It has been said that it is impossible to use electric light and the radio and at the same time believe in the world of spirits and miracles. This seminar seeks to revise this claim by tracing the multiple intersections of religion, media, and technology in modernity. Additionally, it uses the emergent field of “religion and media” to question the disciplinary boundaries of the study of religion and the status of the various subfields that can be clustered under the rubric of “religion and culture.” Specific topics vary, but may include: televised Hindu epics, comic book religion, televangelism, terrorism, digital religion, blasphemy and religious offense, spirit photography, Hollywood religion, etc.


MON. 12-3P
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 evidence in support of its beliefs. But this way of carrying on the debate increasingly strikes some on both sides as fruitless. Even worse, “belief” seems simply too narrow a basis on which to consider the difference between the theistic and atheistic positions, especially given the broader notions both of “rationality” found in the continental as well as analytic philosophical traditions and of “religion” as investigated by anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, and occasionally even philosophers in the field.   This seminar accordingly will start with a classical debate about the ethics of religious belief between William Clifford, a militant atheist, and William James, an apologist for religion, only then to ask how this debate might be changed by coupling notions of reason and rationality with a consideration of whether and why we care about ir/religious things. To help us reframe this debate, we’ll draw on such philosophers as Immanuel Kant, Harry Frankfurt, Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, who offer various ways understanding the importance of what we care about. And, finally, with this background, we’ll look at recent philosophical discussions of two religiously-inflected kinds of experiences: absurdity and awe.


WED. 9A-12P
Examination of the accounts of the passion and death of Jesus in their original historical and literary contexts.


THURS. 10A-12P
This is a Sanskrit reading course of one of the classics of Hindu literature, the Bhagavadgita. In the course we will start to translate from the second chapter of the Bhagavadgita onwards on the basis of a word by word grammatical and lexical discussion of each verse. Students will be expected, from the second session, to prepare verses accordingly, and to translate them in class. A basic minimum requirement for the course will be Introductory Sanskrit.


TUE. 3-5P
This course examines the historical development of the Buddhist canon across Asian traditions, including the transmitted Buddhist canons of South, Southeast, and East Asia. The course will explore the central role of the canon within Buddhist institutional history, as well as its centrality in the field of Buddhist studies. In addition, the course will emphasize the role of extra-canonical finds in the study of Buddhist traditions, and provide the basic tools and methods necessary for original research on Buddhist textual traditions across Asia.


TUE. 10:30A-12:20P
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.


What kinds of insights can be gained from an anthropological approach to the study of Islam?  What theories of religion do anthropologists of Islam draw on and put forward? How is an ‘anthropology of Islam’ different from an ‘anthropology of Muslims?’ These are some of the questions this course will address. We will first discuss some of the classical texts in the anthropology of Islam (Geertz, Gellner, Gilsenan, Asad) before delving into some recent seminal works (Messick, Mahmood) and some hot-off-the-press books that bring the anthropology of Islam in conversation with debates on capitalism, race, diaspora, and environment. The choice of new ethnographies will take into account student interests.


MON. 1-3P
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.


WED. 10A-12P
This course focuses on debates in Ancient Indian history and religion from the Vedic Period to the Kushana and Satavahana Empires (ca 1000 BCE to ca 200 CE).  We will focus on transitions in the political, social, economic, and religious world of the Subcontinent and introduce major trends of interpretation in the secondary literature and the sources upon which these interpretations have been based.  The course develops a sensitivity to historiographical and theoretical problems in the study of ancient South Asia through a careful investigation of historical continuity and disjunction in the history of religious practices and ideas, the emergence of political forms (especially the “state”), and the relationship between discourse and power.  It will be of interest to students of religion, history, literature, and archaeology of premodern India.


MON. 4-6P
This seminar in theory examines the postsecular as a series of questions opened by the so-called return of religion to public debate, the rise of politicised religious movements, and the limits of liberal democracy’s ability to respond to the challenge of religion and religious otherness. The course will examine the debates on religion’s public, political role as articulated by thinkers such as Habermas, Rawls, Brown, Zizek, et al by focusing on politically radical or revolutionary challenges to liberalism that are grounded upon or draw their inspiration from religious traditions, doctrines and practices. We will focus especially on challenges emerging from the colonial and post-colonial world in response to colonialism and the globalization of liberal democracy and capitalism, from thinkers such as Ghandi, Qutb, Ali Shariati, Gutierrez, recent contributions by postcolonial theorists to a ‘postsecular’ debate that is dominated by Western thought, as well as examining forms of globalized ‘fundamentalist’ thought.




THURS 10A-12P, JHB214
Leading scholars declare Judaism an “exegetical religious culture par excellence,” with the Bible as its “foundation document” (Michael Fishbane), or a culture saturated in “texts and commentaries” like no other (Amos Funkenstein). The premise of this course is that biblical commentaries are worthy of study as way to gain revelatory insights into Jewish reflections on moral issues. The course will explore such issues as they arise in writings of medieval and modern biblical commentators while paying attention to their ongoing dialogue with the classical (rabbinic) legacy. Topics include: the status of women; murder; peace, tolerance and pluralism; ethics of war; environmental ethics; revenge; love of one’s fellow, and the way different commentators addressed apparent moral failings of biblical figures. Commentators include Rashi, Joseph Bekhor Shor, Abraham Ibn Ezra, Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides), Moses ben Nahman (Nahmanides), Isaac Abarbanel, Samson Raphael Hirsch, Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin (Neziv),  Elie Weisel, and Avivah Zornberg.

Professor Lawee is the Shier Distinguished Visiting Professor in Jewish Studies. He is visiting from the Zalman Shamir Bible Department at Bar Ilan University in Israel.


RLG2022 RELIGION AND TRAUMA: Psychoanalytic Narratives of Transmission and Transformation

MON. 11A-1P
An examination of religious myths, beliefs and experiences that express and at times contribute to transgenerational traumatic responses in communities and individuals. Exploration of ways cultural myths and religious narratives reveal multiple levels of psychodynamic processes that organize and give symbolic form to inchoate experiences of anxiety, grief, loss deriving from both personal (i.e. abuse, neglect) and social realities (I.e. Holocaust; war; violent social strife). Trauma stories from different religious traditions (i.e. Christianity: Crucifixion; Judaism: emergence of monotheism; Abraham and Isaac; Job) and popular spiritualities (i.e. varieties of ‘extraordinary’ experience) will be explored, focussing on the ways they can induce and symbolize trauma as well as they ways they attempt to provide resources for transforming healing processes (i.e, transpersonal psychology; selected examples of ‘New Age’ spiritualities).


