Religious Studies | Religions of the West
R152 | 13773 | Jaques, R.


The purpose of the course is for students to develop ways of
understanding the religions of the West (Christianity, Judaism, and
Islam) in the context of Western (American) society and culture. To
do this, the course will focus on three aspects of Western
religions: notions of God, scripture, and ritual; all in the context
of Western culture. We will use the History of Religions approach to
understand these features. The History of Religions approach seeks
to create individual appreciations for one’s own religious tradition
(s) as well as those of other peoples by creating comparisons
between religious traditions and looking at how phenomena differ in
the context of some overarching similarity. We are, therefore,
interested in looking at both the similarities between the religions
of the West as well as those differences that mark each as
distinctive. A major component of our approach to religion will be
examining how each tradition is treated in popular American culture,
media, and literature. We will use the animated series The Simpsons
as our guide to each of the topics covered in the course in addition
to three fictional accounts of religion. Fiction is particularly
important in helping us gain appreciations for religious meaning
since it allows us to “walk in the shoes” of other people—to see the
world through eyes different than our own.
Expectations: Attendance is required for both the main class and
discussion sections. Students should expect three exams following
each section of the course and a comprehensive final.