Archives: Fall 2014 Christian Studies Course Guide




  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Duquesne University
  • Carnegie Mellon University

In the future, as this program develops, the guide will include listings from other area colleges and universities.


This list represents courses with substantial content in Christian history, theology, culture, the Bible, and the relationships between Christianity and other religions. By including courses on this list, the Pittsburgh Christian Studies project does not endorse them or take responsibility for their content. Unless otherwise indicated, classes do not have prerequisites and do not fulfill general education requirements.

Featured Course

Introduction to Christian Theology
Prof. Kevin Mongrain

TuTh 9-10:15; registration number: Duquesne CLPR 190-91

This course is being offered with Oakland-based students specifically in mind. While technically a Duquesne course, it will be held in Oakland, and will be taught as an ecumenical course, meaning that it focuses on theological principles common to all Christian traditions. The course follows the rough outline of the Nicene Creed, a fourth-century formulation of basic Christian doctrine commonly held by all the major branches of modern Christianity. The main texts will be the Bible and primary texts from the history of Christian thought, supplemented by secondary readings in modern theology of the Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox traditions. No familiarity with Christian theology is assumed or expected. Majors in the sciences and pre-professional schools are especially encouraged to enroll. PGH Christian Studies offers all students enrolling in this course free textbooks, and a $100 scholarship upon completion of the course.

Get more info here.

University of Pittsburgh

For incoming freshmen: Science Fiction and Myth
Dr. Laura Dice

The work of this seminar considers science fiction and its relationship to myth. Mythology here is understood as a body of beliefs that seeks to answer questions about humans and the divine, humans and technology, humans and science. Through a variety of readings and viewings, we will consider the way science fiction uses myth to complicate our understanding of the past, the present, and the future. Through essay writing, we will examine the language of speculative fiction, and how it provides a way to understand ourselves, our world and other worlds, and the universe and the university.  Because science fiction is so much a part of our experience in the 21st century, it provides a unique, metaphorical, and speculative language to engage with the expectations of college-level writing and move beyond the structures of high school writing. You should have a strong interest in science fiction and a desire to boldly explore new worlds in reading and writing.

Freshman Seminar is a four-credit course that fulfills the Seminar in Composition requirement and includes Introduction to the Arts and Sciences (FP 0001), an introduction to academic life in the School of Arts and Sciences. Topics of discussion include: (1) The City and the Campus; (2) Academic Skills and Services; (3) Academic Honesty; (4) Academic Communication; and (5) Educational Goals. Because Freshman Seminar is a four-credit course, students spend at least 10 additional hours during the term on out-of-class activities that complement and enrich coursework. All students who enroll in this course will receive a free academic planner on the first day of class compliments of the Office of Freshman Programs.

This course is part of the “Science Fiction and Myth” Academic Community. Students apply to the Academic Community online on the Freshman Programs website: Enrollment in both Freshman Seminar (FP0003 and Mythology in the Ancient World (Class 0030) is required. 

Please contact Dr. Laura Dice at 412 624 6852 with questions.

AFRCNA 0313 The Black Church
Dr. Wilbert Austin

Tu 6-8:30 PM / Class # 19724

This course will examine The Black Church within the broader context of the African American religious experience in the United States. We will survey and analyze the development of the Black Church from its historical roots and earliest manifestations through its development into contemporary institutional forms. We will study its historical and theological development by examining the variety of its distinctions, praxis, experience, outlook and historical personages through critical consideration of various readings, lecture and class discussion. The role of black churches in establishing and providing connectivity and community in black life will be examined as well as the trends toward new expanded roles for the Church in an increasingly technological and non-religious oriented age. A critical reading of texts, class discussion and written reflection and analysis will be fundamental to our approach.

