Course Descriptions


Winter Quarter (W23)

Dept/Description Course No., Title  Instructor
Emphasis/Category: Thematic Approaches to Religion (Category 2)

The Underworld: Ancient Literature on Life, Death, and Regeneration. Taking a spatial or topographical approach to mythology, this course will examine the significance of “the underworld” to ancient Greek and Roman thought. We will explore the role of the underworld in ancient cosmologies, examine its importance to notions of individual and national (im)mortality and terrestrial fertility, and investigate the central role of “the descent” in the ancient hero’s quest. To explore these ideas, we will read such authors as Homer, Hesiod, Plato, Virgil, Lucretius, Ovid, and others. These readings will be supplemented with critical and theoretical texts, and the course will conclude with a look at modern adaptations of these ideas in literature. The final paper in the course will allow students to apply these ideas to contemporary films and video games or to focus exclusively on ancient texts.
Days: MO WE  04:00-04:50 PM

Emphasis/Category: World Religious Traditions (Category 1)

French 171/European Studies 101A: Islam and Europe: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on the Early Modern World
Dr. Mrin Bhattacharya

In this course, we will explore Europe and specifically the Mediterranean as spaces of cultural encounter in literature of the 16th to 18th centuries. We'll focus on works by Corneille, Molière, Lafayette, Racine, Voltaire, and others. Topics of discussion will include the negotiation of European identities in relation to North Africa and the Levant (and vice versa); religion identities and literary treatments of the instability of cultural signifiers, the fluidity of cultural identity; the relationships between literature and history, fiction and imperialistic discourses; the politics of aesthetics in depictions of the Sarrasin, etc.

This will satisfy Pre-19th century literature and culture for French majors.

Days: TU  04:00-06:50 PM

Courses Offered by the Religious Studies Major & Minor or other Schools at UCI

Winter Quarter (W23)

Dept Course No., Title   Instructor

This course is an introduction to the major religions of Asia, through an exploration of the emergence and development of their beliefs, practices, and historical-cultural contexts. We will be exploring the often-overlapping, intertwining, and mutually influential Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shintoism, across a broad swathe of territory – an exploration that leads back to us in the here and now, and leads us to see each tradition as related to the others whilst also acknowledging key differences and doctrines that also make them unique.
Using a combination of primary materials textual, visual, and aural (art, artifacts, film, music) and secondary texts that analyze them we will explore the histories and cultures of religious practices in Asia, develop the skills to articulate that knowledge and our own views on it, and develop a deeper level of thought concerning “religion” itself.

(IV and VIII)
Days: TU TH  05:00-06:20 PM


Emphasis/Category: World Religious Traditions (Category 1)

Serves as an introduction to Sikhism and the field of Sikh Studies. Examines the development of the religious tradition and the formation of the scholarly field of Sikh Studies in the contemporary Western university.

Same as ANTHRO 60


Emphasis/Category: World Religious Traditions (Category 1)

The literature of religious skepticism is very old and persistent—from 2600 BCE till today, and it is a provocative and well-written body of work. And yet, almost no one gets exposed to this literature in formal education, from the kindergarten 'diploma’ to the Ph.D.  You, on the other hand, will read numerous primary sources from antiquity to the present. The course will be conducted like a seminar, a weekly conversation on topics arising from the reading. (I won’t lecture but I’ll have plenty to say in class discussions.)  To get a high grade, you must speak in every class, and attendance is required because a given discussion in a particular week cannot be replicated at some later time, and it’s a three-hour class once a week: so missing once is like missing an entire week of class.  No tests.  But there will be weekly reading; weekly writing of summaries of that reading; and weekly writing of short opinion pieces based on the reading. You are graded on your speaking and your writing. Two or three textbooks to buy.  Usually under 30 students in the class.
Days: TH  03:00-05:50 PM


Emphasis/Category: World Religious Traditions (Category 1)

“Arts and Cultures of Japanese Buddhism”

