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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jess J Olson
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

For the last few decades, conservative religious thought and behavior often described by both its critics and adherents as "fundamentalist" has been in ascendance. While recent events, perhaps most immediate the attacks of 9/11, have highlighted the immediate need to come to terms with this phenomenon, it is a trend that has been at work for many years. It is phenomenon that has been remarkably widespread and transcends traditional group divisions such as class, nationality, and geography. In this seminar, we will begin to try and understand the issues surrounding religious orthodoxy and fundamentalism. We will spend time first exploring the meaning of these terms, how they have developed in meaning over the years, how they are used and misused. We will examine the issue of fundamentalism within the three major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and try to come to an understanding its meaning within each group, as well as how these concepts compare between them. Most important, however, we will discuss the relative "modernity" of orthodoxy and fundamentalism; we will engage with these movements both in their own terms, that is, as embodiments of an ideal form of human expression dating back to antiquity; and as one among many variants of a modern sensibility, not only in the superficial sense (i.e., use of modern technology, modern dress, etc.), but also on a more foundational level.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

This course will be a discussion seminar that depends on the active participation of students.

Recommended preparation

Reading the weekly assignment (c. 150-200 pages) is essential for participation in the discussion.

Class assignments and grading

Most assignments will be the weekly reading of a whole or large section of a book on a subject thematically relevent to the week's discussion. In addition, there will be two writing assignments. The first "midterm" paper will be a short (5 page) essay on a topic I assign; the second "final" paper will be for students to provide a nuanced and analytical review a book of their choosing that relates to the themes of the class.

Grades will be assigned on the following basis: Class participation, 50%; Midterm paper: 20%; final paper, 30%.


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 M Jane Meyerding
Date: 01/29/2007