CLASS 1312 Plato
Prof. Christina Hoenig

TuTh 9:30-10:45 / Class # 28164 / Prereq: CLASS 0300 or PHIL 0200

This course is listed because of the importance of Platonic thought in the Christian tradition. This course will examine Plato's views on key topics in Ethics, Metaphysics, and the Theory of Knowledge. We shall look into Plato's relation to Socrates and the evolution of his own mature views.

ENGLIT 1100 Medieval Imagination
Prof. Ryan McDermott

TuTh 4-5:15 / Class # 11580 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for 2nd Lit/Arts/Creative Expression

This course ranges across 800 years of literary and cultural history, from a lyric inscribed in stone on an English cross to dramas Shakespeare might have seen as a child. The scope befits the topic: medieval imaginations ranged across the universe of knowledge, sacred and profane, reaching back to classical antiquity for roots and forward into the very institutions, ideas, and habits that make us modern. While the course covers a good deal of what we consider “literature” today—including lyric poems, chivalric romances, drama, and selections from Dante's The Divine Comedy and Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales—it also views those texts in the wider frame of the liberal arts, approaching them as many readers approached them in their time: as practical, relevant meditations on big questions such as how to be happy, how communities flourish, how to deal with evil, how to love and be in love.

ENGLIT 0580 Intro to Shakespeare
Prof. Jennifer Waldron

TuTh 11-12:15 / Class # 21253 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Literature

This course will introduce students to several of Shakespeare's plays, the historical context(s) in which they were written, and the traditions of interpreting and appraising Shakespeare which persist into our own time. Students may be expected to view at least one film version of a Shakespeare play, and to attend a local production, if available.

ENGLIT 0597 Bible as Literature
Prof. David Brumble

Tu 6-8:30 / Class # 10833 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Literature

We will be reading the Bible as Literature. This is to say that we will be discussing, for example, the story of Adam and Eve, the story of Noah and the flood, and the story of the crucifixion of Jesus as stories. We will try to understand these wonderful stories in their historical contexts, and so we will be discussing a wide range of background materials -- art, anthropology, history, and more.

HAA 0050 Introduction to Medieval Art
Prof. Shirin Fozi Jones

TuTh 09:30-10:45 / Class # 25511 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for The Arts

This course explores the art of Western Europe from the conversion of Constantine in the fourth century to the invention of printing in the fifteenth century. By examining manuscripts, metalwork, sculpture and architecture, we will consider the political, theological, and social changes that informed the production of medieval art. Changes in style and iconography will be connected to the artists, patrons, and other audiences who lived in this period, and special attention will be paid to the kings, queens, monks, and crusaders whose ideas and actions shaped the history of the Middle Ages.

HAA 1230 Early Medieval Art: Pagans and Christians
Prof. Shirin Fozi Jones

TuTh 1:00-2:15 / Class # 28606

This course examines the art of the early Middle Ages, paying particular attention to the slow disintegration of the Roman Empire, the rapid rise of Christianity, and the evolving identity of Europe and the Mediterranean in a period of migration, crisis, and transformation. Special attention will be paid to the roles played by emperors and kings in this period, including Constantine, Justinian, Clovis and Charlemagne, and the peculiar blend of pagan and Christian cultures that defined early medieval art.

HAA 0040 Introduction to Western Architecture
Prof. Franklin Toker

MoWe 11:00-11:50 / Class # 11559 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirements for The Arts and Int'l/Foreign Culture: Regional

This course introduces students to western architecture from the ancient world until today. The course works both chronologically--as a history of phases and styles--and methodologically, examining the contextual issues that gave each period its distinctive architecture. Students who take this course will understand fundamental developments in our western architectural heritage and be ready to make critical judgments on buildings. The course also prepares students, if they wish, to take more specialized studies in the history of architecture or in any other branch of art history.

