Course Syllabus

Course Description

In the last decade or so, a plethora of articles and books have been written on the topic of “violence and religion” and “religious violence” (they may or may not be the same thing). Although not all of these works have been explicitly comparative, they all, by virtue of their employment of the very terminology, partake of the discourse of comparative religion, whether they do so explicitly or not. Is there, then, a common theoretical move that links these seemingly naturally conjoined terms, religion and violence? In talking about “religion and violence” or “religious violence,” what do we gain? what do we lose? Given that the academy has, across the board, grown increasingly suspicious of talk of such universal categories as mysticism, myth, theology and, especially, religion, have we perhaps let “religious violence” fly under our theoretical radars? This course attempts to address these issues, and attempts to come to some common understanding of what religion violence is and what causes it.

Course Requirements

Grades will be based on: 1. Two essays of approximately 1500 words (50%); 2. Active participation in all aspects of the course (50%), including timely, thoughtful postings. Participation Grades will be based on the quality and consistency of your posts; this includes both your initial substantive post, and your responses to your peers.

Late posts will not be counted: seriously, this course depends on timely posts and timely responses. If you miss a week, you will not be able to go back and make it up.

By the end of Week Eight, you will submit a 1000 word (maximum) Evaluation of your postings for the course, along with the grade you believe you deserve. Although I will reserve the final decision in this matter, I will very heavily weigh your own evaluation of your written participation in the course in assigning you a final grade.

Incompletes and Pass/Fail are not offered for this course

Learning Goals

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the causes and dynamics of religious violence; they should be able to articulate some of the complex connections between religion and violence; and they should be able to articulate an understanding of religion itself and religious communities.

Required Texts

  • Mark Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).
  • Bruce Lincoln, Holy Terrors: Thinking about Religion after September 11 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003).
  • Talal Asad, On Suicide Bombing (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007)
  • Michael Sells, A Bridge Betrayed (California: University of California Press, 1998) 


Course Summary:

Date Details Due