Please check back regularly for updates. Last updated on February 8, 2022.
- Please contact the course instructor to confirm the mode of delivery of a class (online or in-person)
- RLG3700HS, "Debates in Ancient Indian Religion and History", has been cancelled.
Graduate Students from other Departments at UofT 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.
Note: If the courses listed below is in conflict with the Arts & Science timetable, the information on the timetable takes priority.
Please contact Director of Graduate Studies, J. Barton Scott at email@example.com, or the Graduate Administrator, Fereshteh Hashemi at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have about the Department for the Study of Religion.
RLG1000Y PhD Method and Theory
Bart Scott (Fall) Pamela Klassen (Winter)
Fall Fri 10am - 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.
JAR1001HS Anthropology of Religion Gateway
Simon Coleman & Amira Mittermaier
Winter Wed 10am-12pm 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.
RLG1002HS Philosophy of Religion Gateway
Jim DiCenso and Sol Goldberg
Winter Wed 2-4pm JHB318
This gateway course introduces students to the philosophy of religion. It does so by working through some of the foundational elements of modern attempts to understand and assess religious concepts through various combinations of reason and experience. Additionally, we will utilize principal methods of analysis (e.g., hermeneutical, conceptual, phenomenological); and provide examples of central topics in the field. By its conclusion, students should be better able to locate their research within the field and imagine their own ways of teaching it to undergraduates.
RLG1003HF Islamic Studies Gateway course
Karen Ruffle and Walid Saleh
Fall Mon 10am - 12pm, online
This gateway seminar will introduce students to the field of Islamic studies and the basic research methods of the field. The aim of the course is to introduce students to the history of Islamic studies and the major questions that has animated it as a field in religious studies. Since Islamic Studies is made up of various subfields, each week will be devoted to one particular branch of Islamic studies. For each of these subfields we will cover the history of the discipline, the research tools and the most recent developments. Students become familiar with the research tools and methods available and learn how to utilize them in their own research projects. By the end of the course students will have a metahistory of the field as well as an ability to construct a syllabus to teach Islamic studies at the introductory level.
RLG1004HS Religions of Mediterranean Antiquity Gateway course
John Marshall and Judith Newman
Winter Mon 2-4pm JHB318
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.
RLG1200HF MA Method and Theory
Fall Tues 10am - 12pm JHB318
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.
RLG2015HS / RLG414HS Comparing Religions
Winter Thurs 10am-12pm CR107
Few methods have been more foundational to the scholarly study of religion, or more subject to searching criticism, than the practice of comparison. This seminar offers an advanced introduction to comparative method in the contemporary academy by means of a close study of 4-6 significant comparative projects published in the last decade. Examples will be drawn from different sub-disciplines of Religion, including but not limited to ritual studies, philosophy of religion, comparative theology and/or ethnography.
RLG2025HS / RLG421 Fragments of Redemption: Sigmund Freud and Theodor W. Adorno
Winter Mon 11am-1pm Larkin 212
The psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud and the critical theory of Theodor Adorno together represent the most compelling critical indictment of the rationalistic and scientistic legacies of the Enlightenment. At the same time, Freud and Adorno are both Enlightenment thinkers who expose its unconscious irrationalities. This course will challenge the prevailing view that the thought of Sigmund Freud and Theodor Adorno are so deeply pessimistic as to be devoid of hope. Freud’s psychoanalytic theories are widely (mis)interpreted in the register of a crude pansexualism and biological determinism. Adorno’s critique of society and the individual is often (mis)interpreted as so ruthlessly pervasive that it forecloses on any possibility for emancipatory transformation. These are distorted view of both thinkers, that are blind to the hopeful, utopian currents that motivate and shape psychoanalysis and critical theory. The course will explore the emancipatory currents in Freud and Adorno, and their implications for potentialities of individual, social and ecological transformation
RLG2040HF Commentary: Theory and Practice
Fall Wed 3-5pm JHB318
Commentary is a priviledged genre in many religious traditions. It also has a long standing value in contemporary scholarly traditions. The course will explore different kinds of commentary, looking at theories of writing, of studying and of meaning constituted across generations. We will also explore commentaries in different religious traditions. Thus the course will be a crossroads of historical traditions and scholarly approaches to religions. The seminars will be organized around excerpts from specific commentary texts and theoretical reflections on those texts.
