Archived Fall 2015 Course Guide

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 PGH 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.

Free books! Take any of these courses and we will pay for your books, up to $100 for each course. See details here.

Featured Course: Introduction to Christian Theology

Prof. Kevin Mongrain
TuTh 9-10:15

This course centers on the theology 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, representing figures of central importance to 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.

Intro to Christian Theology is offered with Oakland-based students specifically in mind. While technically a Duquesne course, it will be held in Oakland. PGH Christian Studies offers all students enrolling in this course free textbooks, and a $100 scholarship upon completion of the course. Further details and a complete course description are available here.


University of Pittsburgh

AFRCNA 0313 The Black Church

Prof. Wilbert Austin
Tu 6-8:30 PM / Class #19182

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.

ENGLIT 0597 The Bible as Literature

Prof. David Brumble
Tu 6-8:30 PM / Class #10805 / 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.

ENGLIT 1900 Junior Seminar Shakespeare

Prof. Michael West
Mo 6-8:30 PM / Class #11236 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Writing Intensive

This seminar seeks to extend students’ knowledge of Shakespeare by focusing on works less commonly taught at the introductory level. Our first meeting will be devoted to finding out which works class members are already familiar with, so that our syllabus can minimize repeated exposure to works already studied. Whatever our readings, we will integrate them to some extent with available film resources in Hillman, with representative critical commentary on Shakespeare, and with any current Shakespeare productions in Pittsburgh. There will be some writing assignments in journal format plus a longer research paper. We will survey a broad range of Shakespeare’s works, so students should leave the course with a working knowledge of nearly half of Shakespeare’s canon.

ENGLIT 1100 Medieval Imagination

Prof. Ryan McDermott
MoWe 4:30-5:45 / Class #11519 / 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 The Canterbury Tales and Piers Plowman—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.

FP 0003 Freshman Seminar (Science Fiction and Myth)

Prof. Laura Dice
Tu 6-8:30 PM / Class #11601 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Seminar in Composition

The work of this seminar considers science fiction and its use of myth. Mythology here is understood as a body of beliefs that seeks to answer questions about the relationship of humans to the divine. Science fiction expands our understanding of myth, and questions our relationship to technology and to science as well. 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 univers-ity. 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 go beyond the structures of high school writing. You should have a strong interest in and familiarity with science fiction, religion, and myth and have a desire to boldly explore new worlds in reading and writing. Freshman Seminar fulfills both the Seminar in Composition requirement and the Introduction to the Arts and Sciences (FP 0001) orientation to academic life in the School of Arts and Sciences. Introduction to Arts and Sciences topics will include: (1) The Campus and the City; (2) Academic Skills and Services; (3) Academic Honesty; (4) Academic Communication; and (5) Educational Goals. Because this 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. Through class work and out-of-class activities, students gain knowledge of educational opportunities at the University, cultural events on and off campus, and an understanding of what it means to study the liberal arts. A faculty member and an undergraduate teaching assistant teach the course. All students who enroll in this course will receive a free academic planner on the first day of class. This section of FP 0001 is reserved for students in the Gods & Androids Academic Community.

HIST 1121 Tudor England

Prof. Emily Frances Winerock
TuTh 11-12:15 / Class # 25780 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Historical Change Regional

When Henry VII took the throne in 1485, England was just another backwater kingdom in Northern Europe. By the time Elizabeth I died in 1603, England had become a major player in European politics and was enjoying a cultural golden age whose fruits continue to feed and fascinate us. This course provides an introduction to the often colorful events and people that marked and shaped Tudor England, while also probing its controversies and darker sides. Major themes will include how the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation played out in England; domestic and foreign policies--and the assumptions that motivated them; what daily life was like for those at the top, middle, and bottom of the social hierarchy; and separating fact from fiction in the portrayal of Tudor England in movies, television shows, novels, Renaissance fairs, and popular culture. Assignments will draw on a wide range of primary sources, including plays, instruction manuals, sermons, portraits, and the writings of the famous and not so famous.

HPS 2522 Scholasticism and Philosophy of Science

Prof. Paolo Palmieri
Mo 3-5:25 PM / Class #20048 

This seminar explores the intellectual movement known as European Scholasticism, comparing and contrasting its nature with the debates it spawned. Scholasticism inherited ancient Greek philosophy and recast it in the framework of Christianity, shaping a worldview that laid the philosophical foundations of Western civilization. History and philosophy of science, analytic philosophy, and higher education institutions such as the university have their roots in Scholasticism, which spanned the late Middles Ages to the end of the seventeenth century. We will investigate the scholastic origins of fundamental philosophical categories such as method, reality, essence, science, causality, demonstration, substance, order, analysis and synthesis.

