Great Religious Traditions of the World is one of the core
courses for graduate students with Religious Studies either as their coordinating or
co-discipline. The course is designed to introduce graduate students to the major
religions of the world, as well as to many of the current issues relevant to those
religions. Our goal will be to learn to appreciate the similarities and differences in the
structure and history of these religions. A primary focus will be on using the categories
of the history of religions to examine and analyze the various dimensions of religion
(e.g., historical, sociological, ritual, mythological, aesthetic). In addition,
methodological issues of comparison will be addressed.
There will be one assigned text per week. Students will be expected to have read the
text carefully, and to come to class well prepared to discuss issues raised by the
author(s). The readings for each week will be introduced by student presentations. Rather
than simply a précis of the work, students will be expected to discuss intelligently the
issues and questions raised in the work by the author(s). Students
should come to the first class session having read Flood (1996).
The texts, in the order in which we will read them, are:
- August 21
- Flood, Gavin. 1996. An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press.
- August 28
- Danielou, Alain. 1992. The Myths and Gods of India. Inner Traditions International.
- September 4
- Mookerjee, Ajit. 1988. Kali: The Feminine Force. Inner Traditions International.
- September 11
- Rahula, Sri Walpola. 1986. What the Buddha Taught. Rev. ed. Grove Press.
- September 18
- Williams, Paul. 1989. Mahâyâna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations. Routledge.
- September 25
- Kapleau, Philip Roshi. 1989. The Three Pillars of Zen: Teaching, Practice, and Enlightenment. Rev. ed.
- October 2
- Cohen, Steven M., and Arnold M. Eisen. 2000. The Jew Within: Self, Family, and Community. Indiana
- University Press.
- October 9
- Shermer, Michael, and Alex Grobman. 2000. Denying History: Who says the Holocaust never happened
- and do they say it?
University of California Press.
- October 16
- Dana Evan Kaplan, ed. 2000. Contemporary Debates in American Reform Judaism: Conflicting Visions.
- October 23
- Schüssler Fiorenza, Elizabeth. 1994. In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of
- Christian Origins.
Rev. ed. Crossroad/Herder & Herder.
- October 30
- Levack, Brian P. 1995. The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
- November 6
- Finke, Roger, and Rodney Stark. 1992. The Churching of America, 1776-1990: Winners and Losers in
- Our Religious Economy.
Rutgers University Press.
- November 13
- Schimmel, Annemarie. 1992. Islam: An Introduction. SUNY Press.
- November 20
- Yazbeck Haddad, Yvonne, and John L. Esposito, eds. 1997. Islam, Gender, and Social Change. Oxford
- University Press.
- November 27
- Wadud, Amina. 1999. Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective.
- December 4
- Presentation of Research Projects
Each student will turn in an original research essay on a topic of their choosing. Essays should be written to conform to the style of a particular academic journal, to which such an essay might be submitted. As part of the research project, students will be expected to identify which journal would be an appropriate venue for their paper and to employ that journal's length, documentation, and research protocols in preparation of their papers.
Papers are due on the last day of class, December 4.
Douglas E. Cowan, Ph.D.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City