Fall 2019. A class meets on the lawn near Upham Hall in the autumn sunshine.

Latest Course Offerings

These are the courses that the Department of Comparative Religion is offering in Fall 2019. For more information about the content of a specific course (textbooks, assignments, etc.), contact the instructor.


Painting of the spirit of America depicted like a Roman warrior goddessIntroduction to the Study of Religion

Special topic: Empire and American Religion

REL 101 A or B

John-Charles Duffy

Section A:
M W F   8:30am-9:25am
258 Upham Hall

Section B:
T R   8:30am-9:50am
255 Upham Hall

What you'll learn:  An overview of US history focused on religion and power. In the nation-defining struggles among Americans of Native, European, and African ancestry, what roles has religion played? How has religion inspired, or helped enact, Americans' visions for their nation's place on the world stage?

This course counts for:  CAS-B (Humanities)  •  Miami Plan Foundation IIB (Humanities)  •  Thematic Sequence REL 1 (level 1) or REL 2 (level 1)


An Orthodox Jewish man yells at police officer during a confrontationIntroduction to the Study of Religion

Special topic: Religious Extremism

REL 101 C

Hillel Gray
W F  11:40am-1:00pm
275 Upham Hall

This course counts for:  CAS-B (Humanities)  •  Miami Plan Foundation IIB (Humanities)  •  Thematic Sequence REL 1 (level 1) or REL 2 (level 1)


A McDonalds restaurant in Russia with an Orthodox church in the backgroundIntroduction to the Study of Religion

Special topic: Religion and Globalization

REL 101 D or

Scott Kenworthy

Section D:
M W F   2:50pm-3:45pm
389 Upham Hall

Section F:
M W F   10:05am-11:00am
103 Art Building

This course counts for: CAS-B (Humanities)  •  Miami Plan Foundation IIB (Humanities)  •  Thematic Sequence REL 1 (level 1) or REL 2 (level 1)


George W. Bush and Osama bin LadenIntroduction to the Study of Religion

Special topic: Bush, al-Qa'ida, and Religion

REL 101 E 

Nathan French
W F  1:15pm-2:35pm
258 Upham Hall

What you'll learn:  Is September 11, 2001, an ongoing religious event? Why did Usama bin Ladin attack the United States? Is patriotism a form of religion? Through writings, interviews, films, music, art, and architecture, you'll explore the events of September 11, 2001, and evaluate their ongoing influence on the world around you.

This course counts for: CAS-B (Humanities)  •  Miami Plan Foundation IIB (Humanities)  •  Thematic Sequence REL 1 (level 1) or REL 2 (level 1)


World flags on display at a meeting of ScientologistsIntroduction to the Study of Religion

Special topic: Utopia, Illusion, and Power

REL 101 J 

Rory Johnson
T R  10:05am-11:25am
365 Upham Hall

This course counts for: CAS-B (Humanities)  •  Miami Plan Foundation IIB (Humanities)  •  Thematic Sequence REL 1 (level 1) or REL 2 (level 1)


A charismatic Christian handles a rattlesnake during a worship serviceIntroduction to the Study of Religion

Special topic: The Power of Religion

REL 101 UA or UB  (sprint course, online) 

Katie Hladky Grant

Section UA:
Oct. 23-Dec. 14
No classroom meetings: 100% online

Section UB:
Oct. 23-Dec. 14
No classroom meetings: 100% online

What you'll learn:  How do you know what you know? What makes religion feel so powerful? Does religion breed violence and conflict? Through documentary films and short videos, you'll examine an array of startling religious expressions. You'll increase your capacity for global citizenship and your ability to civilly discuss difficult topics without compromising your intellectual integrity.

Note:  Sections UA and UB are 100% online. These sections require the use of Facebook for class discussions, as well as online video streaming platforms including Amazon and YouTube.

This course counts for: CAS-B (Humanities)  •  Miami Plan Foundation IIB (Humanities)  •  Thematic Sequence REL 1 (level 1) or REL 2 (level 1)


The Hindu god Krishna gazes into the eyes of his sweetheart Radha. Honors Section.Introduction to the Study of Religion

Special topic: Religion and Sexuality

REL 101H A  (Honors Exclusive)

Liz Wilson
M W  2:50pm-4:10pm
163 Upham Hall

What you'll learn:  A global look at sexual practices from Asia, Africa, and Europe--the sexual practices of deities as well as humans. How do sacred texts affect sexual practices and understandings of gender roles? How do religions get stereotyped in gendered and sexualized ways? Is religion always a force for the denial of sexual pleasure?

This course counts for:  CAS-B (Humanities)  •  Miami Plan Foundation IIB (Humanities)  •  Thematic Sequence REL 1 (level 1) or REL 2 (level 1)


An Orthodox Jewish man yells at a police officer during a confrontation. Honors Section.Introduction to the Study of Religion

Special topic: Religious Extremism

REL 101H B  (Honors Exclusive)

Hillel Gray
W F  1:15pm-2:35pm
213 Kreger Hall

What you'll learn:  Analytical concepts and a critical-empathetic approach for understanding religious fundamentalism among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, in the US and globally. You'll work with primary source data such as official church documents, sermons, diaries, and first-person accounts or interviews.