HAA 0050 Introduction to Medieval Art

Prof. Shirin Asgharzadeh-Fozi Jones
TuTh 11-12:15 / Class #24317 / 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 0070 European Visual Tradition Renaissance to the Present

Prof. Christopher Nygren
TuTh 2:30-3:45 / Class #27316 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for The Arts

This class will introduce you to the art of Europe, with a focus on the captivating period when the Middle Ages transformed into the Renaissance, and the Renaissance gave birth to modernity. We will cover the period from about 800 – 1800, during which Europe occupied a unique position of power and wealth. We will also examine the definition of “art” as it was known during this period, and consider the ways in which European artistic production was expanded during the Age of Exploration. Many of the most influential masterpieces of the Western tradition, such as Versailles and the Sistine Chapel, will be discussed in close detail. Beyond examining their aesthetic beauty, however, you will also be asked to think critically about how such monuments functioned within their social contexts and gained fame as objects of devotion, sites of commemoration, or other meaningful producers of social identity. This is a foundation course in art history, so it is not expected that you will have prior knowledge of the art, history, or cultures under consideration.

HAA 1306 High Renaissance Architecture

Prof. K. Franklin Toker
MoWe 3-4:15 / Class #27937 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for 2nd Lit/Arts/Creative Expression

The architecture of the High Renaissance and Mannerism (from about 1500 to about 1580 in Rome and other centers of Italy) changed forever the face of architecture. This course begins with epochal projects by Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo and (on paper) Leonardo da Vinci. It then follows the mutation of High Renaissance ideals into Mannerism and the dispersion of both styles in northern Italy, particularly in town planning and in the villas and churches of Andrea Palladio around Venice. We end with a survey of what the Renaissance style looked like when it was exported to France, Spain, Germany, and England.

Music 0222 History of Western Music to 1750

Prof. Emily C. Zazulia
TuTh 12-1:15 / Class #17604 / 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 470 Philosophy of Religion

Prof. Kristen Inglis
MoWe 10-10:50 plus recitation / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Philosophy

In this course we will examine some of the major arguments regarding the existence and nature of a supreme being–ontological, cosmological, teleological, Pascalian, and moral arguments. We will also discuss the most significant argument against the existence of the classical God – namely, the argument from evil and suffering. After that, we will look at whether religious belief might be rational without theoretical proof or empirical evidence, whether religious experience is an intelligible notion, and whether the real-world fact of religious diversity has philosophical implications. Time permitting, we will conclude by reflecting on two prominent religious ideas: miracles and the afterlife. Readings will be from both historical and contemporary sources.

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 0105 Religions of the West

Prof. Adam B. Shear
MoWe 11-11:50 AM / Class #18341 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Historical Change Comparative

This course is a historical introduction to the religious traditions that developed in 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 0405 Religion in Early America

Prof. Paula M. Kane
TuTh 1:00-2:15 / Class #28543 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Historical Change

This course is the first half of a two-part survey of American religious history. We focus on the colonial era of Spanish, French, and English colonization of America through the Civil War. While following the Puritan "mainstream" of New England, we also study Afro-American and immigrant traditions, religious reformers and radicals, highlighting how religious and social beliefs from 1600 to 1865 both reflected and shaped gender, racial, economic, and political change.

RELGST 1120 Origins of Christianity

Prof. Rebecca Denova
TuTh 2:30-3:45 / Class #24424 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Historical Change 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 1540 Saints East and West

Prof. Milica Bakic Hayden
MoWe 3:00-4:15 PM / Class #12057 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for 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.

RELGST 1760 Religion and Rationality

Dr. Brock Bahler 
MoWe 1:00-2:15 PM / Class #12007 / Fulfills Dietrich School requirement for Philosophy

This course critically examines how both religious and nonreligious thinkers have navigated the question of the relation between faith and reason throughout the history of Western thought. Special attention will be paid to evaluating how the relationship between religion and philosophy developed over time—from Ancient, Medieval, Modern, and Contemporary periods—and how the historical concerns of this theme within Western religious thought (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) have shaped current debates on the place of religion in science, politics, and the humanities. Some of the underlying questions that will guide are discussion are the following: Can we know or prove the existence of God, or is religion based on a leap of faith? What is the relationship between the body and the mind in religious practice? Should divine texts be read literally or figuratively? Is Evolution compatible with religion? Is the religious life to be detached and compartmentalized from the “secular,” or are they intertwined in some way?


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.