FRI. 11A-1P, JHB235
The philosophy of religion has recently received renewed attention by scholars of religion attempting to rethink the possible contributions the subfield can make to the larger field. These scholars move away from the subfield's historical association both with theology in medieval Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, an association that does not fit with the self-understanding of the academic study of religion, in redefining the intellectual agenda of contemporary philosophy of religion. This seminar will explore this redefinition by asking whether and why philosophy might matter to religious studies today not only as a method allied with those of psychologists, historians, sociologists, and anthropologists but also as a meta-discourse that reflects on the entire field’s presuppositions. The course will explore the importance of both philosophy of religion and philosophy of religious studies for the academic study of religion. And it will do so by addressing five topics of central importance to the field: (i) philosophical conceptualizations of religion; (ii) the legitimacy and unavoidability of normative evaluations; (iii) the (a)historicity of religious phenomena; (iv) the use and abuse of comparison; and (v) the centrality and  constructedness of religious traditions.

The central text of the seminar will be Why Philosophy Matters for the Study of Religion--and Vice Versa (Oxford University Press, 2015) by Thomas Lewis, who will be the keynote speaker this spring at our department’s graduate student conference.


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.


MON. 10A-12P
How are we to analyze the words that Christians use? How might oral forms compare with written ones? And how should we 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 biblical citations 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. Although the focus is on Christianity, the aim is to provide methodological and analytical tools that can also be applied to the study of other religions.


This course will interrogate the statement that “to be a Burmese is to be a Buddhist”. Burma/Myanmar has been a country in which Buddhism took many different forms (Indian, Sri Lankan, Pyu, Mon) before it became Burmese as we know it. It is a country in which Buddhists are confronted with neighbours who practice a host of other religions such as Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and where Buddhists themselves worship the spirits of heroes who died violent deaths, called the nats. It is a country in which Buddhism remains both dominant and contested. Through an analysis and discussion of historical, anthropological, visual and literary sources this course will take us through the religious landscape of Burma/Myanmar that lies behind the tourist images of Pagan, the literary invocations of the road to Mandalay or the headlines featuring “the Saffron Revolution”, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the recent liberalisation of the country.


MON. 3-5P
Advanced readings in Tibetan Buddhist Literature.


MON. 2-4P
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.


MON. 2-4P
This course deals with the 1st century Alexandrian Jewish thinker, Philo Judaeos, the 1st major Jewish thinker to engage in philosophy.


Of the aspects of courtly life treated in early Sanskrit poetry, none was more central than erotic love, with depictions of courtship in dramas, independent verses, and epic poems closely mirroring the categories and technical language of the early science of erotica. This course examines the paradoxical relationship of the erotic in Sanskrit poetry with its opposite—renunciation and the technologies of asceticism involving a rejection of sexuality. While the treatment of these themes reflects a deeper civilizational history emblematized by the figure of Siva, the erotic ascetic, Sanskrit courtly poetry allows us to examine problems peculiar to courtly life and kingship. Did the aestheticization of power in Sanskrit poetry conflict with transcendental ideals? How was the legitimacy of pleasure seen as both autonomous from and concurrent with other legitimate human ends?


WED. 12-2P
Advanced study in specialized topics on Hinduism.


Other Courses of Interest


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

ANT4043HS Archaelogy of Ritual, Religion, and Ideology

E. Swenson
Thurs 2-5pm, AP140
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).

ANT6059HS Anthropology and History

Tues 4-6pm, AP367
Historical perspectives in anthropology and ethnographic approaches to history.  We study the history of the closely related constructions of race, religion, language, culture, and nation (and implicitly related constructions like gender) starting from the late eighteenth century, and examine the traces and transformations of that history, as recognized in contemporary anthropological work in postcolonial societies and among indigenous populations and migrants in the West. We examine the historical effects of material inventions (money, paper, digital data storage and processing) on both society and on the nature of anthropological research.

ANT6055HS Anthropology of Subjectivity and Personhood

G. Daswani
Mon 11-1pm, AP367
Personhood, subjectivity and human nature lies at the heart of anthropology inquiry: the meaning and relationship of self and other; how representations of human nature have developed and have shaped an imagination of a (Western) anthropos; the tensions between universality, particularity and singularity; the exchange between humans and non-humans. This course addresses the place of personhood and subjectivity from debates around themes such as the “Religious Subject”, the “Precarious Subject” and “Beyond-the-Subject”. The goal of the course is to introduce students to theoretical frameworks that have effectively been employed by anthropologists when studying personhood, subject and human nature, and also to think them through themes such as ‘will’, ‘blood’ and ‘cannibalism’.  This course will be run as a seminar with evaluation based on participation, one oral presentation, weekly reports, and a final paper.

ANT 6003HF Critical Issues in Ethnography I

J. Boddy
‘Ethnography’ is at once a (relatively disciplined) practice of interpersonal engagement, and the results of this practice conveyed and transformed through writing.  In this course we examine books variously positioned within the realm of ‘ethnography’ in an effort to become more familiar with what the genre entails. The selected texts are thematically linked by concerns for place, time, subject/person, power and subjugation. Each provides a point of departure for exploring a range of ethnographic methods and theoretical models. We examine issues such as authorial positioning and voice, use of ‘plot’, narrative style, characterization, and representation, all the while attending to the means by which the ethnography was produced and its historical and intellectual context.

ANT 6037HF Advanced Research Seminar VII: Anthropology of Affects

V. Napolitano
Mondays, 11-1pm
This course explores selected theoretical and ethnographic engagements with affect theories that have influenced anthropological research. Hence a set of ethnographies/visual productions will be read/discussed during the course (for instance, on affects and the political, and on processes of ruination). These theoretical engagements  branch from key aspects of:  gendered medieval takes on affects, philosophy of history and materiality, and more recent spatial /architectural theories on transmission of affects. The course has a research component and part of the final evaluation can be produced both in a written as well as in a visual/mediatic form.



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

FAH1125HF Medieval Pilgrimage Art and Architecture

J. Caskey
Tue. 3-6P
This seminar critiques current theories of pilgrimage and investigates selected early Christian, Western medieval, Byzantine, and Islamic destinations. Readings (both primary and secondary sources) and discussions address such features as urbanism, architectural plans, sculptural programs, tombs and shrines, relics and reliquaries, badges and souvenirs. Student presentations/papers will attempt to reconstruct the realia of a specific pilgrimage site. Reading knowledge of at least one foreign language is recommended.

FAH1175H Early Islamic Architecture

H. Mostafa (Medieval)
Wed 10A-1P



For information on graduate courses offered by Book History and Print Culture please visit their website.



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

CLA5009 Varro: knowledge and antiquarianism between the Late Republic and the Augustan period

A. Bendlin
This research seminar will be dedicated to Marcus Terentius Varro, one of the foremost intellectuals of the Late Republican and triumviral periods. We will pay particular attention to Varro’s writings about Roman cultural customs and religious institutions (prominently, in his fragmentary Antiquitates rerum humanarum et divinarum). However, we will also consider other Varronian works and will attempt an assessment of the abundantly rich body of “antiquarian,” theological, and legal literature produced by Varro’s contemporaries during the Late Republican, triumviral, and Augustan periods. Finally, we will trace Varro’s influence in later Roman culture, from the encyclopaedic endeavours of Augustan authors such as Verrius Flaccus to Varro’s reception by Christian writers.
Some reading knowledge of French and German would be helpful.



