2021 - 22 Course Offerings
The following undergraduate courses are planned for the 2020-21 academic year. Please note the timetable in SOLUS Student Centre has been updated to reflect accurate timings. Attached to each course is a description of what to expect from the course now that RELS Winter and Spring 2021 courses will be offered online. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or the individual instructor with any questions you have.
Full Year Courses
In this course students will study some of the world’s major religions, all the while keeping in mind the challenges that come with critically engaging the category “religion.” Studying religion allows students to engage with philosophy, history, literature, politics, fine art, and sociology, and this course gives students the opportunity to begin, at an introductory level, the process of understanding how world religions have both been shaped by and continue to shape global cultures. This course will examine six of the world’s religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, the religions of China, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It will primarily consider these religious traditions in their historical context, looking carefully at their origins, sacred literature, and ritual life, though at times we will consider selected contemporary issues that highlight different religions’ response to modernity. Please note that this course does not include all world religions on account of time and space. Instead the course examines six of the major world religions and introduces a critical framework with which to further study religion in future courses.Students will engage with the course material through online course notes, readings, and multimedia resources.A major advantage of this course is that it fosters learning through both independent study and through small-group learning activities. Students will have access to the instructor and teaching team for individual questions and support.
Fall 2021 Courses
Remote lecture with in-person tutorials (if you require a remote tutorial please contact us).
This course examines the categories of both science and religion and attempts to explore the possible relationships between them. Case studies involve: medicine and health, relationships with other animals, concepts of human nature, super/natural ontologies, and science-and-technology-based religions.
Remote lecture with in-person tutorials (if you require a remote tutorial please contact us).
This course will identify and describe characteristics of religion as they appear in news reports of social, political, and economic aspects of public life and analyze how the news presents, shapes, and creates perceptions of religion in public discourse.
Similarities and differences in the myths of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia will be explored on the basis of material remains (e.g., the pyramids and temple architecture) and texts.
Developments through 3,000 years of Indian history; the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga and Vedanta, mythology of Vishnu and Shiva, and recent Hindu thinkers (e.g., Tagore, Aurobindo).
This course on Indigenous traditions follows the trace of the material objects related to religious practices and knowledges in North America and in other Indigenous areas in the world. What these objects are, what they mean, what they do or help to do. Trying to go beyond the usual division between sacred and profane objects, a final reflection will lead us to explore the question of whether objects are things or something more than that in Indigenous contexts.
An introduction to the academic study of the mystical, esoteric and occult as found in Western religion. This course will introduce students to the traditions of Neoplatonism, Hermeticism, Christian and Islamic mysticism, Kabbalah, Freemasonry, and much more.
An investigation into the techniques of critical reading and writing for research in Religious Studies.
This course examines the historical and contemporary expressions of Islam in Canada. Starting from early Muslim migrants to Canada to current issues of media representations, Islamophobia, and gender and sexuality, as they are unfolding in Canadian contexts for Muslims.
A topic of current interest in Religious Studies not covered in other available courses. (AI, Biohacking, and Future Technology).
A topic of current interest in Religious Studies not covered in other available courses. (Environment and Indigenous Knowledges).
Explores the role of religion in the politics of Muslim societies with particular attention to the modern period.
Links between violence and religious beliefs, practices and institutions; for example, sacrifice, holy wars, scapegoating, and suicide.
Winter 2021 Courses
This course will identify and describe characteristics of religion as they appear in popular culture (e.g. fashion; comics; movies; art; music; novels; sitcoms; dramas; video games) and analyze how such depictions present, shape, and create perceptions of religion in public discourse.
RELS 201/3.0 Religion and Empire
Empires in global history are large political and expansionist units (or with a memory of expansion) and maintain distinctions or hierarchy among people even as they incorporate them (Burbank/Cooper). Religion and other belief systems played a crucial role in governing empires, ranging from homogenization to accepting diversity – and even to both approaches or strategies in the same empire. The course approaches religion as a factor for identity formation, a justification for expansion or colonialism, a means of governance, a matter of negotiation or even hybridization, and a foundation for resilience or resistance in global empires. In this perspective, religion will be contextualized culturally and comparatively, ranging from the ancient period to present time developments.
The course is divided into four modules. The first module focuses on recent research in empire and religious studies, this first part provides the analytical and terminological framework. Also, ancient empires such as the Roman or Byzantine will be introduced. The second module deals with empires before the era of colonialism, such as the Mongol, Mughal, Aztec, or Mali empires and religion in relation to power and consolidation. The third module looks at empires such as the Ottoman, Qing, British, Russian, Hapsburg, or Japanese and analyzes religion as a crucial factor for expansionism, conflict and community building, including indigenous perspectives, resistance and the arising idea of nation-states. The last module focuses on the decline of empires during and after World War One and the role of belief systems in the age of ideology, including aspects like civil religion and the renaissance of religion at the end of the 20th century. The course material contains primary sources from all periods mentioned, focusing on aspects like gender, race or class as well as migration and diaspora, science, philosophy or popular culture.
RELS 202/3.0 Traditions in Religious Studies
A topic of current interest in Religious Studies not covered in other available courses (Black Religions).
This course will examine the vital role that different religious ideas and groups play in major development organizations and initiatives. Students will look at how religious ideas and groups have influenced issues around global poverty, pandemics, child welfare, economics and debt relief, education, etc.
The philosophy, worldview, spirituality and ethics of Taoism, China’s organized indigenous religion, in Chinese history and in the contemporary world.
Views of and attitudes toward sexuality in selected world religions; the place of sexuality in religious traditions; relationship between sex and the sacred; specific topics such as marriage, gay and lesbian issues, contraception will be chosen.
RELS 240/3.0 Magic, Witchcraft, and the Supernatural - REMOTE (can be completed asynchronous)
Studies the differences between the categories of religion, magic, witchcraft, the supernatural, etc., as constructed in scholarship, popular culture, and practice. Focuses on examples such as New Religious Movements, depictions of magic in film and TV, and moral panics over alleged occult practices, and the histories that let us make sense of them.
RELS 301/3.0 Themes in Religious Studies
A topic of current interest in Religious Studies not covered in other available courses (The Physics of Womanism)
Surveys the history and philosophy of yoga in India and the West. NOTE Yoga practicum: estimated cost $90.
The course will explore the intersection of race, ethnicity, and religion, alongside gender, sexuality, culture and more. It will challenge students to think about how racial identities, theories, and movements implicate(d) the way religious communities construct their own systems and worldviews.
RELS 340/3.0 Religion and Democracy
Deals with the role of religion in the public sphere and its relation to liberal democracy. It examines the (in)compatibility of some tenets of certain religions with modern democratic principles.
An introduction to major theoretical approaches to the study of religion.
The development of modern Jewish thought and practice, including the Reform, Orthodox, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements. The consequences of the Holocaust and the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
Advanced seminar providing detailed reading of one contemporary theme or thinker in religious studies.