Each semester the Department of Religious Studies offers a different slate of courses. Below you will find descriptions for some of the courses taught in the last few years. Please visit the North Carolina Wesleyan University Course Catalog for a complete list of offerings.
REL 195: The Archaeology of Religion
Students will become familiar with basic concepts in the archaeology of religion. Theoretical and methodological readings will include ritual studies, symbols and semiotics, and the archaeology of sacred space and landscapes. The course will emphasize the archaeology of Middle Eastern, African, Pacific Island, and New World religions alongside Mediterranean, European, East Asian, and contemporary American evidence by means of case studies ranging from prehistoric practices through religiously-charged twentieth-century sites. This is a “hands-on” course where students will use clay to make religious figurines, play ancient board games, learn how to write ancient scripts, etc.
REL 309: Religion in United States Cultures
From Plymouth Rock to Rock ‘n' Roll, the Civil War to Civil Rights, Rev. Billy Graham to Rev. Timothy Lovejoy – religion permeates American culture and history. This course will examine how religious traditions and ideas have both shaped, and been shaped by, the evolution of America. The course will consist of two interwoven parts. The first part will offer a chronological overview of the development of various religious traditions in America, stretching from American Indian religions to the pluralistic religious landscape of the twenty-first century. Because religious history cannot be separated from history more generally, this section will emphasize the relation between religious institutions and shifting social, political, and economic contexts. The second part of the course will offer a thematic exploration of the intersection between religion and other aspects of American culture such as sports, music, and economics. While the first part addresses the nature of American religion, the second focuses on different ways of conceptualizing religion itself. Taken together, these two approaches will allow us to understand and to challenge traditional ways of thinking about religion and history, both within and beyond the American context.
REL 401: Sacred Art
This course introduces students to some of the ways in which religious believers have expressed their faiths artistically throughout history. It focuses on visual arts in the Hindu, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. The course includes visits to the North Carolina Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
REL 495: Israelite Religion: History, Texts, and Archaeology
This course will examine some of the major historical and religious debates in the field of ancient Israel by engaging with both the textual and archaeological evidence. Students will learn to weigh the textual and archaeological evidence equally in order to engage in these debates. Students will also learn how to engage with comparative evidence from other ancient cultures and visit the ancient world collection at the North Carolina Museum of Art.
REL 495: The Bible and Film
This course will examine the practice of biblical interpretation through the medium of film. Students will learn how to read biblical texts closely then compare them to the versions of these stories depicted through film. Students will also engage with the different versions of these ancient stories, learning that even ancient audiences interpreted these stories in a variety of ways.