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


J. Ricco
Thursdays, 3-5
Jean-Luc Nancy’s work on art, aesthetics, and sense has achieved widespread significance in contemporary philosophical, art historical, and theoretical discussions and debates on the relations between art, politics, and ethics. This course provides students with an opportunity to engage with close readings of his work, in order to develop an understanding of the specific priority granted to the praxis of art and aisthesis in his thinking on sense, existence, and being-with. Books by Nancy such as The Muses, The Ground of the Image, Being Singular Plural, Corpus, The Pleasure of Drawing, and Noli Me Tangere, will be read along with the work of other philosophers who have informed Nancy’s own thinking (e.g. Hegel, Kant, Freud, Heidegger, Bataille, Blanchot and Derrida).


E. Gunderson
Thurdays 1-3
This is a class about the relationship between politics and literature.
A Roman citizen who was twenty in 68 CE and lived to 98 CE would have witnessed three jagged transitions between the Julio-Claudian, Flavian, and Antonine dynasties. These were eventful decades. And the “events” were by no means merely the insertion of new persons into various political functions. New authors, texts, and projects arise in this period. And these same new arrivals themselves will fall out of favor and yield to others amid still further waves of political and cultural change.
We will explore aesthetics, culture, and power in Flavian and early Antonine authors. We will make a survey of the various major prose and verse projects on offer from this period with an emphasis upon the complex constellation of questions that circulate around the subject and power. In so doing we will also employ a species of methodological survey. Which theoretical works might help us to overcome some of the facile answers or trackless impasses that would otherwise confront us?
For example, a sentimental, romantic reading of poetry will almost inevitably churn up the idea of “resistance” as folded into any valorized verse project: power represses; the poet-as-critic resists. This paradigm probably says more about the modern reader than it does about the ancient object of criticism, since, one will note, the center of the discussion for the ancient authors of the period tends to be located around a question like “fawning”. The term adulatio spikes in this era. Betrayal, cynicism, despair, self-interest and stupidity are similarly “hot” motifs within these authors.
The facile oscillation between inculpation and exculpation, between complicity and resistance, needs to be set to one side precisely because of the self-interested insistence in so many ancient sources that politics and aesthetics must converge. It is all too easy to praise or blame the past because the ancients themselves insist that we play the praise-and-blame game and they set the very rules by which it will be played. Instead of following that lead, we will look at how and why politics and literature become entwined and who stands to gain from their their convergence, even if the profits seem to be nothing more than an ostentatious shudder of loathing. What is the politics of hermeneutics itself?
As this is a survey of a vast terrain, students will have a significant say in what we most need to cover in order to serve their own long-term interests. At the moment I expect to read selections from biography, epic, epigram, epistles, history, and lyric. On the theoretical side some subset of the following will be entertained: Adorno, Benjamin, Bourdieu, Deleuze, Foucault, Gramsci, Marx, Žižek. Additions to this list are also possible. The majority of concrete commitments to the shape of the syllabus will only take place after the introductory class session.


A. Sakaki
Thursdays, 10-12
This course will look at six metropoles (Berlin, London, Paris, New York, St. Petersburg, Shanghai) from the perspectives of Japanese visitors such as Mori, Natsume, Nagai, Yokomitsu, Tanizaki, Gotô, Tawada, and Horie, and from those of natives and immigrants (e.g., Benjamin, Döblin, Nabokov, Woolf, Conrad, Rilke, Pushkin, Gogol, Shi). Those writers’ accounts of cities in the span of time between the late nineteenth century and late twentieth century are inflected by the itineraries of their movement before and after their experience of the cities and by their peripatetic as well as optical experience of urban spaces of varied historical, social, material and geopolitical conditions. They reveal cities not as cartographical spots but as sites in the traffic of bodies and sensations. The readings (all assigned are available in English, with additional materials to be introduced by the instructor) shall be arranged in such a way that participants can compare each city’s literary mediations by variably invested observers. Accompanying theoretical, critical and photographic texts (e.g., Apter, Atget, Benjamin, Brandt, Brassaï, Burgin, de Certeau, Doisneau, Gleber, Maeda, Ronis, Walker) shall define a conceptual framework for each session.


E. A. Povinelli
***Special 4-week intensive course offered by visiting Northrop Frye Professor Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Columbia Univeristy | Non-Complit students please contact Complit in early September to register.
It’s hot and it’s getting hotter. As the machinery of capital extraction, industrialism, and consumption refuses to relinquish its grip, meteorological temperatures continue to rise and chemical hot zones spread. Tipping points threaten regime shifts in which the qualitative nature of the earth’s biosphere will alter. But until then, and even after then, hot zones occur in the aggregate only in abstraction. In reality they form like weather clouds over specific places—toxic smog over Beijing, lead poisoning in drinking water in Flint, Michigan, uranium exposure in Navajo and Hopi lands. Marx thought the social dialectic was leading to the purification of the fundamental opposition of human classes. No little evidence can be mustered to support the claim that we are nearing this moment—the world seems to be splitting into ever more extreme halves—the one percent and the ever-increasing precariate. But what many believe we are witnessing a new form of antagonism and which demands new modes of solidarity. The new swelter seems to them less fundamentally a war of class—although also a class war, although definitely not a clash of civilization—and more a clash of existents. And in this new war of the
world everyone must decide with whom (or what) we are making ties of solidarity. With whom or what will we stake our claim? This course examines the How are critical political concepts holding up in the midst of this swelter?


M. Revermann
Fridays 12-3
Translation Studies is a young field that has gained considerable momentum over the past 20 or so years (especially with the emergence of Postcolonial Studies). Comparatist by nature, translation is a good a gateway as any into the discipline of Comparative Literature and some of its principal concerns.
This course will combine the historical, theoretical and pragmatic dimension of translation (all of which overlap to a certain extent). On the historical side, there will be detailed and historically contextualized study of some main reflections on the problem of translation (including texts by Schleiermacher, Benjamin, Venuti and Apter) as well as specific broader case studies of the translation history of certain works (including the Bible, Virgil and Sophocles). For the theoretical dimension Munday (2008) will serve as a guide to a critical discussion of particular approaches and models developed by current Translation Studies. The litmus test will be the pragmatic dimension: hands-on, detailed and theoretically informed analyses of specific translations (usually short passages), mostly to be chosen and presented by the seminar participants themselves.


R. Bai
Wednesdays, 11-1
This course examines new forms of textualities and textual practices that are emerging in the digital era. It highlights an understudied dimension of the text, i.e. the medium that forms its material and technological infrastructure such as scroll, codex, book, CD, e-book, the Internet, and smartphone. The course starts with a historical investigation into the printed text and print culture. Then it moves on to the question of how digital technologies shape reading and writing as well as other text-based cultural practices. While the course revolves around the mediality of the text, it distances itself from technological determinism by stressing the facts that digital technologies are always embedded in and shaped by historically specific political, social, and cultural conditions. This course is designed for students who are interested in questions and issues related to literary production in the digital era and more generally the materiality of the text. Theoretical and scholarly works we will engage with in this course include, but not limited to, Understanding Media: Extensions of Man (McLuhan, 1964), The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (Adrian Johns, 2000), Writing Machines (N. Katherine Hayles, 2002), Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print (Jay David Bolter, 2001), Bodies in Code: Interfaces with Digital Media (Mark Hansen, 2006), The Interface Effect (Alexander R. Galloway), The Language of New Media (Lev Manovich, 2002), Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies (Noah Wardrip-Fruin, 2009).