HAA 0302 Renaissance Art
Amy Cymbala

TuTh 2:30-3:45 / Class # 11747 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirements for The Arts, 2nd Lit/Arts/Creative Expression, and Int'l/Foreign Culture: Regional

Transformations in the status, appearance, and meaning of artworks during the European Renaissance have profoundly affected Western visual culture. This course explores the extraordinary experiments of competitive, innovative artists and patrons, going beyond stylistic change to focus on the role of artistic invention in shaping Renaissance society. It considers the shifting functions of the visual arts in Europe between 1250 and 1600. Artists to be discussed include Giotto, Brunelleschi, Donatello, van Eyck, Botticelli, Mantegna, Leonardo, Durer, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian. Students will be asked to write short papers on thematic issues throughout the term and, at the end of the semester, they will undertake a more substantial project that engages the research methods of art history.

HAA 0350 Baroque Art
Prof. Christopher Nygren

TuTh 9:30-10:45 / Class # 25514 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirements for The Arts, 2nd Lit/Arts/Creative, and Int'l/Foreign Culture: Comparative

European art underwent a series of radical transformations between about 1600 and 1750. This course will track the major artistic developments of this period throughout Europe. In order to better contextualize this revolutionary period, the course will begin with a brief overview of the status of the visual arts toward the end of the sixteenth century. The “reform” of art in the late sixteenth century was an important development, as it led to the standardization of artistic training and began the movement toward the academic art of the eighteenth century. This course will introduce students to the paintings, prints, sculpture, architecture, and ephemeral artworks produced throughout Europe during the “Baroque” period. While that term was not used in seventeenth-century sources, it may have some explanatory value. Part of our class will be devoted to considering whether the term is descriptively useful or if it only obscures the material under interrogation. We will study many of the most important monuments and artists of the period: Caravaggio, Bernini and Poussin in Italy; Zurbaran and Velázquez in Spain; in France, Georges de la Tour and the construction of the Palace at Versailles; Rubens and Van Dyck in Flander; Rembrandt and Vermeer in Holland. Pictures and objects will be studied for what they reveal about the “Baroque” worldview, including the relationship between science, art, and religion. The course will also consider how artists came to terms with an expanding worldview in an age of exploration and colonization as the world stood on the cusp of the modern era.

MUSIC 022 History of Western Music to 1750
Prof. Emily Zazulia

TuTh 12-1:15 / Class # 18028 / Prereq: MUSIC 0415 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for 2nd Lit/Arts/Creative Expression

This course surveys the music of Western Europe from Ancient Greece to 1750. We will accomplish this through reading, listening, formal analysis, and, when possible, performance. Students will place the music within the culture of the time by examining art works, architecture, political, religious, and cultural institutions, and literature. We will examine and analyze scores of representative works, including troubadour songs, liturgical chant, early polyphony, madrigals, opera, orchestral and chamber music, and music for keyboard. NOTES: (1) This course meets the 2nd level Music/Art Requirement, (2) This course is part of the core requirement in music history and theory for music majors and normally should be taken concurrently with music 0417 (Theory 3) and MUSIC 0418 (Musicianship 3).

PHIL 1310 History of Ethics
Prof. Michael Thompson

MoWe 4:30-5:45 / Class # 26334 / Prereq: Any other PHIL class

This course will examine of some of the principal moral philosophers in one or more of the major historical periods from Homeric times to the present day—such as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Mill, and Rawls.

PS 1601 Ancient and Medieval Political Thought
Prof. Frederick Whelan

TuTh 9:30-10:45 / Class #25734 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Philosophy

This course examines the teachings of the major political thinkers of classical antiquity and of the Christian Middle Ages. Authors and topics to be covered include: Plato, Aristotle, Athenian democracy and its critics, natural law, early Christianity and its break with classical culture, St. Augustine, feudalism and medieval constitutionalism, Aquinas, Dante, and Machiavelli. Readings will be entirely from primary sources. The teaching method will be primarily lectures with occasional discussion periods.

Religious Studies

Many RELGST courses may be of interest to students pursuing Christian Studies. Representative courses are highlighted here; for a complete list of offerings, see the Dietrich School course guide.

