2023-2024 Graduate Courses

Note: This is an archive. View current courses.



Please check back regularly for updates. This page last updated on November 30, 2023. 

Graduate students from other departments at U of T are welcome to enroll in DSR courses without completing a course add form. Non-DSR students should check with their home department to confirm if they require the form.

Please contact Director of Graduate Studies, Nada Moumtaz at graddir.religion@utoronto.ca, or the Graduate Administrator, Fereshteh Hashemi, at religion.grad@utoronto.ca with any questions you may have about the Department for the Study of Religion.

DSR Graduate Timetable 

Current: PDF iconGrad Timetable 2023-2024 as of Nov 28.pdf

On this page:

→ DSR Courses - Year
→ DSR Courses - Fall
→ DSR Courses - Winter
→ U of T Language Courses
→ Other Courses of Interest

DSR Courses - Year

RLG1000Y – Method and Theory in the Study of Religion

P. Klassen (Fall) and M. Hewitt  (Winter)
Tuesdays 10 am-12:30 pm JHB318

The seminar is the core course of the department’s doctoral program. It is required of, and limited to, all first year Ph.D. students of the department. The purpose of the course is to provide doctoral students with a general understanding of the study of religion through constructive engagement with a number of fundamental challenges--theoretical and methodological--that commonly confront researchers in the field. It revisits major interpretive controversies that have shaped the history of "religious studies" as an interdisciplinary field, inviting students to join in this ongoing scholarly conversation.

DSR Courses - Fall

RLG1002HF – Philosophy of Religion Gateway Seminar

R. Gibbs
Wednesdays 3 pm - 5 pm, JHB318

This gateway course introduces students to the philosophy of religion exploring the constitution of the field. Taking as its base line the Protestant philosophical tradition as it emerges from Kant, the course moves forwards to 19th and 20th century philosophy, sideways to explore other traditions of philosophy and religion, and even backwards to medieval Christian theology. The two terms (philosophy, religion) will be placed in a complex dialogue. More, the conversation between different traditions will itself be interrogated—as that conversation need not presuppose a common canon of reason. We will engage a variety of ways of studying philosophical texts: heremeneutical, conceptual, phenomenological. By its conclusion, students should be better able to locate their research within the field and imagine their own ways of teaching an undergraduate course.

RLG1200HF – MA Method and Theory

R. Charles
Fridays 10 am - 12 pm,  JHB213

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.

RLG3200HF – Politics of Bible Translation

N. Seidman
Wednesdays 10 am – 12 pm, JHB213

This course will explore the history of Bible translation from antiquity to our own day, focusing on translation as political and cultural as well as linguistic negotiation. We will ground ourselves in the history of translation theory (and in particular in postcolonial translation theory), recognizing that theoretical approaches to the problem of translation themselves emerge from theologically and politically charged historical conditions. With our philological, cultural, and historical tools in hand, we will explore the history of translations and revisions of the Bible, immerse ourselves in unusual examples of translation (children’s Bibles, the Emoji Bible, R. Crumb’s Genesis, etc.), and try our hand at the craft of Bible translation.

RLG3228HF – Social History of the Jesus Movement

J. Kloppenborg
Thursdays 9 am - 12 pm, JHB213

Focus on the social setting of the early Jesus movement in Roman Palestine and in the cities of the Eastern Empire. Topics will include: rank and legal status; age and population structure; patronalia and clientalia; family structure; marriage and divorce; forms of association outside the family; slavery and manumission; loyalty to the empire and forms of resistance; legal and social issues concerning women; taxation; the structure of the economy, and how these issues are variously reflected in documents of the early Jesus movement. Open to qualified graduate students and advanced undergraduate students. Graduate students will be expected to read primary texts in the original languages; knowledge of Greek is essential; knowledge of a modern research language (French, German, or Italian) is necessary.

RLG3290HF – Words and Worship

S. Coleman
Tuesdays 3 pm - 5pm,  JHB213

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.


RLG3705HF – Becoming Hindu

S. Raman
Thursdays 10 am - 12 pm, JHB317

This course will cover the range of Hindu rituals that define Hindu life and lead towards the constitution of a Hindu social and religious personhood. They range from the life cycle rituals, to initiatory rituals, to rituals of fasting, festivities and penance. The course explores how these rituals are part of the Hindu social order, even while they are marked by differences of caste, gender and religious communities. The course will look at a wide range of textual materials on Hindu rituals including prescriptive texts, ethnographies and literary accounts. These materials will be explored also with the help of ritual theory in order to understand the relationship between religion, ritual and personhood.


