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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Christian L. Novetzke
RELIG 501
Seattle Campus

Approaches to the Study of Religion

Major approaches employed by modern scholarship in the study of religion, including historical, phenomenological, anthropological, sociological, and psychological. Prerequisite: admission to the comparative religion MAIS program or permission of instructor. Offered: A.

Class description

This course provides graduate students working on religion in some way with a variety of approaches to the study of religion centered on examining the relationship between religion and modernity in the tradition of post-enlightenment, Euro-American scholarship. The central thesis of this course is that what we understand to be “religion” today was fashioned out of Western modernity, similar to other “modern” ideas such as science, democracy, the modern state, humanism, and capitalism. Religion is not a relic from a pre-modern period or the purview of non-modern, non-Westernized, irrational societies, but rather is the creation of the modern world itself. We will examine this thesis in relation to sociology, anthropology, history, psychoanalysis, postmodernism, feminism, and nationalism discourse. My goal is to provide students with opportunities for future study and ideas for critically thinking about the history and role of religion in public culture today. For students interested in pursuing this thesis in the rest of the world outside European and North American societies, I offer a seminar called “Religion and Modernity in the Rest of the World”.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


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 Hazan Paxton
Date: 04/20/2010