For further information on graduate courses offered by Department of East Asian Studies please visit their website.

EAS1407HF Textual Analysis of Classical Chinese Philosophy

V. Shen



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

ENG5317HF  Amorous Americans: Sexuality and the United States Novel

M. Cobb
Mon 10-12
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the American novel  spills  over  with sexual  diversity: one cannot forget characters such  as  Hawthorne’s Hester, Melville’s Queequeg and Ishmael, Norris’ McTeague, Crane’s Maggie, James’s Beast in the Jungle, Cather’s men on the mesa, Larsen’s Clare and Irene, Faulkner’s Quentin, Baldwin’s queer, Christian men, Ralph Morrison’s Sula and Nel. Of course sexuality’s omnipotent presence would make it into any national literature—so much depends on sexual relations.  Yet, we’ll ask a set of less obvious questions: in what ways does the drama of human sexuality—the drama of its feelings, its ideologies, its fragilities, its technologies, and its traditions—influence the development of a literature that is defined as “American?”  In what ways is the relation of sexuality also a relation of American prose literature, of self-conscious linguistic form, which captures and communicates a host of values, aesthetics, pleasures, concerns, utopias, and possibilities?  In what ways does that novel form putatively belong to the United States and its anxious sense of character and culture?  Taking our cues from the explosive cultural work pursued over the past thirty years, we’ll investigate canonical literary and canonical theoretical texts with all kinds of sex on the mind.

ENG3251HF Varieties of (18th-Century) Religious Experience

A. Hernandez
Wed 3-6pm, JHB718
It used to be that the story we told about religion in the eighteenth century was one in which it faded into the background—but no more. The past decade or so has complicated the old view, with scholars working across disciplines—literature, anthropology, social theory, religious studies, history, and more—challenging the causes and extent of secularization, rethinking the role of religion in the era’s politics, and revisiting the wild variety of religious experience among eighteenth-century people. This course intends to explore this emerging body of theoretical literature, and will read a series of eighteenth-century texts (ranging from novels, to confessional poetry, to satires and hymns) alongside it. How can we reinvigorate a category that often comes off as the “third rail” of materialist cultural studies? What sorts of accounts of the period emerge once we do? Are there reparative readings available to the alien theological and devotional texts of the period? What, for that matter, do we mean when we talk about “religious experience” in a period whose “imaginary” is often unrecognizable? We’ll venture answers to these questions and more, gaining facility with a series of concepts and literary works in which these are core concerns.

JLE5116HS Naming the World: Realism Travels the Globe

N. ten Kortenaar
Wed 9-11am, :  BT 319
When they first encountered novelistic realism, writers all over the world felt it constituted an invitation to include in their writing distinctly non-literary elements of their own world in the form of descriptions and names of things and places. Realism encouraged a new kind of vision: writing about things that had never been written about in order to make people see those things for the first time. We will examine the meaning realism acquired as it made its way around the world by looking at three Western texts to suggest the history of realism—a novel by Balzac, another by Zola, and a third by Updike—and then at six more realist novels from other traditions, that is, from Africa, India, China, and Latin America. We will also look at representative theory of realism by Auerbach, Lukacs, Barthes, Ermarth, Jameson, etc.

ENG6553HF Law as Literature: Story and Style in a Culture of Argument

G. Henderson
Mon 2-4pm, JHB718
Focusing on an array of judgments, this course mobilizes insights furnished by literary and rhetorical theory to explore the function of figuration and narrative in judicial discourse. Topics to be considered include narrative theory and the rhetoric of judgment; judicial styles; the relationship between law and literature; narrative as argument; the avoidance of narrative; the anatomy of a Supreme Court of Canada decision; the self-subverting rhetoric of causality and intention in homicide cases; narrative, violence, and the law; troubling confessions and excludable stories; cultural analysis, cultural studies and the law.
This course is about legal world-making and judicial self-fashioning, about how judges create normative universes for us to live in and fashion ethical images of themselves as judges every time they decide a case.  Its enabling assumptions are that judicial writing is a form of narrative and rhetoric, that storytelling in law is narrative within a culture of argument, and that narrative is an integral element of legal argument, not something simply tacked on to humanize the law or authenticate the parties.  Especially in the context of cases dealing with liability and homicide,  two areas of law in which the concept of causation plays a pivotal role, the rhetorical power of hypothetical and factual narratives ends up carrying as much argumentative weight as the logical force of  legal distinctions.
Narrative is crucial to legal decision-making because the primary task of the judge is to make a plausible and coherent story out of the sometimes conflicting and contradictory particulars of a given case.  Thus the angle of vision from which the story is told (narrative perspective) and the language and style in which it is couched (narrative voice) have an impact on the decision arrived at.  The agents a judge empowers to see and say are often the agents whose arguments prevail.  All writing involves the making of choices, and the rhetorical, narratological, and stylistic choices that a judge makes, whether consciously or unconsciously, create a legal world for others to inhabit and embody the moral character of its creator.  Nomos, perspective, voice, and ethos matter in law just as they matter in literature.  And narrative is the cement that binds these two disciplines together.
Topics to be explored include the illuminative power of concepts drawn from narratology and dialogism; the function of style in the rhetoric of judgment; the rhetoric of causality, intention, confession, and voluntariness in the language of the law; and the ways in which judges express and repress issues surrounding violence, sexual assault, and sexual behaviour. This course deals with aspects of theory, in particular the application of narrative and rhetorical theory to judicial discourse.

ENG5020HS #BlackLivesMatter: Contemporary Black Canadian Literature

K. Vernon
Wed 1-3pm JHB616
In this course we focus on contemporary black Canadian literature in order to illuminate the current context of black life and political  struggle in Canada. We will read a selection of generically-diverse work by contemporary black Canadian writers, including short stories, poetry, drama, fantasy, historical fiction, and cultural criticism that brings forward a range of histories and contexts that are all too often left out of media representations of black Canadian life. Writing by contemporary authors reveals how histories of slavery, dispossession, erasure and rebellion continue to be alive and part of the present, structuring our social relations still. This work opens up a broad field of inquiry. We will turn our attention to such questions as: how are writers reimagining the place of blackness within and without Canada? How are black writers transforming the meanings of blackness by reframing dominant imaginings of black history, intellectual life and sexuality? What role does art play in black political movements? What political alliances can we form with Indigenous nations in the collective struggle to decolonize? Finally, and most importantly, how do contemporary black Canadian writers imagine worlds that broaden the horizon of black freedom?