RLG3763HF – Readings in Sanskrit Philosophy

A. Graheli
Mondays, 1 pm - 3 pm, JHB208

Advanced reading of classical Sanskrit philosophical texts. Students will learn techniques and strategies for analyzing Sanskrit primary sources in hermeneutics, logic, metaphysics, aesthetics, or language philosophy. While the course will include a review of Sanskrit grammar, our focus will be on specific philosophical problems encountered in the readings.

NMC2056HF – Readings in Qur’an and Tafsir 

W. Saleh
Wednesdays 5 pm – 7 pm, location BF201

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.

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

NMC2081HF Anthropology of the Middle East

N. Moumtaz
Wednesdays 3 pm - 5 pm, location BF316

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 anthropologists ask (and the ones 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.


DSR Courses - Winter

JAR1001HS – Anthropology of Religion Gateway Seminar

S. Coleman
Wednesdays 1 pm - 3pm, JHB318

This gateway course will offer an introduction to the anthropology of religion. We will selectively cover some of anthropology’s “turns” and current trends, contextualizing them in longer histories of anthropological debate and research. Throughout, the course will address three aspects of the anthropology of religion: theory, fieldwork as method, and ethnographic writing. The goals of the course include: 1) to help students situate their own research projects in ongoing or emerging disciplinary conversations; 2) to develop and fine-tune the students’ research design; and 3) to prepare students for future teaching in the field of the anthropology of religion.

RLG1004HS – Religions of Mediterranean Antiquity Gateway Seminar

J. Newman and J. Marshall
Wednesdays 10 am - 12 pm, JHB 318

This gateway seminar will introduce students to approaches to the study of religions of Mediterranean antiquity.  The purpose of the course is to provide a broad understanding of the history of the discipline and how methods have evolved in the study of Hebrew Bible, Early Christianity, and Early Judaism in the context of Greco-Roman antiquity.  Topics covered in the course include source and form criticism; archaeology; social sciences; conceptualization of diversity; the material text; and positionality. By the end of the course, students will be prepared to teach a range of methods at the introductory level and equipped to refine an approach to frame their own research projects.

RLG2060HS - Religion and Philosophy in European Enlightenment

J. DiCenso
Mondays  1 pm - 3 pm, 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.

RLG3104HS – Feminist and Womanist Biblical Interpretations

N. Junior
Mondays 10 am - 12 pm, JHB318

Both “feminist” and “womanist” are terms that are greatly debated. Alice Walker popularized the term “womanist” in her 1983 collection of essays In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose. Walker’s four-part definition includes a definition of a “womanist” as “a black feminist or feminist of color.” This course provides a survey of the history and development of feminist and womanist biblical interpretation in North America. It includes interpreters of the Hebrew Bible (sometimes called Old Testament or Tanakh) and the New Testament,

RLG3123HS – Samson in Text and Traditions

J. Schipper
Fridays 12 pm - 2 pm, JHB317

This seminar will focus on Judges 13 – 16, sometimes called the “Samson Cycle.” It will introduce a variety of critical methods and issues central to the scholarly interpretation of these texts. It will also cover examples of the reception of these texts across a variety of religious and secular traditions from antiquity to the present. Seminar discussions will be organized around close readings of primary texts and secondary literature. This course requires reading knowledge of biblical Hebrew narratives.

RLG3280HS – Christianities of South Asia

R. Locklin
Thursdays 10 am - 12 pm, Regis College Building, Classroom A

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


RLG3504HS – Biblical Narratives in Qur’an

S. Dost
Wednesdays 1 pm - 3 pm, JHB213

It is well known that the Qur’ān refers to many biblical stories, events and personalities but it almost never directly quotes the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament. The Qur’anic version of biblical narratives often follows the synopsis that one finds not in the text of the Bible but in various sources of the para-biblical literature such as the Talmud, midrashim, apocryphal gospels and early patristic writings. The Qur’anic version of a given biblical narrative is also usually bent towards the larger theological exigencies of the Qur’ān. In this course students will read and discuss the textual development of biblical and para-biblical narratives from their source-texts to their retellings in the Qur’ān. After reading some of the most recent scholarship on the complex relationship between the Qur’ān and the biblical literature, the course will follow the stories of major qur’anic figures within a rough chronological framework. Beginning with the creation story and the Adam narrative we will go through the stories of Noah, the Patriarchs, Joseph, Job, Jonah, Moses, David and Solomon. We will end our survey with qur’anic portrayals of Christian figures such as Mary, Zechariah, John the Baptist and Jesus. This means that each week we will be reading portions from the Qur’ān and corresponding sections from the biblical literature often with the help of some secondary literature.