RELGST 0025 Major Biblical Themes
Dr. Jason von Ehrenkrook

MoWeFr 11-11:50 / Class # 21588

This course introduces students to some of the dominant themes we see in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Some of these themes include: God, creation, covenant, revelation, prophecy, wisdom, fertility, social justice, and ritual. We consider the development and function of each theme in its social and historical context across the biblical canon, comparing and contrasting how these ideas reiterate basic biblical concepts. The primary text is the Bible itself with secondary readings providing background and context.

RELGST 0105 Religions of the West
Prof. Adam Shear

MoWe 11-11:50 / Class #  18800 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Int'l/Foreign Cultures: Comparative

This course is a historical introduction to the religious traditions that developed in the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean. Our major emphasis is on the history of the religious traditions that emerged in late antiquity in this area and which continue to be major world religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism. We focus on key concepts, historical developments, and contemporary issues. Throughout the course, we also examine interactions among these religious traditions. In the last part of the course we examine the issue of globalization and the spread of these religions around the world as well as the presence of "non-Western" religion in the "West." The course also serves as an introduction to the academic study of religion and provides a foundation for further coursework in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. No prior knowledge of any of the religions studied is expected or assumed.

RELGST 1120 Origins of Christianity
Dr. Rebecca Denova

Tu/Th 2:30-3:45 / Class # 25742 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirements for Historical Change and Int'l/Foreign Culture: Regional

This course presents an historical-critical investigation of Christian origins. Special attention is paid to varieties of 1st century Hellenistic and Palestinian Judaism within the Greco-Roman world. Primary readings include selected Biblical passages and apocrypha, 1st century historians and philosophers (Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Philo), the New Testament corpus (including Paul and the Pastorals), and selected readings from the Dead Sea Scrolls. In addition there will be assignments from various modern New Testament critics, historians, and theologians.


RELGST 1160 Jerusalem: History and Imagination
Dr. Jason von Ehrenkrook

TuTh 1:00-2:15 / Class # 21800 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirements for Historical Change and Int'l/Foreign Culture: Regional

The course follows the history of Jerusalem, a city which for thousands of years was, and still is, a meeting place between religions and cultures. Through a series of lectures, using a multi-disciplinary approach, the students will explore political, cultural and geographical topics related to one of the holiest cities on earth, in order to better understand the complex processes which shaped both its history, geography and its present situation. Topics include: an overview of the history of Jerusalem from the 19th century B.C. to modern times; the historical geography and archaeology of the city; religious traditions of the three major monotheistic religions within the city and the reasons why Jerusalem has become one of the holiest cities on earth; encounters with the primary texts related to Jerusalem.

RELGST 1425 Popular Religion in America
Prof. Paula Kane

TuTh 11:00-12:15 / Class # 28014

Popular religions emerge from the struggle of a group, tribe, or nation to maintain unity against socioeconomic change, such as the effects of colonization, industrialization, and competitive capitalism. This course examines some popular religions that have formed in North America since the 18th century among various populations: Native Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, Roman Catholics, and Protestant Pentecostals. Topics include peyote cults, santería, vodou, saint's cults, miracles, pilgrimages, speaking in tongues, and snake handling. The course method is interdisciplinary, drawing upon anthropology, documentary film, history, religious studies, psychology, and sociology.

RELGST 1540 Saints East and West
Dr. Milica Bakic-Hayden

MoWe 3-4:15 / Class # 12208 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirements for Int'l/Foreign Culture: Non-Western and Int'l/Foreign Culture: Comparative

A Russian monk once observed that "each saint is a unique event." Indeed, in various religious traditions we encounter men and women who are recognized and venerated as particularly holy and unique witnesses to the divine. Just as each saint is unique within his or her tradition so is each tradition of saints unique in its articulation and expression of the overall religious culture. By looking cross-culturally at the materials on saints selected for this course and discussing (problematizing) the notion of sainthood itself, we examine religious themes, ideas and symbols found in them. These diverse writings are often marked by a very personal tone, a deeply felt relation with the divine (sometimes reflecting a saint), inner struggles, sometimes his/her mystical experience of union, but also by pleas and calls for social and/or religious reforms. Our examples of devotional literature include Hindu, Muslim, and Christian sources, medieval as well as modern. Even though originating in specific religious contexts, many of these narratives raise issues which have wider human appeal and hence relevance for us today, too.