ENG6034HF Old and New Materialisms

L. Blake
Thurs 3-6pm, JHB617
In this course we will explore how “new” the contemporary philosophies of “new materialism” – currently circulating in literary studies as well as in other disciplines – really are. The thesis of the course is that we can enrich our new materialisms by exploring older materialisms as well. To do so we will first need to tease apart the relationship between these new materialists speculating about the nature of matter, on the one hand, and the (ancient and modern) philosophical tradition of materialism on the other. We will read works of ancient and early modern philosophy about matter and the material world, paired with modern and contemporary works by the self-proclaimed new materialists. The modern and contemporary new materialists turn largely to contemporary philosophy and science; Barad’s Meeting the Universe Halfway partakes of contemporary physics, for example, and Jane Bennett’s Vital Matter draws on twentieth-century ideas of vitalism. But what does it do to our discussions of new materialisms to fold in older philosophies of matter and materialisms as well? We will focus our discussions of these theoretical questions through literary texts, many taken from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (when philosophies of matter abounded).



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

ENV1008H Worldviews and Ecology

S. Scharper
Thurs 2-4pm LA 212
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.

SJE1909HF Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice

T. Zoric
Mon 1-4pm
The premise on which this course is based is that social equity and environmental sustainability are necessarily and inextricably intertwined. After clarifying key concepts such as environmental justice, we will analyze the current unsustainable way in which Canada as a society, as well as the world as a whole, are organized, including climate change, water and food access and quality, energy generation and consumption, BMO,s, population growth. We will also explore positive examples of how to deal with these issues.



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

HIS 1664H Religion and Society in Southeast Asia (Joint HIS496H1)


HIS 1221H  Early Modern Europe: Topics in Social History

From the fifteenth century, new social, religious, and political tensions brought European Christians, Jews, and Muslims into closer contact with each other and led them to frame identity in more exclusive and oppositional terms (ethnic, racial, and religious).  This course will consider how communities and identities were imagined, formed and contested in the early modern period.  Concerns about purity, contagion, protection, and purgation came to shape intellectual frameworks, social expectations, and political actions, often driven by the intellectual movements that we associate with the Renaissance and Reformation.  Religion was likely the greatest force for both inclusion and exclusion, incorporation and purgation, and the period saw religious refugees emerge as a mass phenomenon. We will look at how Europeans defined, accommodated, repelled, or integrated Others –  whether Turks, Jews, radicals, the poor, heretics – and at how boundaries of various kinds were created and crossed.

HIS 1234H  Readings in Early Modern French History

This course is designed to introduce students to fundamental questions in the history of early modern France, as well as help prepare students for examination fields in early modern European history. Students will examine a series of key themes and important primary and secondary texts as an avenue into critical reflection on the political, religious and social history of France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Of particular interest will be the institutions of the Renaissance monarchy, the causes and consequences of the Wars of Religion, historiographical debates surrounding the development of the absolutist state, the social history of war, and the intersection of social change, political history and religious life. All assigned course reading will be in English. Students will write one short book review and a longer essay analyzing a substantial primary text (or series of documents).

HIS 1272H  Topics in Twentieth-Century European History: World Wars

In this graduate seminar we explore some of the major military conflicts that have shaped Europe and its place in the world over the past century and a half. The goal is to deepen our understanding of the nature of modern warfare and to explore the tools and methodologies that historians and others have used to analyze wars and their repercussions. What is the relationship between war and politics, war and diplomacy, society, culture, religion, gender, and sexuality? What are the differences between world wars, civil wars, genocidal wars, extremely violent societies, cold wars, and the many other varieties of conflict between and among states and people, and how useful are such distinctions in understanding the past?

HIS 1286H  Imperial Russian Social History

The first all-Russian (which was really the first all-imperial) census of 1897 categorized the population of the Russian Empire by gender, by social status, by profession, by religion, and in a way, by nationality. In this course, we will examine the ways that those categories developed over the preceding centuries. We will examine how social estates developed, and how alternate forms of social stratification did or did not develop to challenge those estates. We will look at the role religion played in categorizing Russian society, and the ways that the Russian state viewed religion synonymously with nationalism.  And we will investigate the ways that ethnic and national differences became more recognized as important sources of social division, too, related to, and yet separate from these other forms.

HIS 1283H (J)  Crusades, Conversion and Colonization in the Medieval Baltic (Joint HIS412H1)

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.

HIS 1440H (J)  Irish Nationalism in Canada, 1858-1870 (Joint with SMC416H1)

An examination of Irish Canadian nationalism in the context of transatlantic migration patterns, revolutionary and reformist movements in Ireland, annexationism and Irish radicalism in the United States, and ethno-religious tensions in Canada.



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



For further information on graduate courses offered by the Faculty of Law please visit their website.

RLG3501HF Religion and the Liberal State: The Case of Islam

M. Fadel
Note: The Blackboard program will be used for this course. Students must self-enrol in Blackboard as soon as confirmed in the course in order to obtain course information.
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.

LAW5566H1F Roman Law

E. Weinrib
An introduction to Roman Law. The course will focus on the Roman law of wrongfully inflicted damage (including negligence) and will feature the reading of translated extracts from Roman legal literature. The course will consider such matters as the relationship between procedure and substance in the development of Roman Law, the role of the jurists and of juristic writings, and the conceptions of wrongfulness, responsibility, causation and damage that emerge from the Roman legal texts. Required book: Bruce Frier, A Casebook on the Roman Law of Delict.

LAW7105H Indigenous People and Canadian Courts: Advocacy, Evidentiary and Ethical Issues

K. Hensel
This course will outline the issues, law, and best practices arising in litigation cases involving Indigenous clients. Cases involving Indigenous communities, individuals, and clients brought before Canadian courts and tribunals present distinct challenges to litigants, counsel, and the court or tribunal with respect to:
The historic engagement of and/or alienation of Indigenous people with or from the Canadian courts, legal profession, and related institutions;
The non-Indigenous and Indigenous cultural foundations for procedural and evidentiary approaches, (e.g., in relation to individual and collective rights and interests, to the protocols around the reliability, transmission, and provenance of information, etc.);
The form and admissibility of oral history evidence and evidence concerning “traditional knowledge”;
Procedural approaches and best practices to the litigation of disputes engaging litigation issues;
Whether judicial notice can, should, or must be taken of historic facts and/or cultural context that may be relevant to the dispute, from a procedural, evidentiary, or substantive legal perspective;
Ethical issues for legal counsel with respect to communicating and taking instructions from Indigenous clients, engagement of collective rights and interests, examination and cross-examination of elders, and generally, with respect to the litigation of disputes involving Indigenous litigants; and
The role of the legal profession and litigation practice in ameliorating the historic, economic, social, political, and cultural marginalization of Indigenous peoples, and in working towards reconciliation between the Canadian and Indigenous solitudes identified in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report.
The course will examine each of these issues with reference to jurisprudence and other analysis and commentary relating to Constitutional, commercial, family, child welfare, and other civil litigation, public inquiries and other statutory tribunals, and criminal cases.