RLG3401HF – Reading Buddhist Texts I

A. Goodman
Wednesdays 10 am - 12 pm, JHB317

With the aim of familiarizing students with texts that have been critical for the development of Buddhist literature across regions, historical periods, and languages, this course offers a close reading of one or more primary texts in translation or in the source language(s). Texts read may include, but are not limited to, sūtras, tantras, jātakas/avadānas, verse, commentarial and scientific literature, historiography, and epigraphy. The course focuses on texts from East and Central Asia.


RLG3623HS/POL2026HS – Thought of Leo Strauss

K. Green
Wednesdays 2 pm - 4 pm, UC175

The course will offer an introduction to the philosophic thought of Leo Strauss (1899-1973), which will examine his major interests: philosophy, theology, and politics. We shall approach his thought through his writings on modern Judaism and on modern Jewish thought.

RLG3823HS – Buddhism and Indigeneity 

C. Emmrich
Tuesdays 3 pm - 5 pm, JHB213

Recent scholarship has witnessed a shift away from the image of Buddhism as historically reactive and reformist or as locally imported and foreign, in other words as a missionarizing religion which always arrives late and produces historical narratives of conquest, civilization, and acculturation. This course will confront these older dominant narratives with emergent visions of Buddhism as originary, autochtonous, oppressed, and subversive that have shaped much of politically active, ritually creative, and textually productive Buddhist life between the 19th and the 21st century, in Asia and beyond. The course will look at the connections between early Orientalist theories of the Buddha’s tribal origins and the revolutionary historiographies of Dalit theorists like Jyotirao Phule, B. K. Ambedkar, and Iyothee Dass which turn on their head claims to the Brahmanical beginnings and supremacy of religion in South Asia and theorize Buddhism as India’s original religion (“We have always been Buddhists.”) that holds the promise to liberate the oppressed. In a second move, the Dalit Buddhist indigenous will be confronted with a rich array of ethnically oriented cultures of resistance across Central, South, and Southeast Asia, such as the Gurung, the Newars, the Baruas, and the Tibetans, for which their religious identity is associated with place, genealogy, gender, and belonging and is articulated in forms of resistance to state power associated with the repression and/or appropriation of Buddhism. Students will be encouraged to juxtapose those passages in premodern Buddhist literature that have been hermeneutically mobilized to support such struggles with other Buddhist scriptural passages that have dehumanized the indigenous and have advocated for their oppression. Thirdly, students will explore the interest in Buddhism, mediated by Anglophone New Age ecology and spirituality, among authors and activists from the indigenous communities of the Americas, through the engagement with work by scholars such as Chicana Apache Natalie Avalos and Canadian Cree poet and UTSC faculty Randy Lundy. The teaching plan includes reaching out to one or more community representatives for in-class discussions. The course will aim at formulating an answer to the question what Buddhism may have contributed and what Buddhist Studies may contribute towards decolonization and indigenous empowerment.

U of T Language Courses Available to Graduate Students

GER6000HF/S Reading German for Graduate Students

Fridays 2 pm - 4 pm

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.

FSL6000HF/S Reading French Course for Graduate Students

Tuesdays, 4 pm - 6 pm

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. NOTE: THIS COURSE IS TAUGHT IN ENGLISH.

Latin graduate courses through the Centre for Medieval Studies

Greek and Latin graduate courses through the Department of Classics

Tri-Campus Language Courses at the Undergraduate Level

Other undergraduate language courses such as Ancient Egyptian, Arabic, Aramaic, Biblical Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish, Yiddish, can be found by using the U of T Timetable Builder

Other Courses of Interest

The departments below may also be offering courses of interest to DSR students. Please follow the links for details.