Duquesne University

Because Duquesne is a Catholic university, it has extensive offerings in Christian Studies. We have listed here courses that may be of special interest to students at other universities, and for which detailed descriptions are available. For a complete list of courses offered, consult the course schedule on the registrar's Web site. Duquesne does not compile course descriptions, so if a title intrigues you, e-mail the professor and ask for more info. They'll be happy to help.

THEO 270-01 Eastern Christianity               
Prof. Radu Bordeianu

TuTh 9:25-10:40                                  

A study of the main theological developments in the Eastern Church from the Patristic age on through the medieval times until the modern days as they shape its distinctive spirit and mentality and as they are interpreted in the Eastern Churches. More concretely, we will attempt an examination of the history, teachings, discipline, and liturgical life of Eastern Christianity, as well as its relationship with other Christian denominations.

UCOR 141-10 Biblical and Historical Perspectives
Dr. James Platt

TuTh 10:50-12:05

An introduction to the methods of investigation necessary to understand the Bible.  An examination of the historical, literary, and theological aspects of a number of Biblical texts and a discussion of their contemporary relevance. [This is a core course at Duquesne, and multiple sections are offered at other times, by other professors (see the course schedule link above). This description is a generic catalogue description. Dr. Platt's section is one that students from other colleges have taken and recommended in the past.]

CLSX 323-01 / THEOL 323-01 Near Eastern Archaeology
Dr. James Platt

TuTh 1:40-2:55

This course focuses upon the development of the Mesopotamian urban civilization, and the Fertile Crescent in general, from the Sumerians to the time of Alexander the Great.  Attention will also be paid to so-called peripheral regions, such as Anatolia, and Syro-Palestine (Levant) with their own archaeology and history.

CLSX 234 / WSGS 234 Demons, Angels, Sinners, Saints
Prof. Sarah Alison Miller

Day/Time TBA

This course examines representations of sanctity and sinfulness in late-medieval texts. It focuses specifically on the ways in which models of corporeality, sex, and gender shaped notions of holiness and hellishness. In this period, the boundaries between divine inspiration, visionary experience, religious passion, demon possession, madness, and symptoms deriving from gynecological ailments were not clearly delineated.  The behaviors and bodies of women often became the domain where these phenomena were discerned and contested. 
Students will consider how medieval writers conceptualized the mystical experiences, spirit possessions, martyrdoms, and illnesses of women; how the discernment of malevolent and benevolent spirits became particularly problematic in the late-medieval period; and how textual genres and the discursive systems germane to those genres impacted representations of female spiritual and physiological experience. A range of genres will be consulted including sacred texts, hagiography, autobiography, medical treatises, and a handbook on witchcraft.

PHIL 353W Nietzsche
Prof. Patrick Miller

TuTh 9:25–10:40

[This course is included in the Christian Studies course guide because in order to understand Christianity in modernity, it is arguably necessary to understand the thought of this great anti-Christian prophet of modernity.] A survey of Nietzsche’s thought, sampling all his major works. Topics will include: Greek tragedy and philosophy; being and becoming; time and eternity; nihilism and meaning; consciousness, rationality, and language; freedom and individuality; joy and resentment; cruelty and psychology; morality and religion; democracy and feminism; sex and marriage; war and slavery.

PHIL 203 Philosophy of Religion
Prof. Charles Don Keyes

TuTh 9:25–10:40

Questions central to the philosophical discussion of religion in the West. Among authors we will study are Aquinas, Anselm, Kierkegaard, Hume, Pascal, Kant, Freud, Otto, and Ricœur.