RLG2043HF / RLG465 Buddhism as Translation
Fall Wed 10am - 12pm JHB213
In terms of both idiom, volume and time span, Buddhist texts are arguably the most widely translated texts in the world. This process of ongoing transfer and reformulation spans from the Middle Indic languages in the early centuries BCE to the ‘classical’ Buddhist languages such as Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese, including most ‘big’ East, South, Southeast Asian and European tongues and many less well-known languages such as Mon, Newar or Tocharian. It is in these shifts that both the continuities and the discontinuities of Buddhism have been reinscribed into its very textual fabric. In that sense, Buddhism has been forever both lost and found, and in fact may have never existed anywhere else than, in translation. This course will take a peep into the Buddhist translator’s workshop and confront the insights gained there with new theories that have emerged out of the current theoretical interest in translation.
RLG3212HS Martyrdom in Early Christianity
Winter Tues 10am-12pm JHB213
In late antiquity, narrative accounts of Christians who chose to suffer and die rather than renounce their beliefs emerged as a distinct (and hugely popular) literary genre. The “acts” of the martyrs did more than preserve the memory of those who had died—they helped to shape the very identity of the remembering community. In this course, we will examine the persecution of Christians in the Roman and Persian Empires historically, literarily, theoretically, and culturally. Why were Christians persecuted, and what can we know about the periods of persecution? Furthermore, how did Christians narratively represent and celebrate pain and death, and how did the literary “making” of martyrs forge a religious identity premised upon the collective memory of suffering? In asking these questions, we will consider how literary concepts about the body, death, and holiness ultimately drove the development of the cult of the saints.
RLG3249HF / RLG452H Synoptic Gospels: Synoptic Passion Narratives
Fall Wed 9am - 12pm TC22
This course examines the accounts of the passion and death of Jesus in their original historical and literary contexts. Topics include: Roman and Jewish judicial procedures; crucifixion and burial in the ancient world; the editorial tendencies of the gospel writers; incipient anti-Judaism in the gospels; conceptual trajectories of the passion narratives.
RLG3460HF / RLG474 Sanskrit Readings course 1
Fall Tues 1-4pm JHB318
This course will have students read choice pieces of South Asian literature. While tackling a text in simple Sanskrit from a major literary tradition , Buddhist or Hindu, and discussing it’s content and context, students will learn strategies for translating and interpreting Sanskrit literature.
RLG3475HS / RLG468 Buddhism and Healing
Winter Mon 2-4pm JHB213
The course explores how health and healing have interacted with Buddhist traditions in historical and contemporary contexts globally. Topics may include ritual healing and sorcery, contemplative practice, disease etiology and frameworks of physiology, materia medica and dietetics, and how these appear as part of personal and professional religious practices and doctrines.
RLG3461HS Sanskrit Readings course 2
Winter Mon & Thurs 10am-12pm JHB213
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.
RLG3516HF Islamic Law and Society
Fall Wed 3pm-5pm JHB213
This course places Islamic Law within the wider debates on law and society, a field that evolved out of the social scientific study of law, with a special focus on the anthropology of Islamic Law. It is organized thematically, and combines readings from different periods, emphasizing the profound changes to Islamic law and society since the nineteenth century. The course will be mostly focused on the early modern and modern Islamic history, and will not delve into the debates of the formation of Islamic Law, legal schools and genres. Each session will combine theoretical readings addressing the questions we will be tackling in the nexus of law/ society, and we will address various substantive topics (like gender, property, punishment, war).
RLG3634HF/EMB5401 Ritual and Scripture at Qumran
Fall Mon 1-3pm, online
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.
