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Courses

Get a feel for the exciting variety of courses taught at Marlboro.

This is a list of courses that faculty felt was representational of the courses offered. It is not a complete list of courses, some courses are offered yearly, while others are infrequent. A course may be inspired by events or strong interests and taught only once.

Most advanced work is in the form of tutorials on specific subjects, a collaboration between one faculty member and one student or a handful of students.

Religion

Contemplative Learning and the Study of Mysticism
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2013

This course explores some of the ways in which contemplative disciplines can contribute to the academic study of religion in a liberal arts setting. Using techniques of mindfulness practice we will attempt to broaden and deepen our experience of reading and writing, listening and conversing. We will read texts from a variety of traditions in order to examine the inner aspects of religious faith and practice usually classified under the term mysticism. Some of the questions we will explore include: How do practitioners define and describe their own endeavors? What are the techniques and disciplines employed in achieving the goals of this inner quest? If mysticism is seen as a path, then what is the nature of the inner path(s) and what kinds of challenges does it present to the seeker? And finally, what is the nature of mystical experience and is language sufficient to express realities that mystics claim to experience?

Eastern Orthodox Christianity
(2.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2014

An introduction to the theology, ritual, and contemplative practices of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Prerequisite: None

HINDUISM
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2009

An introduction to the diverse religious traditions that constitute Hinduism. In addition to studying ritual, philosophy, and symbolism, we will pay special attention to the role of mythology within Hinduism. We will devote a good part of the semester to reading the Mahabharata with a focus on the Bhagavad Gita as a text that synthesizes diverse strands of Hindu religious thought. Prerequisite: None

Introduction to Islam
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2015
Global Perspective

This course is an introduction to the fundamental teachings presented in the foundational texts of Islam and elaborated in Islamic ritual, arts and literature. Our aim, through studying the Qur'an and the life and teachings of the prophet Muhammad, is to grasp the internal logic of the Islamic worldview and the vocabulary used to articulate the vision of Islam. This work will provide the basis for examining the divergence within later (classical and modern) Muslim interpretations concerning questions of theology, human development and perfection, leadership and the organization of communities. Prerequisite: None

Introduction to Native North American Religious Traditions
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2011

This course will introduce the diversity of native traditions as well as elucidate various approaches to religious studies. Using literary texts and film we will explore the life ways and sacred ecology of Native Americans. Specific attention will be placed on the Lakota peoples of the great plains and the Puebloan peoples of the southwest. Together we will examine methodological issues regarding the study of myth and symbolism, theories of harmony and kinship, the transmission of knowledge and power, the dynamism of sacred narrative and ceremony as well as rites of initiation and healing. We will use case studies to examine contested issues; including, the encounter of traditional life ways with modern secular society, appropriation of ceremonies, social justice, and freedom of religion. Prerequisite: None

Introduction to the Comparative Study of Religion
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2013
Global Perspective

This course is an introduction to the comparative study of religion based around the perennial question that faces every student of world religions: Are different religious traditions many paths that lead to the same goal?

ISLAMIC INTELLECTUAL TRADITIONS
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2013

A study of Islamic thinkers in philosophy, Sufism, Jurisprudence, and theology.

Plan Writing Seminar
(2.00 Credits — Advanced)

Fall 2019

Writing seminar for seniors. Students not completing a plan in religion can take this course as well but need permission of the instructor. This course can be taken for two to six credits.

READING RUMI
(4.00 Credits — Advanced)

Spring 2010

This course examines the life and teachings of Jalaluddin Rumi (d. 1273), one of the most influential Muslim scholars, mystics, and teachers in the Persianate Islamic world. While we will study the historical, religious, and intellectual context in which Rumi grew up, the main focus of this course is to read closely excerpts from his prose and poetry. Topics to be covered include theology, modes of human knowing, the nature of revelation, relationship between outward observances and the inner path, sanctity, and the relationship between the spiritual guide and the seeker. In the last part of the course we will focus on problems of cultural translation as highlighted by Rumi's current popularity in America. Prerequisite: Permission of the Instructor

RLP
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2014
Global Perspective

This class considers the Greater Western tradition from the Hebrew Bible through Montaigne. Along with the Bible and the Qur'an, we will consider works by Augustine, Aquinas, Dante, Ghazali and other medieval authors. Prerequisite: None

SEMINAR IN RELIGION & PSYCHOLOGY
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2018

An introduction to religious living through literature, original religious texts, and psychology. The assigned readings will cover a few concepts and issues of religious experience, e.g., one and the many, reason and imagination, contextualization. Prerequisite: None

Seminar In Religion, Literature & Philosophy I
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Fall 2013
Global Perspective

A year-long course, reading and discussing some of the major works of Western culture from Homer to Shakespeare. Heavy reading schedule, regular discussions, papers required.

Sources & Methods in Religious Studies
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Fall 2019

An examination of available sources and current methodologies in the study of religion. Required for juniors on Plan in religion.

The Sacred Cosmos: Geometrical and Architectural Symbols of Unity in Premodern Islam
(2.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2013

This course is an introduction to a mode of thinking, prevalent in premodern cultures, that seeks to unify seemingly disparate phenomenon through making qualitative correspondences. We will begin with an overview of the Quadrivium of the classical liberal arts of number, geometry, music, and cosmology in order to grasp how geometry is number in space, music is number in time, and how the cosmos expresses number in space and time. The bulk of the course will be an examination of the manner in which the symbolism of number and geometry was used by premodern Muslim thinkers to visualize and express a vision of reality unified around a transcendent center. We will conclude by exploring some manifestations of these ideas in premodern Islamic art and architecture.

Wrestling with Ancestors: Introduction to Confucianism & Daoism
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2018
Global Perspective

This course is an introduction two Chinese schools of thought and practice: Confucianism and Daoism. We will read the foundational texts in each school. Discussion will focus on ideas of morality, social relations, self-cultivation, good government and nature. We will also consider the historical context of the primary texts as well as their influence on religious practice and art. Students will engage in a close analysis of key terms through quizzes, journaling and reflection papers. Prerequisite: None

For Religion offerings, also see:

Making Way: Daoist Ritual and Practice
Reading RLP: The Ancient World
Seminar in Religion, Literature, & Philosophy II

Detours

(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)