ARHY 217 Religion, Reason and Visual Culture

Dr. Saskia Beranek
MoWe 3:00-4:15 PM / Class #11132

This course will offer a socio-hisotrical survey of religious thought, ideas and concepts that inspired and influenced artists and visual culture, examining the links between art and religion in various media including paintings, sculpture, applied arts, photography, architecture, and multimedia works.  The course will also explore the various intentions for such imagery, including but not limited to, private devotion, public propaganda, spiritual enlightenment, and cautionary tools.  The emphasis will be on the history of Western art and visual culture and especially its relation to Christianity.  We will mostly be attentive to imagery created between the Middle Ages and the 17th Century, with some ancient and modern counter-examples. The course is divided into four thematic units: Building Sacred Space, Representing the Divine, Experiencing the Sacred, and Contesting the Sacred.  Each thematic unit will draw on a range of objects and spaces to examine the intersection of art and faith.  This semester, the course will also focus on how and why images and spaces create meaning and how they become powerful.  After gaining an understanding of how meaning is created, we will examine encounters with cases of idolatry, iconoclasm, destruction, appropriation and censorship.  By considering how religious images are suppressed and manipulated, we come to understand how and why they have been historically perceived as such loci of power.

PHIL 203 Philosophy of Religion

Fr. Cronin
TuTh 3:05-4:20PM / Class #12691

The course asks such questions as, Does God exist?  How can we think of God if God is ineffable?  Is God a person? How can God be good if there is so much evil in the world?  It includes a comparative approach, trying to identify the characteristics of religion and what all great religions have in common.  We will also discuss religious experience, the religious impulse and the authenticity of the religious dimension in the human life.  Short select readings from various authors.

PHIL 301 Medieval Philosophy

Dr. Bonin
MoWeFr 11:00-11:50 AM / Class #13204

A sampling of Christian and Islamic thought from late antiquity through the 13th century, with emphasis on the continuity, development and fruitful interplay of the Platonic and Aristotelian traditions.  We will weigh the difficulty of assimilating this complex pagan heritage within the context of revealed religion and consider how medieval thinkers worked toward a solution in connection with such themes as knowledge, God's existence, the problem of evil, the relation between divine & natural causes, and the soul.

PHIL 326/496 The Ontological Argument in Philosophy

Dr. Vinco
MoWe 3:05-4:20 / Class #13753

The ontological argument can be described as an argument that aims to prove the existence of God without reference to observation and analysis of the world.  We will concentrate on the classic versions of the argument and its critique, developed during the medieval and the modern periods (from Anselm to Hegel).  The course is meant, not only to reconstruct the history of this fascinating debate, but also to introduce some important ideas of major figures in Western philosophy.

PHIL 427 St. Thomas Aquinas-The Soul

Dr. Bonin
MoWe 3:00-4:15 / Class #13207

An introduction to Aquinas' psychology through close reading of the Treatise on Man in his Summa Theologiae.  Along the way, we will consider his theory of knowledge and the views of his near contemporaries, with whom he is in dialogue.

PHIL 490W Virtue Ethics

Dr. Arenson
We 5:00-7:40PM / Class #13572

This course considers the directions in which contemporary virtue ethicists have taken Aristotle's character-based ethics as they have tried to situate his notions of virtue, character, and happiness in a contemporary context.  We will focus on these questions: On what do contemporary virtue ethicists base the virtues?  Which virtues are interesting and important?  How grounded in Aristotelian moral theory is contemporary virtue ethics?  Readings include works by Aristotle, Alasdair MacIntyre, Iris Murdoch, Susan Wolf, G.E.M. Anscombe, Susan Okin, Philippa Foot, Thomas Nagel and others.

SOCI 210 Sociology of Sex and Gender

Prof. Sarah MacMillen
TuTh 12:15-1:30 / Class #13231

An examination of the notions of gender and sexuality in different historical and cultural contexts.  A conversation between different theories of sexuality and gender is entertained, sociological, feminist, critical, literary, and theological.  

THEO 216-01 Theology, Media & Pop Culture

Prof. Vasko
TuTh 1:40-2:55

Tired of your professor constantly telling you to put away your phone in class?  Does watching Netflix take up too much of your day?  Want to think critically about social issues?  Join me as we examine the intersection between media, popular culture and Christian theology.  Requirements: A willingness to engage in critical thinking and communal dialogue, a sense of humor, and, of course, a wired device.  Daily class participation is a MUST.  Course description (for those more formally inclined): Examination of the religious, theological, ethical issues and perspectives raised by various forms of media and popular culture, including: marketing, sports, movies, television and music.  Special attention will be given to the nature of their relationship and the theological and spiritual issues currently present in their interface.