RLG3700H Debates in Ancient Indian Religion and History Course cancelled
Winter Wednesday 12-2 pm EM105
This course focuses on debates in ancient Indian history and religion, particularly as they focus on questions of gender, the body, and sexuality. It will draw upon the formative literature of Indian traditions-the Vedas and vedangas, through the classical period of the Hindu epics, as well as on Buddhist and Jain sources. How is the body conceptualized, what are the theoretical supports for the construction of gender? How are these topics debated, and how do their subsequent resolutions intersect with discourses of power? The course will be of interest to students of the religious traditions, history, and literature of ancient and classical India.
JPR2051HS / RLG459 Religion and Politics course
Winter Tues 4-6 pm, BL113
This seminar in theory will explore the modern history of the concept of ‘fanaticism’ and its role in the development of political modernity. A focus on the concept of the “fanatic” (and its cognates) from the perspective of its various uses in political and religious thought from the Early Modern period through the Enlightenment and up to the present day, provides a fascinating opportunity for a critical review of the secular, rationalist, and scientific assumptions underwriting modern political forms and concepts, especially those of liberal democracy. At the same time, the course will offer critical insight into the ways in which religious and political differences among colonial “others” were, and continue to be, central to the elaboration of Western theoretical discourse on fanaticism and extremism as forms of “political pathology”. (Given by the Departments of Political Science and Religion).
RLG1501/2/ RLG430 Adv. Topics in Judaism: Judaism and Kantian Philosophy
(students wishing to take this course as a graduate course must register using the course code RLG1501 or RLG1502 and must complete this form)
Winter Thurs 10am-12pm TF2
This course will deal with the philosophy of the great Kantian philosopher Hermann Cohen (1842-1918), especially his posthumous book, Religion of Reason Out of the Sources of Judaism. We will examine how Cohen used Kantian philosophy to reinterpret the Jewish tradition, and how he used the Jewish tradition to reinterpret Kantian philosophy. Cohen profoundly influenced such 20th century Jewish thinkers as Franz Rosenzweig, Joseph Soloveitchik, and Emmanuel Levinas and, also, the Christian theologian Karl Barth
RLG1501/2/ RLG431 Adv. Topics in Judaism: Hospitality, the Cornerstone of Ethics in Early Rabbinic Judaism
(students wishing to take this course as a graduate course must register using the course code RLG1501 or RLG1502 and must complete this form)
Winter Fri 1pm-3pm location TBC
Ever since Jacques Derrida turned his attention to hospitality, its urgency as an important ethical question in the humanities has been widely recognized. Hitherto hospitality had been relegated to the global tourist industry, each country vying with its competing neighbors to provide the most luxurious way to treat visitors who are encouraged to part with as much foreign currency as possible in order to bolster local economies. Warfare caused an ever-increasing displacement of populations both within their own borders and with significant spill-over to other sovereign nations’ territories. These refugee crises have been exacerbated in modern times and raised questions concerning what degree of hospitality is owed the stranger or foreigner whose motivation is a new, safe, and secure home rather than as a guest passing through on a time-limited visa.
It turned out that Derrida’s ideas of both conditional hospitality (e.g., tourists) and unconditional hospitality (e.g., strangers) need to be explored not only from the perspective of Western philosophical and ethical traditions, but also from the perspectives of Jewish ethics. These occasionally strengthen and enhance each other in an easy embrace but sometimes also clash and differ in significant ways. Furthermore, all notions of hospitality, both Jewish and Western, have been upset and challenged by the current global pandemic with its lockdowns and border closures. These themes and topics will be studied through Jewish texts and moral values. The primary texts used as sources will be Mishnah (circa 220 CE) and Tosefta (circa 250 CE). We will study these texts using multiple methods including philology, source and form criticism, intertextuality, and redactional analysis.
Texts: 1) course reader; 2) Jacques Derrida and Anne Dufourmantelle, On Hospitality
The Departments below may also be offering courses of interest to Religion students. Please follow the links for details.
FSL6000HF/S (Reading French Course for Graduate Students)
German, GER6000HF/S (Reading German for Graduate Students)
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.