1. Contact Information
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Course Description and Credit Hours
  4. Required Texts
  5. Course Objectives
  6. Student Learning Outcomes
  7. Other Course Materials
  8. Outline Of Topics
  9. Exams and Assignments
  10. Grading Policy
  11. Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework
  12. Attendance Policy
  13. Custom Sections
  14. Statements on Academic Misconduct
  15. Statement On Disability Accommodations
  16. Severe Weather Protocol
  17. Pregnant Student Accommodations
  18. Religious Observances
  19. UAct Statement

Honors Intro Relig Stdy

REL 105-002Spring 2017 | 3 Credit Hours

Recitation or Discussion

Contact Information

UA Campus Directory:


UA Course Catalog Prerequisites:

No prereqs found

Course Description

Course Description and Credit Hours

No description found

University of Alabama and elsewhere) and with some of the concepts and theories they employ when studying them.  It attempts neither a comprehensive account of the world’s religions, nor an exhaustive survey of theoretical approaches.  Rather, the course especially dwells on puzzling or, in some cases, disturbing phenomena, deriving from a variety of historical and geographic settings, to display both the challenges and virtues of religious studies.

Required Texts

Required Texts from UA Supply Store:
  • OFLAHERTY / RIG VEDA (Required)

Course Objectives

Course Objectives

1)       To gain familiarity with diverse religious phenomena.

2)       To gain practice critiquing and applying theoretical concepts.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

·         Distinguish a humanistic orientation to the study of religion from a theoistic orientation.

·         Explain the roles of understanding and explanation in the study of religion.

·         Use comparison to illuminate social and cultural phenomena, both familiar and unfamiliar.

·         Reflect on the relative merits of different theoretical approaches to religion.

·         Analyze the political aspects of religious phenomena.

·         Speak intelligibly about a variety of topics in the history of religion.

Other Course Materials


Outline of Topics

Reading Assignments

A.               Case Study # 1: Thuggee

1.          Wagner—Thuggee, pp. 91-102, 103-111, 173-182, 190-205, 205-218. (Jan. 19)

2.          Gupta—“A Critical Study of Thugs and Their Activities;” Bayly—Empire and Information, pp. 170-176. (Jan. 24)

3.          Humes—“Wrestling with Kali.” (Jan. 26)

4.          “Amir Ali” and Rappoport—“Fear and Trembling: Terrorism in Three Religious Traditions.” (Jan. 31) 

B.               Methodological Interlude

5.          Lincoln— “Theses on Method.” (Feb. 2) 

C.               Case Study # 2: Vedic Sacrifice

6.          The Rig Veda, 10:90. (Feb. 7)

7.          Figueira—“Aryans and Others.” (Feb. 14)

8.          Lubin— “Veda on Parade: Revivalist Ritual as Civic Spectacle.” (Feb. 16) 

D.               Case Study # 3: Malcolm X on Hajj

9.          Denny—An Introduction to Islam, pp. 99-124. (Feb. 28)

10.       Muhammad—Message to the Blackman in America, chs. 55, 125, 132. (March 2)

11.       Malcolm X— “Mecca.” (March 9) 

E.            Case Study # 4: Jonestown

12.       J. Z. Smith— “Appendix 2” [transcript of final moments of “White Night” at Jonestown]. (March 21; March 23 at 6:30—Film: “Jonestown;”)

13.       Chidester— Salvation and Suicide. (March 28) 

F.       Case Study # 5: Genesis

14.       Genesis 1:1-4:16, 6-9. (April 6)

15.       Cartwright—“Unity of the Human Race Disproved By the Hebrew Bible” (Aug. 31) 

G.      Case Study: # 6: Religion and 9/11

16.       Bruce Lincoln— Holy Terrors (April 18)


·         I expect you to bring the assigned reading to class. 

·         Responsibility for the success of our discussions rests on your shoulders.  If you are not willing to ask questions or converse with one another, the discussions will fail. 