THEO 224-01 Ancient Near Eastern Mythology

Prof. J. Platt
TuTh 1:40-2:55

A thematic study of the mythologies of the ancient Near East, particularly Sumerian, Akkadian (Assyrian / Babylonian), Syro-Palestinian, Hittite, and Egyptian.  The focus of this class will be threefold: an analysis of the material in their own right; their analogues and antecedents in Greek mythology; and finally their parallels within Biblical literature.  Among the aims of this course is the understanding of the culture and world out of which the Bible emerged.  Texts that will be considered include: the Babylonian Epic of Creation (Enuma Elish) and the well-known Epic of Gilgamesh. (Cross-listed with Classics, CLSX)

THEO 230-01 Global Diversity: Churches and their Cultural Contexts

Prof. Madathummuriyil
MoWeFr 11:00-11:50

The center of Christianity has shifted from the West to the Global South and East. As the gospel penetrates new cultures and situations, it must answer new questions. While the timeless truths of Christianity encounter different cultures and peoples and they bring new understandings.

The course will explore the global diversity of Christianity by analyzing the cross-cultural transmission of faith as fundamental to the understanding of church in our time. This exploration will be made from an East-West perspective. 

THEO 280-01 Faith and Reason

Prof. Radu Bordeianu
MoWeFr 9:00-9:50 AM / Class #11132

Throughout history the relationship of faith and reason has often informed the ways in which individuals search for truth and understand the world and their own humanness. In this course we will study how the interactions of religious faith and reason have been expressed and their relationship understood. In line with the catalogue description, the course will explore “How the Divine is sensed and responded to in various geographical, cultural, and chronological contexts.” Required Readings: C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity; and Martin Albl, Reason, Faith, and Tradition: Explorations in Catholic Theology.  This is a writing intensive course.



Carnegie Mellon University

Early Christianity

Prof. Allyson Creasman
TuTh 10:30-11:50 AM / Class #79350

In this course we examine the origins of Christianity. Although we deal with biblical as well as other contemporary materials, the approach is not theological but historical. We want to understand how and why Christianity assumed the form that it did by examining its background in the Jewish community of Palestine, its place in the classical world, its relationship to other mystery religions of the time and certain variant forms (now known as Gnosticism) which it assumed prior to the crystallization of orthodoxy.

Religious Identities and Religious Conflicts in 19th Century Europe

Prof. Katherine Lynch
TuTh 3:00-4:20 PM / Class #79353

This course explores the place of religious identity and conflict in the history of European society from the French Revolution to World War I. We study the many ways that individuals constructed and used their religious identities to approach problems of public life. We examine continuities and changes in religious institutions as well as conflicts between churches and states. The course shows that, far from declining in importance during the processes of economic and political modernization, or becoming part of private life, religious beliefs and identities played an increasingly critical role in public life. We approach the topic through case studies, beginning with the religious conflicts and settlement between church and state during the French revolution, Evangelical Christian participation in the anti-slavery movement in Britain, Protestant-Catholic rivalries in Germany, the power of the papacy in Italy, and the Dreyfus case in France. Students will have reading assignments from both primary and secondary sources.

John Milton: Poetry, Paradise and Revolution

Prof. Christopher Warren
MoWe 3:00-4:20 PM / Class #76445

Although censored and reviled by many in his own day, John Milton (1608-1674), author of Paradise Lost among other powerful anti-monarchical writings of the English Revolution, has influenced writers as varied as William Blake, Mary Shelley, Thomas Jefferson, Friedrich Engels, C.S. Lewis, Malcolm X, and Philip Pullman. This course will investigate what has made Milton a writer at once so much imitated and beloved by his admirers and loathed and denigrated by detractors. The bulk of this course will center on a careful, challenging, and chronological reading of Milton's works, primarily Paradise Lost but also his great shorter poems including Lycidas, Paradise Regain'd, and Samson Agonistes, and selections of his voluminous prose (Areopagitica, The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, Readie and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth). Studying Milton's development as a poet, controversialist, and pamphleteer, students will examine Milton's contexts (chiefly, literary, political, and theological) in order gain further insights into the complex relations between Milton's 17th century world and his major poems and prose. Milton's works will be read in dialogue with works by other major 17th century poets and controversialists such as Thomas Hobbes, Andrew Marvell, John Dryden, and Lucy Hutchinson. Finally, we will explore Milton's subtle and not-so subtle influence on later writers in contexts ranging from the Enlightenment, to the Romantic period, to the American Revolution, to the Cold War.

Survey of Western Music History

Prof. Paul Johnston
MoWe 3:00-4:20 PM / Class #57173

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.