HomepagePhilosophy and Religious StudiesPhilosophy and Religious Studies spring ’24 courses are out!

Philosophy and Religious Studies spring ’24 courses are out!

The Philosophy and Religious Studies department is offering some new and exciting courses for the Spring semester of 2024, along with some old favorites. Most are open to first-year students. Check it out!

Looking for something to complete your Spring ’24 schedule? These Philosophy and Religious Studies courses have no prerequisites, they all meet the H requirement, and a few of them are DN, O, and Core Capstone classes. 

Taught by Prof. Andrea Warmack:

PHIL-227/GWSS-250, Figure Study: Audre Lorde
Andrea Warmack In one of her most famous essays, “Poetry is Not a Luxury,” Audre Lorde provides a description of poetry as praxis, a combination of inquiry, theory, and practice that is necessary for answering the questions of what one can know, how one ought to live with others, what ought to matter, and orienting one toward action.

The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are until the poem nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt. That distillation of experience from which true poetry springs births thought as dream births concept, as feeling births idea, as knowledge births (precedes) understanding (2018, 36).

In this text, and others, this class encounters Lorde as philosopher, as well as “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” (42). Using her texts – both prose and poetry – this class explores major problem areas in philosophy such as ontology, epistemology, and axiology. Meets H requirement. M/W 1:30-2:45pm.

Book cover for Cancer Journals, by Audre Lord (Penguin Books).

Taught by Prof. Abby Kluchin:

PHIL/RELS-313, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud
Abby Kluchin Marx, Nietzsche, Freud Nietzsche writes, “We are not ‘men of knowledge’ with respect to ourselves.” Marx calls for the abolition of religion in order that we may “abandon a condition which requires illusions.” Freud insists that we are not “masters in our own houses”: his theory of the unconscious challenges the comfortable notion that we have unmediated access to knowledge of ourselves. Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud turn their critical energies in different directions, but they share the conviction that our consciousness is fundamentally false consciousness. For these thinkers, what we think we know about ourselves, others, and the world around us requires constant critique, and our certainties are always susceptible to radical doubt. In this course, we will study key writings by these theorists, rightfully termed the three “masters of suspicion,” with particular attention to Marx’s view of the economic basis of human relations and his conception of alienated labor, to Nietzsche’s “perspectivism” and his assault upon conventional explanations for morality, and to Freud’s account of the unconscious forces shaping human behavior, relationships, and institutions. Emphasis will be on close readings of primary texts. No prior exposure to these thinkers will be assumed. Meets H requirement. T/Th 10:00 AM - 11:15am. 

Taught by Prof. Danielle Widmann Abraham:

RELS-309.A/GWSS-350, Queer Religion
Danielle Widmann Abraham This course explores Queer religious consciousness and practice, focusing on the formation of ritual and discursive spaces, historically and in the present. While many think of queer life in contrast to or in conflict with religion, this course acknowledges queer religious trauma and moves beyond it to look at queer religious creativity. Central to our inquiry will be a framework that embraces religious imagination and interpretation as arts of life which vitalize human being. We will address specific queer vernacular cultures, gender and sexuality diversity across and within culture, race/class/citizenship, mobilization of political power for liberation, and the role of religion in queer belonging writ broadly. We will explore queer religious communities both lived and online. Case studies will be drawn from across the global majority and from global and indigenous religions. Meets H requirement. T/Th 12-1:15pm.

RELS-309.B, Water Is Life 
Water is the essential element of everything that lives. This course takes a comparative approach to look at water as a foundational element in religion. From ritual practices that involve water to the formation of water bodies as sacred in their own right, we will explore the role of water in order to understand how religion works in the world to shape people, communities, and visions of justice. Special attention will be paid to water in Native traditions, the power of water as purification in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, sacred water groves in West Africa, and water protection as a spiritual truth and political practice. Meets H requirement. T/Th 10-11:15am.

Taught by Prof. Christian Rice:

RELS/PHIL-323, What Really Matters in Life? 
Christian Rice Are you curious about what makes for a good life? Everyone wants to be happy, but the pursuit of happiness may be illusory if not guided by critical thinking. In this course, we will think together about what goods and ends ought to be pursued to live an intellectually and morally satisfying life. We will explore questions such as: Is it really possible for one to be happy without cultivating a concern for the well-being of others? Can self-interest co-exist with the ethical life? What are the marks of a life lived with authenticity? We will struggle with these questions and students will be also asked to think about and reflect on such matters in their own lives. This course is particularly fitting for upper-class students contemplating their career choices and vocational path upon graduation. Meets H, O, and CCAP requirements. M/W 3-4:15pm.

Taught by Prof. Nathan Rein:

RELS-327, Religious Diversity in Southeastern Pennsylvania
nathan rein Religious diversity and difference have become crucial political and social issues in the early years of the twenty-first century. In this course, students will participate in an ongoing effort to understand, investigate, and connect with the religious diversity of our region. Readings will focus on theoretical and practical interpretations of religious diversity, primarily in a modern American context. The course will also involve frequent field trips and site visits to religious institutions and organizations near Ursinus, including but not limited to Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic sites. . Meets H and DN requirements. T/Th 3-4:15pm. 

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