LAW3032H "Black Lives Matter" and Criminal Procedure: Race and the Fourth Amendment

E. Yankah
Despite the passionate conversation the Black Lives Matter Movement in the United States has provoked about the sustained tension between vulnerable communities of colour and class on the one hand and the American police on the other, American Supreme Court jurisprudence remains strikingly mute on this important national conversation. Indeed, over the last two generations American Fourth Amendment doctrine, governing police search, seizure and use of force, has purposefully blinded the law to volatile interaction between policing and race. Thus, American law has not only provided insufficient tools to remedy racially bias policing practices but has silenced the ability of citizens to investigate and restrain police power.
This class will examine American Fourth Amendment doctrine from its modern roots in Terry v. Ohio to the recent holdings such as Utah v. Strieff. Rigorously examining where case law governs policing embedded in racial disparity and supplemented with scholarly readings, the class will inspect the ways the current deficiencies in the law’s ability to address race are a core to the legal doctrine rather than an unfortunate side-effect. Students will be encouraged to weigh (and even resist) this thesis as well as consider what solutions are required.

CRI1050/LAW299H1F Law and Society: Theoretical Perspectives

This course is for students interested in thinking more deeply about law, security, rights, and sovereignty. It is interdisciplinary. In documents such as the Canadian Charter of Rights, as well as in popular depictions of law and justice it is taken for granted that “persons” exist by nature and are rights bearers by nature. The myth that legal and political systems have as their centre a naturally existing person who is a rights bearer conceals the real history of personhood, the Eurocentric and masculinist content of the supposedly neutral “person,” and the fundamental role played by law in this complex story.
This course will study the development of legal thinking about the “person” including foundational assumptions about human nature in early modern Europe that are still found today; social contract theory, especially through the American and French Revolutions of the late 1700’s; the extension of legal personhood to both public and for-profit corporations. We will also explore various critiques of liberal and individualistic personhood, including Marxist, feminist, postcolonial, and poststructuralist writers. We will also explore the perspective of non-Western, indigenous legal traditions and their thinking about law, security, justice, and sovereignty.

LAW5058H Law, Religion, and Democracy

This course focuses on the relationship between law, religion and democracy in a comparative and international context. It is intended to provide the necessary historical and theoretical foundations for the study of contemporary controversies involving the law and politics of religious freedom. Themes explored in class will include: philosophical and religious bases of the idea of religious toleration and freedom, the historical origins of religious freedom, the question of how secularism both protects and limits religion; judicial and political responses to conflicts between freedom of religion and other human rights at both national and international levels, with a particular focus on the multiculturalism model of Canada.

LAW7426HF Racial Politics and the Law

A. Emon
For graduate students, the course number is.
In her book, Colour-Coded, Constance Backhouse argues that there is an implicit taboo in Canada against race-talk. Rather, Canadian discourse on the virtues of multiculturalism seems to obviate the need for the kinds of debates on racism that have featured in Canada’s neighbour to the south. However, this good-news story seems disingenuous in the face of accounts of the systemic marginalization of distinct, identifiable minority groups in Canada. This course will explore this systemic marginalization in three ways. First, it will examine social theory about race and race politics to develop a conceptual grammar to frame and inform a more robust discourse on racial politics. Second, it will explore the history of racial politics in a comparative vein, in order to gain greater insight into the distinctively Canadian story about race and racism and how it is embedded in the political and institutional geography of Canada. Lastly, the course will examine key sites of systemic marginalization, ranging from the culture of the university to the operation of law and policy. Topics here will include the policing of city streets; the regulation and practices of the legal profession; and the systemic role of law in areas such as aboriginal rights, immigration, security, and religious freedom in marginalizing certain groups.

LAW5022HS Introduction to Islamic Law

A. Emon
At a time when the “Islamic” has become a subject of intense public and political scrutiny, this course will introduce and examine “Islamic law” as an object of analysis, and as a proxy for different political projects. Students will be introduced to the doctrinal and theoretical traditions of Islamic law by reading across a range of literature that will at the same time be problematized for how and why they construe “Islamic law” as they do. Not only will students gain an appreciation for Islamic law as a historical legal tradition, they will see how the academic literature reveals “Islamic law” as a contested subject in both the Muslim world and elsewhere as governments seek to govern pluralistically in an era of increasing insecurity. Students without any familiarity with Islamic history should consider reading the following prior to the beginning of the class: Sadakat Kadri, Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Shari’a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2013).

LAW5025HS Kant's Philosophy of Law

E. Weinrib
Our legal discourse is the discourse of rights, and Immanuel Kant is perhaps the greatest modern expositor of what it is to have a system of rights. For Kant, the possibility that law can be systematically rightful encompasses private law, public law, and international law. It also gives law its normative character as a condition of freedom under which public compulsion is justified.
This course will examine the notions of right and legality that Kant sets out in his short but dense work The Doctrine of Right. We will discuss Kant’s conception of property, contract, the family, the judiciary, the organization of the state, the relation between the state and its citizens, and relations among states. Throughout the course, participants in the class will be invited to consider the extent to which Kant’s account of law is helpful in understanding contemporary legal issues.

LAW7053HS Who Belongs? Dilemmas of Citizenship and Immigration

A. Shachar
Citizenship and immigration have become hot-button legal issues in recent years in Canada, the United States, across Europe, and in other parts of the world. Debates range from admission questions--who should be allowed to enter, according to what criteria, and for how long--to queries about the civil rights of migrants, cultural diversity, and the level of integration that can legitimately be expected from newcomers once they have settled in the country. This intensive course will explore these new developments, placing them in the broader context of citizenship theory and immigration law and policy. We will also refer to comparative evidence drawn from some of the world’s leading immigration receiving and sending countries. The course will draw upon legislative materials, policy analysis and case law, as well as selected works from political theory and economics.

LAW7052HS Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law

K. Wilkins
Note: This course was formerly titled "Aboriginal Peoples and Canadian Law"
This is a course in applied Canadian constitutional law. Its aim is to introduce students to the encounter between Indigenous peoples and mainstream Canadian (non-criminal) law. It explores issues relating to sovereignty and self-determination, relevant features of colonial and imperial law, the division of powers, federal Indian legislation, fiduciary and consultation obligations, and treaty and Aboriginal rights, with special attention to Aboriginal title and self-government.

LAW6042HS Human Rights and Their Critics

P. Macklem
Scholarship and jurisprudence on human rights is burgeoning at a time when the discourse of human rights is assuming an increasingly powerful role in comprehending relations between citizens and states, competing conceptions of global justice, global economic inequality, processes of economic globalization, and new forms of nationalism that challenge liberal conceptions of domestic and international justice. The dominance of human rights discourse is not only apparent in international institutions vested with the authority of legal norm production but also in the increasing tendency of jurisdictions at various sub-international levels to borrow approaches to human rights and tailor them to specific circumstances. The multi-level production and borrowing of human rights norms often occur without critical reflection on the normative, political and material consequences of these processes. Focusing primarily on academic literature from law, political theory and moral philosophy, this course will provide an introduction to debates among those supportive and those critical of human rights as instruments of global and local justice.