·         You are responsible for announcements I make in class. 

·         I use Blackboard as a file distribution system only.  If you need to reach me, do not message me through Blackboard.  I will not see it. 

·         You must bring a bluebook to the exams. 

·         I have no attendance policy.  From experience I know you will regret missing class come exam time.


Exams and Assignments

Course Requirements

·         An in-class midterm exam (Feb. 23).  You will be asked to “identify” five quotations out of twelve taken from the readings.  You should have no difficulty recognizing the sources of the quotations.  Prepare to explain the import, ideas, and circumstances pertinent to each quotation as fully as you can.  In grading your responses I will look to see how much information you convey (the more the better).  This exercise is your opportunity to display what you have learned from the readings and from class.  You must bring a bluebook to the exam.  If you must miss the exam for a legitimate reason, you may take the exam at a time of mutual convenience. (25%)

·         One 4-page paper, hard copy due 3:30 PM April 21 in my mailbox in 212 Manly Hall.  No electronic submissions.  I penalize late submissions ½ letter grade per day. You must compose your own paper topic in consultation with me.  The papers are your opportunity to argue for a position and/or apply some of the theoretical concepts to a new case.  You should feel free to argue for a position with which (you believe) I disagree.  Disagreement with me will NOT affect your grade (as long as you take account of the ideas and arguments we have studied).  I will grade the papers on a) the quality of your argument, and b) the quality of your prose.  If you do not feel confident in your ability to write this kind of paper, you should seek help from me during office hours.  (40%) 

·         A 2 ½ hour final exam scheduled by the registrar.  I do not have authority to reschedule your exam in case of a conflict.  The final consists of two parts.  The first is identical to the midterm, except the quotations will be drawn (exclusively) from the texts that follow the midterm.  The second part will ask you to choose one essay topic from three choices.  These topics will force you to discuss texts and topics from the first half of the course in relation to texts and topics from the second half.  I grade the essays on two criteria: 1) how well-informed the response, and 2) how well-argued the response.  You must bring a bluebook to the exam. (25%) 

·         Five very short exercises to help you improve your prose.  I have put “Writing Well: An Incomplete Set of Guidelines” on Blackboard for you to use as a reference text.  I will announce the assignment in class.  They are due in my mailbox in 212 Manley Hall on Jan.27, Feb. 10, March 3, March 31, and April 14.  You will receive a check or check minus. (2% each)       

·         Students who make positive contributions to the learning environment, particularly through constructive participation in class discussions, may receive a premium of up to 2.5 points toward their final grade.

Texts available for purchase

Salvation and Suicide, Chidester (Indiana)

Holy Terrors, Lincoln (Chicago) 

The remaining readings (as well as some other readings of interest) are available on Blackboard. 

Grading Policy

See section on Exams and Assignments for percentages of each item towards your grade.

Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework

If you must miss the exam for a legitimate reason, you may take the exam at a time of mutual convenience.

Attendance Policy

I have no attendance policy.  From experience I know you will regret missing class come exam time.

Statement on Academic Misconduct

Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the official Academic Misconduct Policy provided in the Online Catalog.

Statement On Disability Accommodations

Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as detailed in the Online Catalog.

Severe Weather Protocol

Please see the latest Severe Weather Guidelines in the Online Catalog.

Pregnant Student Accommodations

Title IX protects against discrimination related to pregnancy or parental status. If you are pregnant and will need accommodations for this class, please review the University’s FAQs on the UAct website.

Religious Observances

Under the Guidelines for Religious Holiday Observances, students should notify the instructor in writing or via email during the first two weeks of the semester of their intention to be absent from class for religious observance. The instructor will work to provide reasonable opportunity to complete academic responsibilities as long as that does not interfere with the academic integrity of the course. See full guidelines at Religious Holiday Observances Guidelines.

UAct Statement

The UAct website provides an overview of The University's expectations regarding respect and civility.