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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Martin S. Jaffee
SIS 498
Seattle Campus

Readings in International Studies

Reading and discussion of selected works of major importance in interdisciplinary international studies. Restricted to majors in International Studies.

Class description

Monotheism & the Political Order: Monotheism is more than a theology of divine unity and a recipe for worship of the One God. Each of the major monotheistic communities that has survived the European Middle Agesthe diverse forms of Judaism, Christianity, and Islamcarries with it a more or less explicit theory of the ideal form of human society and a political program for reaching specific social and cultural goals. The present course explores some of the ways in which the social and political vision of monotheismand the tensions among competing monotheistic visionshave shaped the political history of the ancient, medieval, and contemporary world. Our historical examples will range from the origins of Hebraic-Jewish monotheism in the last half of the first millennium BCE, through the formative events of early Medieval Christian and Islamic civilizations, up till the emergence of politically articulate forms of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic ideologies of resistance to modern secularist pluralism (i.e., Fundamentalism).

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The course is designed as a conversation focused upon a series of demanding readings. The goal will be to draw each student into conversation with the group. There will be no lectures per se, although the instructor may elect at various points to make an extended presentation in order to impart necessary information.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

1. Students will submit each week a list of 3-5 observations or questions that emerge from the reading assignment for that week. These questions will be the basis of the class discussion. Your questions should be emailed to me NO LATER than 10am on the day of class. This will enable me to study your responses and select those that appear the most promising as conversation starters. These submissions will not be graded. However, students who miss more than 2 of these cannot receive a grade higher than 3.6 for the course. 2. Students will submit 4 essays of 5-7 pages that explore issues arising from each of the 4 units of the course. Your essay may focus on an analysis or critique of the readings of a particular unit, or take up an issue or theme that emerged during our conversations in class. These essays are due on 4/22, 5/6, 5/27, and 6/10. 3. All essays must be turned in at class time on the date assigned. I will not accept late work and will register a grade of 0 for that assignment.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Amy M. Seward
Date: 01/28/2003