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

MST 3321F Philosophy of Mind in the Middle Ages: Avicenna (Ibn Sīnā) on the Soul

D. Black
Fridays 10-12, LI301
This course will be devoted to a close reading of Avicenna’s most comprehensive work on philosophical psychology, The Book on the Soul from his summa of philosophy, The Healing (Al-Shifāʾ). This text had a lasting impact on philosophy and theology both in the Islamic world and the West. Avicenna covers a wide range of topics, including the relation of the soul and the intellect to the body; personal identity, consciousness, and self-awareness; the nature of intellectual cognition; the nature of sense perception and imagination; animal cognition; and the relations between intellectual and sense cognition.Main Texts: Our readings will be drawn from the complete draft English translation by D. Black and M. Marmura, Avicenna, Healing: Psychology. The text is also available in the original Arabic, in medieval Latin translation, and in French.

MST3322S The Philosophy of William of Ockham

P. King
Mon 2-4
This seminar will be a survey of the philosophy of William of Ockham, the fourteenth-century philosopher and theologian who set much of the current philosophical debates on their ear with his radically new approaches in metaphysics and philosophy of mind (among others).  We’ll look at what Ockham had to say about logic, ontology, categories, his notorious rejection of any real universals, his new psychological theory of skills and abilities, his claims about knowledge and whether they entail skepticism; time permitting we’ll take a quick look at his contribution to the poverty debates of the day.



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


TUES 10-12, MON 10-12
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.


S. Metso
THURS 12-2
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.


M. Subtelny
MON 2-5
The course surveys the mediaeval Persian literature of advice on statecraft and adminstration, as well as the Persian works on ethics (akhlaq) and proper conduct (adab), which have their roots in ancient Persian wisdom literature and the genre of andarz (advice). Ethical and advice literature constitutes an important source for understanding mediaeval Islamic conceptions of political and social organization. The Indo-Iranian and Arabic backgrounds to this literature will be examined, and the historical contexts in which individual works were written will be analyzed. Readings in Persian include selected passages from the Qabus-nameh of Kay Ka’us, the Siyasat-nameh of Nizam al-Mulk, the Akhlaq-i Nasiri of Nasir al-Din Tusi, the Akhlaq-i Muhsini of Husain Va‘iz Kashifi, and the Suluk al-muluk of Khunji. The Persian treatises on Sufi ethics that relate to the notion of spiritual chivalry (futuvvat) in the mediaeval craft guilds, such as Kashifi’s Futuvvat-nameh-i Sultani, will also be discussed.


M. Subtelny
MON 2-5
Introduction to Persian historiography and diplomatics. Students will study selected readings from medieval Persian histories and chronicles from the 10th–17th centuries. The course will also survey the forms of diplomatic and chancery correspondence, and the basic types of legal documents encountered in historical research on medieval Iran and Central Asia.


E. Raffaelli
THURS 11-1
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.


M. Tavakoli-Targhi
FRI 1-4
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.


N. Moumtaz
WED 3-5P
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.


L Northrup
MON 11-1, WED 11-12


L. Northrup
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.

NMC2225Y Iran and Islam

M. Subtelny
WED 2-4P



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

PHL2063S Kant’s Ethics

D. Novak
Wed 12-3 pm
This course will deal with Kant’s ethics, which he considered to be the most important area of Philosophy. We will his idea of autonomy, the three formulations of the categorical imperative, the ethical community, and the function of religion. Readings will be from: Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals; Metaphysics of Morals; Critique of Practical Reason; Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. The course grade will be based on seminar participation (25%), and a 6,000 word term paper.



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



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


Toronto School of Theology Courses

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

TST courses in the 5000 series taught by DSR Cross Appointed Faculty should be taken as RLG4001H and other TST courses must be taken as a Directed Reading Course using the code RLG1501/RLG1502. A Directed Reading Course Form should be completed for all TST courses.

TRT5671HF Cross-cultural Religious Thought

Mon 11A-1P
An examination of the idea of self in Hinduism and Islam through representative contemporary thinkers Rabindranath Tagore and Muhammad Iqbal respectively. How is self understood? What is its relation to the ideas of person and personal identity? What are the philosophical and theological presuppositions of the idea of self? Answers are supplemented by classical and other contemporary writings of the religious tradition in question, thereby accessing the worldview associated with that tradition.

TRT5867HF Religious Pluralism as Theological Challenge

Mon 2-4P
Challenges of religious pluralism to Christianity appearing from outside Christianity, and responses to it. How do other world religious traditions think about Christianity or religions for that matter? What are the theoretical problems of religious pluralism and the response to them from within Christianity?

TRT5579HS Kierkegaard's Studies

Mon 2-4P
Central ideas in the Kierkegaard corpus and their relevance to contemporary theological and philosophical concerns.

SMB6627HF Jesus and Justice

Mon. 11A-1P
The course will examine the portrait of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels as it conveys three themes of justice: 1) the exercise of power, 2) economic issues, and 3) human worth. The course will place Jesus's actions and teachings in the social and political conditions of first century Galilee and Judea while also considering their relevance to contemporary events and circumstances. Special attention will be given to the parables, economic teachings, and the phenomena of healings and exorcisms as responses to the conditions of daily life and political rule in first century Palestine.

TSJ5022HS Area Studies and Course Design

Tue. 9A-12P
We all leave doctoral studies as experts in our fields and walk into classrooms full of non-expert students. What now? This course addresses the relationship between subject knowledge and teaching. Topics include issues related to course design and delivery (e.g., syllabus construction, assignments, development of outcomes ; objectives) as well as to broader pedagogical issues (e.g., education for [trans]formation, relationships between classroom and context, professional identity). Students will produce a full introductory-level course syllabus and accompanying essay, session notes, example lecture in collaboration with a faculty supervisor.

RGP5209HF Spiritual Theology of Evelyn Underhill

Fri. 11A-1P
A critical exploration of the mystical, liturgical and pastoral theology of Evelyn Underhill, as she develops these in her novels and scholarly writings. Her thought will be examined in light of contemporary issues in spirituality, such as the status of the body, mysticism and social action, the subjectivization of mystical experiences, and the effect of socio-political structures on spirituality. Lectures, discussion, presentation, critical reflection paper.

RGT6661HF Mystical Landscape Art: From Vincent van Gogh to Emily Carr

Wed. 11A-1P
This course will explore critically and creatively the influence of mysticism on symbolist landscape art in Europe and North America from the 1880s to the 1930s. Using written texts and visual images, it will analyze the ways in which major artists conveyed mystical experiences and ideals through iconography, style, colour, and facture, with special attention to the influence of Christian, Buddhist, Theosophical, and Primal traditions. These studies will include field trips to local galleries and introduction to the contemplative practices of Visio Divina and Mindfulness/Insight meditation.

ICT6702HF Religion, Life and Society: Reformational Philosophy

Mon. 6-9P
An exploration of central issues in philosophy, as addressed by Herman Dooyeweerd, Dirk Vollenhoven, and the Amsterdam School of neoCalvinian thought. The course tests the relevance of this tradition for recent developments in Western philosophy. Special attention is given to critiques of foundationalism, metaphysics, and modernity within reformational philosophy and in other schools of thought.