This course is on the Buddhist arts and visual cultures of Japan. Students begin with sculptures from the early seventh century onward, and work through the primarily courtly works of the eighth to twelfth centuries. These include mandalas; Pure Land works; sutras on intricate handscrolls; reliquaries; narrative paintings that unrolled to reveal tales of Buddhist sites and their occupants; and early caricature. Students learn how sculpture and painting developed under a new military rule between the twelfth to sixteenth centuries: powerful and realistic portrayals of Buddhist divinities and masters co-existed with Zen aesthetics in ink-painting, tea utensils, and amusing sketches of Zen eccentrics. Art that fused Buddhism with the worship of (“Shinto”) kami deities often linked with nature also flourished, and an entirely syncretic astrological art used by Buddhist monks emerged. The eighteenth century with its woodblock-print boom brought some erotica into Buddhism, and in the modern period and present day, manga artists such as Tezuka Osamu, Nakamura Hikaru, and painter-sculptors Matsui Fuyuko and Murakami Takashi investigate Buddhist aesthetics and themes in compelling new ways. This course is designed to help students build a broad understanding of how Buddhism, which originated in India, was (and is) represented visually in the specific culture of Japan. Students will acquire knowledge of the key works of Buddhist art in the history of art of Japan, the techniques with which they were created, and how they are expressive of the times and places in which – and for which – they were made.
Days: TU TH  09:30-10:50 AM


Emphasis/Category: Thematic Approaches to Religion (Category 2)

This course will examine the development of premodern Japanese ghosts, from the 9th to 19th centuries, in response to historical changes in the political and religious context, as well as genre developments in literature, drama, and art. We will focus on how the changing literary and artistic representation of Japanese ghosts has embodied (or disembodied) problematic fissures in premodern Japanese society, especially with regard to gender and class.
Days: TU TH  11:00-12:20 PM


Emphasis/Category: Thematic Approaches to Religion (Category 2)

This course will examine the visual history of the region defined as ‘India’ today, but necessarily encompassing parts of modern Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and eastern Afghanistan. After an introduction to the Indus Valley Civilization (2700-1500 BCE), we will explore the legacies of Alexander the Great's campaigns to the edges of India and their impact on the Buddhist art and architecture of Bactria (now Afghanistan), Gandhara (now Pakistan) and the Indian subcontinent. We will also examine the inverse dispersal of Buddhist and Hindu iconographies both eastward and westward in Asia. The course will culminate with the supposed Golden Age of the Gupta empire and its far-reaching legacies from Iran to China. No prerequisite.


Emphasis/Category: Thematic Approaches to Religion (Category 2)

This course examines the multidimensional facets of political violence and terrorism. Its aims are to challenge conventional thoughts about such radical mobilization, exposing students to the multiple definitions, historical progression, and political and sociological developments of terrorism throughout the past centuries. Drawing on a range of historic and current examples from around the world, we will tackle a variety of questions on the subject, including: What are the differences between political violence, guerilla warfare, terrorism, and international warfare, and why do such distinctions matter? Are there differences between religious and non-religious terrorism and political violence? What are the historic developments that led to the rise of religious terrorism at the end of the 20th century, and is it still on the rise? Who are the major terror groups that have operated around the world throughout the past decades, and which have been more successful in advancing their cause?

The course is divided into three sections. The first focuses on definitions of terrorism, exploring how terror groups operate and taking students through a historical rundown of modern terrorism over the 20th and 21st centuries. The second focuses on theories explaining groups’ and individuals’ use of terrorism and political violence, emphasizing where different theories agree and where they come to drastically different conclusions. The third section covers a range of select case studies of different groups using such tactics, analyzing the internationalization processes of terrorism and comparing ideological worldviews, violent mobilization, and respective successes and failures. By the conclusion of the course, students will have a broad-based understanding of how terrorism and violent mobilization have influenced various political processes throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, gaining the tools to analyze such mobilization as it continues to unfold.


Emphasis/Category: Thematic Approaches to Religion (Category 2)

ANTHRO 139. Special Topics in Cultural and Psychological Anthropology. 1-4 Units.

Studies in selected areas of Cultural and Psychological Anthropology. Topics addressed vary each quarter.


Emphasis/Category: Thematic Approaches to Religion (Category 2)

POL SCI 158D. Introduction to Contemporary Middle East Politics. 4 Units.

An overview of basic issues that shape the politics of the Middle East and North Africa. Themes include implication of the colonization era, nation-state formation, inter-Arab relations, nationalism, Arab-Israel conflict, Islamic resurgence, and more.

Same as SOC SCI 188A, INTL ST 165.


Emphasis/Category: Thematic Approaches to Religion (Category 2)

POL SCI 159. Special Topics in Comparative Politics. 4 Units.

Studies in selected areas of comparative politics. Topics addressed vary each quarter.