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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Martin S. Jaffee
RELIG 380
Seattle Campus

The Nature of Religion and Its Study

Study of religion as a general human phenomenon. Manner in which different methods of inquiry (phenomenology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, literary criticism, archaeology, philosophy, theology) illuminate different aspects of religion and help to shape our conceptions of its nature. Recommended: RELIG 201 or RELIG 202. Offered: jointly with CHID 380.

Class description

The course offers on overview of ways in which "religion" has been defined as an object of historical, anthropological, and phenomenological research in the intellectual tradition stemming from the European Enlightenment.Students will read selected writings from the "founders" of specific theoretical traditions (e.g., Tylor, Durkheim, Weber, Freud), examine some crucial contemporary efforts to develop comprehensive theories of religion (e.g. Paden, Cannon), and confront the global challenges to the cogency of the academic study of religion posed by feminist theory in particular (Gross). Students will learn a great deal about how the secularist, naturalistic, and (yes!)androcentric assumptions of modern academic students of religion have both illumined and obscured our understandings of this complex and ubiquitous quest to make all of reality humanly comprehensible even while preserving the world's mystery. >

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lecture and discussion. >

Recommended preparation

Extremely careful and timely reading of all assignments.

Class assignments and grading

Daily reading geared to lectures; there are 2 essays (5 pages each) and a take home final exam in essay form. >

Basis on which Grades are Assigned: Evaluations of written work and contribution to classroom discussion.


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 Loryn R. Paxton
Date: 10/05/1999