ICH6153HF Matter, Body, and Gender in the Thought of Hildegard of Bingen, Bemardus Sylvestris

Tue. 9:30A-12:30P
This course explores the themes of matter, body, and gender In selected works of Hildegard of Bingen, Bemardus Sylvestris, Alan of Litle and Thomas Aquinas. It explores the use of myth or religious story within the construction of theoretical understanding. It does so in terms of the "story of origin" as It comes to expression within the Latin Christian world of the twelfth century in schooled creation poems and in contrast to the thematization of creation in the contemporary monastic discourse of Hildegard of Bingen and the scholastic thematizations of the next century represented by Thomas Aquinas.

ICH5151HS Individuality in the Franciscan Thought of John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham

Tue. 9:30A-12:30P
This seminar will examine the doctrine of individuality developed by the Franciscan thinkers John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham and the configuration of their thought as one or another form of metaphysical "individualism." It does so historically against the backdrop of both Franciscan spirituality and the contested "Aristotelian ism" of their university environment. The seminar is both an illustration of the value in and a critical reappraisal of a problem-historical analysis of
philosophy that centres upon philosophical accounts of our daily experience of both universality in the world, i.e., the fact that creatures come to us in kinds, and individuality, i.e., the fact that it is individual creatures that come to us in kinds.

EMB5703HS Paul: Biographical Problems

Thurs. 11A-1P
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.

WYB5032HS Early Christian Self-Definition

T. Donaldson
Mon 11-1
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.

WYB5111HS Book of Genesis

G. Taylor
Thurs 11-1
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.

WYB3000/6000 (to be taken as RLG4001HS) Time, Participation in Christ, and Theosis in Paul

A. Jarvis
An intensive course over two two-day sessions, plus introductory hour
Friday, March 2, 2018 : 10:30-11:30 a..m.  Introduction
Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14, 2018:  9:15-4:00 p.m.
Friday May 4 and Saturday, May 5, 2018: 9:15-4:00 pm

This course could be of interest to specialists in Bible and in Theology.  It explores the related themes of time, participation in Christ and theosis in Paul.  The standard understandings of Paul’s view of time are either that he thought in terms of salvation history – time as progressive and directed by God towards a goal; or that the apostle thought apocalyptically – time has been interrupted by God’s work in Christ.  The course will study and discuss important works advocating these influential views of Paul’s understanding of time.  Opinions on Paul’s conception of time are fundamental for interpretation of his central concepts, including the related themes of participation in Christ and theosis.  The course will consider significant works on these themes and it offers opportunity to engage with some pivotal Pauline scholarship.


Language Courses


NMC2100Y Introductory Standard Arabic

A-K. Ali
Monday & Wednesday 10-12, Friday 10-11, BF 215

NMC2100Y Introductory Standard Arabic

A-K. Ali
Tuesday & Thursday 10-12, Friday 11-12, BF 215

NMC2100Y Introductory Standard Arabic

A-K. Ali
Monday & Wednesday 5-7, Thursday 5-6, BF 215

NMC2101Y Intermediate Standard Arabic I

A-K. Ali
Monday & Wednesday 1-3, Friday 12-1, Room TBC

NMC2102Y Intermediate Standard Arabic II

A-K. Ali
Monday & Wednesday 1-3, Friday 11-12, BF 316
Reading and detailed analysis of connected passages of text in both Classical and Modern standard Arabic.

NMC2103Y Advanced Standard Arabic

A-K. Ali
Tuesday & Thursday 10-12, SS 2104
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.


NMC1100Y Introductory Aramaic

A. Harrak
Monday & Wednesday 4-5:30, BF 315
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. Evaluation: based on class participation, at least two tests, and an essay.


FSL 6000HF Reading French Course for Graduate Students

M. Savard-Corbeil
Tuesday 4-6, Teefy Hall 101
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. 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.

FSL 6000HS Reading French Course for Graduate Students

Tuesday 4-6, Teefy Hall 101
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. 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.


GER6000HF Reading German for Graduate Students

Erol Boran
Tue 3-5, CR403
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. This course is not intended for MA or PhD students in German.

GER6000HS Reading German for Graduate Students

Tue 3-5, UC212
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. This course is not intended for MA or PhD students in German.


GRK101H1F Introductory Ancient Greek I (formerly GRK100Y1)

M. Durand
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, 9-10, NF113

GRK101H1F Introductory Ancient Greek I (formerly GRK100Y1)

S. Murray
Tuesday & Thursday 2-4, NF119

GRK102H1S Introductory Ancient Greek II

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 9-10, LI 220

GRK102H1S Introductory Ancient Greek II

P. Bing
Tuesday & Thursday 2-4, NF 119

GRK201H1F Intermediate Ancient Greek I

J. Burgess
Monday, Wednesday & Friday 9-10, LI 220

GRK202H1S Intermediate Ancient Greek II

Tuesday & Thursday 2-4, NF 008

GRK430H1F Advanced Greek Language

P. Bing
Monday & Wednesday 11-1, L1205


For Hebrew course offerings, please look under Undergraduate Courses in the Department for the Study of Religion.


LAT101H1F Introductory Latin I (formerly LAT 100Y1)

D. Davis
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, CR403

LAT101H1F Introductory Latin I (formerly LAT 100Y1)

A. Cushing
Monday & Wednesday 11-1, LI 220

LAT101H1F Introductory Latin I (formerly LAT 100Y1)

E. Ekman
Monday & Wednesday 3-5, CR 403

LAT101H1F Introductory Latin I (formerly LAT 100Y1)

J. Fabiano
Tuesday & Thursday 12-2, LI220

LAT101H1F Introductory Latin I (formerly LAT 100Y1)

L. Bennardo
Tuesday & Thursday 2-4, LI 220

LAT101H1F Introductory Latin I (formerly LAT 100Y1)

J. Easton
Monday & Wednesday 5-7, NF 119

LAT102H1S Introductory Latin II

C. Graf
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 9-10, CR 403

LAT102H1S Introductory Latin II

J. Welsh
Monday & Wednesday 3-5, LI 220

LAT102H1S Introductory Latin II

L. Bennardo
Tuesday & Thursday 2-4, TF 201

LAT102H1S Introductory Latin II

M. Watton
Monday & Wednesday 5-7, TF 200

LAT201H1F Intermediate Latin I

R. Mazzara
Monday & Wednesday 3-5, NF 113

LAT202H1S Intermediate Latin II

C. Hines
Monday & Wednesday 3-5, CR 403

LAT430H1S (formerly LAT330H1) Advanced Latin Language

A. Keith
Monday & Wednesday 1-3, JH 1040
MST 1000Y
Medieval Latin I
D. Townsend
Monday & Friday 1-2, LI 301

MST 1001Y Medieval Latin II

L. Armstrong/S. Ghosh
Monday & Friday 1-2, LI 310


NMC2201Y Intermediate Persian

A. Taleghani
Tuesday & Thursday 10-12, BF 323
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.


Updated August 31, 2017 (Updated added languages)

View our archive of past graduate courses.