PHIL 299 Love and Friendship
Prof. Therese Bonin

MWF 1:00-1:50

A philosophical consideration of love and friendship: the nature of love, its causes, its effects, its many manifestations, the mutual love found in friendship, the kinds of friendship, and the importance of friendship in human life.

Carnegie Mellon University

76247  Shakespeare: Comedies and Romances
Prof. Peggy Knapp

MWF 11:30-12:20

Most of Shakespeare's comedies were written early in his career. The laughter they provoke is both festive and satirical, and they end in marriages. The darker (but more fantastic) plays we call romances were among the last drama he wrote. In this course we will be working out close readings of six very different representatives of the genre comedy and two from the genre romance. We will try to see these plays: 1) in relation to the culture for which they were written and which they helped shape--the newly established public theater in London, prevailing notions about social class and gender, Puritan attacks on play-going, and the like, and 2) in terms of "what's in it for us"--how current audiences and readers can enjoy and interpret these plays. We will be considering what the plays have to say about the authoritative institutions and discourses of their time, and how they address us now that those institutions and discourses have been replaced by others. On Mondays and Wednesdays the whole class will meet together, and smaller discussion groups will be held on Fridays. Students will be required to attend and participate regularly, submit brief responses on Blackboard, bring brief written analyses to discussions, write three prepared essays, and take a final exam.

76400 A1  Literary Culture of Russia (mini-course)
Dr. Naum Kats

TuTh 10:30-11:50

Literary Culture of 19th Century Russia: The purpose of the course is to give students an introduction to the cultural environment of Imperial Russia through the works of major 19th century Russian writers. We will read and analyze some masterpieces of Russian fiction, including works of Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Chekhov. Emphasis will be made on how these brilliant classics reflected turbulent history of the 19th century Russia.

79272  Iberian Encounters: Muslims, Christians and Jews in Spain
Prof. Michal Friedman

TuTh 12:00-1:20

In Medieval Spain, Islam, Judaism and Christianity coexisted in a situation distinguished by cooperation and exchange, as well as by friction, rivalry and violence. In this course, we shall explore the complexity of this historical encounter, as well as its role in shaping debates over modern Spanish identities and historical memory. We shall discuss topics such as: Inter-ethnic collaboration and violence; Jewish-Christian disputations; the exclusion and expulsion of religious and ethnic minorities; debates over the marketing of Spain's multiethnic past, as well as North African immigration in contemporary Spain. Historical documents, literary texts, film, musical traditions, as well as contemporary political and cultural debates, will be discussed to enhance familiarity with the topic.

79352  Christendom Divided: The Protestant and Catholic Reformation 1450-1650
Prof. Allyson Creasman

MoWe 12:00-1:20

At the dawn of the sixteenth century, western Europeans still shared a common religion and identity as members of the Roman Catholic Church. Within less than two decades, this uniformity began to crumble, and the very fabric of western culture was irrevocably altered. By 1550, Europe was splintered into various conflicting churches, confessions, sects, and factions, each with its own set of truths and its own plan for reforming the church and society at large. This period of rapid and unprecedented change in western history is commonly known as the Reformation. Though this term has traditionally referred to the birth of Protestantism, it also encompasses the simultaneous renewal and reform that occurred within Roman Catholicism. This course will survey the Reformations of the sixteenth century, both Protestant and Catholic, examining the causes of the Reformation, the dynamics of reform, and its significance for western society and culture. In the process, we will analyze such on-going problems as religious persecution and the accommodation of dissent, the relationship between religion and politics, and the interactions between ideology and political, social, and economic factors in the process of historical change.

57173  Survey of Western Music History
Prof. Paul Johnston

MoWe 3:00-4:30

This course surveys the development and contexts of European art music and its global adaptation. While keeping in view the chronology from Gregorian chant to the present, this survey emphasizes key personalities and issues, particularly issues relating to period style and interpretive decisions in performance.