2018-2019 History of Religions: Topic Courses

RLG340H5F: Topics in Christianity: Christmas: A History (K. Smith)

This course is a broad historical survey of one of the world's most popular and beloved holidays: Christmas. Clending approaches from cultural and religious studies, the course begins with the ancient stories about Jesus' birth - several of which are not in the Bible. The course then considers a number of different themes, including the development of Christmas as a holiday and the medieval calendars of the Church, Charles Dickens's famous story 'A Christmas Carol', the creation of Santa Claus during the American Civial War, the importance of winter and nostalgia in Canadian celebrations of Christmas, and contemporary battles over the commercialization of the holiday and its continued role in the public sphere.

RLG340H5S: Topics in Christianity: Race, Sex and Christianity in North America (A. Jones)


RLG388H5F: Religion and Multiculturalism in Canada (R. Korpan) 

This course examines how multiculturalism and religion intersect in Canada, from colonial policies related to religion, race, language, and culture to contests over religious freedom in Canadian courtrooms. Drawing on insights from legal theorists, anthropologists, historians, and religious studies scholars, students will learn to think critically about multiculturalism as an ideology, policy, and lived reality continually contested by both defenders and critics.

RLG415H5S: Advanced Topics in the Study of Religion: Religion and Death in Hong Kong (K. Derry)


RLG440H5F: Topics in Christianity: Women and Gender in Early and Medieval Christianity (K. Smith)

This course focuses on how ideas about women, gender, and the body wer constructed and naturalized in ancient and medieval Christianity. perhaps the most important factor in the development of Christian concepts of gender and sexuality was he ascetic movement, the strikingly "anti-familial" choice of women and men to renounce sexual activity and, frequently, to live alone or in communities of like-minded individuals. throughout the course, by paying special attention to social categories such as gender and class, we will address how and why sexual renunciation came to be regarded as holy in Christian antiquity and how ascetics (inlcuding many women) acquired religious authority. In learning to read and understand the rhetoric of the debates over sexual issues, we will pepper our reading of ancient and medieval texts with reflections on contemporary arguments about sexuality, gender, and holiness.

RLG470H5S: Advanced Topics in Buddhism - Dalit Buddhism or Navayana (C. Emmrich)

This course will consider general concepts of religion and death in relation to the specific and very diverse religious life of Hong Kong. This will include some discussion of traditions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism. It will also include discussion of Hong Kong traditions not necessarily tied to specific religions. One of our main questions will be: "How and why is religion and death in Hong Kong not like religion and death in other places?” This course includes a mandatory seven-day trip to Hong Kong during Reading Week.