This course counts for: CAS-B (Humanities)  •  Miami Plan Foundation IIB (Humanities)  •  Thematic Sequence REL 1 (level 1) or REL 2 (level 1)


A mother and child look down from a balcony at a crowd during a religious festival; the child looks up at the cameraMethods for the Study of Religion

REL 201

Liz Wilson
W F  1:15pm-2:35pm
136 Art Building

What you'll learn: Classical and contemporary theories of the nature, origin, and function of religion in human society. Required for majors and minors in Comparative Religion.

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing

This course counts for: CAS-B (Humanities)  •  Thematic Sequence REL 2 (level 2)


A mosque overlooks a modern town on the Arabian peninsulaIntroduction to Islam

REL 226

Nathan French
T R  1:15pm-2:35pm
361 Upham Hall

What you'll learn:  Who are the Sunni? Who are the Shi'a? Is ISIS "Islamic"? This course introduces you to the patterns of beliefs and practice of Sunni, Shi'a, and Sufi communities across history. Special attention is paid to Islam as a lived experience across the globe.

This course counts for:  CAS-B (Humanities)


A black Eastern Orthodox priest speaks before a mic with an icon on Jesus in the backgroundHistory of Christianity

REL 233

Scott Kenworthy
M W F   1:15pm-2:10pm
416 McGuffey Hall

What you'll learn:  A survey of the development of Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant traditions, paying attention to diversity within those traditions.

This course counts for:  CAS-B (Humanities)


A man examines a biblical manuscript through a magnifying glassIntroduction to the Critical Study of Biblical Literature

REL 275 

James C. Hanges
M W  10:05am-11:25am
163 Upham Hall

What you'll learn:  A survey of the origins and historical development of texts--both canonical and non-canonical--that contributed to the formation of the Bible. You'll be introduced to the advent and continuing development of modern literary and historical-critical methods for studying the Bible.

This course counts for:  CAS-B (Humanities)  •  Miami Plan Foundation IIB (Humanities)


An African polygamous family, consisting of one man and three bridesMarriage across Cultures

REL 313  (crosslisted as WGS 313) 

Liz Wilson
W F  10:05am-11:25am
258 Upham Hall

What you'll learn:  An exploration of how different types of marital formations--polygamous as well as monogamous--affect the lives of women and men in selected Western and non-Western cultures. You'll engage with feminist theory and gender studies.

This course counts for:  CAS-B (Humanities)  •  Miami Plan - Intercultural Perspectives


Detail from a Roman fresco depicting a woman's initiation riteWomen's Religious Experiences in the Ancient Mediterranean World

REL 334 

James C. Hanges
M W  11:40am-1:00pm
258 Upham Hall

What you'll learn:  An introduction to women's experiences in the religious traditions of the ancient Greco-Roman world. You'll analyze women's relationships to myths, temple cults, festivals, mystery rites, domestic cult, private and immigrant cults, and magic. You'll apply modern critical approaches to forms of ancient evidence including material culture and epigraphy (inscriptions).

This course counts for:  CAS-B (Humanities)


A Wiccan pentacle with the names of elements and astological symbolsReligious Pluralism in Modern America

Special topic: Wicca, Masonry, and the Occult

REL 342  

Rory Johnson
T R   1:15pm-2:35pm
207 Benton Hall

This course counts for:  CAS-B (Humanities)  •  Miami Plan - Intercultural Perspectives


A Brazilian woman with painted face and arms dances during a religious ceremonyAfrican American Religions

REL 343  (crosslisted as BWS 313) 

Rory Johnson
T R  11:40am-1:00pm
131 Upham Hall

What you'll learn:   A historical survey of African American religions from slavery to the present. How have African traditions been reinvented and reinterpreted in the Americas?

This course counts for:  CAS-B (Humanities)


Miami students do yoga on one of the campus lawnsExperiencing Religion at Miami

REL 360 A 

Sara Williams
M W  2:50pm-4:10pm
136 Art Building

What you'll learn:  How do religious, spiritual, and secular practices relate to meaning, identity, and power among Miami students? You'll design and conduct your own qualitative research project to explore this question. Your research findings will be put to use in developing Miami courses and co-curricular programs that foster religious literacy and interreligious engagement.

This course counts for:  CAS-B (Humanities)


A fundamentalist Christian protester carries signs with harsh messagesBasic Structures in the History of Religions

Special topic: Empathy and the Religious "Enemy"

REL 402 

Hillel Gray
T R  10:05am-11:25am
339 Upham Hall

What you'll learn:  An investigation of radical, oppositional religious groups: their religious beliefs and practices, their history and social dynamics, and their reception in American society as an “enemy.” You'll build critical-empathetic skills needed to analyze such groups, interact with them, and engage thoughtfully in public discourse about them.

Note:  You have the option of extending your work in this course into an independent research project in a subsequent semester. If you take that option, financial aid in the form of a research stipend is available. Learn more.

Recommended prior coursework: Any one of the following: REL 101, REL 201, REL 241, ATH 403, or consultation with the instructor.

This course counts for:  CAS-B (Humanities)  •  Miami Plan Capstone